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Menachem Ziegelboim sat with R’ Yossi Ginsburg, rosh yeshiva in Ramat Aviv, for a talk about the significance of Gimmel Tammuz. * How can we go from “galus people” to becoming “the Rebbe’s people?” * What’s wrong with saying that what the Rebbe said was a wish and hope rather than a statement of fact? * This and more in this timely interview.

went back to Ramat Aviv, more precisely, to the yeshiva in Ramat Aviv, under the leadership of RYossi Ginsburg who is also the rav of the community and member of Agudas Chassidei Chabad in Eretz Yisroel. Each time I go, its a pleasure to experience the serene atmosphere; it feels like another planet. I remembered how on my previous visit I had promised myself to visit more often so as to be able to enjoy hours of genuine tranquility and clear my head.

I went to the rosh yeshiva R’ Ginsburg’s office, for an interview and to discuss timely matters. His office is not particularly large. There is a white tablecloth on the desk and s’farim all over. R’ Ginsburg finished up what he was doing (it always seems that half the world rests on his shoulders) and settled down to talk. As always, he speaks quietly, calmly, even when the topics are global in scope, both on the macro level and the micro level of each Chassid.

The very nature of the topics is such that they are strewn with potential minefields but he seems unconcerned, although he chooses his words very carefully.

Wherever I go, I see signs of preparation for Gimmel Tammuz. As a rav and shliach who leads a community and who is mekarev many people to Judaism and Chassidus, what message do you want to convey?

To say that we need to make a cheshbon ha’nefesh (spiritual accounting) is itself something that requires a cheshbon ha’nefesh. We are in a period of time which requires a cheshbon ha’nefesh every minute, all year. This is a time in which we need to be in a state of a constant inner cry along with constant action to bring about the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M.

At the same time, it is true that at this time of year there is an enormous hisorerus (spiritual awakening) among thousands of Chassidim which we don’t have at other times of the year. So we need to take advantage of this hisorerus in order to do better in all the Rebbe’s horaos and to do what we can to hasten the hisgalus.

The people in your community have been hearing from you for decades about the Besuras Ha’Geula, that “Hinei zeh Moshiach ba,” but he still hasn’t come. Maybe we were supposed to do things differently – after all, what we have done until now has not achieved the goal.

We need to act completely differently in terms of our level of devotion to the Rebbe’s activities, but of course, nothing at all should be changed from the clear horaos that we received and which we’ve carried out till now. True, the job hasn’t been done, for Moshiach still hasn’t appeared in a full revelation, but this will happen momentarily as the Rebbe said many times, Moshiach will come immediately, even before Mincha. This is also the reality for us now. When it will happen, we will know that we acted correctly in our avoda throughout the years. The fact that our eyes do not see the results yet, and we continue to see galus, is because we were born in galus. As the Rebbe said, until the galus is completely over, we cannot see the truth.

But we definitely should not second guess what we did until now and how we did it.

What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is “Hinei zeh ba, u’kvar ba (behold, he comes, and he has already come)!”

You prefer not to look at what we haven’t done but at “Hinei zeh kvar ba.” So it’s a matter of approach and perspective?

The answer is divided into two parts. In order for Hashem to give the “green light” to Moshiach to make his appearance, we need to take full responsibility and act in a way of “lights of Tohu” in “vessels of Tikkun” as we were told in the sicha of Chaf-Ches Nissan. An inseparable part of this is emuna and bitachon that “Hinei zeh ba.” But of course, every minute that the Geula is delayed, in addition to bitachon and emuna, we should be crying out “Ad Masai?!”


You mentioned the fact that we are “galus people.” What do you mean by that and how do we become “geula people?”

“Galus people” is the reality that each of us is in when we are in situations that play out in natural ways, and not according to the Rebbe’s instructions. To stop being a galus person means to be the Rebbe’s man.

The moment you connect to the Rebbe and start thinking as the Rebbe thinks, and speaking as the Rebbe speaks, and doing what the Rebbe wants you to do, you have no connection to galus. The Rebbe explains in a letter that the idea of a Rebbe is “that he does not enter the limitations of nature at all.” These words sum up the Rebbe’s approach, for we are limited by nature. But if we connect to the Rebbe who is above nature and are able to keep our heads above water, we become the Rebbe’s people, people of Geula who transcend the bounds of nature and limitations.

True, a person cannot always think as the Rebbe wants him to think and speak as the Rebbe wants him to speak, but at least at certain times, a Chassid should make an effort to raise himself up and feel that he is above galus.

I often heard from the Rebbe tangible expressions about the coming of Moshiach, like Moshiach will come before bentching or before Mincha, when people were about to daven Mincha. Each time the Rebbe said this, there was a feeling that Moshiach would come this very instant. There were never a thought that the Rebbe already said this many times before and it didn’t happen, so why would it happen now? The Rebbe, with his words, raised you up from the place of galus where you were. (The Rebbe was not convincing us that it is close, for if it was a matter of convincing, then after three or four attempts, it wouldn’t be convincing). At least that is how I felt.

These days, when we don’t hear the Rebbe speaking to us at farbrengens, we can experience and feel this by learning his sichos and doing the Rebbe’s shlichus. This way, we can achieve this feeling on our own (not really our own power but the Rebbe’s, but as though it’s our power).

Let’s make this practical. I get up in the morning. How do I start to be “the Rebbe’s man,” a “man of Geula?”

R’ Yitzchok Dovid Groner a”h, shliach in Australia, knew the Rebbe before the nesius. The Rebbe once met him (I think it was in 5710) and said to him that every morning, either before the morning brachos or afterward, every Chassid needs to go over to the wall and picture the Rebbe’s face, and to stand thus facing the Rebbe. It is possible that the Rebbe used the term “to recall a private audience,” but the point was to feel as though he is standing before the Rebbe.

When a Chassid starts his day that way, placing himself before the Rebbe and picturing this in a vivid way, this is his first step in getting out of galus. This is the practical significance of being Mekabel P’nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

It’s a matter of guided imagery?

In Chassidus there is a clear distinction made between nonsensical imaginings, which the Alter Rebbe denounces in chapter three of Tanya, and using the power of imagination for real things, which is a path in the service of Hashem. The Alter Rebbe explains in chapter forty-four, “And even if it seems to him that it is an imaginary force, he should not be concerned because it is absolute truth in and of itself.”


In the years 5751-2 the Rebbe ratcheted up the anticipation for the Geula with highly charged statements regarding the Geula, and also afterward, when he came out and encouraged the singing of Yechi. That era excited all the Chassidim. There might be people who would like to delete the history of those years and only remember the period that preceded it. What do you think about this?

Every Chassid who misses the Rebbe cannot truly yearn for life with the Rebbe only up until the year 5751. Nobody would think that when we see the Rebbe, that we will live the 80’s or the beginning of the 90’s, prior to the revelation of the Rebbe with Yechi in the most public, consistent way. We all saw how the Rebbe invested all his strength into encouraging Yechi.

It is hard to say that we yearn for things as they were then; it is even painful to recall the suffering that the Rebbe showed us he endured. However, a Chassid who seeks to think about the Rebbe today without Yechi in a real and p’nimius’dike way is either lying to himself or he truly does yearn to see the Yechi but he feels greatly challenged in this since so many make fun of it. Yet, it is to address this very issue that the Shulchan Aruch begins with the instruction “Do not be ashamed by those who mock.”

These doubts start with “the goy within you,” who does not find the right way to explain it to himself, so he gets confused and says inappropriate things and takes untenable positions, but surely this is not the right place for a Chassid.

How can we preserve the flame ignited in our hearts when we heard the sichos of 5751-2 so that it continues to burn even now?

There are two ways. The first way is by learning the Rebbe’s sichos, especially those of 5751-2 which have been called D’var Malchus, and learning them in a way of complete immersion. That will accomplish the same thing that we got then. The second way is by influencing others. When a person commits to influencing others in this matter, Hashem repays him for his efforts and he too becomes inspired and his faith is strengthened.

You mention learning the D’var Malchus. One of the most popular shiurim for the public is the shiur you give on the D’var Malchus every Friday. Some claim that the identity of Moshiach, and certainly declaring that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, turns people off from Chabad. You seem to prove the opposite. The question is: why is it so important to emphasize these points of Moshiach and chai v’kayam?

Jews who are coming closer to Judaism and Chassidus are brought close by the Rebbe himself; he is the one who is mekarev all Jews. When a person needs to make a major change in his life, in the language of Chassidus this is called “Gilui HaYechida.” When he decided to change his life from one extreme to another, to reveal and arouse his yechida, it is because he formed some connection with the “general yechida” who is the Rebbe himself.

When we want to help a Jew have the Rebbe shine forth for him and within him we cannot invent new things; we need to use the Rebbe’s own words and his call to every Jew, which are the sichos of 5751-2 and the public revelation of Yechi.

The call of the Rebbe today to every Jew is that of Yechi. This is what we saw ourselves and what we heard. This is what the Rebbe invested his strength into. If you want to bring someone face to face with the Rebbe today, not in the historic past, but in a way that is alive, so he makes a real change here and now, you must tell him the truth as it is and try to see to it that the light of the Rebbe reaches him without our interfering and creating confusion, without our adding or diminishing.

Is it possible to instill Moshiach in someone who is in the beginning stages of taking an interest in Judaism?

In the sicha that the Rebbe said on Parshas VaYakhel 5752, the last sicha we have heard to date, which was not edited, a central point in it is “G-dliness as the simple reality and worlds as a novelty.” That sums up the message. In the natural order of things a person sees the world and what he sees is “simple reality,” while G-dliness, which is something spiritual and lofty, and is not in front of his eyes; it is a “novelty.”

The Rebbe said this is not how it is supposed to be, but the inverse. The world should be a chiddush/novelty while G-dliness should be obvious to him, part of his daily life.

All the questions a Jew has in emuna come from the world being the default reality. He sees reality and to him it is true and right. But if G-dliness would be the obvious given to him, including what we heard from the Rebbe, then all other issues, even if they are confusing and concealing, are only for a short time, for you immediately revert to the default setting and it all becomes clear.

When attempting to influence others, other groups have a way of creating a hierarchy when it comes to Torah and mitzvos. Yet in such a system, even if someone becomes a baal t’shuva, he remains on the level of a baal t’shuva and he is not comparable to someone born into a religious home. In contrast, with the Rebbe’s approach, you give a person all the truth from the get-go, because it’s the truth. This does not contradict the idea that there should be an order of gradual growth, but that relates more to the process of acculturation and setting the person up, but not at the expense of L’chat’chilla Aribber, of acknowledging the truth in its purest form in terms of outlook and simple faith from the start. If you do that, then when a Jew becomes interested in Judaism and Chassidus, he can become a great Chassid even if he doesn’t have a particularly impressive pedigree.

Furthermore, for someone coming from the outside now, it is the most natural thing for him to accept the Rebbe as Moshiach, because the less someone’s prior knowledge and the more limited his understanding, the more readily he accepts it, because the mekabel feels bittul and wants to receive as much as possible. What you give him in the beginning is what remains with him forever. It is even more powerful when you learn the Rebbe’s sichos with him. This is the point from which you need to start and everything else follows.

You have helped many baalei t’shuva and many have married and have to teach their children hiskashrus to the Rebbe. What tools do they have to do this?

I think this problem is the same for those who grew up in Chassidishe homes and do not know professional educational methods and can make mistakes.

At the same time, the very fact that Hashem placed the job of raising children in the hands of inexperienced parents seems to be because the main ingredient needed is the proper desire and the appropriate attention towards the child. No question; you need to invest and see to it that it’s all with the right approach.


You talk about intensifying the belief in the Rebbe and the Geula. What do you do when a Chassid experiences moments of crisis when it comes to emuna in the Rebbe? How can he be strengthened?

When a person is, G-d forbid, in a state of crisis, in a state of having fallen “below reason and rationality,” the right response is not to come from a place of rationality. If a person is charting the course of his life in a measured fashion, he can be helped with various reasoned approaches. But when a person is in a crisis or difficulty, when he is experiencing a shattering of his “vessels” – which, to a certain extent, is the situation we are all in today – the solution is to reach a point which is above reason and then he can connect to and reveal the place of simple truth which is above all calculations. This is the only thing which can really lift him up.

To try and make do with the usual, familiar ways, to turn to the standard calculated responses, is fine and good for normal times but not helpful during crises.

In general, our era is one of darkness which is completely below reason, starting from the fact that we know we merited to be in the highest possible time but in our daily experience we feel the greatest darkness. Under these circumstances, the only answer is to connect to the Rebbe’s G-dly truth which is above reason. That is “Gilui HaYechida.”

How to do this practically? The Rebbe gave us so many practical instructions through the sichos and letters; in each thing the Rebbe revealed to us, the yechida shines. When a Jew merely connects with the Rebbe’s inyanim and the Rebbe’s shlichus – not in a manner of a hired hand who works as though he is forced, but like a business owner and more, like a shliach who is devoted to his mission – then he gets at least a small taste of the G-dly light that the Rebbe sees and experiences, and then he can truly rise above the crisis and difficulty. He will even be able to leverage it into something positive.

As a shliach who constantly has to encourage others, do you also have low moments?

The Rebbe says explicitly that even if a Chassid has a hard time explaining the matter to himself, he must influence others and then it will resolve itself for him too.

This is the greatest z’chus of the shluchim: by being involved in influencing others they merit the fulfillment of what it says in the HaYom Yom, “Make a Jew happy and Hashem will make you happy. Draw a Jew close and Hashem will draw you close.” This is a terrific remedy for shluchim when they also need chizuk.


It’s no secret that there is a difference of opinion among Lubavitchers concerning Gimmel Tammuz, eternal life, chai v’kayam, etc. I wanted to hear what R’ Ginsburg’s views are on these subjects.

When I mention Gimmel Tammuz, you sort of dance around the subject. Do you really maintain there’s a problem with thinking that there was a histalkus on Gimmel Tammuz?

First, we need to establish the foundation of a Chassid and Chassidus: to know that what the Rebbe says is G-dly truth. If we see that reality contradicts what the Rebbe said, then what we see is not true reality but an illusory reality which is a test. In every conflict we encounter in our lives, this is the touchstone; what the Rebbe says is the truth by which we live.

Many surely know the sicha (Parshas Shmos, Likkutei Sichos, vol. 26) where the Rebbe says that in every generation there must be a Moshe Rabbeinu, a soul in a physical body, and all the physical and spiritual influences come through him to everyone in the generation. Aside from that, the Rebbe expressed himself in many other ways in which he repeated and stressed that the Nasi of our generation lives eternally without interruption. Any sensible person realizes that the Rebbe did not use these terms for naught, but in order to provide us with the strength and encouragement for this difficult time when we don’t see the Rebbe, so we know the simple truth.

Therefore, when we use terms that denote the opposite, that rocks the ground beneath our feet and our “ground” is “we have nothing but what Ben Amram said.” Every practice or expression that goes counter to the simple understanding of what Ben Amram said weakens our emuna.

Perhaps all those things the Rebbe said about a physical body and there being no change of g’niza (being hidden away) were requests of his, prayers and hopes, as many like to think.

If so, maybe Hashem’s desire to have a “dwelling down below” is also a kind of wish, and the fact is that the world has become more and more coarse, more distant from the state in which it is transformed into a dira ba’tachtonim. If you were to say this to a Chassid, he couldn’t hear it, for since he was little he learned that the G-dly desire and purpose of creation is for Hashem to have a dira ba’tachtonim, and this is the truth of the matter. This that we see the reality of a materialistic world is the question.

So too with what the Rebbe said. To go and tell a Chassid that those things which the Rebbe demanded of us and which he repeated time and again – that the entire shlichus is now Moshiach to the point that the avodas ha’birurim ended and now all that remains is to welcome Moshiach and, if that wasn’t enough, that the Rebbe showed us how he embraced the saying of Yechi in the most public and powerful way, and to say it is all, G-d forbid, a request – to me, that is like saying that the G-dly desire for a dira ba’tachtonim is merely in the category of a wish.

The same is true for Moshiach and eternal life. When the Rebbe tells us that the Nasi Ha’dor lives eternally with no interruption, there is no other way to view reality.

And yet, what is the significance of twenty-plus years since Gimmel Tammuz?

First, Gimmel Tammuz might be the most significant date of all. The source for this is the sicha of Parshas Korach, 3 Tammuz 5751. The Rebbe stresses one of the most amazing ideas in connection with Gimmel Tammuz, that all the events that occurred throughout the generations on that day are connected.

If so, then this date is the most significant date ever. Our outlook ought to be based on what we spoke about earlier, that the world as a novelty and G-dliness as the default simple reality. Each of us needs to ask ourselves in all honesty: what for me is the “novelty” and what is the “simple reality”? If the Rebbe demands of us to proclaim that the Geula is literally here and that the Nasi Ha’dor is chai v’kayam in a physical body with no interruption and that the only remaining shlichus is to welcome Moshiach, then this is the truth! If so, all the concealment that hides the Rebbe from us does not shake this given that we accept as the simple reality, because anything outside of this is a “novelty” whose entire existence is only so that we reveal the truth. From that perspective, every auspicious time, every special date, we see as another, even greater opportunity to finalize the revelation.

But if the external appearance of things becomes the simple reality for someone, G-d forbid, while what the Rebbe said remains a novelty, then he can find himself confronted with a huge test, and in order to quiet his G-dly conscience, especially when there is a spiritual arousal on these and other dates, someone like him will twist things in order to find explanations so he can feel that he has fulfilled his obligations and the obligations of the day.


Gimmel Tammuz highlights the differences of opinion among Chabad Chassidim. Do you think there is a way to unite everyone?

Sure. I think that the big difficulty in talking about Moshiach that existed twenty-four years ago no longer exists and it is not the point that divides Chassidim. On the contrary, everyone tries to refer to Moshiach today, although I don’t think it’s enough.

Chassidim all know that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. This belief exists as simple faith in the heart and soul of every Chassid. The proof is that everyone uses the expression “Nasi Doreinu” which means the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, for he is the Nasi of our generation. Furthermore, every Chassid when put to the test connects to the Rebbe. I think this is the point that we can all rally round.

Hashem provides us with many opportunities in which we find ourselves as one big family, devoted to one another in a way that transcends reason, despite our differences of opinion. Of course, unity ought to be our goal, especially when the Rebbe said that the unity of Chassidim will lead them to greet Moshiach.

I would recommend that everyone learn the sicha of Gimmel Tammuz 5751 in depth. There, the Rebbe clarifies at length the reason why Hashem brings the world into existence every moment, as the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya. Why didn’t Hashem create the world in such a way that it would not need His ongoing input? Hashem was capable of creating a world like that with enough energy to sustain it throughout its existence!

The gist of the answer is that if Hashem created the world in a one-shot deal and left it, the relationship of created beings with the Creator would not be fresh and constant but something that relates to history. In such a case, a Jew would not be able to increase the glory of Hashem at every single moment and would lack pleasure in serving his Creator, for we know a person would rather one measure of his own than nine measures of his fellow.

So too it is with hiskashrus to the Rebbe. Hiskashrus to the Rebbe that is based on memories of the past, of saying how great the Rebbe was, and how he left us with material in which everything can be found, leaves us with the same difficulty and the same lack that caused Hashem to decide to create the world in a way in which He is constantly involved, bringing it to life at every moment.

It is in this sicha of Gimmel Tammuz 5751 that we learn that this is the way to hiskashrus with the Rebbe. True hiskashrus is with the awareness that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam and everything the Rebbe gives us is “fresh” and not past tense. Therefore, we need to publicize the Besuras Ha’Geula and the Goel and work devotedly on the only remaining shlichus, and then our hiskashrus to the Rebbe will be the source of our greatest pleasure and true inner purpose.


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