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CONTENTS

28
FEATURED ARTICLES

WEEKLY COLUMNS

3 Dvar Malchus
5 Anash Shlichus
19 Parsha Thought
34 Tzivos Hashem

TO RISE TO THE LEVEL


OF NOT KNOWING
Menachem Mendel Arad

IS BELIEVING
14 SEEING
Yaron Tzvi
SINGLE SOLDIER
22 ACANT
DO IT ALONE
Shneur Zalman Chaviv

WORK
28 SECRET
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
R Yosef Yitzchok Kaminetzky

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2015-03-02 9:05:31 AM

DVAR MALCHUS

IN THE MERIT OF THE


RIGHTEOUS WOMEN
From Chapter Seven of Rabbi Shloma Majeskis
Likkutei Mekoros (Underlined text is the compilers
emphasis.)
Translated by Boruch Merkur

17. [] Jewish women, young


ladies, and girls have the special
mission to see to it that their house
is a nice home adorned with fine
furnishings.
The first step towards this end is
through fulfilling and strengthening
the three Mitzvos entrusted to
women in their own homes
overseeing the kashrus of food and
drink, family purity, and candles for
Shabbos Kodesh and Yom Tov. This
includes encouraging girls (from as
young as age three) to light candles
(before their mother lights, so she
can help them, etc.).
Similarly, they should influence
other women and girls to fulfill and
strengthen these particular Mitzvos.
In general, women are entrusted
with the bulk of the responsibility
and merit to make a dwelling place
for G-d in the lower realms, making
the physical world into a nice
home with fine furnishings
You shall make for Me a Sanctuary
and I shall dwell among them,
within each and every Jew. The
correct approach to this task is
by beginning with oneself and
ones own household making it
into a Sanctuary and Temple for
G-d, a house of Torah, prayer,
and acts of kindness (as discussed
on many occasions). A woman
does this through her own proper
conduct, as well as by educating
her children and family members

to behave in a manner appropriate


for a Sanctuary and a Temple
for G-d, and in particular, a finely
crafted and adorned Sanctuary or
Temple.
This care also extends to what
is brought into the house, and into
each room of the house things
that are relevant to Torah, prayer,
and acts of kindness. It also includes
ensuring that every child in the
home has his or her own Chumash
(among other Torah sfarim), a
Siddur, and a charity box. All the
better if they also have their own
pocket-sized Tanya.
And in general, women should
accept upon themselves positive
resolutions to add and strengthen
in educating Jewish boys and girls,
beginning from a very young age (as
above).
Moreover, and this too is
of primary importance, in this
generation in particular, and
especially with regard to shluchos,
tichyehna: to encourage other
women and girls in all matters of
Torah and Mitzvos and Judaism,
spreading Torah and Judaism, in all
three areas of Torah, prayer, and
acts of kindness, and spreading the
wellsprings outward.
In particular, [success in this
mission is achieved by] drawing
strength from my revered father
in-law, the Rebbe, leader of the
generation, and from his synagogue

and beis midrash, and center for


altruistic activity (where we are right
now). Here the Rebbe (throughout
the final decade of his life in this
world) was involved in Torah,
prayer, and acts of kindness, and
with emphasis in all three areas, as
well as in spreading the wellsprings
outward. Now even after the
Rebbes efforts have been done
each individual may tap into this
energy, and in a manner of rising
in holiness, continually adding and
shining on.
In our times, the final moments
prior to the redemption, it is also
of utmost importance to inspire
all Jewish women and girls to
immediately bring about the true
and complete redemption, which
comes as a reward for the righteous
women of the generation, as above.
18. May it be G-ds will, and
this is of primary importance,
that so it should be in actuality,
and immediately, especially in
proximately to Chaf-Beis Shvat
Becha [which equals 22] yevareich
Yisroel that in the merit and
reward of the righteous women, all
Jews should finally be redeemed in
the true and complete redemption.
And those who reside in the dust
shall get up and sing, my revered
father in-law, the Rebbe, among
them, as well as his daughter, of
blessed memory, together with all
the righteous men and women, and

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all souls in general, together
with all Jews that are now living
may they be blessed with
longevity and welfare, a healthy
soul in a healthy body. May we
go on to experience, without
any interruption at all, eternal

Continued from page 5


Today, that student is a Chabad
Chassid.
Kashering
kitchens
is
constant hard work and also
requires expertise and a broad
range of halachic knowledge.
Youre doing this for nearly forty
years, I said. Have you ever
thought, enough - let the younger
fellows do the work?
I think about it nearly every
day, he candidly replied. Every
time I go up three or four flights
without an elevator with a gas
balloon on my back, I think:
Moshe, enough, this is the last
time. But this is my shlichus. We
are doing the Rebbes mivtzaim

life with the true and complete


redemption through Moshiach
Tzidkeinu. And may it take place
immediately. First and foremost,
it should happen absolutely
immediately, in the literal and
actual sense.

and the Rebbe gives kochos.


Besides, its not an easy field. You
need a lot of halachic knowledge
to do the job right. I have seen
younger guys who kashered
hotels for Pesach and not only
did they not make them chametzfree, I am not sure they were no
longer treif. People think you can
simply pour boiling water and
youve done the job.
One time a young man
asked me to kasher his kitchen.
He said, We eat kosher, but Ive
gotten more committed and I
only eat mehadrin now, so I want
to kasher the kitchen.
I got to work and began to
ask questions. It turned out they

I have seen younger guys who kashered hotels


for Pesach and not only did they not make them
chametz-free, I am not sure they were no longer treif.

(From the address of Shabbos


Parshas Yisro, 20 Shvat, and the
night and day of Monday of Parshas
Mishpatim, 22 Shvat, 5752; Seifer
HaSichos 5752, pg. 360-1)

would regularly buy fresh cows


meat from one of the moshavim
and kasher it themselves. They
did not remember how to do the
kashering properly and so their
meat was treif. Their kitchen had
to be kashered not from kosher to
mehadrin but from blood, which
is a complicated and difficult
kashering.
In a sicha that the Rebbe
edited about Mivtza Kashrus,
he said that whoever kashered
a kitchen and keilim etc. and
informed the secretariat how
much it cost, the Rebbe would
pay half. The Rebbe said that the
request for reimbursement must
be signed by the local rav where
they live. The reason is because
the laws of kashering are very
complex and its important that
a rav moreh horaa check out
the kashering and affirm that
it was done in accordance with
Halacha.

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ANASH SHLICHUS

ANASH
SHLICHUS

Name: R Moshe Dickstein


Age: 59
Children: 11
Occupation: Store Manager at
Merkaz Mitzvos Mehadrin
Location: Beer Sheva

By Zalman Tzorfati
Sometimes it happens day after
day. R Moshe Dickstein loads gas
balloons onto his broad shoulders, as
well as huge pots, burners, and other
equipment, and he goes to kasher
kitchens.
How long are you doing this? I
asked him.
Since
5736/1976,
shortly
after the Rebbe announced Mivtza
Kashrus. How old were you then?
he asked me.
My parents werent married
yet, I replied.
Okay Well, we started out
in Tel Aviv, moved to some other
places, and ended up in Beer Sheva.
I cant even remember how many
kitchens Ive kashered.
R Dickstein is one of the Rebbes
veteran soldiers in the south. He
was sent there by the Rebbe and
has become part of the Beer Sheva
scenery. There is nobody who has
grown up there who doesnt know
him, from elementary school, high
school, or the store at the central bus
station.

If that wasnt enough to


familiarize the public with R
Dickstein, he occasionally appears
in the newspaper, mainly regarding
accidents and less happy occasions
as the commander of a Zaka unit.
This volunteer work has recently
earned him a local medal from the
mayors office.
R Dickstein works as the
manager of a store located in Beer
Shevas central bus station. The
store operates exactly like a Chabad
House. The place is always busy with
locals as well as soldiers who get
whatever help they need in Jewish
matters.
R Dickstein lectures about
Judaism in all the schools. It began
with bar mitzva courses as part of
his work at Merkaz HaMitzvos,
and then his charm and winning
personality turned him into the
lecturer on Judaism in all the
schools in the city. He lectures
before holidays, at ceremonies, with
little children as well as teens. He is
always at the ready.

However, the work that seems


to be the most unremitting is Mivtza
Kashrus. On Shabbos, Parshas
Pinchas 5735, the Rebbe announced
the Kashrus Campaign. A short
while later, R Dickstein took on the
mission. To date, he has kashered
thousands of kitchens.
R Dicksteins name is in the
contact lists of not only the shluchim
of the south, but of all the kiruv
organizations that are active in the
cities and moshavim of the south.
They all have my phone number,
says R Dickstein. When a family is
ready to kasher, I show up with my
equipment.
Over the years, R Dickstein has
amassed some terrific stories.
One time, a student from
Russia called me. This was at the
beginning of the 90s, after the
big wave of immigration. He said
to me, I am not ready to become
religious but I want you to kasher
my kitchen because when I was in
Russia I promised that if I ever get
to Eretz Yisroel, I would eat kosher.
Continued on page 4
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INTERVIEW

achurim in yeshiva were


immersed in learning a
maamer Chassidus for
Purim; shluchim were
occupied making arrangements
for balabatim to visit army bases
and hospitals, and speaking to
mishloach manos suppliers; ladies
of the house were busy preparing
costumes and mishloach manos;
Rabbi Moshe Orenstein, mashpia
in the Chabad Yeshiva in Tzfas,
and I, sat in one of the rooms of
the yeshiva for a talk.
I had come to hear about a
Chassidishe Purim, what ad
dlo yada is really about, and
how to combine ad dlo yada
with keeping limits. We touched
upon familiar Chassidic concepts
such as simcha, hiskashrus,
lchaim, mivtzaim, and Ahavas
Yisroel, and even ad dlo yada,
which all seemed to take on a
new, fascinating and demanding
perspective.

WHAT IS A
CHASSIDISHE PURIM?
Purim is a day that is
perceived as a happy, easy day
and in some places its even
liberating. The VNahapoch
Hu sometimes takes on
negative
connotations.
In
Chabad, whats emphasized in
the Purim story is how, for an
entire year, the Jewish people
remained steadfast in their

commitment to Torah and this


is an auspicious time for tshuva
done with simcha. Please tell us
what a Chassidishe Purim is all
about.
To Chassidim, it was known
what is said in Torah Ohr,
quoting Tikkunei Zohar, that
Yom HaKippurim is only likePurim. The Rebbe explains that
this concept is also understood in
Nigleh of Torah:
At the end of Gemara Yoma,
it says that there are four types
of atonement. Three of them are
discussed by the Alter Rebbe in
Tanya: one who missed doing a
positive mitzva and repented, he
is forgiven; one who transgressed
a prohibition and did tshuva, his
tshuva hangs and Yom Kippur
atones. As far as sins involving
excision of the soul and the
capital punishment of beis din
for which someone did tshuva,
tshuva and Yom Kippur hang
and suffering scours him. As
for the fourth category, Chilul
Hashem, which the Alter Rebbe
does not bring in Tanya, one
who has desecrated G-ds name,
there is no power in tshuva to
hang, and not in Yom Kippur
to atone, and not in suffering
to scour, but they all remain
hanging and death scours.
We see something astonishing
here. The reason for the terrible
decree of Purim to annihilate
and kill and destroy, children

TO RISE TO THE LEVEL OF


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What is a Chassidic
Purim about? What
opportunities does it
provide that we dont
find the rest of the
year? * Mashke on
Purim allowed or not?
How should a Chassid
regard it on Purim? *
How do we implant
joy in our hearts even
with worrisome things
on our mind? * An
enlightening talk about
the inner dimension of
Purim.
By Menachem Mendel Arad

NOT KNOWING
Issue 964

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Interview
and women on one day was
apparently for the sin of Chilul
Hashem. According to one
opinion, it was because they
had bowed to the statue, and
according to another opinion,
it was because they had enjoyed
the party of that wicked man.
As Chazal say, Achashverosh
displayed the vessels of the
Mikdash in order to show that
according to his calculation,
the Jewish people would not
be redeemed and the Beis
HaMikdash would not be rebuilt.
Participating in his party and
flattering that evil man were a
great Chilul Hashem. Yet we see,
despite the terrible punishment
of death which scours so that
even Yom Kippur and suffering
cannot atone, the Jewish people
did tshuva and it was accepted.
For the entire year in which the
decree hung over their heads,
not one of them considered
converting to save his life since
the decree was only against Jews.
We see that the miracle of their
salvation was a turnabout that
the Jews who were meant to die,
which was all of them since they
were all under the dominion of
Achashverosh, prevailed over
their enemies.
This tells us that Purim has
tremendous power not just
to erase and forgive sins or
transform them into inadvertent
sins, but even deliberate sins
become merits.
We see that when Yom
Kippur comes, Jews, even those
quite distant, are inspired and
become contemplative, while
when Purim comes it doesnt
seem like people are particularly
moved. How do you explain
this?
True, but that is the special
quality of Purim. On Yom Kippur
we have potential mesirus nefesh,
Jews are ready to be Moser

Nefesh like angels, but on Purim


actual mesirus nefesh is revealed.
Because this day contains
such greatness, the other side
makes every effort to put a
costume on the holiday so that
it appears like a regular day.
And often, the extraordinary
day of Purim is missed because
we are busy with nonsense and
trivialities.
We can also explain the
difference like this: that we
prepare for Yom Kippur from
Rosh Chodesh Elul, while Purim
appears suddenly. But the truth
is, although Purim has a hidden
quality to it, and Hashem does
not appear openly in the Megilla
and we dont seem to sense the
preciousness of the day, this is so
that we arouse ourselves through
our own work. It is avoda such as
this which can bring a turnabout
in the fulfillment of Torah and
mitzvos, tshuva, and hiskashrus
to the Rebbe.
According to this, on Purim
we should sit and daven at
length, learn maamarim, make
a cheshbon hanefesh (spiritual
accounting) etc. Actually, people
dont have time for this. There
are the mitzvos of the day and
then mivtzaim and at the end of
the day, ad dlo yada. How do
the mivtzaim and lchaims fit
the seriousness of the day?
Ill
never
forget
the
farbrengen of Purim 5736/1976.
The Rebbe spoke about this very
point (later on it was printed in
Likkutei Sichos vol. 16). The
Rebbe asked: since according
to Halacha, one is supposed to
drink until he gets drunk and
falls asleep, and drunkenness
is an undesirable state, as the
Rambam says elsewhere that
gaiety and drunkenness are not
simcha but wildness, so how is it
allowed now?
The Rebbe explained that in

the time of Mordechai and Esther


the Jewish people accepted what
they had accepted previously,
i.e. it was the completion of
Mattan Torah. The Torah is
Hashem revealing His Will to
us which is why the souls of the
Jewish people flew out at Mattan
Torah. In order to reach that
level of Mattan Torah in the time
of Mordechai and Esther, they
were Moser Nefesh. Nowadays,
said the Rebbe, the idea of
transcending the material world
on Purim is as the Rambam
paskens, drinking until nodding
off.
This
means
that
the
achievement of Purim is the
idea of disengagement from
the physical, similar to the way
prophecy is described. As the
Rambam writes, All of them
do not see...except in a night
vision or by day after a deep
sleep has fallen over them...and
all of them when prophesying
their limbs tremble, the strength
of the body declines and their
cognitive
faculties
become
disoriented... (This is a fairly
close approximation of the
condition of someone who is in
an inebriated state.)
So, the obligation of simcha
is in an unlimited way until
he drinks and falls asleep in
his inebriation, when his selfawareness and cognitive faculties
are nullified.
Since we need to accept
the Torah at this time, there
needs to be a similar departure
from the body in the form of
unbridled simcha. A Jew dances
and rejoices as though he is
bringing his son to the chuppa.
Nothing bothers him; he has no
complaints against anyone. This
is simcha in an unlimited way,
when a Jews ego is absent, which
is referred to as going out of
oneself. He only thinks about

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what the Rebbe wants of him and


how he can be a better Chassid
and more mekushar.
I remember that when we
heard this from the Rebbe, we
were really astounded by it. But
then, the Rebbe added, there is
a deeper bittul, when a Jew does
not think of himself at all and
only thinks of others, for a person
is closest to himself and the most
important thing to him is his own
joy. However, when he does not
think about himself, about his
personal joy or elevation, but
completely devotes himself to
another Jew, with material and
spiritual tzdaka, bringing others
the joy of the holiday, this is the
way to achieve disengagement
from the physical and to receive
all the loftiest matters of Mattan
Torah, even beyond the loftiest
level of ad dlo yada.
This is the reason for the
change in the seventh generation
as
compared
to
previous
generations when they were busy
on Purim with learning, tfilla
and avoda. In our generation,
rather than sitting and being
introspective, a Chassid goes
and finds another Jew, on the
kibbutzim, in the army, the
police station, on the street, in
his building, and he brings them
the joy of the holiday. He gives
more gifts to the poor and more
mishloach manos and less ad dlo
yada.
We see throughout the
years that the Rebbes Purim
farbrengen took place at the
end of Purim after everyone had
finished with mivtzaim.

HOW SHOULD A CHASSID


TREAT MASHKE?
You touched on the topic of
drinking on Purim. I wont get
into a debate about whether
the Rebbes decree regarding

A person must guard his thoughts and


think only happy thoughts. He must
be careful not to say sad, gloomy things. On
the contrary, he must always display joyous
movements as though his heart is full of simcha,
even though this is not so, and in the end, it will
be so, truly so.

mashke is in force on Purim or


not. Id like to expand on the
joy that mashke brings versus
its negative aspects. How can
it be that such a lofty day is
characterized by drinking a lot?
We need to remember that the
obligation to become intoxicated
is brought in Shulchan Aruch as
Halacha. The question is how to
understand this and the Rebbe
himself spoke several times about
the inyan of drinking.
Furthermore,
the
Rebbe
once spoke about how unlike
other holidays, Purim is called a

day of feasting and rejoicing,


and not just one moment of the
day or several moments. This is
unlike the reading of the Megilla
and mishloach manos and gifts to
the poor which are done during a
specified time period and youve
fulfilled your obligation when the
specific action is completed.
At the Purim farbrengen of
5749, the Rebbe said that one
who fulfilled ad dlo yada literally,
fortunate is he and fortune is his
portion and great is his merit and
people should see and do as he
does. But before rushing to fill

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Interview
our cups with mashke, we need
to remember that even during
those times that the Rebbe spoke
about drinking a lot, he warned
not the bachurim. On another
occasion, Purim 5731, he said
that the balabatim could fulfill the
drinking obligation literally while
the bachurim should become
intoxicated in learning.
However, there were certain
years in which the Rebbe said to
drink to the point of intoxication,
but apparently we cannot draw
any conclusions since there were
also times the Rebbe said to
observe the decree on Purim
too. As we said, the debate about
the decree as it relates to Purim
is too long to get into here.
(Smiling): A married man has
a responsibility to his wife and
children and so there is the idea
that fear has a sobering effect.
As to your question, the
topic is discussed at length in
Chassidus and we dont have
time to get into it now, but I
will try to explain it briefly.
Throughout the year there is
the level of yada-knowing, i.e.
knowledge and apprehension of
G-dliness, and this is through
learning Chassidus. This is how
we fulfill the mitzva of know the
G-d of your father and serve Him
with a whole heart. Once a year,
a Jew reaches above the natural
order through avoda that comes
from the essence of his soul.
There, in this lofty state, there
needs to be until he doesnt
know the difference between
cursed is Haman and blessed
is Mordechai. That doesnt
mean that a Chassid ought to
drink until he screams Blessed
is Haman in the street or the
opposite.
Can we conclude from what
youve said that one should
drink a lot on Purim?
Its an individual kind of

thing. A person has to know


himself. Will mashke on Purim
bring him to Ahavas Yisroel,
to achdus, to forget about
himself in an uplifting manner,
to strengthen himself, or the
opposite? For those who arent
sure, the rule is when in doubt
be stringent, and he should
consult with his mashpia.
I remember that the mashpia
R Moshe Naparstek would say
on Purim that someone who is
on the level of yada throughout
the year, i.e. he learns and delves
into Chassidus, then on Purim he
rises up to the level of lo yada.
But someone who is on the level
of lo yada all year needs to start
with yada.
There is a unique sicha from
the Rebbe in which he sharply
addresses the inyan of mashke
on Purim and the right attitude
toward it.
On Shabbos Parshas Ki Sisa
5742, the Rebbe spoke at length
about eradicating Amalek. The
terminology there is unique and
we wont have time to get into
that, but every Chassid should
learn that sicha before Purim.
The Rebbe wonders how
it is possible that there are
Chassidim who dont care about
eradicating Amalek despite the
many maamarim. He even said,
On Purim this Jew saw how
his grandson stamps with his
little feet and makes noise with a
gragger when Hamans name is
mentioned and he yells to erase
Haman. Despite this, he himself
doesnt rise or budge when it
comes to wiping out Haman!
His little grandson wipes
out Haman sincerely and
enthusiastically and he tells his
younger brother that now they
need to yell daloi galus, and
when the grandfather sees his
grandsons behavior, he melts
with pleasure, seeing that his

grandson behaves as he (the


grandfather) taught him. Despite
all this, when it comes to him, he
does not rise or budge, he doesnt
bend or bow. And when he asks
why he should budge, he should
be told that Amalek lives within
him! Its just that he does not feel
that Amalek lives inside him. This
is the greatest danger of all, for
when he does not know or feel
it, he thinks it is not Amalek and
therefore does not fight against
it.
The Rebbe then notes the
irony of the great care taken
regarding
the
Halacha
of
drinking:
When speaking about the
general meaning of Purim, the
eradication of Amalek, avoda
in a manner that transcends
limitations, ad dlo yada he
knows nothing about what these
mean! He learns in Chassidus
about the etzem hanefesh, that
which transcends reason and
limitations, but he has no idea
what these are about. They
certainly dont move him. But
when you talk to him about
ad dlo yada, this he fulfills by
getting drunk and then going
to sleep in a comfortable bed
and this is how he fulfills his
obligation of ad dlo yada. These
are very lofty matters that are
connected to the etzem hanefesh
etc, but he twists it around in the
aforementioned manner!
These are indeed unusual
expressions, but according to
Halacha the Rambam paskens
that one should drink until he
becomes inebriated and falls
asleep in his drunkenness....
Indeed, and weve already
touched upon the Rebbes
explanation of the significance
of sleep. Still, if Purim reminds
someone of songs he sang in
kindergarten,
costumes
and
masks, then there is reason to

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"
fear that the mashke will bring
him to letting loose. Whereas
a Chassid, who throughout the
year has more kabbalas ol and
bittul, can attain heights on
Purim and it is not possible that
he will stumble with mockery or
insulting people. It is not possible
that due to the drinking he will
miss Maariv or Birkas HaMazon.

A PURIM FARBRENGEN
WITH THE REBBE IS THE
DIAMOND IN THE CROWN
At Purim farbrengens over
the years, there were miracles
and revelations. Please tell us
about Purim with the Rebbe.
I spent five Purims with the
Rebbe. Relative to other holidays,
its few, but the special character
of the Purim farbrengen is etched
in my mind.
In general, it is known that on
Purim there were open miracles
like in 5713 when the Rebbe
said two maamarim and killed
Stalin. On Purim 5715 the Rebbe
announced that whoever wants

The Purim farbrengens took hours,


sometimes eight hours, in the course of
which people saw special giluyim in Chassidus.
Its not always possible to sum up this incredible
feeling in words and quotes.

wealth should raise his hand.


But the truth is, every Purim
farbrengen with the Rebbe was
unusual. We all felt that the
Purim farbrengen is the diamond
in the crown.
Unlike Poilishe Admurim
who have a Purim shpiel, by
the Rebbe there were many
sichos and maamarim. The
Purim farbrengens took hours,
sometimes eight hours, in the
course of which people saw
special giluyim in Chassidus. Its
not always possible to sum up
this incredible feeling in words
and quotes.
We arrived at the Rebbes
farbrengen at the end of a busy
day of mivtzaim and hearing

the Megilla read in the Rebbes


presence. When we went to the
Purim farbrengen, we felt that the
Rebbe was raising us up above
the ground. Elokus bpeshitus
was so tangible that you had to
be mechadesh that there was
also your own existence and
the existence of the world. And
all this was with the enormous
simcha we saw on the Rebbes
face. It is hard to describe to
someone who never experienced
Purim with the Rebbe.
In general, every utterance of
the Rebbe at these farbrengens
was overflowing with an inner
sense of Ahavas Yisroel, love for
Torah, and love for Hashem.
In between, there were joyous
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Interview
niggunim.
Do you have an anecdote for
us that is not well known?
I did not attend the Purim
farbrengen 5715, but I recently
read a description of it which was
written by R Yoel Kahn.
Back then, during the
niggunim between the sichos,
people went over to the Rebbe
and asked for brachos. In the
early years, a line would actually
form to get to the Rebbes place.
You could see that the Rebbe
wasnt entirely pleased by this,
for there is a time for everything
and a farbrengen is a time for
spiritual elevation. If a person
is sitting during the sicha and
thinking about what he wants to
ask, he is not focusing on what is
being said.
In later years, the Rebbe asked
that this minhag be stopped
except for exceptional cases of
pikuach nefesh and urgency. The
Rebbe said there was a time to
ask for brachos.
That year, 5715, at the end
of a long line, the Rebbe spoke
emotionally about how people
were asked at least once a year,
on Purim, to not think about
themselves and about what they
want and need, but only about
what Hashem needs of them.
The Rebbe said that still, people
are not able to forget about
themselves. This one cant forget
about an operation and that one
cant forget about the deficit in
his bank account and still another
one wants to be rid of his yetzer
hara.
If only there was one day
on which people abandoned
everything, said the Rebbe.
Although each person knows
his standing and situation, still
and all, on Purim one can attain
the ultimate elevation. This is
Hashems request of the Jewish
people [and the Rebbe said the

following statement in a loud


voice from the depths of his pure
heart] that every one of you work
on himself so that at least on the
days of Purim there will be a few
moments that he forgets about
himself and consequently about
his household and consequently
about what he is lacking and
then the Rebbe started a niggun
dveikus.

SERIOUS PURIM
HISKASHRUS
Purim
connects
us,
Chassidim
of
the
7th
generation, with the maamer
VAta Tetzaveh, the last one
we received from the Rebbe. It
explains that the Nasi HaDor
is one who nourishes the faith
of the Jewish people in his
generation. When you connect
with Mordechai, it strengthens
your emuna. How are we
to understand and learn the
maamer in connection to us and
our Rebbe?
Generally
speaking,
the
concept of hiskashrus is very
broad and requires tremendous
work. We cannot fool ourselves!
Hiskashrus is avoda! To be
devoted to the Rebbe means to be
devoted to Hashem. You cannot
separate it and say Im fine with
the Rebbe, but with Hashem its
a bit hard for me. Tzaddikim are
like their Creator and you cannot
separate them.
We need to invest, to work
hard, in order to see results.
Even when the Rebbe demands
something from a Tamim, he
needs to think: What will give the
Rebbe nachas? What does the
Rebbe want of me? Not, What
do I feel will strengthen my
hiskashrus?
The mashpia R Zushe
Silberstein gave an example that
makes it clear. There was once

a mekurav who wanted to make


the Rebbe happy and give him
something special. He decided
he would give the Rebbe a gold
ring. Whats wrong with that?
Yosef HaTzaddik and Mordechai
HaYehudi also had rings from the
king.
When he went to the Rebbe,
the Rebbe tried to explain to
him that he wouldnt use it, but
the man didnt get it. Finally, the
Rebbe offered to sell the ring and
give the money to tzdaka. The
man said: Okay, Ill give its cost
to tzdaka and the ring to the
Rebbe. So the Rebbe motioned to
him double, that he should give
twice its worth to tzdaka.
A similar thing happened
when they changed the Rebbes
car without consulting him.
Whoever did this certainly did
it with love for the Rebbe. The
Nasi HaDor definitely deserves a
nice car. But what happened was
that the Rebbe left 770 and was
entirely unimpressed. He said he
would continue traveling in the
previous car. When they told the
Rebbe that the previous car was
at a distance from 770, the Rebbe
began walking in that direction.
Hiskashrus is not a question
of how will I express my
creativity. Its about what does
the Rebbe expect of me.
I remember what the Chassid
R Eliyahu Friedman ah, who
started our yeshiva in Tzfas, once
spoke about the letter from the
Rebbe regarding the customs of
Yud Shvat in which the Rebbe
writes to all mekusharim and
those connected to the Rebbe,
my father-in-law. We see that
even for those who did not see
the Rebbe Rayatz and were
born after his passing there is a
zealousness to fulfill the horaa
of getting an aliya to the Torah
on the Shabbos before Yud
Shvat. But for the other horaa,

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to address the youth and inspire


them to Ahavas Yisroel and to tell
them about the Rebbe, we need
volunteers
If we take for example what
the Rebbe said to the bachurim
about the prohibition to drink
mashke, a bachur who cares
deeply about hiskashrus needs
to be shaken by this: Gevald! I
just learned what the Rebbe said
about getting drunk on Purim
and its talking to me!
This is the point of VAta
Tetzaveh, to see what the
Rebbe, Mordechai HaYehudi
of our generation, the one
who nourishes the faith of the
Chassidim by way of our cleaving
to his commands, demands of us.
How do we invest in
hiskashrus?
If we take for example what
is happening in the world, we
can understand it. A young
man wants to be a doctor,
for example. He spends years
studying, spends a fortune, and
he works as a waiter to cover
his living expenses. He has no
life, no money, not a minute to
himself, but he knows that this
is all for the cause, for his lifes
ambition.
Why shouldnt that kind
of work and effort be found
among our ranks? Where
does the mistake come from
that something as precious as
hiskashrus will come to us for
free?!
Today, people want everything
instantly, without effort. We
are the generation of the
Schottenstein Gemaras, Kehati
Mishnayos, Shaarei Tosfos and
even a translated Zohar. In the
same way we try to come up
with hiskashrus shortcuts, to be
mekushar to the Rebbe without
work and effort. We need to
remember that the payment for
the precious commodity called

hiskashrus to the Rebbe is


worth all the costs and effort, and
the price is: toil of the soul and
toil of the flesh, a broken heart,
work and toil.
As a child, I wondered about
the story about Hillel who went
up on the roof to be able to
learn Torah. A Jew comes along
who can barely earn enough to
support his family, and yet he
divides his earnings and uses half
to pay to enter the beis midrash.
One time, when he doesnt have
enough money, not even for food
for his family, and he asks to be
allowed into the beis midrash, he
is refused. What was he asking
for already?!
Apparently, it was his mesirus
nefesh that made him into Hillel
HaZakein, Nasi in Israel. When
you pay the price, when you

are willing to make an effort for


something important, that shows
its really important to you and
then you can be very successful.
As they say, easy come easy go.
What should we do when its
not as it should be? Purim is
around the corner should we
be happy or sad?
Sad? G-d forbid. Of course,
happy. Purim is the right time.
Even if up until now things were
not as they should have been,
its the time to make hachlatos
and to receive kochos, to make
a turnabout. These days are
remembered and done. At the
time of the Purim story, the
Jewish people were on a low
level, materially and spiritually.
Materially since every Jew in
Continued on page 33
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PROFILE

SEEING IS

BELIEVING
Dr. Yosef Nachum (Joseph) Trachtman, a Lubavitcher optometrist from
Seattle, developed a revolutionary method for treating vision deficits
without surgery or any procedures whatsoever. He has treated American
fighter pilots and Olympic athletes. * Beis Moshiach spoke with Dr.
Trachtman about how he became a Lubavitcher Chassid, about the vision
training method he developed, and about his vision for medicine in Yemos
HaMoshiach.
By Yaron Tzvi

n Chanuka 5752,
in a sicha the Rebbe
said to senior citizens
who attended Tiferes
Zkeinim and Chochmas Nashim,
he spoke about perfect vision in
the times of Moshiach. Even those
who need glasses now, Hashem will
release them from this limitation
too and they will suddenly receive
healthy eyes, utterly perfect, so
there wont even be any need for a
magnifying glass in order to read
small print.

When I first heard of Dr.


Trachtman and his method to
improve vision, I thought this
must be a preview of coming
attractions and part of the worlds
advancing toward the Geula. But
in a conversation I had with him
I realized its not merely a taste
of the promises of the Geula but
it also helps us understand the
Rebbes horaa of opening our
eyes to see the Geula. Even when
the eyes do not see well, the brain
can be trained to get us to see.

Sounds like the mind controls


the heart? That sums up Dr.
Trachtmans approach.

MY FIRST ENCOUNTER
Over half a year ago I heard
about Dr. Trachtman and his
method from a good friend of
mine, Ovadia Menasheh Antian.
He excitedly told me how after
only two visits, the strength
of his glasses was reduced.
When I recently heard that Dr.

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Trachtman was coming on a work


related visit to Crown Heights,
I decided to go and see him for
a series of treatments and since
he is a Chabad Chassid, I was
interested in knowing whether
there is a connection between
his method and the Rebbes
demand that we open our eyes.
In our conversation, which took
place in a temporary clinic on
Lefferts, I wasnt disappointed,
not spiritually and not medically.
Our first appointment was for

a Friday at 11:30 in the morning.


Dr. Trachtman opened the door
and led me into the basement
where he began a routine eye
exam. At a certain point he
brought out the special machine
that he uses for his treatment,
the Zone-Trac. Later on he
explained that the person using it
locates the best zone in his brain
which has the ability to control
his vision.
When he took the machine
out of its case, I thought I was

in a science fiction film. Its sort


of like big glasses that you put on
which is supported by a strap on
your neck and is connected with
wires to a machine which beeps.
Dr. Trachtman explained to
me that the beep is a response
to how I use my eye muscles.
After properly placing the special
glasses, Dr. Trachtman said,
Now listen to the beep, do
nothing else, just listen to the
beep. Make the beep go higher.

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Profile
I had no idea how I was
supposed to do that and he gave
me just one instruction, Tracht
gut! Without really knowing
what I was doing, I managed to
make the beep higher as though
with the power of my will and I
heard him say, Youre doing it!
Very good! Continue making the
beep louder.
The treatment continued
with my exercising each eye a
few times and then, when I took
off the instrument and looked
around the room, I noticed that
it had changed a bit. I was seeing
better. Just like that!

The course was given in New


York at Mt. Sinai Medical School.
There were only six people in this
program and top computer and
medical professors from all over
the Northeast taught us. When I
entered the program I already had
two doctorates, one in optometry
and another in experimental
psychology. It was when I was
part of this program that I began
taking an interest in Judaism. It
is also when I first had the idea
of developing an unconventional
method to improve vision.
The

cold,

scientific

There is a close connection between light in the


eyes and joy in the heart. My job as a doctor is to
fix the light in the eyes, thus increasing simcha too.
GROWING UP IRRELIGIOUS
IN CROWN HEIGHTS
Dr. Trachtman was born on
25 Adar 5706/1946 in Crown
Heights where he lived until
he was three and a half years
old. His fathers family came
from Russia from the area near
Odessa. His grandfather was
a cantonist who fled Russia
in 1905. His mothers family
came from Poland, descendants
of Litvishe rabbanim. Dr.
Trachtmans family moved to
Staten Island for health reasons.
He grew up with a limited
Jewish
upbringing.
Because
he was inclined toward the
sciences, he spent sixteen years
pursuing these studies in which
he gained expertise. In 1977,
after completing two doctorates
in addition to three other
degrees (two Masters and one
Bachelors), he decided to pursue
a specialized course in a new field
developing at the time which was
entitled Computers in Medicine.

approach of the professors


made me uncomfortable and I
stumped them with challenging
questions about the basic
principles of science. I knew
that all of science is built on
basic principles that can change
tomorrow. Judaism, on the other
hand, has one fundamental
premise, expounded upon by the
Rambam in the first Halacha
in his Yad HaChazaka, namely,
the truism that there is a G-d.
After sixteen years of secular
study I realized that science is not
a basis for truth. Science is full of
excuses, distortions and simply,
mistaken information. At that
sensitive time full of dilemmas
about the meaning of life, I read
books about Judaism, and the
Rebbe appeared to me in dreams
until I found myself returning to
Crown Heights.
I asked him how he had
heard about the Rebbe and he
explained, Everyone then knew
who the Lubavitcher Rebbe was,

it was no secret. We often heard


farbrengens of the Rebbe on the
radio.
The turning point came in
5742 when a friend gave me
a copy of Tanya. He wasnt a
Lubavitcher; he had gotten the
Tanya from a Lubavitcher and he
didnt want it. I began reading
it and was captivated; I was
reading a book that surpassed all
the psychology books I had ever
read. I learned Tanya in depth
and became a hidden Chassid,
said Dr. Trachtman with a smile.
This went on until 57512 when I served as president of
the Rotary Club of Brooklyn.
A member of the club lost a
relative and I went to complete
the minyan. I assumed I would
manage with the tfilla since I
had studied Hebrew at an early
stage in life, for my bar mitzva.
I began davening regularly
in the Chabad house where the
minyan for the mourners was,
in Brooklyn Heights, which was
called the Bnei Avrohom shul.
I eventually let my beard grow
and began wearing a yarmulke
and tzitzis and learned more and
more Chassidus and Nigleh. I
had a strong, deep connection to
the Rebbe which pulled me to be
his Chassid and do everything he
said.
In 5753 I was in Crown
Heights and there was a Rebbe
alert which indicated that the
Rebbe was about to enter 770.
Everyone started running to 770
and I did too. That was the first
time that I saw the Rebbe and it
made an enormous impression
on me.
In 5754 I married and three
years later our daughter was
born.
Although I am a doctor, I
knew that medicine comes from
G-d and I am just a channel

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for the healing. I have come in


contact with various people,
Jewish and non-Jewish, some of
them famous. Every time people
see a person knowledgeable
in a secular field while being
a religious Jew, it makes a big
Kiddush Hashem. The impact
becomes even greater when
they see that the method I have
developed helped them improve
significantly.
R Yosef told me how much he
loves to learn Torah and that he is
about to make a siyum on Shas
to mark his fathers yahrtzait,
after twenty years of learning.
He explained that it took so long
because he went through all
kinds of periods and situations in
life. I am sure that without the
kochos the Rebbe gave each and
everyone of us, we would not be
where we are today, materially
and spiritually.

REVEALING THE
POWER OF THE EYE
While going for additional
treatment to exercise my eyes, R
Yosef explained to me a bit about
the concept and how it began:
During that program I
mentioned earlier, we learned,
based on research done at NASA,
that it is possible to control the
focusing function of the eye. I
understood from this that it is
possible to control the ciliary
muscle which is located
behind the portion of the
eye where the eye color is.
The muscle expands and
contracts depending on
the distance we need to
focus on. Someone who
is shortsighted suffers
from a deformation
of this muscle. My
method focuses on
using the muscle in a
controlled way by using
the brain and helped by

biofeedback, which is what the


beeping is about.
Its like meditating on
a maamer Chassidus until
it expands your ability to
comprehend. Chassidus explains
that the intellectual soul absorbs
G-dly things and applies them
to the animal soul. So too with
physical healing, in principle
it works the same way we
broadcast to the brain the ideal,
good vision, and model for the
brain the ability it has until it
actually learns how to get the
eyes to see properly.
The first experiment I did in
this method was in a graduation
project that I had to do in the
course of my studies. I developed
a sort of primitive machine that
I constructed based on NASAs
research. My first patient, who
wanted to be a fireman, did
not see well and was having a
hard time getting a job. Within
fifteen
visits
I
w a s
able to lower
his
eyeglass
prescription
significantly
to
the
point
that
w a

he
s

able to get the job. Shortly


thereafter some of my patients
invested and we formed a
company through which we
continued in research and
development until we produced
machines that can be used by
eye doctors and individuals.
The technique of controlling
the eye through the brain was
something I developed in other
ways. For example, I was asked to
treat pilots in the American navy.
They would become temporarily
blinded after a flight because of
the lack of color contrast in the
skies. My job was to restore their
focus and vision. Another thing
was the difficulty in landing a
plane on aircraft carriers at sea
because of the mass of detail that
a pilot needs to see and digest
in a short amount of time. With
my technique I taught them to
see in slow motion. This is a
means of heightening perception
by increasing the amount of
information that the average
person can absorb in a given
period of time, which solved the
problem.
In general, I have
many opportunities to work
with official organizations or
important and famous people
and of course, I do not hide my
identity as a religious Jew which
is apparent from the way I
look. Many of the nonJews who come to me
and see my Jewish
appearance feel that
they will get added
value from a religious
person.
Are
there
skeptical reactions
to the method you
developed?
Anything
new
and different that
promises
something

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Profile
positive is usually regarded as
suspicious and odd. Its not
really a comparison, but still,
when the Chassidic movement
first began there were many
who did not believe that such a
wondrous thing existed. People
sometimes are fearful of being
freed from their limitations or
have a hard time believing that
its really happening to them,
even in an area of life where they
were lacking. But we know that
Chassidic teachings are what
will bring the true and complete
Geula.
The
same
sometimes
happens with my invention.
People find it hard to believe that
its possible to get rid of your
glasses without surgery or laser,
but with frequent exercises (and
at a later stage, less frequent
exercises and even without the
machine), the number usually
goes down until glasses are no
longer needed.
Tell us some more about
the connection between your
treatment and Chassidus.
Every day in davening we say
the Rebbes pasuk, The light of
the eyes gladdens the heart, and
good news fattens the bone.
There is a close connection
between light in the eyes and joy
in the heart. My job as a doctor
is to fix the light in the eyes, thus
increasing simcha too.
With my method, there is the
do good before the stay away
from evil, as the Alter Rebbe
brings in Tanya. The training first
gives the eye a positive feeling
and taste of the desired state
and enables it to channel the
necessary energies and thus free
itself from an undesirable state.
While most medical treatment
methods deal with the symptoms
and external functions, here its
an inner process learned through
biofeedback. When you are aware

of what is happening, your power


of will kicks in in a way of tracht
gut vet zain gut, i.e. you will want
to improve and concentrate on
the process.

THE DOCTORS VISION FOR


YEMOS HAMOSHIACH
Ive thought a lot about
what the Rebbe said, that the
time has come to open our eyes
and to see the reality of Geula
already existing in the world.
I understand this, first of all,
in the physical sphere, that we
need to use all opportunities
to see well and to see right. In
Yemos HaMoshiach glasses will
no longer be needed and if so,
when you get a taste of the Geula
now, its the time to see this
promise implemented already.
But when you look at it
deeper, during the process we
expand or reveal our hidden
abilities to improve our vision.
We still need to reveal, with
Hashems help, many other
hidden abilities that we have,
both materially and spiritually,
abilities that Hashem implanted
in us which will enable us to open
our eyes and bring the Geula the
Rebbe spoke about.
The Rebbe said that the role
of doctors in Yemos HaMoshiach
will be just to tell people they are
healthy since no one will be sick.
I cant wait for that time! When
a person sees better, his heart is
happier, and the consciousness
expands, and then its possible
to grasp more than what we see
in our limited reality. We need to
start seeing that we already have
so many signs of the Geula in our
world and open our eyes to see
in the way the Rebbe shows us
to look. We need to discover our
ability to live and see Moshiach
and Geula in actual reality.

A person can see and be


aware of his surroundings, or the
opposite, be present but not see
at all. Its a matter of choice and
awareness. It works both ways, in
the negative too - there are many
symptoms of problematic health
situations which people dont
pay attention to due to lack of
awareness. If its that way in the
negative, all the more so in the
positive!
After personally experiencing
this extraordinary methodology,
which enabled me to dare go
around a few times without
glasses, I commented to Dr.
Trachtman how surprising it is
that this technique is not used by
every eye doctor in the world. For
this too he had a Chassidic vort:
As the Rebbe says, Moshiach
is already here but not everyone
is ready to see that this is the
reality. However, the truth is
that the reality is not what we see
around us but what we choose to
take in. We just need to develop
our ability to see reality correctly.
The same is so with this
unique method for improving
vision. The world still sometimes
finds it hard to accept or
understand, like any new method
that appears, and this is despite
there being many American
doctors who use it. We are
presently working on raising
capital to be able to streamline
the production process and to
reduce the cost of the machine
so we can reach every corner of
the world and bring the The light
of the eyes gladdens the heart,
especially the heart and center
of the world, Eretz Yisroel. Very
soon, when Moshiach appears,
we will learn Torah in a way of
seeing and without glasses, as the
Rebbe said.
Dr. Trachtmans website is:
www.accommotrac.com

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PARSHA THOUGHT

THE CURE FOR


INSANITY
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

MOSES STRANGE DEFENSE


One of Jewish historys most
significant and tragic events was
the creation and worshipping
of a Golden Calf, just 40 short
days after we received the Torah
at Sinai. Because of the severity
of this transgression, the Torah
records G-ds threat: I have
observed this people and look!
They are a stiff-necked people.
Now leave Me alone, and My
anger will be kindled against
them and I will annihilate them.
Moses, the faithful shepherd
of the Jewish people, steps in and
pleads for them: Why, O G-d,
should Your anger be kindled
against Your people Withdraw
from the heat of Your anger
The Torah concludes with G-d
acceding to Moses pleas.
Yet, in a subsequent verse,
Moses returns to G-d and states:
Please! This people has
committed a terrible sin Now,
if You forgive their sin (then well
and good) but if not, please erase
me from Your book, which You
have written.
Why would Moses, the
defender of Israel, ready himself
to be erased from G-ds book,
say, This people has committed
a terrible sin. Didnt that
magnify their transgression?
A defense lawyer seeks out
weakness in the case of the
prosecution, yet here Moses uses

harsher language than G-d:


G-d uses the term stiffnecked and states, They have
abandoned the way which I
commanded them. Harsh as
they are, these words sound far
more benign than Moses stark
statement: This people has
committed a terrible sin.

THE IRRATIONALITY OF SIN


The
Or
HaChayim
addresses this matter directly. It
demonstrates that Moses words
actually constituted a highly
effective defense of the sinners.
The following is an adaptation of
Or HaChayims approach, with
additional Chassidic insights and
commentary:
The Zohar wonders, how
could a person who possesses
a soul, a veritable part of G-d,
commit a transgression? It is
counterintuitive and irrational.
The answer to this vexing
question is recorded in the
Talmud:
A person does not transgress
unless a spirit of foolishness
enters him.
The Tanya explains that if
left to simple logic and common
sense, we would never do
anything contrary to G-ds will.
To the soul, committing even
the minutest sin is tantamount
to betraying ones belief in
G-d. Sinning is a rejection of

G-d. From the vantage point


of an unobstructed soul that is
impossible.

A SPIRIT OF FOOLISHNESS
The only rationale for the
irrational commission of sins is
that a spirit of foolishness enters
our consciousness and convinces
us that a small sin does not
truly and seriously affect our
relationship with G-d. That is a
foolish, irrational conclusion.
Now, there certainly are
people who have rarely or
never been exposed to their
own souls G-dly energy or to
G-dly lifestyles, i.e., a life of
commitment to Torah and its
commandments. A Jew raised in
a secular environment and who
has been denied the opportunity
to experience G-dly light through
Torah study, prayer and Mitzvah
observance is understandably
incapable of grasping the severity
of transgression.
However, when it comes to
Jews who have been exposed
to and internalized the single
most dramatic, unprecedented
and unparalleled manifestation
of G-ds presence, there is
absolutely no way that he or she
can be a sane human being while
sinning.
Could a person, awake and
with eyes wide open in broad
daylight, look straight at an
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PARSHA THOUGHT
approaching menace and then
deny that it is there? If that
were to happen, how would
we diagnose that individual?
We would say that he or she
is suffering from a delusional
mental disorder or in a
debilitating state of denial or total
shock.

TEMPORARY INSANITY
Let us now return to the
wording of Moses statement
to G-d, focusing on the literal
translation of his words:
Please! This people chata
[have been deficient], chataah
gdola [severely deficient].
The Hebrew word for sin,

G-d, through His servant Moses,


go against G-ds most essential
command - not to have other
gods - and so blithely repudiate
everything Moses had taught
them? How can a nation lifted so
high fall so low?
These were the questions
underlying Moses successful
defense of the Jewish nation at
that time.
Moses provided the answers
to these rhetorical questions
himself. G-d, please recognize
that these people have lost their
minds; a spirit of foolishness has
entered into them and perverted
their way of thinking. They can
only be suffering from temporary

The advent of Galus changed everything. One of


the symptoms of exile is the loss of sanity. We
may be able to function as rational beings in all other
aspects, but when it comes to our spiritual lives we
degenerate into this state of irrationality. We fail to see
the light of Torah and Mitzvos and the harm we bring
down upon ourselves by constructing our own figurative
Golden Calves.

cheit, does not mean sin in this


context. Instead, it means a lack
of something, a defect or deficit.
Moses was not indicting
his people for their great
transgression. Rather, he was
defending them, asserting that
the transgression was not entirely
their fault. Moses asked how
it was possible for a nation, so
blessed with the greatest spiritual
treasures, to commit such a
heinous crime? How could a
people, who witnessed G-ds
hand splitting the Red Sea and
then experienced G-ds essence
as revealed at Sinai, turn against
Him? How could a people so rich
in blessings and miracles from

insanity or spiritual amnesia.

G-DS WORK
How could an otherwise
spiritually sophisticated nation,
whose hearts were purified
through the Sinai experience,
suddenly degenerate into utter
depravity? The only possible
answer is that G-d Himself
caused this temporary insanity.
This approach drastically
minimizes
the
degree
of
culpability of the Jewish people.
It is rooted in the Talmud, which
states that the Jewish people of
that generation were perfectly
incapable of committing that

sin. The only reason it happened


was to demonstrate the power
of Tshuva. It was a profound
lesson: an entire nation can be
rehabilitated through repentance
and return to G-d even after so
precipitous a fall.

THE CURE
What did the Jewish people
do to atone for their temporary
relapse into idolatry?
The opening statements of
this weeks parsha refer to their
contribution of the Half-Shekel
to make amends.
How could such a paltry
payment atone for such a colossal
sin? And if their transgression
really was a symptom of
temporary insanity, how would
parting with a half-shekel bring
them back to their senses?
An answer is given in a 20th
century work, Even Shlomo.
The Half-Shekel symbolized
the half-baked mindset of the
sinner. The sinners intellectual
powers had to have been severely
compromised. If not, how could
they have done the most irrational
thing and gone against their very
source of life and sustenance?
When a sinner recognizes that he
or she is lacking and suffers from
a spirit of foolishness, he or she
starts on the way to recovery.

GALUS IS INSANE!
Although the Jewish people
suffered from this mental lapse,
it was only for a short time.
With their construction of the
Mishkan, the portable Sanctuary
in the desert, G-ds presence
and a concomitant state of sanity
were restored. This healthy state
of affairs continued as long as we
lived in our Holy Land and our
Bais HaMikdash stood intact.
The advent of Galus changed
everything. One of the symptoms

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of exile is the loss of sanity.


We may be able to function
as rational beings in all other
aspects, but when it comes to
our spiritual lives we degenerate
into this state of irrationality.
We fail to see the light of Torah
and Mitzvos and the harm we
bring down upon ourselves by
constructing our own figurative
Golden Calves.
The ultimate cure for this
protracted condition, of course,
will come at the end of exile, with
the coming of Moshiach and the
rebuilding of the third and final
Bais HaMikdash.
For now, we must focus on
the spiritual ideal of the halfshekel. It suggests the way for
us to remove the mental bloc
that keeps us blind to truth and
rationality.

THREE MESSAGES
The Half-Shekel is laden with
symbolism. It teaches us the three
important lessons that provide
the cure for our Galus insanity.
First, we must recognize that
we are only half of the equation.
The other half is G-d. Focusing
and reflecting on this enables

us to feel our connection to and


utter dependence on Him. The
more we reflect on this, the saner
we become.
Second, we must also
recognize that we are both
incomplete without the other.
We are likened to a single body
comprising disparate limbs and
organs. Illness sets in, G-d forbid,
when the various components
of our bodies think they are
independent of each other. More
severe illness occurs when the
brain is not in touch with the
rest of the body. A body in which
all of the constituent parts work
together harmoniously points to
a healthy brain. Jewish unity, as
reflected in the Half-Shekel, is
a sign that our brain is healthy.
Moreover, a healthy brain
actually fosters spiritual health.
The third lesson of the HalfShekel comes from the letters
of the word machatzis, which
means half. The central letter of
this word is the tzaddik- alluding
to the righteous person. The
letters closest to the tzaddik
spell the word chai-life, whereas
the letters most distant from the
tzaddik spell mes-dead.

The lesson of the closeness of


the word chai to tzaddik is that
those who try to connect to and
bask in the light and warmth of
the tzaddik are fully alive. Indeed,
the tzaddik is both the head of
the Jewish people and its heart.
The stronger the connection
between the different organs of
the body to the brain and heart,
the healthier we are.
This is the basis of the
Chassidic
tradition,
rooted
in the Talmud and Biblical
literature, to follow a Rebbe, a
spiritual master. Not only does
that closeness help us learn how
best to live our lives, it connects
our minds to his healthy mind.
Whatever mental deficit we may
have will be made whole when we
are in close proximity to the mind
of the tzaddik. Our minds will be
working at full capacity with the
utmost clarity.
With that clarity, coupled
with the preceding two lessons
of the Half-Shekel (dependence
on G-d and recognizing our
organic unity with others), we
will be fully prepared for the Final
Redemption, the ultimate state of
sanity.

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SHLICHUS

A SINGLE
SOLDIER

CANT
DO IT
ALONE
A conversation with R Yitzchok
Gruzman about what motivates
him to bring out shliach after
shliach to his area. * How he
picks the new shluchim. * How
they handle conflicts. * How
a statement from the mayor
changed his way of thinking.
By Shneur Zalman Chaviv
Photos by Yitzchak Ratovsky

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Shlichus

few months ago, at


the big event we held
in the center of town
for the Simchas Beis
HaShoeiva, the deputy mayor came
over to me. Hes a good friend and
a talented guy. We began talking
about the work of Chabad in
Rishon LTziyon and he said, Tell
me, how many are you?
I was happy at the
opportunity to tell him about
our work and said, We are 28
shluchim in 18 Chabad Houses.
What?! he exclaimed. I
cant believe it! Are you kidding?
G-d forbid, I said with a big
smile.
But there are 300,000
people in Rishon LTziyon,
he pointed out. How can 28
shluchim reach 300,000 Jews?
Here I had been patting
myself on my back, but this man
is someone who works in the
trenches. His job entails providing
services to the residents. If he was
saying this, he knew what he was
talking about. If occasionally I
had looked around and felt good
about the empire of shluchim that
had developed, I was suddenly
faced with the truth - how far we
are from the goal.

CHAI (18) PLUS YECHI (28)


R Yitzchok Gruzman, shliach
in Rishon LTziyon, is the man
identified with the approach of
opening the ranks in shlichus.
He has been in Rishon LTziyon
for 26 years. When he first
arrived the city was much smaller.
In recent years it has rapidly
developed and doubled in size.
R Gruzman has brought shliach
after shliach to the city. A Chabad
shul, mosdos, a thriving khilla of
Anash, 18 Chabad houses and 28
shluchim are now an integral part
of the city landscape.
My vision for the upcoming

year is for every shliach to bring


another shliach, at least one.
There are still entire areas that
receive services from one Chabad
house. I want to reach the point
where there will be at least one
shliach in every neighborhood.
Is this somewhat of an
obsession on your part?
I dont know why you call it
an obsession. I know that I am
simply terrified. I am very afraid
of the day the Rebbe will appear
and demand of me, Yitzchok,
youre in that city for over 25
years. What did you accomplish?
How many Jews are connected
to Torah and mitzvos? I do
everything I can so I can answer
those questions calmly.

WE CAME TO THE DIN


TORAH IN AN EMBRACE
R Gruzman started out
on shlichus in Ashkelon, by R
Lieberman. I worked for a
number of years in Ashkelon. We
had tremendous siyata dShmaya,
but for various reasons I thought
it was the right thing to leave. In
Rishon, a small Chabad khilla
was starting to form, just a few
families, and they were looking
for a shliach who would do
outreach. When R Lieberman
heard that I wanted to leave
for Rishon he took me to a din
Torah.
We showed up there in an
embrace. The rav could not
understand what was going on
since people usually come to
fight, not to hug. R Lieberman
wanted the rav to tell me to stay
in Ashkelon and I wanted to start
working in Rishon.
The friendship between R
Lieberman and R Gruzman did
not wane over the years. Until
today we are very close. R
Lieberman is my mori vrabi in
shlichus.

In the end it was decided


they would write to the Rebbe.
The Rebbes answer was to do
as a beis din rabbanei Chabad in
Eretz Yisroel advises.
We convened a beis din and
they tried to dissuade me. They
described in the blackest of terms
the difficulties and failures that
awaited me if I went out on my
own. It was only after they saw
that I was really serious that the
rav announced that the beis din
gave its blessings to my shlichus
in Rishon and they wished me
lots of success.

WE HAD TO DELEGATE
Who was the first shliach
you brought out?
R Chanan Kochunovski.
He came as a bachur to help on
Simchas Torah. He went to bring
simcha to the shuls in Ramat
Eliyahu and they loved him. He
came to me right after Simchas
Torah and said, Yitzchok, after
I get married I want Ramat
Eliyahu.
Was this a strategy of yours
or did it just work out that way?
The Chabad House was
constantly growing. I already had
eight employees and I realized
that even if I worked nonstop,
I would not be able to get to
everything I wanted to get to. So
I knew that if we wanted to move
forward, we had to delegate and
bring out more independent
shluchim.
Do you think this is true for
other shluchim?
Definitely. Im not talking
about a shliach on a yishuv or in
a small neighborhood. Im talking
about shluchim to cities, suburbs
or huge neighborhoods, with tens
and hundreds of thousands of
people. What percentage of the
people do you reach? Lets say
you have an enormous impact

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and everyone in the city knows


you. On how many can you
have a real influence? With how
many families are you actively
involved?

THE REBBE WANTS US TO


CONQUER
Fine, thats the standard
you established. But who says
this is the standard? There are
shluchim in big cities who are
the only shluchim there and
they have successful Chabad
houses with a staff, a nice
place in the center of town,
an Internet site, so whoever is
looking for them will find them.
Why bring so many people?
Listen,
there
are
two
approaches here. You can look
at shlichus as being the Rebbes
representative to the city. Like
a consulate. The American
consulate in Eretz Yisroel needs
to provide consular services to
American citizens. Occasionally
it arranges official events on
American holidays. It has clerks
with regular hours and it does
its work quite well. It does not
seek to turn Eretz Yisroel into
the US or to arouse the American
identity hidden within all those
who are American citizens.
But the Rebbe speaks about
conquering. You cannot conquer
alone. Even if you are the bravest
soldier, the most esteemed
commander, the most capable
warrior, you cannot conquer a
city on your own. It is just not
possible. In order to conquer,
you need soldiers, as much
manpower as possible. As far as
Im concerned, as long as there
are children in Rishon who see
a picture of the Rebbe and say,
thats Rabbi Nachman, I know I
am far from the goal.
Still, can you understand
shluchim who are afraid

There is no time. Moshiach is in the doorway.


We must live with the reality that the Rebbe is
about to appear and will ask us what we did. What will
we tell him? We didnt manage to reach that place? We
had a five year plan, a ten year plan? We thought wed
do something there eventually? I shudder at the thought
of facing the Rebbe and mumbling excuses.

to bring new people into


their territory and give them
independence?
I can understand it because I
also have an animal soul, but they
themselves know that its coming
from the left side.
On the other hand, thirty
shluchim in a city is not a recipe
for anarchy?
I dont know what youre
calling anarchy. Everyone works
well with one another and if there
are any conflicts, we sit down
and resolve the problems.
Ah, so youre a magician
Really not. When you are able
to look just at what would be best
for the inyan and are able to set
your ego aside, it works out.

You describe an ideal which


is hard for me to believe. You
want to tell me that you put
a shliach in a neighborhood
where there already is a shliach
and it goes smoothly?
First of all, by us there is
no such thing as infringing on
the territory of another. This is
important to the Rebbe. When
we wrote to the Rebbe about my
moving to Rishon there was no
answer for a long time. We tried
to think of what could be delaying
the answer. I checked and
checked and finally discovered
that there was someone from
Kfar Chabad who was doing
some outreach in Rishon and
he called himself Beis Chabad
Rishon LTziyon. I stopped
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Shlichus
everything I had been doing and
went to speak to him. I said I was
thinking of coming to Rishon on
shlichus but I would not do so
without his full agreement. He
agreed and even said he would
stop calling himself Beis Chabad
Rishon LTziyon. Two hours
after the man gave his consent I
received the Rebbes answer.
Thats rule number one with
me. I dont impose anything on
anyone. Everything is done with
the full consent of all involved.
Rule number two is that you
are responsible to the Rebbe to
maximize the outreach in your
designated area.
Ill give you an example.
There was a shliach in a small
neighborhood. A few years ago
the city decided to develop the
area and the neighborhood
quickly tripled in size. It
was obvious to me that the
shliach could not handle the
neighborhood on his own and I
suggested that he bring another
shliach to work with him. He
balked. I told him, fine, just face
the Rebbe and tell him that you
take responsibility to do the work
of another shliach.
After a while he came back to
me and asked me to bring another
shliach but I wasnt willing. I told
him, write it to me and sign that
you are willing and that you are
requesting of your own free will
that another shliach join you. It
was only after he signed that we
hired another shliach.
How do you choose a
shliach? How do you know
whether he will be successful?
Its hard work and Im always
looking. I look at young men
in shul, in the community, and
when I notice someone whom I
think will be successful, I offer
him the job.
And if you dont think hell
be successful?

FAITH IN HASHEM
IS NEEDED

I do as the beis din did. I


describe the hardships to him and
I dont exaggerate, its really not
simple. Many men look at it from
the outside and see only the glow
of life on shlichus, but they dont
understand that its extremely
difficult, unremitting work. The
shliach is usually busy with less
than glamorous activities; being
photographed with a tie is an
infrequent part of his work...
Those who are not suitable
and are not ready for it usually
fall by the wayside. Those who
listen, understand, and are ready
to do it anyway, are usually
successful.
Are
you
sometimes
surprised?
Yes, only for the good. I had
someone who really wanted a
neighborhood. He was a gentle
sort and I couldnt really see how
he would be successful. I tried to
push him off a few times but he
insisted. I saw that he was very
serious and he knew precisely
what he wanted. His seriousness
is what swayed me in the end
and we signed. I must say that all
my negative predictions proved
wrong. He turned out to be very
talented and he is very successful.

You cant ignore the fear that


shluchim have in bringing out
another person. When a shliach
is supported by a small number
of
balabatim,
sometimes,
bringing out another person to
work with him or nearby means
a direct hit on his parnasa!
In principle, you might be
right. Im not denying it. But it is
for this reason that we are Jews of
faith. We believe that one mitzva
brings another mitzva. Aside
from that, when we ask a taxi
driver to keep Shabbos and he
says, but this is my parnasa, what
do we tell him? We say parnasa is
from heaven and that a persons
livelihood is designated on Rosh
HaShana. When we ask a shoe
salesman to come to a shiur, we
tell him, one person cannot affect
another persons parnasa.
What happens then when
it affects us? We know how to
tell other people about emuna
and bitachon, we know how to
demand it of our balabatim, but
then when it comes to ourselves
we chicken out. Where is our
emuna?
A short while ago I had a
couple here, very wealthy people
who live in one of the exclusive
neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. They
came to me through mutual
friends. I could have kept them
close to me, maintained them on
a low flame from a distance and
turned them into regular donors
of my Chabad House. Instead, I
sent them to the shliach in their
own neighborhood and asked
them to support him. They were
amazed that I was passing them
on. I explained that they needed
a daily hug from the shliach and
from here I could not provide
them with that. I asked them
to donate to the shliach in their
neighborhood so they would get

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from him what they needed to


really get close to the Rebbe and
Torah and mitzvos.
Okay, we got the principle,
but how do things work out
practically?
For
example,
dealing
with
the
local
government
offices.
There
are shluchim who enable
independence but are sticklers
when it comes to every official
government request being done
through the central Chabad
House. I know its not like that
with you. That doesnt create
chaos?
There are two approaches. It
makes a lot of sense for all official
requests to be done through one
channel. By me, it happened
that several people made formal
requests simultaneously. The
previous mayor called me and
said we cant work that way
because it makes them crazy.
He asked me to coordinate all
requests and submit them as one
entity.
I heard this from the mayor
and thought, if that is his political
interest, then mine is the opposite
and I asked all the shluchim to
submit all applications on their
own.
And it worked. R Dudi
Kaplan put up a building, R Eli
Segal is right before the finishing
stage, other shluchim are at some
stage or another of putting up
buildings or building preschools.
Its all with property grants
from the city. If we would have
coordinated our requests, we
would have gotten one piece of
property for Chabad. With each
asking separately, they all got. I
cant say whether it would work
this way in other places, but by
me it works boruch Hashem.
To conclude, what message
do you have for your fellow
shluchim?
I am not in a position to

I could have kept them close to me, maintained


them on a low flame from a distance and turned
them into regular donors of my Chabad House. Instead, I
sent them to the shliach in their own neighborhood and
asked them to support him. They were amazed that I was
passing them on. I explained that they needed a daily
hug from the shliach and from here I could not provide
them with that.

convey messages. The shluchim


are all devoted to the Rebbe and
work for the sake of heaven. I am
sure that each one knows what he
needs to do and consults with his
rav as the Rebbe said to do.
I can only say that what
guides me in shlichus is what
you cannot do today dont
postpone for tomorrow; give it to
someone else to do today.
I was recently asked to put
up a mezuza at a store in a huge
mall on the outskirts of the city.
I was embarrassed that I had
never been there. I wondered,
how is it possible that as a shliach

responsible for this location in


the world, I had never visited
there before? But I cant go
everywhere. Thats why I try to
bring someone to those places
where I cant go myself.
There is no time. Moshiach is
in the doorway. We must live with
the reality that the Rebbe is about
to appear and will ask us what
we did. What will we tell him?
We didnt manage to reach that
place? We had a five year plan, a
ten year plan? We thought wed
do something there eventually? I
really shudder at the thought of
facing the Rebbe and mumbling
excuses.
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FEATURE

SECRET WORK

BEHIND
ENEMY
LINES
Mr. Nechemia Levanon worked for the Israeli government in various secret
roles which few knew about. Under the guise of an agricultural attach
at the Israeli embassy, he made contact with Jews in the Soviet Union,
including many Lubavitcher Chassidim. He helped them by transferring
Jewish religious items and the Rebbes divrei Torah. This work stopped
after he was caught red-handed and was expelled from the Soviet Union
as an undesirable. * Stories from behind the scenes and about his special
yechidus with the Rebbe based on his testimony in the book HaRebbe
VhaMossad by R Yosef Yitzchok Kaminetzky. * Part 1 of 2

echemia
Levanon
was the marketing
coordinator
on
a
kibbutz, the father of
three children, the oldest of whom
was 12. His wife was a preschool

teacher on the kibbutz. Levanon


was completely involved in plans
for developing life on the kibbutz
and raising his children. The year
was 5712/1952.
Nechemia was called to

a meeting in Cholon without


knowing the purpose of the
meeting. In a modest home he
found about twenty people who
had also been invited. The ones
who initiated the meeting were

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the head of the Mossad Isser


Harel, and Shaul Avigur former
member of the Haganah and
head of the Aliya Bet, and at
that time, adviser to the Defense
minister.
Harel, a short man though
one who radiated nonstop
energy, began the meeting. He
spoke about what was known
in those days regarding the
condition of Russian Jewry which
was unbearable, due to Stalins
brutal persecution of them and
of anyone deemed disloyal to the
motherland. Persecution centered
on the Jews. Those years were
known as the Black Years, and
for good reason.
Harel thought that due to the
government incitement against

Jews, a threatening atmosphere


was developing which could
lead to actual physical attacks
on Jews, maybe pogroms.
In conclusion, he asked the
following question: In light of
all we know about what is going

in the Soviet Union, should we,


can we, use the Israeli embassy in
Moscow in order to make contact
with Jews, so we can follow
developments while searching for
ways to defend Jews if necessary?
Avigur sat silently. He
preferred
listening
to
the
opinions of those present and he
sometimes asked questions. The
participants expressed serious
doubts about the possibility of
operating from the embassy. Like
all western embassies, the Israeli
embassy was under a security
siege by the Soviet security
forces, which prevented any
possibility of making contact with
the locals.
Some participants not only
expressed their doubts but

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Feature

A Chassidishe farbrengen in Samarkand

stressed that attempts to make


contact with Soviet Jewry was
likely to lead to tragedy. They
assumed that a situation could
develop in which the Soviets
would not suffice with punishing
the few Jews guilty of contact
with a foreign embassy, but
would use collective punishment
against masses of Jews.
Finally, it was Nechemia
Levanons turn to speak. He
was the youngest of them all and
had no personal experience with
the Soviet regime. However, he
noted that in the Soviet Union
were hundreds of thousands of
Jews who wondered whether the
State of Israel, which had an
embassy in Moscow, cared about
them. Was there no hope of
contacting them? Was it possible
that the Jews of Israel and the
Diaspora considered Russian
Jewry a Lost Tribe?
These remarks, as it turned
out later, changed the entire
course of my life and the life of
my family, he said many years
later to the Chassidic researcher,
R YY Kaminetzky, in an
interview.
A few weeks after that

meeting, Harel appeared at the


kibbutz and informed Levanon
that they had decided positively
about
reaching
out
from
Moscow, and that he had to go
there with his family. Nechemia
wondered why he had been
picked for this assignment. Harel
explained briefly that he thought
Nechemias cultural background
as well as his personality made
him suitable. Also, the fact that
in those days he still had many
friends in Russia would be a big
help. Under the conditions of
fear and suspicion that prevailed
in the Soviet Union, this would
make the initial contacts easier.
Levanon concocted a cover
story for the members of the
kibbutz who released him to
work in the service of Israel,
without knowing what the service
consisted of and where he was
headed.
Mike Harari, a young Shabak
member, was his professional
guide; he taught Levanon how to
behave, how to check if he was
being tailed, and how to shake off
a tail.
Then suddenly, the Israeli
embassy in Moscow was closed.

This was after someone hid a


bomb in the Russian embassy
on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel
Aviv. The Soviets announced the
severing of diplomatic ties with
Israel. The staff at the Soviet
embassy packed their bags and
the staff of the Israeli embassy
in Moscow was told to leave the
Soviet Union.
Levanon was therefore sent to
work through the Israeli embassy
in Stockholm from where he was
supposed to try and make contact
with Russian Jews. He tried
doing this through sailors who
sailed from Finland to the Soviet
Union but nothing worked out
well and the results were meager
and unsatisfactory.
Stalin died on Purim 1953.
Until his final moments he
had absolute control over the
mighty Soviet empire. Upon his
death Soviet citizenry was in
shock. Even after the troika
of Malenkov, Molotov and Beria
takeover of the government, the
shadow of Stalin was still felt.
The governing system that Stalin
built and the tremendous fear
that he engendered for the system
prevented significant changes
from taking place for a long time.
The new rulers were cautious
and did not rush to show that
they were veering from Stalins
way of doing things.
The ruling troika was united
in their thinking that sooner or
later they had to show the outside
world that the Soviet Union was
a stable entity under the new
government. One of the gestures
they made was their decision to
renew diplomatic ties with Israel.
Just a few months had
passed since Stalins death
and negotiations began about
renewing diplomatic ties. At the
Foreign Office in Yerushalayim
practical steps were being taken.
As a first step, it was decided

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to open a limited consular


representation led by Shmuel
Elyashiv along with Luba Gideon,
while Nechemia Levanon was
appointed as the agricultural
attach.
In that capacity, I obviously
had to behave as an agricultural
attach. I had to make
professional connections in the
field of agriculture in order to
conceal my real role: starting
a Jewish underground whose
purpose would be to boost the
morale and spiritual lives of
Soviet Jews.
The Levanon family went to
Moscow and after a few months
they were joined by others who
worked with them to spread
Judaism.
In our first weeks there
we realized that we were under
constant surveillance, recalled
Levanon. The Soviet security
apparatus employed numerous
people to follow foreigners.
There were various levels of
surveillance. Apparently there
were professionals who were
hard to identify and it is doubtful
whether we discovered who they
were most of the time. Then there
were the working-class amateurs;
those we called shleppers. The
shleppers were easy to spot
based on their appearance and
behavior.
We spent a lot of time
visiting the big shul on Archipova
Street as well as the small shul
of the Chabad Chassidim in
Marina Roscha, a neighborhood
distant from the center. We lived
completely differently than the
community of foreign diplomats.
Usually, this community is
completely isolated from the
local populace, while we actively
sought ways to break through.
Chance
meetings
and
snatched conversations with Jews
eventually led to regular ties.

An underground Jewish wedding in Soviet Russia

Through them we learned about


what was happening among the
Jews. Gradually, these encounters
served as good opportunities
to disseminate Jewish reading
material.
After Stalins terror state
destroyed all Jewish institutions
in the Soviet Union, the shuls
were the final remnant. Many
of them were closed and
those that remained operated
under the careful scrutiny of
the government. At the head
of every shul which operated
with government permission,
there was an administrative
board of twenty people. Good
Jews found ways of warning us
that all members of the board
reported to the government,
some voluntarily and some were
coerced. Some told us that even
among the worshipers there were
government informers.
Nevertheless,
the
shul
was the only place where Jews
gathered and only there could
we meet them. We hoped that
there we would be able to form
significant connections. Our first
visit, on Shabbos, left no doubt
that our assignment would be

very hard and would demand


patience and time.
The first Shabbos in the
big shul presented us with a
challenge. We had to work
consistently so that our visiting
the shul would also produce
some practical results. We
decided to ignore the informers
and snoops just so that we could
make contact with Jews.
Although we all learned
brachos and the format of
the tfilla, our secularism was
apparent. Since I had stood with
my wife under the chuppa in
the shul in Binyamina, I hadnt
been to a shul. So I asked one
of members of the underground
who was familiar with Jewish
tradition to guide us in how to
behave in shul.
During my two years of work
in Moscow, I saw how important
it was to keep close ties with the
shuls. Despite all the restrictions
placed by the government, we
visited the shul every Shabbos.
The value of the shul in
preserving the Jewish spark
reached a peak on holidays.
The atmosphere then was
completely different. The number
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Feature
of people attending was larger
and sometimes the average age
dropped significantly and there
were children too.
We plowed all the big
cities throughout the Soviet
Union. In every city we went
to, we immediately went to the
local shul where we made our
first connections with the local
Jews. During our years there
we succeeded in establishing
underground cells in Moscow,
Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Riga,
and Tashkent.
One of the few shuls that
operated in Moscow was the
Chabad shul in Marina Roscha.
The diplomatic emissaries visited
there a lot. On every visit they
would bring Jewish religious
items, siddurim and a lot of
Jewish material. They received
the material from the Mossad via
diplomatic mail.
When they originally began
visiting the Chabad shul, they
were regarded very suspiciously
but over time, they managed to
forge strong ties with a few of the
people through whom they found
out about the vast work that
Chabad Chassidim were doing all
over the Soviet Union.
Levanon: One time, when I
visited Marina Roscha, one of the
Chabad Chassidim asked to meet
with me in some quiet place. He
suggested we meet at a certain
time in the city bathhouse in the
center of Moscow.
At the appointed time, after
they scanned the area and found
it to be clean, a Jew came over
to me and told me about the
hardships Chabad Chassidim had
in contacting the Lubavitcher
Rebbe in New York. Chassidim
ask the Rebbes advice about
everything, he explained. Can
we use your services to make
contact with the Rebbe? I
promised him that I would try to

do something.
I spoke to the person
appointed over us at the
Mossad, Avigur, and conveyed
the Chassids request could
we be the channel between
the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his
Chassidim in Russia. He said yes.
Later on I found out that
Avigur had a friendly relationship
with the Rebbe, and consulted
him a lot about our work
throughout the Soviet Union.
Until today, I dont know who
spoke to whom, but I know that
after I asked Avigur, we became
the contact channel between the
Rebbe and his Chassidim.
We
arranged
another
meeting with this Chassid in the
bathhouse and I told him the
positive answer. We arranged
to meet every Friday at the
bathhouse. He would give me
questions and requests for
brachos for the Rebbe and I
conveyed them to Avigur. Avigur
would send it to the Rebbe and
within a few days, the Rebbe
would send responses and
brachos to the Mossad which
were sent by diplomatic mail to
the Israeli embassy in Moscow.

With time, the contact


channel expanded and the Rebbe
also sent Jewish religious items,
tfillin, mezuzos, and talleisim.
At a later point, when the
Chassidim saw that our courier
service wasnt causing them
any problems and was working
smoothly, they got up the nerve
to ask to send them the Rebbes
divrei Torah.
At first I tried saying no,
that this wasnt our job to
disseminate the Lubavitcher
Rebbes teachings throughout the
Soviet Union, but the Chassids
pressure was enormous so that
I could no longer withstand him
and I caved in. I conveyed the
odd request to the Mossad and to
my great surprise they said okay
and began regularly sending the
Rebbes teachings. The Chassid
was ecstatic. This went on for
only a few months until the
underground network collapsed.
Go
and
tell
people
today that thanks to some
kibbutznikim, Chabad Chassidim
in Russia learned the Lubavitcher
Rebbes teachings.

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Continued from page 13


the world, without exception,
was under threat of annihilation.
Spiritually they bowed to
the statue and made a Chilul
Hashem. And yet, they fulfilled
and accepted the Torah, which
had been given at Mattan Torah,
with joy.
We need to remember what
the Rebbe says in the Dvar
Malchus of Truma, When a Jew
contemplates this [that when
Adar enters it has the power
to transform even the level of
darkness of minimizing simcha]
it brings him to even greater
joy, joy that can even change
the material circumstances of a
person living in this world within
the parameters of the nature of
the world.
The nature of simcha is
that it impacts and permeates
all aspects of a person. When
a person is happy, he lives a
happy life, with joy which affects
everything he does and everything
he comes in contact with and
not just him but he brings joy to
others. This simcha brings more
success in all his activities and his
entire life as we readily see.
A Chassid who wrote to the
Tzemach Tzedek received this
response: A person must guard
his thoughts and think only happy
thoughts. He must be careful not
to say sad, gloomy things. On the

contrary, he must always display


joyous movements as though
his heart is full of simcha, even
though this is not so, and in the
end, it will be so, truly so.
This is precisely what we are
told in the Megilla, as an eternal
and encouraging instruction, that
even if ones situation is not as it
should be, then thus I will come
to the king not according to
protocol. Even if the situation is
not as it should be, Purim is the
time to come to the king, to
connect to the Rebbe with great
love.

THE REBBE GAVE US A


BANK CHECK
The Rebbe spoke about
simcha as a way to hasten the
Geula and also as a taste of the
Geula. How do you connect
simcha in general and Purim
in particular to anticipating the
Geula?
The difference between a
happy person and one who is not
happy is that an unhappy person
looks at what he doesnt have, at
what he wants and still doesnt
have. A happy person is happy
with what he has already.
Picture a person who received
a certified check for a million
dollars, but he doesnt even have
money to take the bus to get to
the bank to cash the check. He
decides to walk, and after a long



walk he finds out that the bank


is closed. The next day he goes
back, but the teller tells him he
cannot cash his check because
he needs approval from the bank
manager, from the tax authority,
etc.
On the one hand, he is a
wealthy man because he has a
million dollars. On the other
hand, he is extremely poor for he
doesnt even have money to ride
the bus. What is up to him is how
he looks at his situation, whether
positive or negative, and not to
despair until he gets the money.
So too with us, and far more.
The Rebbe gave us a certified
check, a promise and prophecy
that Moshiach is coming. Yet, we
look around and see galus. Now
it depends on what we choose to
focus on, the galus and hardships
or on the imminent Geula which
is already in our hands. Thats
what makes a Chassid happy or
not.
So what a person doesnt
have does not disturb him. He
looks at the final moments of
galus from the perspective of true
happiness with what he already
has and because the Rebbe will
immediately appear and the
entire world will proclaim, Yechi
Adoneinu Moreinu vRabbeinu
Melech HaMoshiach Lolam
Vaed!

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TZIVOS HASHEM

WHICH ERA IS
MORE SPECIAL?
By D Chaim

It was late at night and


I was lying in bed, trying to
fall asleep. When it just wasnt
happening, I decided to share
my thoughts with Mendy who
was lying in the top bunk.
Mendy is two years older than
me. He looks very serious but I
know him well and know that
at certain times he can be
mischievous too. Unlike everyone
else, I call him Mendele.
What a pity that I wasnt
born in a special time, I
suddenly said.
Like which? asked Mendy,
looking up from the book he
was reading.
Ummm, like the time of
the holy Avos or maybe Moshe
Rabbeinu in Mitzrayim. I dont
know exactly, but some historic
time that everyone dreams of
and tries to picture how it was
and what else happened then.
The truth is, said Mendy
after a moment of silence, that
I never gave this any thought.
I think it would be interesting
if we were able to find a way
to visit a historic time of the
Jewish people.
You know what? he asked,
after another moment, with

a glint in his eyes, I have an


idea. It will soon be Purim and I
once heard that the dreams you
dream at night are about what
you think about during the day.
Let us try and think really hard
about the time of Mordechai
and Esther in Shushan HaBira
and then maybe we will dream
that we are there and well see
exactly what went on there!
Thats a super idea, I
enthused quietly so as not to
wake up my mother. If we
think of the same thing, maybe
well meet in the dream. So
good night Mendele, Chassidishe
dreams
he
Purimdik,
And
answered.
Right before I fell asleep, I
noticed that Mendy was busy
reading a book about Shushan.
I suppose that by reading,
it upped the chances of his
dreaming about it.
When my dream began,
I found myself in the center
of an unfamiliar city. I was so
disappointed. I had so hoped
to find myself in Shushan, the
capitol of Purim, uh, sorry, of
Achashverosh, um, no, actually
Persia, if Im not mistaken.

I looked to the right, left,


and right again, but did not see
the Shushan I knew. This city
looked altogether different.
I decided to ask someone
where I was and was surprised
to discover that he understood
Hebrew! Okay, in a dream,
everything is possible.
You dont know?! he
asked in amazement. This is
Shushan!
Then why dont I recognize
it? I guess the pictures in the
story books, from where I knew
of Shushan, were not at all
accurate. The stranger had
no idea what I was mumbling
about and walked on.
I waited for a few minutes
where I was, in the hopes that
Mendele would show up. When
he did not appear I realized he
was immersed in his book about
Shushan and he was not asleep
yet.
I went to look for a Jewish
home with a mezuza in the
doorway. It was late evening,
a little earlier than when I
had gone to sleep. After a
I
around
wandering
little
a
with
house
a
found
finally
mezuza. I hoped they would

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open the door, despite the


late hour. I knocked hesitantly.
Inside I could hear sounds of
approaching footsteps.
The door opened and a
person looked at me quizzically.
I said, Hello, I am Berel and I
came to visit Mordechai.
dont
probably
You
understand how I knew that
their sons name is Mordechai.
Its very simple. Just like with
us, everyone has a Mendy, by
them everyone has a Mordechai.
Mordechais father did not ask
me anything. He just brought
me in and called loudly,
Mordechai, your friend came
to visit you.
I went to the childrens room
and Mordechai, a Shushan child
my age, welcomed me with a
smile. I looked right, left, and
right again, and couldnt get
over it. Mordechai looked at me
and did not understand what
so surprised me.
Everything is so ordinary! I
was sure that in the Purim era
everything would be unusual,
special. How can this be?
In whose era? Mordechai

yourselves?
Ah, smiled Mordechai,
That is in the zchus of the
Jewish neshama within us
and in the merit of Mordechai
HaYehudi. What, you havent
Nasi
Mordechai,
of
heard
Hador?
But if you are talking about
a special time, Mordechai
continued, I always dream of
a time long in the future, the
time before the Geula. That is
definitely a special time, just
what youre looking for. If only I
could live or visit that era. In a
time like that, every good thing
that you do completes the work
of the Jewish people throughout
the generations and is what
leads to greeting Moshiach.
I listened open-mouthed to
what Mordechai said and was
struck by a realization. He was
right! My era is special! How
did I not realize that until now?

The time I live in is the time


that children throughout the
generations longed to live in! So
I dont need to sleep in order
to visit a special era. On the
contrary, I need to open my
eyes, wake up, and realize what
a special time this is.
Its good that Mendy didnt
fall asleep yet, I thought in
my dream. I will tell him
my thoughts after my visit to
Shushan.
When I woke up in the
morning Mendy asked me with
a smile, So how was Shushan?
Do you want to dream about it
again tonight?
No, I said in all seriousness.
Id rather live in our special
era and dream that in the
merit of me and you, the era
of the Geula shleima will come
immediately.

asked.
Look at your clock, I
said, pointing at the clock on
the shelf while ignoring his
question. Aside from the fact
that it contains sand and has
no hands, it looks altogether
ordinary. It doesnt have golden
sand or any magical dust. Its
just a plain clock. Your era
seems quite ordinary!
Mordechai
said
True,
did
What
.
in astonishment
n
Shusha
in
you think? That
course
Of
e?
things are strang
everything is normal!
Then how did you have the
strength to withstand Haman
HaRashas evil decree and
not conver t in order to save

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