Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
first Purim as a talmid in Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim
Lubavitch is one I cannot forget. It was in 5733, when I attended
the yeshiva ketana in Lud, which was run by R’ Elimelech
Kaplan, a’h (known as R’ Melech der Shvartzer).
was customary among yeshiva students, particularly those in
yeshivos ketanos, we all went to the home of our rebbi
on Purim night to farbreng. Our rebbi was Mordechai
Shneur, known as R’ Monye, who lives in Kfar Chabad.
Purim farbrengen is generally a happy affair, and as young
boys (children actually) are wont to do, we were a bit wild and
unruly. This included saying l’chaim — obviously in the
proportions fitting for talmidim of Tomchei Temimim —
almost to the point of “ad d’lo yada,” speaking in a Purimdike
and open way, even with our rebbi and mashpia, as
well as saying things we wouldn’t have dared say throughout the
year. After all, it was Purim, when people are more open-minded.
Nobody was insulted, and even if sharp things were said, they were
soon forgiven and forgotten.
we arrived at R’ Monye’s home in Kfar Chabad on Purim night.
If we were a little uncomfortable at first, we quickly overcame
any hesitancy or reticence. R’ Monye greeted us with open arms,
the tables were laden with mashke and delicacies, and it
was all wonderful. We sat down to farbreng. We sang and
said l’chaim and our normal boundaries melted away.
stood on the table. Somebody else began shouting about something
that bothered him. Some of us began dancing around the table,
dragging with us R’ Monye, who quickly joined in the joyous Purimdike
dance. Everyone was merry.
Monye was already good and drunk when he suddenly stopped the
dancing and began talking to us. Actually, he didn’t talk — he
yelled at us with fire and brimstone in his inimitable way.
Sages say, said R’ Monye, that when the Jews of Shushan heard of
Haman’s terrible decree, they immediately abandoned whatever
they were involved in and began a spiritual renaissance of teshuva
and tefilla. Mordechai HaYehudi, the Sages tell us,
gathered 22,000 Jewish children and taught them the halachos
of the karban omer. Seeing this, Haman knew that his end
was near, because these children — who were unafraid of him and
his decree and who refused to part with Mordechai HaYehudi to the
extent that they screamed to Mordechai, we are with you in life or
death! — were the ones who represent the eternal power of the
Jewish people. In his anger, Haman declared that he would kill
these children first, r’l, for he knew that these
children are the untouchable core of the Jewish nation. As long as
they were alive, he knew he could not touch the Jewish people.
I ask you, said R’ Monye, what do you think? Could Mordechai
HaYehudi himself have taught 22,000 children on his own? He
didn’t have a microphone, and it was probably impossible to find
a hall large enough to contain 22,000 children! It doesn’t sound
possible, yet it doesn’t say that it was a miracle!?
R’ Monye’s voice rose: There were other melamdim. There
were teachers, mechanchim, roshei yeshivos, and
mashpiim. And each one learned with his class. But all
of them taught, educated, and guided the children as Mordechai’s
shaliach and under his leadership. That’s why they
were all called Mordechai’s talmidim, to the point that
the Sages say that Mordechai HaYehudi himself taught all 22,000
today we have roshei yeshivos, mashpiim, and
educators. But you should know that you are Mordechai
ha’Yehudi’s talmidim, not Mordechai Shneur’s — Mordechai
HaYehudi’s! And R’ Monye repeated this again and again, in
a shout that came from his heart. “Not Mordechai Shneur’s — Mordechai
Rebbe Shlita supervises and pays attention to each one of us,
especially his children, the talmidim. He thinks about each
one, and knows each one through and through, far better than we
know ourselves. The Rebbe gives each one a hand, and directs him.
The Rebbe both demands and encourages. He blesses and advises and
guides, and he gives you the feeling as though you are
accomplishing things on your own, despite the fact that this
isn’t the case at all. The Rebbe is the one doing it all, but he
wants it to come about through us, and not as a “gift from
dancing and rejoicing that Purim night in 5733 continued. The
wildness increased. A chair was broken and curtains were ripped.
Somebody threw up and others fell asleep on beds and tables, but
the words spoken at that farbrengen seared our hearts and
minds and reached the depths of our souls:
that you are learning from Mordechai HaYehudi, the Rebbe Shlita.
The melamed who hugs and guides you, your teacher and mashpia
is not Mordechai Shneur. It’s Mordechai HaYehudi!
we, little children who know nothing, who understand and feel
nothing, know and feel one thing: We want Mordechai HaYehudi!
all sorts of Hamans try to sunder us
from our faith in Mordechai HaYehudi, we say — as the children
did at that time — “We are with you in life or death!” Yechi
Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!
a terrible decree hovers over us, “to annihilate, kill, and
destroy all the Jews” (r’l), when all the descendents
of Amalek are polishing their swords and preparing for the day
when they can carry out Haman’s plan, when it seems hopeless,
“because it was written in the name of the king and sealed with
the king’s ring and it cannot be retrieved,” when “good
friends” have begun crying and eulogizing the Jewish nation who
used to be a light onto the nations — then we must carefully
observe Mordechai HaYehudi. He doesn’t take the steps you would
think he would take. He doesn’t organize a diplomatic delegation
to the king, and he doesn’t even turn to his relative Esther the
queen. He knows that the decree didn’t just happen because
Achashverosh is foolish and Haman managed to take advantage of
him. No way! Mordechai knew that this decree came from above,
because “they took pleasure from the feast of that wicked
that doesn’t mean that the food they ate wasn’t kosher. Not at
all. On the contrary, everybody’s dietary requirements were
catered to. The problem went deeper. The fact that the Jews took
pleasure in Achashverosh’s invitation and feast, rather than
following Mordechai and what he represented — that was the
Jews did what they could to gain the favor of Achashverosh and
Haman. They listened to the surveys. They had their finger on the
pulse of the people. They knew what they wanted to hear and
adjusted their message accordingly. But then, surprisingly,
Achashverosh and Haman revealed what they truly wanted, which was
to destroy them.
why Mordechai didn’t take the diplomatic route. He didn’t try
to resolve the problem through diplomacy and political ties. He
simply went out into the street and cried bitterly, in order to
shake the people up and redirect them towards following the nasi
gathered the children and learned inyanei Moshiach and
Geula with them, the halachos of the karban omer brought
in the Beis HaMikdash. These were not practical halachos
for them at that time. Mordechai taught them Torah li’shma
(for no ulterior reason). It was simply Torah that strengthened
their emuna in the imminent building of the Mikdash. Of
course, seeing this, Haman knew his plot was foiled.
Divine providence, we have just
concluded the Rambam’s seifer “Yad HaChazaka,”
according to the directives of our Mordechai HaYehudi, the Rebbe
MH”M. Let us remind ourselves of the Rebbe’s directives to
learn the daily shiurim, and remember that although
seriously studying and understanding what we learn is important,
the Rebbe has told us that the main thing is saying the words:
not as those who err and think that these shiurim are
(only) a part of the mitzva of talmud Torah, so that
there is room to say that the shiur in Tanya (which is part
of the oral Torah) is not fulfilled unless one understands it
(which is a must when it comes to oral Torah). The shiurim
in Chitas primarily affect the life of the soul (and the shiur
in Tanya, pnimiyus ha’Torah, is the life of the pnimiyus
of his soul, as we know that the inner dimension of Yisroel is
connected with the inner dimension of Torah). Just as the shiurim
in Chumash and Tehillim (which are the written Torah) are
fulfilled by simply saying the words (without necessarily
understanding it), one can say the same for Tanya, as well as the shiur
in the Rambam’s seifer in one of the three ways, three
chapters a day, Seifer HaMitzvos, or one chapter a day.
the Rebbe himself put it, “something he heard with his own ears,
presented with such a koch — how could he forget it?!”
Let all of us resolve to learn Rambam daily so that it should be
unthinkable to allow a day to pass without it! And those who can
learn three chapters shouldn’t wiggle out of it by claiming that
they want to learn more in depth by studying only one chapter a
day. As Reb Mendel would say, those people generally end up
learning one chapter a day, not in depth and sometimes they even
skip that! Because when you try to “be smart” and give in a
bit to the yetzer hara, he continues to push you to concede
more and more. The only way to win over the yetzer hara is
by not compromising at all, and by not listening to his wiles in
any manner, shape, or form — Mordechai did not bend or bow and
did not get up or move!
course, one chapter is, in fact, suitable for some, as the Rebbe
we follow Mordechai HaYehudi proudly, without calculating what
people might say and what they want to hear, but we present the
Rebbe’s message and do all we can to make people receptive to
it, then we merit to follow the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach proudly,
and to see with eyes of flesh the true and complete Redemption,