Not Galus. Geula!
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
had just come back from our Tahalucha on Simchas Torah (which the Rebbe
used to refer to as "my shlichus") when a silly thought popped
into my head: Why not eat something first and rest up a little before going into
770 for Hakafos?
the surface, it wasn’t such a silly idea. We had just walked an hour and half
each way (I know, a lot of people go much further afield) and made contact with
several Jews who otherwise would never have set foot in a shul. We had
danced with them, sung with them, and talked to them in Hebrew, English, and
Russian about the joy of Yom Tov and having emuna in Moshiach and
Redemption. On the way back it was already quite dark outside, and we had had to
traipse through some really dangerous neighborhoods.
the edge of Crown Heights we had even been accosted by a drunken goy, who
had kept on demanding something unintelligible. To us, mostly Israelis, it
sounded a lot like "Galus," to which we responded, "No,
not Galus. Geula!" The man was not amused and even raised a
fist in our direction, but baruch Hashem, he eventually walked away
mumbling to himself…
the time we reached 770 we were seriously tired. Our feet hurt and our muscles
ached. Hence, the above "silly thought" that we grab a bite to eat and
as soon as we stepped into Beis Moshiach, all thoughts of such mundane things
flew out of our heads. In the presence of the Rebbe shlita farbrenging,
as he has always done on Simchas Torah before Hakafos, who can think of
770, everything was the same as it has always been. The Rebbe’s chair was in
its place, his becher was on the table, and the mezonos was
covered with a cloth. We couldn’t see the Rebbe with our physical eyes, but we
knew he was with us all the same. The elder Chassidim were seated in their usual
places, wishing the Rebbe "l’chaim" and singing niggunim.
In short, it was a regular Simchas Torah farbrengen.
it turned out, we didn’t get to hear a lot of the farbrengen as the
dancing started soon after we arrived. We continued to dance and sing until the
Rebbe’s Hakafos began.
there was one point I picked up at the farbrengen which I’d like to
Yaakov Yosef of Polnoa, author of the Toldos Yaakov Yosef, was originally
one of the biggest opponents of the Baal Shem Tov’s new path in avoda.
It wasn’t until he traveled to the Baal Shem Tov and met him in person that he
actually became a Chassid and a disciple.
are many stories about how the Baal HaToldos actually became mekushar,
but I won’t get into that. However, it is said that after he was already a
Chassid, he was once asked how he could justify "wasting" so much time
traveling to the Rebbe when he could have spent the time learning Torah instead.
Baal HaToldos is said to have replied, "What’s the question? The
Gemara explicitly states in Tractates Megilla and K’subos that
there are two things that override the study of Torah: hotzoas ha’meis
[removing a dead body] and hachnasas kalla [dowering a bride, literally
‘bringing a bride in’]. Is there any better example of hotzoas ha’meis
and hachnasas kalla than going to the Rebbe? Indeed, the reason we go to
the Rebbe is to ‘remove the dead,’ the primary source of all spiritual
impurity, and to ‘bring in the kalla,’ to imbue ourselves with ‘k’los
ha’nefesh’ and longing for
other words, the whole objective in going to the Rebbe is to get rid of our
coldness and apathy to G-dliness, which Chassidus equates with death. For as
explained in HaYom Yom: "A corpse is cold; there is nothing as
frigid as natural intellect, human intellect. When one’s natural intelligence
comprehends a G-dly concept, and the emotions latent in intellect are awakened
and enthused – that is a true revival of the dead."
Mendel Futerfas used to tell a similar story he had heard from a Jew who had
been very involved in "chesed shel emes" (i.e., giving Jews a
proper Jewish burial) back in Russia:
was a terrible time of hunger and disease, when people were dropping like flies.
There were so many corpses in the streets that the municipal authorities had
resorted to burying everyone in mass graves. A group of Jews, including Reb
Mendel’s friend, organized their own Chevra Kaddisha, and whenever they
heard that a Jew had died, they would rush off to remove the corpse before the
city workers could get there.
day, the friend told Reb Mendel, there had been five Jewish corpses lined up
waiting for their tahara [ritual cleansing]. Looking at the bodies, he
had suddenly understood the meaning of "dead": There they were, lying
shoulder to shoulder, yet not one of them was looking at the person next to him!
"That’s what ‘dead’ is," he explained to Reb Mendel. "A
person who doesn’t think about anyone else and is only concerned with himself…"
go to the Rebbe to divest ourselves of our coldness. We go to the Rebbe for the k’los
ha’nefesh and bittul that enables us to live and feel the verse in Tehillim,
"My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land,
where there is no water." Our enthusiasm and "burning" for
G-dliness must be so intense that we are willing to forgo everything for Hashem
and for the Rebbe: "All the days of your life – for the sole purpose of
bringing about the Days of Moshiach." Indeed, nothing will ever quench our
thirst except the fulfillment of G-d’s promise: "For the earth shall be
full of the knowledge of the L-rd, as the waters cover the sea."
speaking, during the month of Tishrei we were "within the Clouds of
Glory." The Rebbe allowed us access to his "innermost chamber,"
without regard for our spiritual imperfections. The Rebbe took us in as we were,
with all our "peklach" and nonsense, and embraced us under his tallis.
Not because of our lofty avoda or meritorious deeds, but simply because
of his love and mercy, the love a father has for his children.
Rebbe davened with us all the time, not just on Yom Tov but on
"regular" days of the month. The Rebbe elevated our prayers, farbrenged
with us, and gave us of his infinite goodness and loving-kindness. The Rebbe was
with us by the blowing of the shofar, by the singing of "Napoleon’s
March" at the end of Ne’ila, during the dancing on Simchas Beis
HaShoeiva and Hakafos, and on Tahalucha. Even if we couldn’t
see him with our physical eyes, every single person could feel the Rebbe’s
presence, holding and leading us by the hand.
the same time, each of us in 770 experienced the intense pain of not being able
to see and hear the Rebbe in the conventional sense. The longing to be reunited
with our Melech was almost overpowering.
enough, these two diametrically opposed emotions – sensing the Rebbe’s
presence while keenly perceiving our longing for him – were experienced
simultaneously. For the experience in 770 isn’t something that can be
explained rationally, although it is something that is easily felt by the
Tishrei we were all in "Noach’s teiva," a situation that is
comparable to the Messianic Era. Even when we were physically outside Beis
Moshiach, the "makif" of its atmosphere accompanied us wherever
however, the "month that is satiated with everything" is over, and
even the Seventh of Cheshvan has passed, when the last pilgrims to Yerushalayim
would arrive home. The time has come to "go out of the teiva"
and return to our regular day-to-day lives, to "the very lowest level,
below which there is nothing lower," and announce to the world that
"there is a king in Israel."
message we must convey is as follows: There is a judge and counselor of our
generation, who is the prophet and Nasi of our generation. The Rebbe is chai
v’kayam, and continues to lead and guide each and every one of us
individually. Jew and non-Jew alike have the merit and obligation to obey his
directives and advice, and to believe in and publicize his prophecies, the main
prophecy, of course, concerning Moshiach’s imminent revelation.
entire world is waiting to hear this message, which can come only from
Lubavitch. Everyone wants to hear the Rebbe’s words. As Chassidim of the Rebbe
shlita, our job is to strengthen people’s emuna and provide
encouragement. It must be stated clearly and unequivocally that the Rebbe’s
utterances are true and eternal, and that "the Guardian of Israel neither
slumbers nor sleeps."
today, after having acted foolishly with regard to shleimus ha’Aretz
and creating our own dangerous situation, G-d forbid, in the Holy Land, the
Rebbe’s pronouncement that "Eretz Yisroel is the safest place in the
world" still applies. How many times did the Rebbe remind us that "the
eyes of the L-rd your G-d are upon [Eretz Yisroel] from the beginning of the
year until the end of the year?" The Jewish people’s existence is
eternal, and depends solely on G-d. As history continues to play itself out,
everyone can understand what the Rebbe was warning us about all those years.
whole world, gentiles included, needs to know that there is a "Baal
HaBayis" Who not only oversees and supervises everything that happens
but is intimately involved in every detail. The tide of history is inexorably
leading to the time when "all the inhabitants of the world will recognize
and know that every knee shall bend to You, and every tongue will swear by Your
Name" and "they will all take upon themselves the yoke of Your
kingdom, and You will soon reign over them forever and ever" – which is
synonymous, of course, with the acceptance of the sovereignty of Melech
this point in history it is crucial that we put more effort into spreading
observance of the Seven Noachide Laws. In fact, the Rebbe MH"M is said to
have remarked at the beginning of the Arab Intifada that if greater efforts had
been made in that direction, the situation would now be entirely different…
(The Rebbe also stated several times that had there been greater awareness of
the Sheva Mitzvos in Germany, the Holocaust would not have happened!)
era is approaching when "before You, L-rd our G-d, they will bow and
prostrate themselves, and give honor to the glory of Your Name." And from
the very lowest levels of existence, a single cry will rise up and echo
throughout the world – "as the waters cover the sea":
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!"