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Wisdom From Our Mashpiim
Interview by Shmuel Alexander

Mashpiim in Lubavitch yeshivos around the world discuss inyanei Moshiach and Geula with a focus on questions such as: What is the source of our absolute bitachon in the immediate revelation of the Rebbe MH"M? Why is the constant involvement in the besuras ha’Geula so important? How can we fortify ourselves during this difficult time?

Part 3
(Click here for Part 1)


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Butman
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Lud

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Kfar Chabad

Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Gurary
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Montreal

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kesselman
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, South Africa

Rabbi Pinchas Korf
mashpia Oholei Torah, Crown Heights

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Landau
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Bnei Brak

Rabbi Dovid Offen
mashpia Toras Emes, Yerushalayim

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Offen
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Tzfas and Yerushalayim

Rabbi Nachman Shapiro
mashpia Oholei Torah, Crown Heights

From the first part of our conversation we concluded that the fact is that we are on the threshold of Geula. Since Gimmel Tammuz 5754 a “new generation” has arisen that has never seen or heard the Rebbe in person. Even many of those who did see the Rebbe have “forgotten,” and “live with the Rebbe” less than they used to. The question is, until we merit the full revelation of Moshiach, there are those who say that the emphasis should be on achieving a general hiskashrus to the Rebbe, rather than focusing on Moshiach. What do you say?

Rabbi Pinchas Korf: Throughout the years, our hiskashrus to the Rebbe was expressed in our daily “living with him.” He davened with us, farbrenged with us, gave us dollars, and guided us. Even those who didn’t live in Crown Heights would always keep in touch and be up to date on what was going on here, getting summaries of the sichos, reports of special events, etc.

Today, when we don’t merit to see the Rebbe and we miss all these experience with the Rebbe, our hiskashrus is expressed primarily in that we believe that we will immediately merit to have it all again in an even greater way than before.

It is impossible to separate the concept of hiskashrus from Moshiach, for the first rule of hiskashrus is to be totally devoted to that which the Rebbe is devoted. Therefore, since the Rebbe’s focus is on Moshiach, his mekusharim must do the same.

The Rebbe Rayatz once farbrenged and spoke with a koch about chinuch and about building chadarim, etc. Among those present was the Chassid R’ Itche der Masmid who was known for his outstanding piety and asceticism. In the middle of the farbrengen, the Rebbe turned to R’ Itche and said, “If you are involved in tashbar (education of children) then you are mine. But if not, then you may still be Itche [i.e., a maskil and an oveid, etc.] but you have no connection with me.” This means that hiskashrus must be expressed by being involved with the issue in which the Rebbe is koching at that time.

Rabbi Y.Y. Kesselman: When we examine the sources and see how the Rebbe stated that the gateway to all inyanei avoda is kabbalas pnei Moshiach, we see how wrong  the idea of shifting the focus to general hiskashrus is.

The Rebbe connected every matter to the avoda of all the generations, whose ultimate purpose is to bring Moshiach, and stated that we have begun the avoda and it is long since we have been in the middle of it, to the point that it was even finished already. Therefore, since we have not yet merited the complete Redemption, something still remains to be done, and this “something” is: kabbalas pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu b’poel mamash! This couldn’t possibly stop being central to our task for it completes the avoda of all the generations!

Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Gurary: Obviously those who make this claim do not understand what it means to have Moshiach at the top of the agenda. As far as the Rebbe is concerned, the coming of Moshiach is not just an announcement, but a process which has already begun. The significance of this is that the kochos we receive from the Rebbe are far loftier, and correspondingly the demands of us are greater. Today the Rebbe demands of us an incomparably greater level of hiskashrus than ever before, so that we can carry out our mission in an incomparably greater way, a mission suitable for Moshiach’s tzeiten (Moshiach’s times). In other words, the inner significance of Moshiach demands a far greater hiskashrus.

As mentioned, the Rebbe and Moshiach aren’t two separate things; the Rebbe is Moshiach! We are presently in the seventh generation in which the Rebbe has drawn the Shechina down to this physical world so that Hashem can now be revealed in this physical world. Even according to nigleh, i.e., according to halacha, the rabbanim paskened that the Rebbe is b’chezkas Moshiach.

Yes, we must educate our children about the concept of “Rebbe,” to start off with, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t educate them about the Rebbe being Moshiach. Of course we must educate ourselves, and all those who learn from us, about what Moshiach is through learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula, including the revelations drawn down by Moshiach. I’m sure that whoever has a hergesh in this can more readily convey this inner feeling to friends and mushpaim.

Rabbi Nachman Shapiro: Let’s say that one of the elder Chassidim who lived b’mesirus nefesh in Russia, would come and farbreng and speak about the need for literal mesirus nefesh. Imagine that he repeats all the amazing things the Rebbe Rayatz said, that all mekusharim must mobilize to fight the wars of Hashem with literal mesirus nefesh in a war against the Yevsektzia and communists, who want to take Jewish children away from Yiddishkeit, etc. In short, what if he says that the call of the hour is war against the Yevsektzia. Would we call that hiskashrus?!

Obviously hiskashrus entails, rather, koching in those things which the Rebbe kochs in now! During the time of the Rebbe Rayatz the koch was in mesirus nefesh against the communists. That was the point of connection with the Rebbe at that time. When the Rebbe MH”M began shlichus, then the point of hiskashrus became shlichus. When the Rebbe started Mivtza T’fillin, if someone would have said: I’m not doing that. My hiskashrus is only in bolstering the existing Chabad mosdos, would we call that hiskashrus? Certainly not, because as soon as the Rebbe started Mivtza T’fillin and it was the call of the hour, that was the channel of hiskashrus for everything else.

In our day, when the Rebbe told us that the avodas ha’shlichus is over and that now everything has to revolve around kabbalas pnei Moshiach, whoever doesn’t do this is not mekushar.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Butman: Hiskashrus and Moshiach are not mutually exclusive. Moshiach is not just another inyan. It is the tochen pnimi (inner purpose) of everything, as the Rebbe said, kabbalas pnei Moshiach is the gateway through which everything must go.

The staff of mashpiim in our yeshiva in Lud speak a lot about the Rebbe-Chassid relationship, since most of the talmidim did not see the Rebbe, and even those who did were little children at the time.

How can we educate them? We stress that the Rebbe is connected to every one of us in a personal way. The Rebbe is involved with everything one needs, starting with finding a chavrusa and including requests such as wanting to be a lamdan in nigleh and Chassidus, an oveid, a pnimi, etc. The Rebbe is the head of us all, the leader who worries about all the details. In this framework we emphasize that the Rebbe’s goal is to bring Moshiach. The essence of all the learning, the avodas ha’t’filla, the hafatzas ha’maayanos, etc., is Moshiach. This is how one fulfills the directive we mentioned earlier that all peulos should be infused with kabbalas pnei Moshiach.

I remember how decades ago there was a Chassidic exhibit in Beit Shazar in Kfar Chabad. It was organized by Rabbi Zimroni Tzik, shaliach in Bat Yam, who prepared the program and sent it to twenty or so askanei Anash. He had planned on putting up a large sign at the entrance to the exhibit that said: Eimasai k’asi mar - l’ch’she’yafutzu maayonosecha chutza (When are you coming, Master [Moshiach]? When your wellsprings spread outward). In other words, that the point of it all is Moshiach.

Each of the askanim critiqued his plans. One of them said in anger: Is this what we were taught – that all of Chassidus is for Moshiach?! What about all the farbrengens, the niggunim, the tears of avoda pnimis, iskafia, zikuch ha’midos, etc.!

Years later in the ‘80’s, when the Rebbe had already shaken up the world with the subject of Moshiach, I met that askan and asked him what he thought now about what he had said back then. He didn’t remember saying any such thing, and absolutely denied it.

What’s the point of this anecdote? Starting from the beginning of the ‘80’s and most especially in 5751-5752, the Rebbe innovated the subject of Moshiach and put it at the top of the list. For this reason, this has to be the tochen pnimi of hiskashrus. In a way, to be involved in the Rebbe’s inyanim today without the inyan of Moshiach, is like learning Torah and forgetting the main thing, the Giver of the Torah.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg: I would like to respond with a question: When the Rebbe came out with Mivtza Moshiach, which everybody at the time agreed was the call of the hour, was there anybody who thought that if somebody had a problem with putting on t’fillin, for example, that we wouldn’t help him immediately? Would anyone have thought that by doing so it was contradicting the fact that Moshiach was the primary subject of the day? Obviously, if there is a problem, especially one as central as a connection with the Rebbe, you have to deal with it seriously, but this doesn’t contradict Mivtza Moshiach!

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Landau: I don’t think there’s anything to discuss here, because as long as the Rebbe didn’t change the agenda, nothing can change. The Rebbe clearly stated that the only thing left is kabbalas pnei Moshiach. So how can we exchange this essential matter which pertains to the final Geula with anything else?

I would like to ask: The Rebbe, who is known to all as a holy and wise man, certainly knew that 5761 would arrive and we still would not see him. Why then didn’t he think of this important point and let us know about this [i.e., any change] in advance? The difference in “then” and “now” is absurd. It comes from confusing the difference between what the Rebbe said and what one feels. The Rebbe says that the subject of Moshiach is the call of the hour, and I feel that the times have changed. If something has indeed changed, let the Rebbe come and tell us!

Rabbi Kesselman: Regarding the blurring of what the Rebbe said and what we feel, I heard a nice vort recently from a shaliach. There are those who are mekushar to what the Rebbe said, and those who are mekushar to what the Rebbe meant to say. In other words, there are those who open a book and read what the Rebbe said and edited, and live according to that. Then there are others who look for all sorts of “inner meanings” and p’shetlach based on their feelings. This is where these ideas about “another era” are coming from.

There is a famous story about a maskil who came to one of the rabbanim of earlier times and tried to convince him to “fix up” the Torah and to update it for modern times. Among other things, the maskil said: I’m sure that if the Torah was given today it would look entirely different. The rav answered him with the following parable:

A merchant went to a fair that took place every year. There, he presented his wares and earned a nice profit, which supported him for most of the year. One year the roads were very muddy, the rain and lightning didn’t stop, and the merchant was afraid he wouldn’t get to the fair on time. Aside from the fact that he wouldn’t earn any money, he would also be left with all his merchandise.

The merchant came up with a plan. He made a deal with a local wagon driver that the latter take him to the fair and if he got him there on time, he would get double or triple the usual fare. But if the merchant was late, then not only would the wagon driver not get paid but he would have to pay him for the loss he incurred.

The wagon driver agreed to the terms and they set off, but the roads were impossible and the merchant was late to the fair. When the merchant demanded that the wagon driver fulfill the terms of the deal and pay him for his losses, the wagon driver refused to do so, saying that he had done all he could and it was enough that he wasn’t going to be paid for his efforts.

The two of them went to a rav who said, as the merchant had expected, that the wagon driver had to keep his end of the deal. The wagon driver didn’t give in and asked for the source of his psak. The rav said: This is a din Torah. The wagon driver, who was an ignoramus like all wagon drivers, asked: When was this Torah given? The rav answered: On the 6th of Sivan so and so many years ago.

The wagon driver thought for a moment and then shouted: You say the Torah was given in Sivan, in the summer. Big deal! Then the roads are fine! I’m certain, concluded the wagon driver victoriously, that if the Torah was given in the winter the psak would be otherwise!

Rabbi Dovid Offen: The Rebbe foresaw this concern and, therefore, connected the subject of hiskashrus to the subject of Moshiach. How? In the last maamer we have merited to receive to date, “V’Ata Tetzaveh,” the Rebbe says that one must be ingantzen tzutreiselt (utterly shaken up) by the situation in Exile. The Rebbe goes on to say that when one is in a position of material and spiritual plenty, he should still be broken by the lack of G-dly revelation. Being broken by this circumstance brings Moshiach!

Perhaps one can say that the Rebbe was hinting to our situation today. We have material and spiritual plenty, but we are lacking the G-dly revelation: We don’t see the Rebbe! By infusing ourselves with the awareness that there is a Rebbe and the understanding of what he is all about, and by being broken over not seeing him, this spurs us on to do all we can to bring about his complete revelation. We do this by fulfilling the Rebbe’s directives for our times, such as learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula.

(To be continued.)


Rabbi P. Korf Rabbi 
It is impossible to separate the concept of hiskashrus from Moshiach, for the first rule of hiskashrus is to be totally devoted to that which the Rebbe is devoted...

S.Z. Landau
As long as the Rebbe didn’t change the agenda, nothing can change. How can we exchange this essential matter which pertains to the final Geula with anything else?


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