Got To Repeat It, And Repeat It, And Repeat It...
By Rabbi Moshe Slonim, aíh
Moshe Slonim, who was taken from our midst five years ago, was a regular
contributor to these pages. * At the time, the editorial board received
complaints that his articles often reiterated the same point, albeit phrased in
different terms. It was in response to this CRITICISM that Rabbi Slonim wrote
the following article. We believe that it is worth reading again.
SAME TOPICS KEEP REPEATING THEMSELVES
is no secret that many of us have been "locked in" of late on a number
of central topics, such as the eternal life of the Rebbe MH"M, "living
with the Rebbe," preparing to greet Moshiach, etc. The subject is presented
in a new packaging and approached from different angels, but the idea is always
attentive reader immediately realizes what lies beneath the headline and the
packaging; he finds the very same subjects we dealt with in previous weeks. Just
as all rivers lead to the sea, so too the conclusions of all the articles lead
to the same point we have been dealing with for months.
course, human nature is such that it cannot tolerate repetitiveness, and if
there are complaints in this area, they are for the most part understandable.
MAIN SUBJECT WHICH WE CANNOT COMPROMISE ON
my younger years, I would often participate in the farbrengens of the mashpia
Rí Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, aíh. His farbrengens were noted for
The farbrengens lasted for hours, sometimes an entire night without a
He discussed just a very few topics that were reiterated over and over, namely,
what is a Chassid, what is demanded today of a Chassid, and what is demanded
today of a Tamim.
Rí Shlomo Chaim would speak about a certain idea throughout the night, and
repeat it hundreds of times. At one farbrengen he explained the pasuk,
"Hashem Elokim emes hu Elokim chaim," and spoke about the
connection between truth and life. Two bachurim who were present counted
the number of times the mashpia repeated this pasuk Ė after they
reached 200, they stopped counting.
the most part, the dozens of young men who attended the farbrengens didnít
mind that concepts were repeated dozens and even hundreds of times; despite
their familiarity with the subject, they still remained fully attentive.
once happened that one of the bachurim was absent from a few farbrengens
in a row. He met with Rí Shlomo Chaim, who reproved him about this, but the bachur
replied with flagrant chutzpa: "I know in advance what you will
be speaking about and what conclusions you will arrive at. I wonít hear
anything new, so I allowed myself to be absent." The mashpia asked
him to attend the next farbrengen and guaranteed that he would address
that farbrengen, Rí Shlomo Chaim spoke about three types of darshanim
A speaker who takes the initiative to speak: He must search for a topic to
discuss, since he speaks because he likes to speak. A speaker such as this will
discuss whatever he likes, as long as his audience is willing to listen.
An invited or paid speaker: He will try to speak in a manner that the audience
will enjoy and will choose a relevant topic.
A speaker who speaks from his heart and out of pain. The subject concerns him.
He doesnít just speak; he screams. He doesnít choose topics based on what
the audience wants to hear, but cries out from the depths of his heart. He
speaks about subjects that bother him, and repeats them without tiring.
dissecting all three types of speakers, Rí Shlomo Chaim added, "The
topics I speak about are topics the Rebbe demands of every Tamim in Tomchei
Tmimim. One cannot compromise when it comes to these subjects, or speak briefly
and merely mention them once in a while. These are the most important subjects,
the most essential ones. Without these topics you donít need a farbrengen
altogether. Without them, I have nothing to do here at all. Actually, if we donít
talk about them, Tomchei Tmimim will cease to exist."
Rí Shlomo Chaim enumerated a list of matters the Rebbe demands of every Tamim,
he continued speaking, while crying:
donít pride myself that these subjects weigh on me and that my crying is from
the depths of my heart. But I have a shlichus, and in that capacity I
must address these subjects at length, and use all of my abilities to do so. If
I donít, then I betray my shlichus, chív. Thatís why I cry
out and donít stop dealing with these subjects, and if it hasnít been
effective enough yet, then I have to continue to cry out."
farbrengen and the crying greatly affected me. For weeks I was under the
influence of what was said. I recently met a number of friends from back then.
Over the years each of us went our separate ways, but when we met we shared our
impressions of our days in yeshiva. We all had to admit that thanks to Rí
Shlomo Chaimís persistence and his uncompromising stance, we managed to
acquire a large Chassidic treasure house. Rí Shlomo Chaimís persistence bore
TO STOP TALKING ABOUT MOSHIACH
are two generations away from Rí Shlomo Chaim. The distance is both bad and
good. Bad Ė because we donít have the same "givens" and Chassidic
feelings that his generation had. But primarily itís good because we are in
the seventh generation Ė at the end of it. We must fulfill the role the Rebbe
MH"M gave us all. We must live with the Rebbe and live with Moshiach. We
cannot veer away from these subjects nor can we compromise regarding them. For
without these subjects, there is no value to any other Chassidic subject. We
learned this from Rí Shlomo Chaim.
story was told about the congregation whose members were not so strict about
observing mitzvos. Their new rabbi was G-d fearing and he immediately saw
that they needed a big push when it came to Torah and mitzvos, so on his
first Shabbos he spoke about family purity. He delivered an interesting and
persuasive sermon, appropriate for his audience. But after the talk, the
president of the congregation approached him and said that although the lecture
was well delivered, the topic wasnít suitable. He asked the rabbi to speak
about other matters.
rabbi thought that perhaps the topic of family purity was a bit sensitive, so
the following week he spoke about the importance of keeping Shabbos. He received
the same feedback from the president, and so on the third Shabbos he spoke about
kashrus. When again the subject was not approved by his boss, the rabbi
asked him, "What subject do you expect me to address?"
about Judaism," was the reply.
Rebbe often said that there was no justification for the fact that Moshiach has
still not come. We are not allowed to remain complacent. Obviously we shouldnít
just talk about Yiddishkeit or Chassidishkeit in the general
sense; we must address the call of the hour Ė inyanei Moshiach and GeulaĖ
and we must not stop doing so.
of us must use his talents in order to realize the Rebbeís desire. This shlichus
is for every one of us. We must all aim at one goal, even if itís fraught
with difficulty, and even if we have to repeat it again and again. If it still
hasnít work, we have to repeat it yet again.
we pay attention to the structure of the Rebbeís sichos, we see an
enormous difference over the years. There were years when the topics were varied
and Moshiach was not a central theme. As the years went by, Moshiach became more
and more the primary topic, until it became "the topic" around which
everything else revolved.
there are situations in which people have begun to speak out against these
matters. However, this just shows how important it is to stick to the topic. We
must deal with hafatzas besuras haíGeula alone, and the truth will out.
met a friend who is involved in besuras haíGeula who told me that when
he spoke before a group about the Rebbe and Moshiach, one of the people who
opposes what he does went over to him and said, "You just donít stop
talking about Moshiach!"
friend, who couldnít believe what he was hearing, asked, "Did I
understand you correctly?"
he said. "There are many other subjects aside from Moshiach, and you are
preventing these topics from being addressed."
friend and I understood how important it is to stick to the topic without
compromising; we simply must not let the subject fade from the agenda.
TRUTH AND PEACE
Zecharia it says (8:19) "Öit will be for the house of Yehuda for
gladness and rejoicing and holidays and love, truth, and peace." From this pasuk
We must love peace and work on it. Not just any peace, peace that is the
opposite of quarrels, but peace in the positive sense, out of ahavas Yisroel
and not just ahavas Yisroel, but achdus Yisroel, as the Rebbe
taught us in his most recent sichos.
At the same time, we are commanded to love the truth. As Chassidim put it,
"Fun emes ken men nit avekgein" (you canít get away from
truth), and as the Rebbe Rayatz said, "What is mesirus nefesh? Ė
Like this, and no other way!" When it comes to truth, there are no
concessions. Just as you need to love peace and unity without compromises and
concessions, so must you love truth, without compromises and concessions.
can we mediate between these two loves, the love of peace and the love of truth?
Only by a Chassid himself uniting the two. When you cleave to the Rebbe without
compromising, you can definitely have both peace and truth.
it comes to the Rebbe and Moshiach, we must be persistent and not give in at
all, chív. We must be consistent without conceding, and obviously this
must be done peacefully.
will conclude with what the Rebbe said:
are those who are greatly surprised, but are embarrassed to express their
amazement. How is it that a Jew sits down to speak in public, and at every
single farbrengen he doesnít stop speaking about one subject: the
coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu...emphasizing that what is meant is the actual
coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, below ten handbreadths, and immediately, today...
What is the meaning behind the behavior of speaking unceasingly on this
subject... Itís one thing if you proclaim Moshiachís coming from time to
time: Nu, after all, it is one of the principles of faith and we must remember
that. But what is the meaning and unceasing excitement in this subject, at every
single farbrengen, as though they want to put this matter forcefully into
the heads of the listeners..."
was said by the Rebbe on Shabbos Pinchas 5744. Quite a few years have passed
since then and we have gotten closer to Moshiach. If these words were
appropriate then, all the more so now, after the many prophecies we were given
in recent years, as we all are literally on the verge of the true and complete
Redemption, and we just have to go out and greet Moshiach, now!