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Setting The Scene For Moshiach

The Rebbe has led the worldwide teshuva movement * One of its products is Rabbi Mordechai (Mutty) Gal who directs the Chabad House in Ramat Gan * Rabbi Gal disseminates Chassidus to audiences far from practicing Yiddishkeit * Beis Moshiach reporter Menachem Ziegelboim attended one
of these lectures and spoke with Rabbi Gal * A fascinating interview with a Chassid and communications expert who believes in the power
of the media to create a revolution


In talking about the teshuva movement that the Rebbe has directed, you just have to accompany Rabbi Mutty Gal as he goes to give a class on Torah or Chassidus throughout Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Gal has a certain charisma that is hard to resist. His audience drinks in his every word.

On a typical evening we arrived at the Chut HaMeshulash Club in Yerushalayim. A bachur, who was inspired to become a baal teshuva thanks to Rabbi Gal, is responsible for the place, and he opens the doors for those who are interested in getting a taste of Chassidus.

One after the other, dozens of young people file in, sporting earrings, ponytails, and tattoos. Most of them have been to India and they come here because they are drawn to mysticism. Rabbi Gal enters and begins to speak in a soft and pleasant voice. He is able to convey even the deepest secrets of Torah in the language of the people sitting before him. They learn Tanya and maamarim, occasionally interrupting Rabbi Gal to ask questions, which Rabbi Gal is delighted to answer.

On Thursday I accompanied Rabbi Gal to another class in an apartment near Rechov Sheinken. Dozens of young people come for serious study of Chassidus. In addition, Rabbi Gal has nearly ten other classes and lectures he gives throughout the week. He is invited to places to which other religious lecturers are not invited. Meretz youth, a group of artists, even first rate media people come to listen to him.

* * *

When Rabbi Mutty Gal was bar mitzva he did not have an aliya l’Torah. In his parents’ home in Cholon it just wasn’t considered important. His parents, who came from Bulgaria, knew very little about Yiddishkeit. Mutty finished school and became a commander of a Golani division. After the army, like many other officers, he went to South America, where he worked as a security officer at an Israeli embassy. From there he went to the United States. He became a weapons instructor in Houston and then studied film and television at N.Y.U.

At that time, he lived in a loft in downtown Manhattan. He and two Israeli friends made films and dreamed of reaching the top of their profession.

Somehow he ended up producing a documentary featuring Avital Scharansky, who had gone out to generate public support for her husband Nattan (Anatoly) Scharansky, who was then in a Soviet prison. They accompanied her for three years to nearly every spot on the globe and met presidents, heads of state, members of Congress, and other world-renowned people. This was a period of intense involvement in Jewish issues, and Rabbi Gal’s first acquaintance with the world of Jewry.

“When I recall that time, I remember a lot of contemplating about Yiddishkeit,” reminisces Rabbi Gal. “I was in America for four years and never considered returning to Eretz Yisroel. But I wanted to be inspired by a real Jewish leader. A friend, Avi Piamenta, told me that there was a special rabbi who lived in Brooklyn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I knew nothing about him. All I heard was that he was not the cloistered type. I decided to go see him one evening. This was during Slichos, 5738 (1977).

“I went to 770 dressed, as usual, in jeans, T-shirt, and hair down to my shoulders. I stood in the small zal with dozens of other people before the Rebbe. The room was absolutely silent.”

After that visit there was no going back. Gal decided to return to the Rebbe to check things out further. “It was an ordinary weekday Maariv, yet the Rebbe seemed as festive as could be. The Rebbe looked at me with a gaze. I felt swept off my feet. The Rebbe’s intensity was just incredible.

“One day I arrived at 770 seeking someone to teach me about Judaism. I began asking questions about Creation, the Torah’s view of our era, and the purpose of Yiddishkeit. For close to a year I went to 770 two or three times a week to learn.”

This was a painful time for Gal because it seemed inevitable that he would have to abandon his career at its peak in order to pursue Torah-true Judaism. The film on Scharansky was a great success, and he had a very attractive offer for another film, but his heart was in 770. He soon began to receive letters of concerned from his parents, who had heard about his new interest in Yiddishkeit.

Gal decided to write to the Rebbe for advice. He related his life’s story, mentioned his profession, and admitted that his parents were worried. “I tried to be concise. I wrote to the Rebbe that I was on my way to building a career, and related the work that went into it. On the other hand, I mentioned that I was drawn to Yiddishkeit, but didn’t know what to tell my parents and how to explain it all to them. I concluded the letter with a request for advice and a blessing.

“I wrote the letter in the evening and at eight o’clock the next morning the secretary called me and read to me a page of directives regarding my personal life. Concerning my career, the Rebbe said, “The film profession is not at all suitable to Yiddishkeit in general and tzniyus in particular.” As far as my parents, the Rebbe said, “Tell the truth: you returned to Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, Dovid and Shlomo, and, of course, the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.”

What does that mean?

“Till this day I don’t understand it. I think there was no other way to explain Yiddishkeit to my parents other than that statement; perhaps not to the intellect but to the Jewish soul.

“My parents arrived two weeks later. At our first meeting they realized that something interesting was going on here. They stayed in Crown Heights and came to the davening in 770. That was my father’s first t’filla in his life!”

You can still see the awe and emotion on Rabbi Gal’s face as he recalls his first yechidus with the Rebbe. “When I entered the Rebbe’s room for the first time I listened to him and realized that he represents an entirely unique approach. He sees the world differently, as territory that he must infuse with kedusha. It was a relatively long yechidus with the Rebbe sitting by a desk piled with letters.

“When I entered the room the Rebbe looked up at me and smiled. His face lit up and he said in Lashon HaKodesh: “Hashem will surely fulfill all the requests of your heart for good and for blessing. May you come to disseminate Yiddishkeit in the world, especially Chassidus, until the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, soon in our days, mamash.”

“When I left, I trembled for the next two and a half hours. It was the ultimate experience, the ultimate level of purity. It was very purifying.”

Gal spent four years in America, 5735-5739. He was 27 when he became a baal teshuva, and before that time he had seen the world. “What attracted me the most,” he says, “is the urgency, the shlichus. It’s not like I wasn’t dedicated before that. I had asthma as a child but insisted on going to the army. I persevered in order to become an officer and completed an officer’s course with a high score. What appealed to me was the great love the Rebbe has, the devotion; going out to the street and disseminating Yiddishkeit.”

Eight years after he began learning about Yiddishkeit, he met Malka, a former friend who was then learning at Machon Chana, and they married. Both of them had found Yiddishkeit on their own. Before leaving for Eretz Yisroel they went to the Rebbe for his bracha. Again the Rebbe smiled. He looked up and said, “The shidduch is very, very suitable.” The Rebbe repeated what he had said at the previous yechidus about disseminating Yiddishkeit, particularly Chassidus. “And to think that I was still in jeans with long hair,” says Rabbi Gal in amazement.

After a brief stint in kollel and two years in Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Gal went on shlichus to Ramat Gan and Givatayim. He started from a small office and was mekarev people by putting up mezuzos, helping people with t’fillin, but primarily with Torah classes.

Rabbi Mutty Gal worked on mivtzaim, but focused primarily on classes. He is articulate and has the rare ability to explain things lucidly. It is no wonder that people cram into his Monday Tanya classes at the Chabad House.


Although Rabbi Gal came from the world of film and media, he managed to stay away from it for years. Nonetheless, his knowledge and understanding of the field and how to convey messages to a broad audience is something he was destined to use to disseminate Yiddishkeit and Chassidus on a large scale.

A few years ago before it became popular, Rabbi Gal presented a weekly program to Arutz Sheva called “Farbrenging with Mutty Gal.” He would host various guests in the studio each week, people that no other religious host could get. Politicians such as Shamir, Sharon, Kahalani, Gandhi. Artists such as Avi Toledano, Nancy Brandeis, Shmulik Vilozhni, David Broza. With each one he would discuss their connection to Yiddishkeit and Jewish tradition. After Rabin’s death, he brought a group of young people to the studio. He spoke with them and managed to penetrate their outer shell of klipos. He is often invited as a commentator on religious matters on various television stations.

Rabbi Gal’s uniqueness lies in disseminating Torah and Chassidus along with his tremendous knowledge of the world of communications. His expertise in these fields have led him to a painful awareness of the lack of quality literature available on the topics of Judaism, Chassidus, and Moshiach. “From a media standpoint we are sorely lacking,” he says. “Chabad is simply not operating on a national scale when it comes to the final shlichus of preparing the world for Moshiach. There is nothing in the (Israeli) media about it aside from ‘putting out fires’ in the wake of extremist actions.”

Rabbi Gal does not have any illusions about the media people who prevent religious Jews from utilizing the national media. “It’s a very complicated situation,” he admits, “for, on the one hand, you cannot abandon the arena to the Left, but on the other hand you cannot broadcast the message we want to convey; they simply prevent us from doing so.”

Can you give an example?

“Just last year I participated in four television programs in which I presented Yiddishkeit. The program was successful and was watched by hundreds of thousands of people, but the Left did away with it.”

Years ago Rabbi Gal attempted a program called “Tiyul B’Pardes.” “A guest star would come on the show with me, and together we would dispel the myths surrounding Jewish concepts, such as kivrei tzaddikim, the religious community, and reward and punishment. This program, however, was also torpedoed by the Left, who were afraid it had an element of hafatzas ha’Yahadus.

Rabbi Gal has countless similar examples. “This week I was supposed to begin a series of lectures at Tel Aviv University about the foundations of Chassidus, but the dean of the university nixed it with various excuses.”

Rabbi Gal sighed, “The media is waging war against religious Jewry. The image of religious Jews as it appears in the media is far from flattering.”

So what can be done?

“It’s time for Chabad to take advantage of the snowballing rifts within the country and come out with a series of projects about ahavas Yisroel and explain that the religious-political image is not Judaism. Period. It’s not the Rebbe’s way.”

If the media is closed to us, how can we get that message out?

“With mivtzaim. By going out into the streets. With ads in newspapers, such as the following message: The Chabad movement turns to the people in light of the trend towards extremism and divisiveness, and calls for increased peace and brotherly love. Something like that. Chabad’s role over the years has always been to endear Hashem, Torah, and mitzvos to Jews.

“The most important thing today is to give Chassidus classes to those on the Left. It will be impossible to change their views without reaching out with deep explanations. We shouldn’t be trying to come to an understanding of military matters, religion, or politics. We must use Chassidus to penetrate the soul. The changes have to be fundamental and from within.

“I give a number of classes among people who are ardent Leftists, and I have to deal with questions such as these…

Such as why did you get involved on behalf of Netanyahu?

“No. Questions about the character of the religious public.

What approach should we be using?

Ahavas Yisroel. That’s the quality that breaks all barriers. We must captivate them with Chassidus. Chassidus has the power to reach deeply into the soul, and it arouses people in a way that makes the barriers fall.”

* * *

Rabbi Mutty Gal gives the class at the club in Yerushalayim. More than two hours later, until late at night, Rabbi Gal sits and answers questions. The youth are alert and smart and they ask good questions. All you have to do is look at them and watch their eyes as they learn Chassidus to see their thirst.

Two and a half hours before dawn. On the way from Yerushalayim to Ramat Gan, Rabbi Gal continues to explain his belief system.

“You learn Chassidus with people and at a certain point the barriers fall. Unfortunately, at first people say that religious Jews are corrupt. That’s what they hear on the radio and what they read in the paper. But when you speak from the heart the truth comes out. Suddenly everybody has a story about how they were helped by some religious Jew or another. One with shalom bayis another one with chinuch, a third with health. When they get even closer to you they tell you how your family is nice and the family unity is something special that they have never encountered before.”

What is the reason for the media’s hatred of religious Jews? Is it because there are more Knesset members with yarmulkes today?

“That’s one reason, which is why religious matters are more on the front burner than ever before. Another reason is that the media today is invasive and reaches everywhere.”

Rabbi Gal also finds something positive in the media’s persecution of religious Jews. “The attitude about religious Jews used to be – give them what they want and they’ll keep quiet, because they represent the political swing vote. Today, the religious Jews’ exposure gains for him recognition.

What is the reason for this change?

“The tremendous move to teshuva. Those who are involved with the public at large know that today there is a wave of casual teshuva. In other words, people are not taking drastic steps like wearing a kippa or growing a beard, but many people are bringing nice ideas into their homes such as a Shabbos table, lighting candles, or filling a bookcase with Jewish books, which has become popular lately.

“I know many people in the media who participate in groups for Jewish awareness, and they are slowly opening up to the world of Judaism.”

But when they express themselves in the media, they express hatred!

“That’s on the political level, but on the personal level they are different.”

Rabbi Gal explains this change in attitude as due to many families becoming frightened by the poor educational level of the youth. “Terrible things are happening today, and the G-dly soul of any parent is trembling. They feel they are missing something, and then, even if it’s a little later, they bring Yiddishkeit into their homes, whether at a Shabbos table, with mezuzos, and so on.”

In your time people became baalei teshuva and changed their lifestyle from one extreme to the other, but today the teshuva is apparently only as it suits individual needs...

“That’s true, but there is a reason for it. There was a wave of teshuva after the Yom Kippur War. That phenomenon lasted from 1974 until 1980. It was the post-hippie era, and the openness created a worldwide storm.

“The flower child generation reacted to the Vietnam War and the immorality of the fifties and sixties that was hidden behind a veil of hypocrisy. The hippies said there was nothing to be ashamed of, that a person has to be creative and do whatever he believes in. The Rebbe encouraged this along spiritual lines, saying that a Jew has to fulfill mitzvos and not be ashamed.”

And today?

“Things have changed and there are ever stronger klipos. The world of temptation is big and powerful, since everybody is more aware and exposed to what’s going on in the world.”

Rabbi Gal analyzes the situation and gets to the root of the problem. “Technology is constantly developing, and those who are middle-aged are out of it. Parents simply don’t know their children. The youth today has encountered all possible forms of impurity and has reached the point where it simply wants to reject it all and find itself. That’s why they travel to South America and India. They’re an unfortunate bunch who literally suffer.”

In some form or another, Rabbi Gal keeps going back to the need for reaching out to people and disseminating Chassidus and the besuras ha’Geula:

“Instead of traveling to India they should be moving towards Yiddishkeit, Chassidus, and especially Moshiach, since they seek out the ultimate truth. It’s just that the pipeline is blocked a little because we, Lubavitcher Chassidim, don’t allow them entry. If Chabad Chassidim stood united and presented the proclamation of the Redemption in the way Chabad knows how, we would get everybody, because the thirst is enormous.

“I’d like to draw an analogy to the original Zionist movement of over fifty years ago. A movement of a few thousand people sent representatives to the Diaspora, begging Jews to move to Eretz Yisroel. Two young madrichim went to my parents in Bulgaria, sat with a few dozen young Jews around bonfires, and showed them a map of Eretz Yisroel. So, my parents moved here at the age of 19 and began to dry the swamps. If the Zionists were able to excite people about their cause, why can’t we, who have the shlichus and ko’ach from the Rebbe MH”M?”

How should it be done?

The way Chabad has done things for years – with Tzeirei Agudas Chabad, Chabad Houses around the country, thousands of activists who will go out to the streets with typical Chabad fervor, N’shei Chabad, etc. If we were to break through with all these powerful kochos, as we used to do during evenings in the kibbutzim, and we would convey the Rebbe’s message with words from the heart, the country would react positively. The nation today is suffering and wants to leave its torment behind.

Are you sure the people are aware that they’re suffering?

“The situation is really pathetic, with people unable to rely on their friends. There’s violence in the schools; people see their own children and their children’s friends and see their arrogance. It’s just like it says in Maseches Sanhedrin. People are seeking an alternative, and some of them come to a rabbi and want to be helped.”

But they aren’t all approaching rabbis…

“Then we have to approach them. There are 200 Chabad Houses around the country. There used to be only a handful with only a few families, but there was an atmosphere. When the Rebbe cried out “u’farazta,they all went to work with a warm attitude, which was happily received by the man on the street. Many people still have a warm spot in their heart for Chabad. On Rechov Bialik, the main street of Ramat Gan, there is a Moshiach stand and people stop and ask, “What’s with Moshiach?” They also put on t’fillin in order to hasten his coming.

“We can learn (l’havdil) from one man who last year “prophesied” that the Messiah would come on a certain day. Everybody certainly remembers that. He managed to create a furor in Eretz Yisroel and aroused a great yearning. There wasn’t a place around the country that didn’t have advertisements. And this was all accomplished by one man!

“I believe that if Chabad would explain the subject of Geula in a comprehensive way, if we gave out lots of material about Moshiach, produced easy to read booklets about Moshiach, this fire of emuna would ignite the great field of thorns.”

Over the course of a week, Rabbi Gal gives a number of lectures for dozens of youth who are seeking an identity. They are intellectual people, and you’d be surprised at who comes to learn Chassidus. Little by little you see results, and they begin taking on mitzvos. “It just proves it’s possible,” says Rabbi Gal, “but this is just a drop in the bucket. We have to do this on a much larger scale.

Today the Chabad House in Ramat Gan is not only a center of activity but a center of Torah as well. There is a beis midrash for daily Chassidus study. Dozens of people leave work in the middle of the day and come to learn Chassidus.

Rabbi Gal plans on expanding and opening a more spacious place for lectures, workshops, and classes, with dozens of classes being available throughout the day. “If we just package it right, we can reach a huge number of people, because we have the real message,” he says.

* * *

In recent years Rabbi Gal has begun getting more involved in the media. This is not in contradiction to the Rebbe’s directive not to work in film. “Today it is not a profession. Today it’s a tool,” he explains. “I don’t relate to a camera like a photographer, but as someone using a tool. From one day to the next I’m amazed by how every word the Rebbe uttered takes on deeper meaning.”

One of the new projects which Rabbi Gal initiated is Massa Bar Mitzva. He and his friend and media person Shuki Ben-Porat produced a video which brings the message of Yiddishkeit and preparing for one’s bar mitzva to those boys whose parents force them into having a bar mitzva. For these boys this will be the first time in their lives they will be going to shul.

The storyline is simple. Eitan’s friend came from America. He is a rebellious boy whose father decided he has to celebrate his bar mitzva in Eretz Yisroel. Eitan tells Rabbi Gal about it. At the rabbi’s initiative they go on a trip in Eretz Yisroel in search of the roots of the Jewish people. Another friend, Uzi, joins them. The trip becomes a series of adventures, beginning in the land of our Fathers in the south and ending in the underground tunnels near the Kotel, where they receive three tallisos. Eitan, of course, decides to remain in Eretz Yisroel.

What kind of adventures can you have when traveling with a rabbi? Many. Removing an injured father and son from their car that rolled off a cliff, crossing the Jordan in the area where Yehoshua crossed it, visiting a sofer stam in Tzfas, and throughout the entire course of their adventures they discuss Yiddishkeit. The rabbi also encourages them to write to G-d and ask Him questions.

“We created a film to present the world of Judaism even to children who aren’t ready to go to a rav or to learn the taamei ha’mikra and their Haftora half a year before the ceremony,” Rabbi Gal explains. “It was an attempt to extend a hand to the non-religious community, showing them that an encounter with a religious person is not all that bad.”

The film they produced comes along with a video, familiarizing the viewer with the shul, t’fillin, krias ha’Torah, and the taamei ha’mikra, which are explained with the help of animation. You can also get an audio tape with your own Haftora.

A fortune was invested in the film – half a million dollars, which Rabbi Gal and Shuki Ben-Porat raised from private investors who got excited by the idea. The film has been translated into five languages and is being shown in many countries around the world.

And the reactions?

Unbelievable. Somebody once called me and said it saved his children. Somebody else said his entire family hated the religious, but after seeing the film, their views have changed. A woman wrote to me saying that it brought her back to Judaism after she had fled from it.

Did you get any feedback from the Rebbe?

I sent the tape to the Rebbe and received this answer, “Hatzlacha rabba u’muflaga” (great and incredible success).

Rabbi Gal went to the United States for Yud Shvat 5756. When he arrived, he was told they wanted him to make an international satellite broadcast covering six continents, in which each place would accept the Rebbe’s malchus. Since he was the only Chassid knowledgeable in the field, the job went to him.

“That was the biggest job I ever did in my life. I wouldn’t do it again even for a million dollars,” says Rabbi Gal.

He arranged and produced the entire program. Four days before they were on the air is when he arrived in the U.S., where he began from scratch. He did work that usually takes dozens of people to do. Although he hadn’t used a camera in years, he did a magnificent job handling this fantastic television production, where he sat in a room facing 16 screens and gave orders at a dizzying pace.

“There were many miracles throughout the broadcast,” says Rabbi Gal. “The fact that six continents were on the screen simultaneously and the lines didn’t fall is a miracle from Heaven. I know gentiles in this profession who couldn’t believe it worked.”

Reactions from American professionals who saw the production were extremely positive. None of them believed that the entire production had taken only four days. “It’s the most complicated thing I’ve ever done, and there’s no question that it all worked out in a supernatural manner so that the Jewish people around the world could accept the Rebbe MH”M’s malchus.”

All in the Rebbe’s Honor

Rabbi Mutty Gal’s talents in being able to reach audiences no other rav can get to is really amazing. In Nissan 5751 he made a farbrengen for the Rebbe’s birthday. He combined it with a dinner to benefit the Chabad mosdos in Ramat Gan.

The event took place at the Tel Aviv Hilton and all the Who’s Who were in attendance: politicians, artists, writers, spiritual leaders, people in the media, and businessmen (the kind with whom you have to make an appointment half a year in advance). They all came in the Rebbe’s honor.


Jewish Media Revolution

Are the people in Eretz Yisroel in for a Jewish media revolution in the near future?

“Satellites are being set up. In the package which the satellite company will provide there will be a Jewish station. The fight surrounding this station is immense. Various organizations want to get the rights to it.”

Rabbi Gal, along with his friend Shuki Ben-Porat, decided they could not let this opportunity pass them by. Along with a group of investors, they presented a proposal and are hoping for the best. “It’s one of the last opportunities to enter the media arena,” explains Rabbi Gal. “A station like that will enter hundreds of thousands of Jewish homes in Eretz Yisroel, which is why there’s such a battle over getting the rights to it.”

Those who have televisions are not chareidim, so why would they watch a Jewish program?

We did a survey that pleasantly surprised us. It seems that many people are sick of television as it is today and they want to see something on a higher level. The general goal of people today is to gain information, high tech with content, and not cheap things. We will provide this in a Jewish way. Chassidus is the ultimate knowledge, and you just have to know how to present it in the right way.


Rabbi Mutty Gal
“The media is waging war against religious Jewry. The image of religious Jews as it appears in the media is far from flattering.”


Rabbi Gal visiting Mr. Yitzchok Shamir, former Prime Minister

Rabbi Gal with friends
of the Chabad House
“Parents simply don’t know their children. The youth today has encountered all possible forms of impurity and has reached the point where it simply wants to reject it all and find itself.”


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