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Rabbi's weekly Blog

recharge yourself

 

Dear Friends,

 

“So, you came to get some Chizuk (strengthening) at the Rebbe’s?” my friend Avi asked me/stated last Friday.

“One comes here in order to get reprimanded,” I answered. A Chassid who comes to his Rebbe knows that this is a place – and also a moment – of truth, and truth has its demands! “O.K.,” said Avi. “I get reprimanded all year round in my community. I come here to get strengthened.”

Truth, by the way, always brings up the dilemma: Should one go to the Rebbe and be strengthened, or should one stay in the place of Shlichut and help yet another person?

This dilemma troubles my friends, the Shluchim. Some came to New York for the Shabbat of the 3rd of Tammuz, in honor of its being 21 years since the Rebbe’s passing, to recharge themselves and get strengthened, while some of them remained at their posts in order to continue to give of themselves there.

It is interesting that it was on the Shabbat of Parashat Chukat that the Rebbe stressed the importance of maintaining a balance:

Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded to leave some of the ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer, which purifies those who are spiritually impure) “for safekeeping for your generations.” The Rebbe sees this as conveying a deep message of the importance of balance:

When a person thinks to put everything into helping others and nothing else, the “safekeeping” tells him: “Look, if you don’t take care of yourself as well, you will be in need of the ashes of the Parah Adumah.” In other words, a person who does not care for himself might come to a situation of spiritual impurity.

So it is with everything else as well. It is important to help others, it is a mitzvah to support another person; but sometimes you must also stop, regain strength and recharge yourself in order to maintain your balance, because only that way can you continue to give.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Zalmen Wishedski

don't give up on your mother

 

Dear Friends,

 

She was an American girl from California who had just discovered her Jewish roots. She was learning in a girls’ seminary for people just like her. But her mother had not yet accepted this determination of hers to become religious, and every visit to her home in California ended up being a nightmare of disagreements and explosions.

“That’s it!” She told her friends. “I am cutting off relations with my mother. If she isn’t willing to accept me, then I won’t accept her.”

Her friends begged her: “This is a fateful move. Go the Rebbe, ask him for his advice.” Reluctantly, she agreed to do so.

In the Rebbe’s room, overawed, she told the Rebbe of her decision.

The Rebbe then began to do something very uncharacteristic: he began to talk of himself, of his greatness and of the great honor he enjoyed. “Were you here for Shabbat? Did you see the thousands who wait on my every word? Did you notice how much they respect me? Did you see how, with one wave of my hand, they start dancing? You surely know as well, that each and every one of the Chassidim there, if I just say so, will pick up and leave immediately on a mission from me to any part of the world.”

“Yes, Rebbe, I saw everything,” the young woman answered, surprised at what she was hearing, which seemed to be bordering on pride, even haughtiness.

“Well,” said the Rebbe, “I am willing to give all of this up – all of it! In order to meet my mother of blessed memory even one more time. And you – you can just get on a plane any time and meet your mother, and this is your attitude?

“So it’s a little hard for you. With Hashem’s help you will find the right way to cope. But to give up on your mother? No! No!”

 

Moshe Rabbeinu did a similar thing, as told in this week’s Parasha. After Korach and his people, headed by Datan and Aviram, refused to come and meet him, Moshe got up with all his eminence and glory, causing the seventy Elders to follow him to the encampment of the troublemakers. Moshe hoped and expected that perhaps his greatness and eminence, glory and distinction would cause Korach’s people to respect him and to agree to sit down with him and settle the differences between them.

“Moshe arose and went to Datan and Aviram, and the Elders of Israel went after him.” Datan and Aviram didn’t change their minds – for them it was too late – but we can learn from this that when the need arises, one should present things as they are, because perhaps that will bring some peace to the world.

From the resting place of the Rebbe, the “Ohel” in New York, I wish all of you wonderful Shabbat, Shabbat Shalom Umevorach.

 

Zalmen Wishedski 

the best way to spend your Sunday

 

Dear Friends,

 

“Jets? Giants? There Are Better Ways to Spend Your Sunday.” This is the title of a New York Times article dated December 4th, 2014. In this article, the distinguished newspaper gives the reader a list of recommended sites and attractions in New York City and its environs.

The fourth one on this list, entitled “Make a Pilgrimage” is the “Ohel” – the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l.

Surprising? I can assume that some of the readers were surprised that day, but not all of them.

 

Whoever has studied the weekly Parasha, Parashat Shelach, knows that among the 12 men sent out to spy the Land, only ten sinned and slandered the Land. The other two managed to resist and not participate in the media propaganda that their fellow-spies were engaging in. How did they protect themselves? Yehoshua bin Nun received a special blessing from Moshe Rabbeinu before he left on the journey: “Hashem will save you from the plan of the spies.” His friend, Calev ben Yefuneh, who did not receive that blessing, simply took care of himself and acted. The Gemara in tractate Sotah (34b) says about the verse “And he came to Chevron,” “That teaches us that Calev took himself away from the spies’ plan and went and prostrated himself on the graves of the Patriarchs. He said to them: My forefathers, pray for mercy for me, that I should be saved from the spies’ plan.”

The Chassidic writings explain that the body of a Tzaddik holds within it something of the Tzaddik’s spirit even after he has gone on to the Next World. In the Chassidic jargon, this is called “Reshimu.” That being so, the place where the holy body of the Tzaddik rests is the special place on earth where one can reach him, be close to him, because that is where he is. Calev took the trouble to go all the way to Me’arat Hamachpelah, because that is where the Patriarchs are; there he could ask and plead from the depths of his heart, “My forefathers, pray for mercy for me.”

 

Calev was the first person to do this, and from then on until today, in all generations and exiles, in troubled times and joyful ones, as well as on ordinary weekdays, Jews visit the resting places of Tzaddikim, pray and make requests, and also give thanks.

 

We have had many Tzaddikim, and there are many graves, but there is something sublime and special about visiting a “Neshama Clalit” – a “general soul” – visiting the grave of a soul-filled Jew who cared for his entire generation, far beyond the boundaries of his family, close friends or followers, because a Neshama Clalit is responsible for everyone.

 

Friends, I think there is no need to explain to a member of our generation that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is a Neshama Clalit. There is no need to mention the number of Shluchim in the world, or to bring stories from men, women and children of all types, ethnic backgrounds, religions and continents – live stories about a Rebbe who had a Neshama Clalit and cared for his entire generation.

 

Next week, G-d willing, I will fly with my son Moshe to visit and pray in the Ohel of the Rebbe for his Yahrzeit, which will be next Shabbat, the 3rd of Tammuz. I will feel honored to mention in the note I will leave there your name as well, if you wish me to do so.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Zalmen Wishedski

the humblest person on earth

 

Dear Friends,

 

I once heard about a learned clergyman who publicized among his townspeople that he was the humblest person on earth.

During one of his meetings with the local rabbi, the rabbi turned to him and asked: “My friend, you are known to be knowledgeable and learned. You surely know the verse from Parashat Beha’alotcha ‘Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth.’ So, if you are the humblest person, how does that work out with the Biblical verse?”

The learned man thought a moment and said, “Yes, I know that verse, and I actually have the same question about it.”

“Well,” said the rabbi, “if you really have the same question, I have the answer.”

How, indeed, was Moshe the humblest person ever? Of course, he was not a liar, G-d forbid, and he knew the truth very well, the truth being that he was the person chosen to lead the people, take them out of Egypt, go up to Mount Sinai and bring back the Torah. After all, he was Moshe Rabbeinu! How, with all that, did he manage to be the humblest person on earth?

The Rebbe explains this in a way that should give all of us the true perspective on ourselves and our lives: Moshe knew exactly who Moshe Rabbeinu was; he knew his own worth. But Moshe Rabbeinu always remembered that everything he had he had received as a gift from Hashem. He thought and believed that if his powers would have been given to Yankel or Shmerel, they too would have reached his spiritual level, and perhaps they would even have exceeded it. An outlook like that brings a human being to true humility.

Friends, this is not just another commentary; it is an instruction for life. Before a person starts thinking very highly of himself, he should try to calculate what another person would have achieved, if he had been born into a family like his, had had parents like his and the same talents that he has. There is a chance that that other person would have achieved even more.

This is a perspective that is enough to balance us. I wish you all success in internalizing it!

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Zalmen Wishedski

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