The Chabadniks’ talking points

Friday, 4 March, 2022 - 7:24 am

A stranger who would have heard them this week would have thought that they have a list of talking points, or at least one message that they received from above to pass on.

Dryly and laconically, but simply, and with much confidence, they say: We’re simply doing what has to be done.

“We salute you,” I wrote to Rabbi Avremi Wolff, Odessa’s rabbi, a moment after he waved goodbye to the buses of orphans and remained behind in the city. He replied to me laconically: “It’s nothing. We’re just doing what has to be done.”

My wife spoke with her good friend, Chani Gopin. She and her husband Rabbi Shalom Gopin left Kiev, reached Iași, which they had just looked up in Wikipedia, and instead of resting after dozens of hours of travel, they boiled up a huge pot of eggs and their young children prepared cucumbers and other vegetables, so that the next batch of refugees, whom they hadn’t met yet, would have something to eat. “You’re super,” my wife told her, and she answered with the same message: “We’re just doing what has to be done, nothing special.”

Rabbi Mendy Glitzenstein, his wife Penina and their family took care of thousands of refugees, for days on end, without sleep. “Mendy, you are our heroes,” I said to him. but he just replied from the Chabad list of talking points: “We just did what was needed at that moment.”

Should I continue? This is what I heard from Rabbi Yossi Wolff, who remained in Kherson, under siege; from my brother Rabbi Pinchas, with all his activities, and so on all of them, even Rabbi Dover Orgad from Cluj (Klausenberg), who worked day and night to feed whoever showed up – and there were hundreds – and replied simply and confidently, stating that same dry and laconic point: “We are simply doing what is needed right now.”

If you think about it a bit, and go into it more deeply, you will see that indeed that has been the central message of Lubavitch ever since it was established: Before all and after all you just do what needs doing at that moment.

In the early 1970’s, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l asked to meet Chabad chassidim who had just managed to leave Soviet Russia. In the meeting between Rav Moshe and R. Yankel Notick z”l, who was one of those unknown heroes who were willing to give up their lives in order to observe the mitzvos of the Torah in Russia on a daily basis, Rav Moshe asked him: “How did you do this? To insist this way on every mitzvah, big and small, in face of the forces of evil?”

And R. Yankel Notick voiced the same message, from those same ancient Lubavitcher talking points: “Did we have any other choice?” That was what was needed, so that was what we did.

I don’t know, but I find this deeply moving – so dry and laconic but so simple a statement, said with such confidence.

Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda, was the leading artisan in the construction of the Mishkan for Hashem. He ran everything, he was consulted about everything. He knew everything. He actually was the person who built the Mishkan. My friend, Rabbi Auriel Silbiger, rabbi of Agudat Achim in Basel, told me last night that Betzalel is very special to him. He did everything, organized everything, and the moment after the construction was completed, he disappeared from the radar (almost completely). We hear nothing more about him, read nothing more. He just did what he was supposed to do and went back to his anonymity.

If you check, you will see that, in the second passuk already, the Torah sums up everything that Betzalel did in the following words: “And Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur of the tribe of Yehuda did all that Hashem commanded Moshe.” How dry, how laconic, how simple and confident.

A kind of talking point.

עושה שלום במרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו.

He Who makes peace in His Heavens, will make peace upon us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

Comments on: The Chabadniks’ talking points
There are no comments.