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be a miracle yourself!

Thursday, 2 April, 2015 - 12:32 pm

 

Dear Friends,

 

It was a clandestine Hitva’adut (Chassidic gathering), that continued far into the night. The place was Czernowitz, and the time was the end of the 1950’s, during Khrushchev’s reign. Most of the political prisoners had already been released from the work camps. My grandfather, “Zeide Moshe”, Rabbi Moshe Wishedski, had only recently returned from seven years of imprisonment and exile. They all sat together behind closed curtains and encouraged each other to be strong and to guard the glowing ember of Judaism – for there was no fire at the time; only a glowing ember remained by then.

 

My grandfather “took a lot of drink” and with true love he demanded from one of the participants to return to keeping a kosher kitchen and a kosher bedroom. This was not a mere demand – my grandfather knew that that person was really interested in observing the Mitzvot, and, after all, he had even shown up at the secret Hitva’adut, and that meant everything – it meant that he was “one of us.” The problem was that it was really very hard to keep the Mitzvot. Finding a piece of kosher chicken was almost impossible, and getting to a kosher Mikveh was a challenge that necessitated genuine Mesirut Nefesh (self-sacrifice). But he also knew, that as a Chassid who had just returned from seven years of exile in Siberia, he had the prerogative to demand – with love – that his friend would show some Mesirut Nefesh.

 

That Jew turned to Grandfather and said, “R. Moshe, when Hashem will make a miracle and we’ll get to the “Eretz” (meaning Eretz Yisrael), there I will certainly observe everything – for everything there is permitted.”

 

That was the moment when my Zeide rose from his seat, straightened his cap on his head and called out from the depths of his heart: “You want Hashem to make a miracle for you?! First, you do a miracle, and then He’ll do a miracle.” A miracle is something that is beyond nature and its laws; if you behave in a manner that is beyond your natural human nature, beyond the laws of Soviet Russia – indeed, perform a miracle with your behavior, and even be a miracle yourself – then Hashem will listen to our prayers, perform a miracle and we will reach “Eretz.”

 

My friends, the month of Nissan is a month of miracles. (Nissan – Nissim). Pesach is made up stories of wonders and miracles. And when we reach the holiday eve, and sit with friends and family, celebrating the past, the present and certainly the future as well, we ask Hashem to help us be free from everything that prevents us from celebrating: whether it’s a health issue of one of our loved ones, a severe financial difficulty, the desire to receive true Nachas from our children, or sometimes just the wish to be happy. And in general, we all conclude the Haggadah with the request, the plea and the hope: “Next year in Jerusalem.” It is worthwhile, then, to remember my grandfather’s call at the clandestine Hitva’adut on that dark night: You want Hashem to make a miracle for you?! First, you do a miracle, and then He’ll do a miracle!

 

I wish everyone a Happy and Kosher Pesach!!!

 

Zalmen Wishedski

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