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My Mendel’s Advice

Friday, 22 November, 2019 - 4:58 am

From the moment I leave on a trip with my children, especially when I am alone, I focus almost totally on them. In other words, they have all of my attention. This includes some very simple and perhaps obvious things, like telling them about every step I take, from ordering the first Uber to letting them look for the gate and finding their own seats on the airplane, all the way to sharing with them the contents of an email or SMS that I have just written (as long as it is not private or secret, of course). On Wednesday afternoon I set out with twelve-year-old Natan and eight-year-old Mendel on a trip to New York, to participate in the Annual Conference of the Chabad Shluchim from all over the world, known to us as “Kinus Hashluchim”. On Thursday morning we left very early (they had gotten up at 4:00 am already. Thank you, jetlag…) and went to the Ohel – the Rebbe’s resting place. There we studied, prayed and also wrote a letter and went in to pray by the Rebbe. We talked and learned, and I told them that unfortunately I am not managing to write my weekly letter. Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes less so, and today it was simply stuck. A while later, as we were learning, Mendel said to me: “Abba, write about this, about what we just learned.” And so, I have listened to his advice and am sharing with you what we learned, from Mendel’s angle: We learned the pasuk from Tehillim “You gave to those who fear you a banner (nes) to be raised high,” with the word nes meaning nisayon – a test. In other words, the Creator gives those who fear Him tests and trials in their lives, knowing that they have the ability to cope “for truth’s sake, selah” – in the merit of Avraham Avinu (koshet selah being a reference to him and his deeds, see in the ma’amar). By the very fact that Avraham triumphed in the many difficult trials sent by the Creator, he opened a conduit for us and gave all his descendants the strength to withstand their trials and challenges as well. When I asked Mendel whether he had understood, he explained that it’s like him not much liking to daven, certainly not to daven at length, but now that he knows that Avraham Avinu succeeded and that that success gives him strength, he is convinced that it will be easier for him. He made this declaration and I didn’t argue with him – not because he’s eight years old, but because I too use this technique when I encounter a test, and it most certainly helps. Shabbat Shalom from New York, Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski
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