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When R. Mendel gave himself credit

Friday, 26 June, 2020 - 6:12 am

 One of the most special Chabad chassidim in the last generation was R. Mendel Futerfas z”l, whose yahrzeit is today, the 4th of Tammuz.

R. Mendel was a clever man, who knew how to face the world straight on.

As much as the people around him held by him and, already in his youth, respected his opinion and his virtues, his acquaintances and students can bear witness to the fact that he did not consider himself highly – not in the modern psychological sense of “low self-image”, but in the sense of true humility.

And yet, when necessary he did give himself credit.

Once, R. Mendel Futerfas met one of his beloved students, one of the heads of the Or Temimim Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton, and it seemed to him that his face was not shining very much. “Is it possible,” said R. Mendel, “that a chassid won’t feel happy?”

R. Tuvia tried to apologize and mentioned the reasons behind his unsmiling face at that moment, but R. Mendel didn’t accept the apology and said:

“You know that I was sent, due to my many sins against the Soviet regime, to the “lager”, a work camp in Siberia, and spent quite a few years there.

“It was very difficult for me to keep Shabbos there, but I was successful in doing so, and I don’t give myself credit for that.

“It was difficult for me to eat only kosher food, and there were times when there was nothing to eat except for non-kosher food, and, Baruch Hashem, I held on and didn’t contaminate myself with forbidden foods, and for that too I don’t give myself credit.

“There is only one thing that I give myself credit for: that in all those years when we were in such a depressing place I never fell into sadness, and not even bitterness. Only for that can I give myself credit.”

 

May these words be for his ilui neshama (elevation of the soul), and may we be successful in dealing with this challenge.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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