Every Chabadnik knows

Friday, 7 January, 2022 - 7:15 am

Every Chabadnik knows by heart the first sentence that the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, said on the 9th of Adar, 5700 (1940), immediately upon disembarking from the ship at Pier 94 in Manhattan: “America is no different.” (in Yiddish: America is nicht anderesh.)

The simple meaning is clear. This was a clear and sharp message to the Jews from back home – from Poland and Hungary – telling them that in America, too, one can walk around in a long coat and a broad pair of tzitzit. America is no different; here, too, it is possible and even imperative to keep Shabbos and learn Torah.

If I may be allowed, I think there is a deeper and even revolutionary aspect that can be seen in speeches and talks of the Rebbe since he accepted upon himself the leadership of Chabad on the 10th of Shvat, 5711: America is not different not only from Warsaw and Krakow; America and everything it represents is not different from Hashem. It is not a separate reality, G-d forbid. Modernization and broad horizons, technology and openness are not different and distinct entities. Not only because these can be used for the purpose of holy and positive goals, but because in reality that’s why everything was created!

Hashem created the world with endless abilities and possibilities. As time goes on these are revealed, stage by stage. Some of them seem impure or negative, but the Rebbe’s message was that a Jew who knows how to use a horse and wagon to serve Hashem will also know how to use a car and an airplane; and he who knows how to use a letter and a postcard for positive goals, will know how to do the same thing with WhatsApp and Facebook. Because this is the truth: America is no different; the goal is the same goal. It’s only the means that have been upgraded.

Friends, this coming wednesday we will mark the 10th of Shvat, it is the day on which the great Jewish revolution began, based on the words “America is no different.”

May we be successful!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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