Breaking Through the Final Barriers
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
This Shabbos is influenced by the past week in which we completed the Yom Tov of Pesach. It is also 24th year since yesterday the 28th of Nissan when the Rebbe made the declaration that he has given over to us the task of bringing Moshiach. Therefore it’s an important time to reflect about how we should find any way possible to break out of the boundaries of galus.
Just as by Krias Yam Suf there were four groups who faced the formidable waters of the ocean with four different approaches so too today there are different schools of thought about our situation and how to break out of the final boundaries of galus.
The first group is the warriors of our time. These are the folks that are constantly engaged in battles with others. They cry foul about others not doing their job or not doing it the way the Rebbe wants. Being that they consider themselves a Chosid and they feel their intentions are for the sake of Heaven they engage in their disputes in a very open and public manner. They say that it is because they act for the ‘sake of Hashem’ and for the Rebbe’s honor. Everyone needs to know how they feel because they are out make a Kiddush Hashem and a Kiddush Shem Lubavitch.
The next group is the compromisers. Their strategy is to go backwards. They will agree that surely the Rebbe struggled and fought during the 1950’s and 1960’s to be 100 percent authentic and not to compromise, and that was a good idea. But today is different. They claim to be smarter and more practically minded. They claim that we need to accommodate our standards in order to accomplish anything today. Be it with the youth, our communities our parnasa or with the world at large. Their mindset requires that we adopt the ways of the world. They say its ok to compromise our standards to accommodate and entertain the young professionals for example, even if it’s questionable entertainment, otherwise we’ll loose them.
The third group is those who choose to withdraw and become insular to the world. Their point is that they need to protect the family the community and themselves. They say that they prefer to stay below the radar. They will invest solely in davening and learning and they will focus on chinuch but they will not and they cannot get involved in the world. Hashem will bring Moshiach when He decides. There is simply nothing else to be done in a world filled with such formidable odds, a world that’s gone crazy. Helping other Jews with doing mitzvos? That’s for bachurim. I’ll stick to my davening and learning and leave the mivtzoyim for them.
The fourth group is the principled passives. They will tell you that they looked for a Rav or a Mashpia but they never found one. Instead when they asked around and read all the stories on the internet they found that the people who are supposed to be the examples and models for behavior are people with plenty of problems and faults of their own. They say that they’ll do what they can and ask to be left alone.
I heard a story during Chol HaMoed from Rabbi Moshe Perman. It took place in 1978-1979. Rabbi Yaakov Yehudah Hecht headed an operation to take a group of children out of Iran with the help of others including my brother Yossie and Shalom Ber Hecht. On Erev Pesach Rabbi Hecht received a phone call from the Rebbe’ secretary Rabbi Binyomin Kline. He asked if he had prepared rice for he children for Pesach. “Rice?” he asked. “I don’t believe you. The Rebbe wants us to make rice? That’s not out minhag!” Rabbi Kline told him that he was just telling him what the Rebbe asked and it was up to him to decide what to do. Rabbi Hecht ran to 770 and saw the Rebbe coming out from Mincha. When the Rebbe saw him he gave him a big smile. From this he understood that this is what the Rebbe wanted so that’s what they did. Yossie remembered standing in the kitchen cooking the rice on Erev Pesach that year. The Rebbe felt the needs of the children who were away from their parents on their own. Rice was their custom and the Rebbe wanted them to have according to their custom even if it didn’t fit with our hidurim. Even though we cannot eat it they can and it’s well worth it to go out of our way to accommodate their needs.
This story is a lesson to each one of us to do our best to accomplish and break out of our personal boundaries. It teaches the first group of warriors that fighting isn’t always the best way. We learn from this story that instead of arguing and insisting on the highest standard it was better to work together and reach everyone’s best benefit each according to his or her level.
On the other hand they did not compromise their own standards and hidurim one iota. This is a message to the second group of compromisers to follow the Rebbe’s example to constantly strive to provide for others while not compromising the authentic good of keeping our own observance on the highest level.
This story also is a message to the third group not to retreat or be insular rather flexible and to go out of our way to reach out to others.
To the fourth group who wants to be passive this story teaches us that knowing the failings of others should never get in the way of progress. The Rebbe knows our failings more than we realize. We are fools if we think otherwise. The Rebbe saw beyond our failings and looked toward the positive that can get done. So too we need to take a lesson today about our Rabbonim and Mashpiim. We need to remember that not everyone is the benoni of the Tanya. Surely you can find someone who knows better than you and that can teach you and guide you. This is what the Rebbe meant by making for yourself a Rav. If you seek this, surely you will find someone to be your Rav or your Mashpia. In this story the people involved did not see the potential nevertheless the Rebbe saw the potential and with a smile used the opportunity to help the children.
Each one of us can now ask ourselves: to which group do I belong? What is standing in my way? Is it a real barrier or should I ignore it as I break though the barriers and act now to do my irreplaceable part in bringing the revelation of Moshiach today?
A Good Shabbos and a Good Chodesh