Everyone has a Vote:
Are we Happy with the Status Quo
or do we prefer to Move Forward?
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
This week I came across a Sicha from the Rebbe on parshas Maasai 5727-1967. It was delivered 49 years ago after the Six-Day War. The Rebbe spoke about people who decided not to go out on shlichus and instead to stay in Brooklyn. They did this because they considered Brooklyn to be a safe haven from negative influences.
The Rebbe said those that not only would they be unable to avoid the negative influences by staying in Brooklyn, it could be even worse. The Rebbe explained that the core reason, which determines whether or not we fall prey to negative or foreign influences, is our ability to accept Hashem’s sovereignty and our sense of personal responsibility. He went on to describe a certain kind of person that hangs around, coming and going as he pleases, sleeping in and wasting his time reading up on the latest news, pontificating and debating the up-to-the-minute statements of politicians and pundits, preoccupied with Washington DC and the African-American community in Milwaukee. Although he conducts himself with an attitude of self-importance and convinces himself to be acting strictly for the sake of Heaven not to mention the world at large, in reality the Rebbe said, he is only fooling himself. He has no influence in the corridors of Washington or anywhere else. He is wasting his time that could have been used more productively elsewhere. The Rebbe Maharash once said that it's impossible to fool Hashem, it’s not even possible to fool the world, the only one we fool is ourselves. So what's the big deal, what’s the great accomplishment in fooling a fool?
The Rebbe went on to encourage this person to make a simple bottom line calculation; how many people did he help with putting on Tefillin (or other mitzvos)? What actually got done? That’s the impact, that’s what counts.
What we see from the Sicha is that when we live with a mentality of being on shlichus wherever we are (regardless of whether we are an official Shliach or not) people look towards us to see how we daven and learn and act as a living example.
Our job is to accept Hashem’s sovereignty, know the Rebbe’s guidance and then take personal responsibility, making sure we finally get to the actual practical application. We don't have to fear the negative influences of a foreign environment when we take responsibility, follow the Rebbe’s directives, and get busy with producing results. Then we don't need to read the news from the New York Times, we are the newsmakers.
It’s our choice whether we want to be spectators or players. For example, how much do we actually know about the life and the environment of our sons when they go away to Yeshiva or our daughters when they go away to Seminary? Do we know if they are really learning or just wasting their time? Do we know if they have good chavrusos, positive influences and acceptable roommates? The only way to know is to get involved. If they're in town we can go visit them, if they're out of town we can speak with them and their educators on a regular basis or make a trip to visit them. When the educators know that we are involved and that we care then our child will not just be a number or a statistic. This is our shlichus.
When our older children go away on shlichus what kind of a program do they have? Is it a real program with an organized curriculum or is it just 10 bachurim sitting somewhere alone? The bottom line is that we need to take matters into our own hands; we need to guide the situation towards a positive outcome. We have that power and it’s our responsibility.
The education of our children should never be placed on autopilot. When I was young bachur in Montreal 49 years ago I remember waking in the middle of the night to flashing lights. Puzzled and a bit concerned I looked only to see none other than Rabbi Greenglass using a flashlight as he walked through the dormitory checking up on each and every one of us to see if we had negel vaser and were wearing yarmulkes and tzitzis. That always stayed with me. He cared about our ruchnius, our spiritual development. That memory and that experience edifies enriches and leaves a lasting impression on a young person. When a young person is not feeling well and the hanhala goes to look in on them and treat them for what they are, precious children, it has a big effect.
As a teenager in Montreal my teacher Rabbi Yosef Bornstein, a close friend of my father and from Otwock Poland and Shanghai came over to speak with me. He said that if I ever need anything to just come and ask. He cared for me and he was interested in my well being. All these activities are critical in the education of our children and our relationship with every child. It's the foundation of our home and our mission in life. This approach brings about healthy children and a healthy generation. Wherever we are every one of us has a mission. By not leaving our lives on autopilot and taking matters into our own hands according to the Rebbe’s guidance, we will fulfill our shlichus.
By accepting Hashem’s sovereignty, following the Rebbe’s directives and taking personal responsibility we break out of the status quo of galus and move toward the geula. Then we witness the full complete consolation during the seven weeks of consolation with the full and complete revelation of Moshiach Now!
A Good Shabbos