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Devar Torah - Noach

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 9:29 am

Enter the Rebbe’s Teivah!

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

This week we read parshas Noach which discusses the mabul, the great flood. Chassidus explains that the waters of the mabul refer to all of the tests trials and tribulations that come with daily living. Especially as we leave the spiritual heights of the Yomim Tovim of Tishrei, we seem to become plunged into the many waters of worldly concern. We confront all of  the stresses and anxieties of properly addressing the mundane; shuffling through the daily routine of managing our livelihoods, trying to balance our checkbooks, getting our children’s school year off on the right foot while trying to keep the upbeat attitude and increased shiurim that we committed to on Rosh Hashana. And don’t forget we decided to stop worrying, which we are now worried about because the return to this daily flood which has gotten us a bit overwhelmed! Chassidus explains that we need to enter the Teiva of Noach, the teivos, words of Torah, Tefillah in order to stay afloat. 

While we know that this is true for all of Bnei Yisroel, as Lubavitcher Chassidim the Rebbe has given us a unique mission and therefore we need to best understand which teivos, words, work best for our specific circumstances. Today in this year of 5773, when we have need advice where do we turn for guidance? What is our teiva to enter during difficult times? 

Many use the Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe. They say that the best thing to do is write the Rebbe a letter and place it into the Igros and look on the page you placed it for advice, guidance, and bracha. Others say that it is preferable to follow what the Rebbe spoke about in the years 5746-7; to appoint a Rav or a mashpia to consult with get advice and guidance both in general and for specific questions. This is known as the campaign of Asei Lecha Rav, discussed in previous articles at length. In 5748, the Rebbe said for matters of business one should consult with business experts, for health he should consult with doctor who is an expert in the field and a friend, and for ruchnius matters to consult with a mashpia. 

In the forward of volume 12 of Igros Kodesh (printed in 5749), a historical explanation is given as to why the Rebbe published many volumes of Igros Kodesh in the 1980’s. In the early years of the Rebbe’s nesius, the Rebbe held personal yechidus with individuals for birthdays and special occasions. He also responded to individual requests with private letters. As the years passed and requests grew, instead of letters, answers were written directly onto the request often in the form of an edit, a comment or a bracha. This allowed for a greater volume of letters to be answered. As the requests continued to grow, in 1975 personal yechidus for birthdays stopped. In 1980 most personal yechidus stopped. In its place the Rebbe held general yechidus for guests, Chossonim and Kallos, and Bar and Bas Mitzvos. They usually took place after a Yom Tov.

Later on at a time when most personal answers stopped we merited the publishing of many volumes of Igros Kodesh. During this time the Rebbe stressed in many sichos, similar to what is written in the forward of the Tanya, to take advice from a Rav. 

The volumes of Igros Kodesh are printed with an index which allows the reader to get a detailed perspective on any topic of concern. The Igros Kodesh offer eitzah v’hadracha, advice and guidance, by providing a compendium of ideas and answers to any question. As the Alter Rebbe wrote in the forward to the Tanya; “Someone who finds it difficult to understand the advice inside these writings should talk to the leaders in his town and they will provide insight.” The forward to volume 12 of Igros Kodesh was printed under the auspices of the Rebbe and therefore reflects the Rebbe’s wishes. Therefore it is obvious that the same approach described in the Tanya applies also to Igros Kodesh. It is true that the Rebbe can answer from the Igros or at the Ohel, and that is fine and good. It certainly however must be combined with this approach described in the hakdama of volume 12 and the Tanya.

Therefore, if a friend, talmid, or child tells you that he or she wrote to the Igros Kodesh but he didn’t get an answer, tell them that they should go to a mashpia to seek guidance or advice. If a bochur comes to a mashpia to find out which yeshiva he should go learn in the coming year, it is not right that the mashpia should tell him to just write into Igros and if there is a hint in the letter such as, the word Montreal or Eretz Yisroel or Yeshivas Tores Emes that he should consider that his answer. This is not the way Lubavitch. What is necessary is for the mashpia to first become acquainted with all the details in the life of the bochur and then to come to an understanding as to what is in his best interests, and then to write if that is the preference. The Rebbe wants you to work with your Chabad, your intellect. Study the topic and then work it out with your mashpia. 

Based on the above, it is incumbent upon everyone to have a regular seder of learning Igros Kodesh. Learning Igros Kodesh provides a broad understanding and clarity of the advice and guidance that the Rebbe provides for any problem of life. This is our ‘Teivas Noach’ which has protected us and continues to protect us on our unique journey through the mayim rabim, the flood of worldly concerns that surround us. 

In conclusion, the Alter Rebbe in the hakdama of Tanya concludes; “From the provider of life, may He merit us and enliven us to the day when man will no longer learn from his friend, as everyone will know Me because the knowledge of Hashem will fill the earth etc.” Amen may it be his will.

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