Devar Torah: Eikev

Friday, 15 August, 2014 - 10:20 am

Is My Hand too short to redeem?
Do I not have Strength to Save?
(Haftorah Parshas Eikev)
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The connection between a Rebbe and a chosid is not bound by time or by our location. It’s a connection between neshamos, as we say in the Mayna Lashon that we read by the Ohel; “Neshama m’neshama neetzeles, one neshama is emanated from another”. This connection is vital and continuous just as always because it was never limited by where we are or by which generation we were born into. Therefore today you don’t only have to be in 770 or by the Ohel to be connected, you can have that connection wherever you are. To feel and be properly impacted by this connection however requires that you really live with it.

Take for example special historical moments or events. We can all recall where we were at certain special moments in time, lehavdil. We all seem to have a lucid remembrance as to where we stood or what we were doing at the moment we heard about the bombing of the World Trade Center on 9/11. For for the older generation we all seem to remember where we were on November 22, 1963 the day that President Kennedy was shot. It left an indelible unforgettable mark, something that transcended time and place within that moment in time and place. In my youth I recall reading about the riots of 1929 in Chevron. The book detailed all of the horror of how the Arabs killed the men women and children. Because I became so moved by what happened I became engrossed in the event and it left a mark until this day. It was like the event was occurring right there before my eyes as I read. This is true even though it happened before I was born; their experience is something that spans time from that very event that touches another Jew in a different generation.

So how do we really live a Rebbe Chosid relationship today in 2012, 20 years after Gimmel Tammuz? First we can live it because the relationship is real, its beyond time and place, even if you were born after Gimmel Tammuz. How? By learning; studying the Rebbe’s Sichos and Maamarim, by acting; going on Mivtzoyim, by participating; going to fabrengens and hearing stories of the Rebbe from those that merited to experience them by the Rebbe first hand. True you are hearing it from someone else, but it’s not second hand, “neshama m’neshama neetzeles” you have your personal connection as well that is aroused through becoming engrossed in the experience of your fellow chosid.

So in summary it’s not just about the information of the sicha or the story that enables us to really connect. When we merit having a real fabrengen the person who speaks lives what he speaks. The listener gets drawn into it and then it’s alive. This is why we look for an elder Chosid, someone that truly lives as a Chosid because they open us up and transport us to where they are. When they share what they are truly living within their neshama, it’s not a story. It’s the neshama and the teaching not the physical details, “neshama m’neshama neetzeles”.

This year Chof Av (the 20th of Av, which is the yartzeit of the Rebbe’s father Rav Levi Yitzchok z’tzal) falls on Shabbos parshas Eikev. This Shabbos brings me back to 5730-1970 by the Rebbe’s fabrengen on Chof Av Shabbos parshas Eikev. That fabrengen was very emotional and left a mark that stays with me until today. It was after the cease-fire that was arranged between Israel and Egypt on the Suez Canal. The Egyptians openly violated the cease-fire agreement by placing missiles by the Suez Canal that threatened the civilian populace in Israel. Later on by the Yom Kippur Was there were numerous casualties due to the minimized airspace caused by the placement of those missiles. At the fabrengen the Rebbe was screaming that they should bomb those missile sites even on Shabbos because it was pikuach nefesh, it endangered life. The Rebbe spoke with his voice cracking with tears and crying as he spoke about that week’ haftorah. He said that he was thinking about the situation in Israel as he read through the pasukim. The Six Day War was filled with miracles of miracles that Hashem showed us. Three different armies far outnumbering ours surrounded us ready to destroy our fledgling country. With those great miracles not only were we not destroyed, we went on to conquer Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Yehuda, Shomron as well as the Sinai up until the Suez Canal. Immediately following the war, the Israeli government decided that they wanted to return the land in exchange for peace. The cease-fire arrangement on the Suez Canal was going to lead to a land for peace deal.

The Rebbe quoted the haftorah’s pasuk: “Why have I come and there is no man? [Why] have I called and no one answers? Is My hand too short to redeem, or do I have no strength to save? Through his anguish he cried; “I came”, I brought you open miracles, is there no man (to recognize the miracles)? “I called”, do we forget that Hashem has done all of this for us. “Is My hand too short to redeem, or do I have no strength to save?” The Rebbe stopped and sobbed.

The relationship between a Rebbe and Chosid is relevant today just as it always has been and it’s something that we can relate to; today it’s more critical than ever to strengthen that relationship. When we go to the Ohel and we go to 770 we need to remember and we need to connect: “I came” the Rebbe is here with us now and he’s helping today. The relation is beyond time and place. That fabrengen may have been over 40 years ago but it’s still alive just as it was then today.  

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