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Devar Torah - Mishpotim

Thursday, 12 February, 2015 - 2:00 pm

The Rebbe’s Request for Us is
to stay Anchored in a World of Turmoil
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Today we live in a rapidly changing and chaotic world. Especially in Eretz Yisroel but now everywhere the events are unfolding on a global scale quickly with important and long term consequences. In general never in the history of the world has there been so much information and so many distractions available to so many and so many ways to communicate. This brings great opportunities but it seams at times that the world has a giant case of global ADHD! One day it’s Global warming the next day it’s Iran. One day it’s ISIS the next day it’s the oil pipeline and the budget. One day we are going to have sanctions on Iran the next day Netanyahu’s visit to Congress is controversial.

This entire dizzying array of distractions challenges us more today than ever before to bring life back into focus and act upon what’s really important. Unless we make an effort to through break the effects of the 24-hour news cycle we too will be affected, and what’s at stake is profound and long lasting. We cannot let our ability to focus on what’s really important fade into the background. The truth is that yesterday’s news is quickly forgotten and always replaced with something else. Aside from the excitement of being up to date, we know today that tomorrow the only thing the newspaper will be good for is for wrapping dishes. Still we know that the constant changes preoccupy many people.

How often do we take the time to stop everything, close our phones and our computers and ask ourselves why we here in this world? How often do we refresh our feeling about our purpose? How often do we change our daily schedule and priorities to reflect a better consideration of how to get done what it is that we are here to accomplish? Out of the six days of the week how many of them do we allow ourselves to join the legions of the distracted that mindlessly pull our iPhones out of our pockets to check the news texts and emails every 5, 15 and 25 minutes? How often do we put aside all of our personal concerns and truly listen to what our children are saying to us? Do we make the time to then act upon what we hear from them and help them plan their futures, and how they are going to make it as Chasidim in the coming years? 

During a yechidus on Yud Kislev 5732-1972 the Rebbe encouraged a yeshiva bachor that next time he enters yechidus he should have good things to write about (not just his challenges). The Rebbe went on to say that he has simcha and tanug nafshi u’pnimi, deep inner soul pleasure when he hears that a bachor from Tomchei Tmimim is learning, davening and acting appropriately. It’s self understood what the opposite brings. Therefore the Rebbe requested that since this is a matter of ahavas Yisroel (from a chosid to a Rebbe) perhaps he and his friends would make an effort to improve and add in these areas.

When this bachor asked for a bracha for hiskashrus the Rebbe spoke to him directly about what hiskashrus really is. He said that a person cannot just wander about with and empty mind and be connected. If a bachor doesn’t keep the sedarim or learn properly or act properly he (the Rebbe) won’t be bribed by his occasional learning of Likutei Sichos or that sometimes he does me the great favor of doing some Ufarutzta.  Later the Rebbe gave him a beracha that Hashem Yisborach should help him to be a true tomim and a true mekushar, which begins with “Tamim t’hiyeh eim Hashem Elokecha”, being completed, simple and honest with Hashem. By doing all of this with simcha and a good heart eventually we will be able to look upon your accomplishments with pride and say; “Rau gedulim sh’gidalti”.

It’s self understood that this applies to all of us.

The Hayom Yom for the 11th of Shevat the day that the Rebbe’s leadership began (unofficially. Officially it began a year later on Yud Shevat 5711) says the following.

   “The routine of the day begins with saying the prayer of Modeh Ani. This is said before the morning washing of the hands, even while the hands are "impure." The reason is that all the impurities in the world do not defile a Jew's "Modeh Ani" He might lack one thing or another, but his Modeh Ani remains intact.”

The prayer of Modeh Ani is our focus and our anchor. Modeh Ani is our mission statement of who we are and why we are here. It expresses the essence of a Jew and cannot be contaminated by anyone or anything. That’s why it is said even before negel vaser. There is an important lesson for us as Chassidim from the fact that this Hayom Yom by hashgacha protis should be the first Hayom Yom of the Rebbe’s nesius on the 11th of Shevat. What does this Hayom Yom teach us about being his Chassidim?

There was a great Rav, one of the Torah giants of the 20th Century HaRav Ha Gaon Rav Yechezkel Avramsky who was close with the Rabbeim. At one point he was arrested and was kept in prison in Russia without his Tefillin and without any Sefarim. After his release he recounted an experience he had while in prison to the Previous Rebbe. One morning he woke up and looked around at all the other prisoners and asked himself; how am I different than them as a Jew? (This was very upsetting to him) I don’t have anything that distinguishes me. I don’t have Tallis and Tefillin; I don’t have any Sefarim to learn Torah etc.  Then he realized, he told the Rebbe, that the difference is that he is a Jew, and a Jew has emunah in Hashem This the difference that he lives for and this is what brought him simcha and lifted his spirits. The Rebbe told him that his entire imprisonment was worthy to have reached this understanding and feeling.

This is what the Rebbe wants from each and every one of us. The Modeh Ani should be our entire focus. This helps us to define ourselves as well as others.  Just as the Rebbe requested of the bachor in yechidus that since this is a matter of ahavas Yisroel from a chosid to a Rebbe perhaps he and his friends would make an effort to improve and add in these areas, so too we can and should make this effort as well. By doing all of this with simcha and a good heart, beginning with Modeh Ani by being completed, simple and honest with Hashem, eventually we will be able to look upon our accomplishments and bring nachas to Hashem and to the Rebbe.

To be able to bring out this feeling of what a Jew is and to focus on our purpose and mission to make this world a dwelling place for Hashem can only be accomplished by learning Chassidus.  Learning Chassidus keeps us focused and energized that the fools and follies of the world should not distract our determination to fulfill the will of Hashem with the revelation of Moshiach and bringing the geula Now!

A Good Shabbos!

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