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Devar Torah - Pinchas

Friday, 6 July, 2018 - 11:27 am

Turning the Table on Ourselves during The Three Weeks: 
Our Opportunity to 
Use Public Opinions and Personal Judgments for the Good

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Fifty years ago - 5728-1968, Rabbi Levin, the Chief Rabbi of Moscow came from Russia to New York to see the Rebbe and go on a speaking tour concerning Russian Jewry. During his tour he displayed pictures of a Talmud Torah, a Mikvah building etc. One person who saw these photographs commented that he wanted to see what is doing behind the doors, meaning; how many people were actually using the mikvah.

At the Yud Beis Tammuz fabrengen some time soon after this incident, the Rebbe referenced this comment by quoting the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos that says;  “Retribution is extracted from a from a person with his knowledge”. The Baal Shem Tov explains that when a person arrives on high, the Heavenly Court asks him to give his opinion on another person’s particular life experience. What do you think, he is asked, about one who has done such and such? After the person offers his verdict, they show him how these deeds and circumstances parallel those of his own life. Ultimately, it is the person himself who passes judgment on his own failings and his own achievements. When a person knowingly expresses his opinion on a certain matter, he is unwittingly passing judgment on himself.

The same occurred here (the Rebbe said referring to the question about the mikvah). The person who asked did not realize that the question relates to him.  Instead of asking what is doing behind a door in Russia, we must ask himself instead what is happening here in New York, Minneapolis, or in Connecticut.  When you ask what is happening behind a door of a mikvah or a yeshiva in Russia what is really being asked is how many families here in America are keeping Taharas HaMishpocha? What percentage of Jewish children are learning in a Yeshiva?  How much have you been involved in sending children to Yeshivos?  How many families did you speak to about mikvah?  Did you go knocking from door to door in your neighborhood to speak to the families and the parents about Jewish education and Taharas HaMishpocha? The Rebbe noted that Rabbi Levin was amazed to see the extent of Jewish Education for girls in America and then asked; what percentages of girls have a Jewish Education in America? One would cry to realize that it is not 99% or even 95% or even 85%, rather maybe one percent of Jewish children get a Torah true education.  Your heart is crying out about what happens over there.  Truly that is what a Jewish heart has to do.  But that does not free you from the pain in your community, in your city, on your block, in your daled amos  (your immediate surroundings.)

We can take a lesson from this story particularly during the Three Weeks. The greatest thing we can do to change the world in general and our direct environment in particular is to increase in all areas of ahavas Yisroel. Instead of reading articles on the Internet about others, forming opinions (judging others), and then leaving and reading comments below the articles, we can take the same time to say an extra chapter of Tehillim, give Tzedaka and be melamed zechos on others. We can reach out to others through all the Mivtzoyim. In a special letter dated the 15th of Tammus 5734-1974 the Rebbe made a 'request of the soul' that everyone should add in all Mivtzoyim...during (and even before) the Three Weeks. The truth is that we are all one and when we think or speak about others we are really speaking and thinking about ourselves. So next time we are checking our iPhone, Facebook or Twitter account, we can have in mind to use it to apply to ourselves to do a bit of Teshuva and have some rachmonos, some extra compassion for another person in thought speech and action during the Three Weeks.

Through our extra efforts may we merit the revelation of Moshiach during these Three Weeks and we will convert these days of sadness to days of happiness!

A Good Shabbos, A Good Chodesh

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