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Through The Eyes of a Woman

At the Shluchos Convention 5749 (1989): The Women's Convention of Emissaries

I didn't even know for sure that I was going. But in Lubavitch things usually happen quickly. I had planned to go, and then I decided not to go and then at the last minute my husband really wanted me to go, and so I went, to put it in a nutshell.

I arrived in New York on Monday night. That Wednesday was the 22nd of Shevat, the first yahrzeit of Rebbitzin Chayah Mushka. Thursday, the 23rd of Shevat, was the first session of the first International Convention of the Rebbe's female emissaries -- the shluchos. Four hundred women, from all over the world, literally from every corner of the globe, converged on 770.

Every year there's a kinus hashluchim for the men on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, but this year, the year after the passing of Rebbitzin Chayah Mushka, was the first international convention for shluchos. It was an inaugural event, and came about as a result of the Rebbe's direct request to make a convention for the women.

A Gift from the Rebbe

On Shabbos the Rebbe farbrenged. We were hoping that the Rebbe would somehow refer to the convention or say something directly to the shluchos, but he didn't. We were a bit disappointed, but on Motzaei Shabbos, at a banquet for the women, we were informed that the following morning all of the shluchos should meet right after davening Shacharis in the Rebbe's minyan (no, we did not daven with the men; we were upstairs in the women's section) in front of 770 in order to go in as a group to get dollars from the Rebbe. At that time the Rebbe was giving out dollars every Sunday. Because we were a group we would be allowed to go in first and alone...

While we were standing there waiting to pass before the Rebbe and receive a dollar, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, one of the main organizers of the conference, announced that the Rebbe would be giving a special sichah to the shluchos. This was something we had no idea about. It was a surprise and a wonderful privilege. A gift from the Rebbe. We were all very, very excited. Only the shluchos and their babies were allowed in, no one else. What follows are some of the main points of the sichah the Rebbe addressed to the women. As a preface, I must tell you that the date was the Sunday after Shabbos Mevarchim Adar.

 

Joy

The Rebbe stressed two main ideas -- one, the theme of simchah. The convention took place at the end of Shevat, when we bless the forthcoming month of Adar. Our Sages state that when Adar comes in, we increase in joy: Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimchah. Since Shabbos Mevarchim Adar blesses the forthcoming month of Adar, simchah has to start permeating us even now, from Shabbos Mevarchim on. Once you bless the month of Adar it is as if you have already entered the mood of that month -- simchah.

The second point focused around the fact that we had gathered together as a group. In Temple times, Yidden used to gather together in the Beis HaMikdash and listen to the king read from the Torah during Sukkos after every shemittah year. This was called hakhel. Although we cannot fulfill the mitzvah of hakhel, since we do not have the Beis HaMikdash, nevertheless, the spiritual benefits of gathering together are still completely relevant. The Rebbe spoke at length about the greatness and the significance of Jews gathering together. Since each Jew is precious to HaShem as a single child born to elderly parents after many years of waiting, then how much more special to HaShem is a whole group of Jews. Every time a group of Jews convenes, this automatically creates a joyful atmosphere, both for the people in the group, and also for HaShem. This particular gathering is taking place after Shabbos Mevarchim Adar, and therefore the joy is much more apparent.

Subsequently the Rebbe explained that the phrase mishenichnas Adar marbin besimchah, is not only a statement of fact, that people rejoice more as Adar enters, it is also a command. When Adar comes, you must increase in joy, even if you are not in such a joyous mood. You have to try to create a joyous mood because it's Adar. It's just like Simchas Torah. If you have a problem and Simchas Torah comes and you're not feeling very joyful, or you are even in a bad mood for whatever reason, you have to try to work on yourself. You can sing, you can go and do something you enjoy, you put on something nice, you eat something you like -- you have to create the mood, create a feeling of joy if you do not have it.

The Rebbe pointed out that joy is not only the result of being in a good situation, when things are going well, and you are feeling well; when you do not have financial worries, and so on. The Baal Shem Tov explains that the verse, "HaShem is your shadow at your right hand" means this: Just as your shadow inevitably follows the movements of your body, so too, the way you present yourself to HaShem elicits a similar response from Him. In Chassidus this is called isarusa dil'eila which follows isarusa dil'tata, which means that the response from Above echoes what takes place below. Just as we react to things that are happening in the spiritual spheres, the spiritual spheres react to what is going on down here. When HaShem sees that we are acting properly, He responds with goodness, and with blessing. When a Jew is joyful it arouses HaShem's rejoicing in us.

Let's say your life is not so complete and you do have problems; there are things that you would like to have. Complaining about what you do not have, about your lack, is a very effective way of making sure that you won't get what you want. There are people who want to get married, but they are so depressed and despondent about the fact that they're not married, that no one wants to marry them. Even though it's difficult to be joyful when the thing you want most is beyond you, nevertheless, the Torah tells us that by making the effort to live as if our prayers had already been answered, is the best way to ensure that they will be answered.

There is a story of a certain woman who went to a Rebbe (I forget who), because after many years of marriage she had not yet had any children. You can imagine how depressed she was. She could hardly explain her difficulties to the Rebbe because she was crying so much. The Rebbe listened to her story and then quoted several verses proving that the way to have children was davka by rejoicing. One verse states, Em habanim smeichah ("The mother of children rejoices"); another states, Rani akarah lo yelada ("Let the barren woman who has not given birth rejoice"); and so on. Needless to say, by changing her attitude and rejoicing, the woman eventually bore children.

This then is the Rebbe's message: marbin besimchah -- be joyful; that makes HaShem give us blessing which in turn makes us even more joyful.

 

A Shluchah

Another point: The Rebbe spoke about the concept of being a shluchah, an emissary. A Jewish woman cannot do things in every part of the world. Everybody lives in one place and they can do things effectively primarily in their own location. When a woman agrees to move to a different part of the world and serve HaShem in that place, she is an emissary of all Jewish women. This is true even if either of the parties is not aware of this. This, of course, is in addition to her being an emissary of all the Rebbeim.

Moreover, when a woman takes it upon herself to go on shlichus and make her home in a distant part of the world, she is rewarding not only herself, but all the women in the place she came from, for she is their emissary, and so they also share in her reward.

 

Making a Sanctuary

One more idea. The Rebbe tied this in to the parshah of the week, which was the first day of parshas Terumah. There it states, "They shall make me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell among them." The Rebbe explained that this is precisely the goal of shlichus. The shlichus of every Jew in the world is to make the world into a Sanctuary for HaShem. In the desert our forefathers did it by constructing a Tabernacle, a physical edifice in which HaShem's Shechinah dwelt. Later, in Jerusalem, there was the Beis HaMikdash. But once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and the Jews were sent into galus, how is this mission fulfilled? Is this mitzvah in abeyance until Mashiach comes? G-d forbid! As long as there are Jews in the world, every Jew has the mission of making his personal home a dwelling place for HaShem -- that becomes a Mikdash me'at, the Sanctuary in microcosm. "Make me a Mikdash" means that every couple should make a home where HaShem can dwell. However, you don't have to be married to have that home. I am very aware of the fact that there are many people who would love to get married and set up a home and do all the nice things it says you can do when you have a home, but they have not yet found the right partner. It is obvious that even a single person who lives in a rented room, or whatever, can, and must, make their home a sanctuary for HaShem -- by having a kosher mezuzah, by having holy books in the house, by sanctifying their mundane activities, by doing mitzvos and acts of kindness in their home. All of these activities are not limited to married couples.

A person must be conscious that they have to sanctify HaShem in every way. I think I mentioned to you the story of Subota -- Rabbi Lazer Nanes, who now lives in Jerusalem[11] -- who spent 20 years in Russian jails. This person didn't have a home. He was in his barracks in a cell with the lowest type of Russian goyim, but he made a dwelling place for HaShem there too. He was mekarev many Yidden in jail.

Wherever your home is -- it may not be a castle -- but wherever you live, that place has to be a place where HaShem can be found, where G-d can be comfortable and at home. You have to be the vehicle to do that, and you can do it.

The Rebbe added that since the home is generally run by the woman, this is even more applicable to shluchos than to shluchim, for the woman is the one who has the major role in making the Jewish home into a dwelling place for HaShem. The fact that a woman is willing to go on shlichus (because nobody goes on shlichus against their will, no-one is drafted) not only makes her own home into a Beis HaMikdash, but through her home she helps other women around her make their respective homes into a Mikdash.

It is clear that there are a tremendous number of Jewish homes today that keep kosher and keep Shabbos and have kosher mezuzos because of the Rebbe's shluchim and shluchos.

May the simchah and shlichus of each one of us permeate the environment in which we live and bring many other families in turn to do their shlichus in this world.

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Rabbi Nanes, a prominent and scholarly member of the Lubavitch underground in Stalin's USSR, passed away on 13 Adar II, 5757 (1997), just before his 100th birthday. May his memory be a blessing.
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