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Through The Eyes of a Woman

The Twelfth of Tammuz: Neshamah Resolutions

Make sure you leave this farbrengen with a Neshamah resolution! This is the ultimate purpose of the farbrengen. I have mentioned this at the very beginning, so that you know what to listen for, rather than wait to the end and try to remember what the main point was that you have to take home with you.

The twelfth of Tammuz is the birthday of the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, the sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch. This was also the day on which he was suddenly and miraculously released by the communists [in 1927] after they had already pronounced the death sentence upon him, G-d forbid, which was subsequently commuted to several years of exile in Kostrama -- a pretty unpleasant place, by all accounts.

The events that happen to a tzaddik, and especially a world leader of the stature of the Rebbe Rayatz, are not a personal thing. The leader of the generation, the Nasi, does not have a private life as such, in the way that we feel we have a private family life. Since the Nasi is completely and totally bound up with the entire Jewish people, every event in his life becomes an event connected with the entire Jewish people.

Similarly, those of us who are close to Chabad and close to the Rebbe, know that when Rebbitzin Chayah Mushka passed away [in 1988], that event became related to every single Jewish person. When a Rebbe has a simchah, or G-d forbid the opposite, it has ramifications for the whole Jewish people.

The Rebbe Rayatz's release from prison had far-reaching effects. There is not a place in the world where there are Jews that has not been affected by the presence of Lubavitcher emissaries whom the Rebbe Rayatz began sending all over the world shortly after his arrival in America [in 1940]. Think of all the people who have become baalei teshuvah as a result of the work which the Rebbe Rayatz began, and the Rebbe continued and expanded to unprecedented dimensions. Had he remained in Russia, it is doubtful that this would have happened. His banishment from Russia, which seemed so tragic at the time, actually became the source of untold blessing. This is the true meaning of turning darkness into light, and bitterness into sweetness.

Yiddishkeit declares that nothing in the universe happens by coincidence. Everything has a purpose, and everything is significant. When the Rebbe Rayatz's redemption took place on the 12th of Tammuz, Chabad and friends of Chabad (not everybody likes to call himself a Chabad chassid, for whatever reason, but myriads of people regard themselves as friends of Chabad) were aware that this was a Yom-Tov.

When Mashiach comes, we will look back at the galus and it will seem like a distant dream. All of the pain and darkness of exile will suddenly be transformed into joy and light. So HaShem gave us a sneak preview of the imminent redemption by bringing about the redemption of the Nasi of the generation in a month in which the major part of the three weeks of mourning takes place. This is an omen -- it is to teach us that the geulah is on its way, and all sad and bad times will fade away and we will only see the joy. This is a teaching that had to come at the end of galus in order to teach us what the geulah will be like.

The exile is generally regarded as a punishment, an expression of HaShem's anger and gevurah, or stern judgment: we sinned, and so we deserve to be punished. When we have paid off our transgressions with suffering, then the Redemption will come. From this point of view, the galus has no real virtue in itself.

Chassidus, amazingly enough, views the galus as an expression of HaShem's love for the Jewish people. Let me explain this by way of an analogy brought in Chassidus: When a king loves his child, he will make the effort to wash the dirt off the child himself, rather than giving the unpleasant job to a servant. Similarly, because a mother loves her child, she cannot bear to see that child dirty.

I'm in the middle of toilet training one of my kids. Sometimes kids have accidents, and when they do you've got to clean them. It takes time to clean them. Sometimes you have to wash them off with water, and if its winter and the boiler hasn't been switched on the water is freezing. And sometimes you have to scrub them off. It takes time and patience, and the kid's fighting and he doesn't want you to do that. It's very uncomfortable for the kid, but its the only way to get him clean, and the end justifies the means. You know that you want to have a clean child because you love and care for him, although as far as he is concerned, you're cruel and nasty. So, too, it is only because of HaShem's love for us that He takes the time to wash off all this junk, rather than simply giving the job to a servant. In the same sense, the galus is an expression of HaShem's love for His children, and His personal involvement with us, rather than an expression of His gevurah and severity. This is why the Baal Shem Tov interpreted the verse in Tehillim, kein bakodesh chazisicha (literally, "in the same way, I have seen You in holiness") as a request: "If only I would see You in holiness (after the Redemption) as I experience Your closeness in exile!"

In another analogy, the Torah compares redemption to giving birth. Galus is the painful labor called chevlei Mashiach -- the birth pangs of Mashiach. When a woman is about to give birth, right before the baby is born, there is a period of extreme, unbearable pain. But the woman who is having a baby knows that in order to merit a tremendous simchah, the birth of her baby, there has to be some difficulty before. When we know that, we can accept the pain and suffering. The same is true of galus: It seems that we have to go through this pain and suffering in order to merit the joy of the imminent geulah.

The Rebbe Rayatz's mission in life was instilling Yidishkeit in the Jewish people. We all have many friends and acquaintances who unfortunately keep their Yiddishkeit to the bare minimum, you can barely tell that they're religious Jews. Many do mitzvos but they do it in a way that you get the feeling that it's not the important part of their lives. You know, they do it just to get it over with and then they want to get on to the real stuff, which is not Yiddishkeit. This is, unfortunately, the mentality of galus.

Then there are Jews whose Yiddishkeit is the main thing in their lives. Every minute of Jewish activity, every new opportunity in Yiddishkeit is their cause of joy. This is what Chassidus tries to instill in every Jew -- that a Jew should serve HaShem with joy, not the feeling of "Uff! I wish I didn't have to fulfill so many obligations." This is a geulah mentality -- to live a joyful life of Torah and mitzvos even though there are still difficulties and barriers.

Anyone who follows the Rebbe's farbrengens or learns the Rebbe's sichos knows that there is hardly an occasion when the Rebbe does not mention Mashiach. Even if he doesn't talk about it directly, the Rebbe is very "Mashiach-conscious," and he has undoubtedly instilled this in his chassidim, and in almost everyone else as well. For a Lubavitcher chassid, it is not enough to believe in Mashiach and the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash; we want to see it, in front of our eyes. This is, perhaps, one of the meanings of the Rebbe's campaign in 5748 [1988] as "the year of building" -- shnas habinyan. The way I understand this is that the Rebbe keeps reminding us, in the most subtle ways, that even something so mundane and gashmiyusdik as adding a room to your house, or even a coat of paint, should be viewed as a step in the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash. This makes the concept of the geulah very tangible.

There is a story told about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. He had such a close relationship with HaShem that he would even chide Him, so to speak. You know how it is -- when you're afraid of the stability of your marriage, you're very polite to your husband. But when you're secure, you can argue -- I am sure that everyone knows what I mean. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was very secure in his relationship with HaShem, so he could give Him a few arguments. He said, "You know, You promised You're going to be kind to widows and orphans. How come there are so many widows suffering? How come there are so many orphans? Show us that You really are kind. We should see it, not just believe it."

In the merit of the 12th of Tammuz, the redemption of the Rebbe Rayatz, and the redemption of Yiddishkeit with him, may we merit to see the geulah, not just believe in it. One of the ways in which we can speed up the process is through ahavas Yisrael, loving your fellow Jew, something which the Rebbe Rayatz was renowned for. The Rebbe has often pointed out that when a Jew thinks about another Jew in need -- we all know people who need help, whether it's physical help or spiritual help -- merely thinking about them already helps them. How much more so does this apply to a tzaddik who never leaves his flock but continues to think about them and care about them in the World of Truth.

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