First, Talk Later
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
connection with Lag B’Omer, and the pressing issue of how shluchim all
over the world are incorporating Moshiach and Geula into their Lag B’Omer
parades and celebrations, I’d like to share a story that was told by Rabbi
Yehuda Leib Groner at a farbrengen:
are times when the Rebbe shlita says something openly and publicly and
other times when he doesn’t. One Sunday, the day after a farbrengen at
which the Rebbe had spoken about a certain matter he wanted accomplished, the
Rebbe asked me what had been done. I answered that the people who were in charge
had certain questions and did not know how to proceed.
Rebbe responded, ‘Ach! Why do they have to ask questions? Why can’t they
just do what I said? If they just did, they would succeed. What do you
think happened when the Children of Israel reached the Yam Suf? Moshe Rabbeinu
could have just led them over to the other side; they didn’t need anything
else. They didn’t need Moshe to ‘stretch forth his hand,’ they didnneed
his staff, they didn’t need the ‘strong east wind that blew a whole night,’
and they didn’t need to split the Sea. None of it would have been necessary if
they had just had faith in Moshe Rabbeinu.
didn’t even need to resort to a "Nachshon ben Aminadav." They could
have all just marched over the water as if it were dry land. Why do they have to
ask questions? When they were with Moshe Rabbeinu the questions began: ‘And
the Jewish people cried out.’ But why do they have to cry out? When they start
crying out, that’s when they have to start looking for other advice…’"
Shabbos Parshas Shmini 5718 the Rebbe told the famous story of the Arizal and
his disciples, brought down in Shivchei HaArizal:
time late in the afternoon on Erev Shabbos, the Arizal and his disciples went to
the outskirts of Tzfas to greet the Shabbos Queen. In the midst of their
singing, the rav [the Arizal] turned to them and said, ‘My friends,
would you like to go to Yerushalayim before Shabbos so we can spend Shabbos
there?’ (The distance between Yerushalayim and Tzfas is 25 parasangs.) Some of
the students said yes, while others wanted to first go home and inform their
wives… When the Arizal heard this he trembled greatly and struck his hands
together [in anguish] and said, ‘Woe is us, that we did not have the merit to
be redeemed. Had you all replied that you wanted to go, unanimously and
joyfully, the entire Jewish people would have been redeemed, as it is now an
auspicious time for the Redemption. Since you refused, the exile has been
re-imposed because of our many sins.’"
Rebbe derived the following lesson: "Hiskashrus and kabalos ol
are the required components. Our Sages must be obeyed unconditionally, in the
same way a soldier in the army obeys his commander. A soldier does not have any
personal considerations. The only reality to him is his commander and his
orders. If a Jew has doubts about his rav, G-d forbid, it is a sign that
his hiskashrus is defective, which means that the basic unity (‘all of
us as one’) is also defective. And, of course, in such a case, the ‘bless
us, our Father’ will also be lacking.
a deeper level: Calculations certainly have their place, but are inappropriate
in a war. It is impossible to bring Moshiach in this manner, that as soon as a
person hears something, he takes out the Shulchan Aruch and runs to a moreh
horaa to make sure it doesn’t contradict something else he has heard…It
is simply impossible to bring Moshiach that way!
also helps explain why the Arizal stayed in Tzfas for that Shabbos… When he
saw his students hesitate, he understood that their hiskashrus was
defective, and that going to Yerushalayim wouldn’t have accomplished what it
was supposed to.
Jew’s hiskashrus must be perfect in order to be a soldier in the House
of David. It cannot be a mere verbal declaration – ‘Nevertheless they
flattered him with their mouth, and they lied to him with their tongues. For
their heart was not constant with him, nor were they faithful in his covenant’
– but must be brought down into the realm of practical deed. Action comes
first, after which there is plenty of time to talk. But talking alone will not
fulfill one’s obligation. If a Jew’s hiskashrus is defective, not
only does he forfeit the true good he could have otherwise obtained, but it also
affects the Jewish people as a whole…
we see that the Arizal stayed in Tzfas with the students who had wanted to
consult their wives, and even learned with them afterwards, and they continued
to be his disciples. This is because despite the flaw in their hiskashrus
that prevented them from bringing Moshiach, the Arizal still taught them things
for which they were appropriate vessels, in the hope that he could elevate them
slowly to a higher level.
same principle applies to soldiers in an army. As is written, ‘All who go out
to war for the House of David’ must write a ‘geht of divorce,’
separating himself from worldly affairs. If he does not, and any other reality
still exists for him, he is considered to be in the category of ‘fearful and
soft of heart,’ whom the Torah advises to ‘go home to his house.’ But even
in this case it doesn’t mean that he just should go home and go to sleep.
Rather, it means that he should return home and fulfill the commander’s
directives in his limited surroundings (at the very least): disseminating Torah
and spreading the wellsprings outward. One mitzva brings another in its
wake, and over the course of time he will become more elevated and truly mekushar,
until he finally merits to be among those who ‘go out to war for the House of
David’ and bring the Final Redemption."
the first few weeks after the famous sicha of Chaf-Ches Nissan 5751
("Do all in your power") the Rebbe’s sichos were filled with
Moshiach and Geula. The excitement among Anash was at a fever pitch,
especially when it came to publicly identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach.
the second of Iyar of that year, the psak din of the rabbanim
(Rabbis Ashkenazi, Bistritzky, and Axelrod of Eretz Yisroel, and all three
members of the Beis Din of Crown Heights) that the Rebbe is Melech
HaMoshiach was submitted to the Rebbe together with a page of signatures (at
first ten, later 250) formally accepting the Rebbe’s sovereignty. The Rebbe
replied, "Yasher ko’ach, yasher ko’ach," and many
more encouraging answers followed. Before Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora, these
answers were posted on the walls of 770.
high point came towards the end of the farbrengen that Shabbos, when it
was time for making announcements. The Rebbe indicated that everyone who had
prepared a bottle of mashke should go up to the bima and make his
announcements publicly. "This publicity will reverberate throughout the
world, and throughout the whole seider ha’hishtalshelus, leading to the
recognition of G-d’s unity in the true and complete Redemption, immediately
and at once."
that moment R’ David Nachshon stood up and declared that since the rabbanim
had already paskened that "the time for the Redemption has
arrived," and more recently that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach,
everyone present in shul hereby accepts upon himself the Rebbe’s malchus
and declares "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam
va’ed!" The olam repeated this three times, each repetition
growing louder and louder while the Rebbe listened intently. The Rebbe then
turned to R’ David and said with a smile, "L’chaim v’livracha."
The joy and enthusiasm in 770 that day cannot be described. Thousands of voices
burst into "Chayalei Adoneinu," and many people even made a SheHecheyanu
b’sheim u’malchus (i.e., pronouncing Hashem’s Name)!
when the Rebbe went to daven Maariv in the small zal
upstairs, everyone started singing "Yechi Adoneinu." The Rebbe
stood by his shtender for a long time encouraging the singing.
then the next day the concealments began. The Rebbe came down late for Shacharis,
and a rumor started (which was later refuted by the Rebbe’s mazkirus,
but the damage had already been done) that the Rebbe was very angry about the
singing of "Yechi," and had refused to come down until it was
stopped. It was also rumored that the Rebbe had said that everyone should shun R’
David Nachshon and his crowd.
rumor was so upsetting to R’ David Nachshon that he almost went back to Eretz
Yisroel. That same day he and R’ Avi Taub told the Rebbe by
"dollars" that they were thinking of returning home. But instead of
the usual bracha for a good trip or to give tzedaka in the Holy
Land, the Rebbe gave each of them an additional dollar and said, "Kiflayim
l’toshiya" (i.e., indicating a double measure). In fact, the Rebbe
repeated his words a second time.
while later, Shmuel Shmueli, the editor of Yisroel Shelanu (a Hebrew
newspaper published in New York) also passed by the Rebbe and told him there was
a rumor circulating that the Rebbe wanted people to avoid R’ Dovid Nachshon.
The Rebbe became very serious and said emphatically, "I am not responsible
for rumors. If I had to respond to every rumor that existed I would never be
able to daven or learn. You mustn’t pay attention to rumors, and you
absolutely cannot derive any directives from them!"
the same time period that the Rebbe continued to encourage the singing of "Yechi,"
and more and more rabbanim were signing the psak din that the
Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach, and signatures for kabbalas ha’malchus
continued to stream into 770, an article was printed somewhere alleging that it
had been explained to the Rebbe that these activities were pushing Jews away and
interfering with the spreading of the wellsprings outward.
other words, to continue the above analogy, some of the Rebbe’s soldiers were
staging an insurrection, and informing their commander that they could not carry
out his orders. Why? Because they had questions about how to proceed, precisely
because they were such great Chassidim and mekusharim.
the physical eye, it was then that we began to perceive a certain concealment on
the Rebbe’s part as well. Or, in terms of the above sicha, "When
he saw his students hesitate, he understood that their hiskashrus was
defective, and that going to Yerushalayim wouldn’t have accomplished what it
was supposed to..."
was also around this time that the Rebbe wrote to Shmuel Shmueli as follows:
"According to reports I have received, the publication of these matters has
resulted in new opponents to learning Chassidus, etc. As with any
argument, especially one that appears in print, the questions are always readily
accepted, whereas the same cannot be said for the answers. It appears that,
given the present climate, it would be better to cease [writing about these
matters] for a period of time."
the next few weeks the Rebbe seemed to put Moshiach and Geula on the back burner
in his sichos kodesh. (Of course, Moshiach and Geula were always there,
but only in the form of hints and allusions.) After a short hiatus, however, the
fire was turned up again.
was going on? Perhaps, to paraphrase the Rebbe’s words: He remained with the
students who had wanted to consult their wives, and even learned with them
afterwards, and they continued to be his disciples. For despite the flaw in
their hiskashrus that prevented them from bringing Moshiach, he still
taught them things for which they were appropriate vessels, in the hope that he
could elevate them slowly to a higher level.
of the directives issued around this time was in connection with Lag B’Omer.
The Rebbe had advised the Lubavitch Youth Organization in Eretz Yisroel not to
use certain signs (such as "We Want Moshiach Now") in their parades,
so as "not to push Jews away." A brouhaha immediately erupted among
the Chassidim, who wondered if the Rebbe really meant it. That is, some
Chassidim claimed that the Rebbe wanted us to have mesiras nefesh and not
fulfill his horaa, which had only been issued in response to people’s
questions. Others likened it to the Rebbe’s explanation (on Shabbos Parshas
Chayei Sara 5752) of the saying of our Sages, "One must do everything the baal
ha’bayis tells him to, except leave." In other words, even if the
true Baal HaBayis of the world, Hashem, were to tell us to stop (praying
for Moshiach), He does not really want us to, as His true desire is that we
continue to implore him for the Geula.
Rebbe gave another example on Shabbos Parshas D’varim 5751, when he explained
that the despite G-d’s explicit command to Moshe, "Do not speak to Me any
more about this matter," we see that in actuality, Moshe Rabbeinu had mesiras
nefesh and continued davening. Why? Because "One must do
everything the baal ha’bayis tells him to, except leave.")
the time, I, like many others, felt that if the Rebbe gave us an explicit
directive, it didn’t matter what the reasons behind it were. If the Rebbe
tells us to do something, we’re supposed to do it. When Moshe Rabbeinu told
the Jews "not to go up and not to fight" after the sin of the spies,
he meant that they shouldn’t go up. Those who did so were wrong when
they didn’t obey Moshe.
let’s just imagine what it would have been like if the Jews in the desert had
decided that Moshe Rabbeinu meant they should never do anything that
would lead them towards the Land of Israel! The whole Divine intention would
have been misunderstood and perverted. The command "not to go up and not to
fight" only applied at a certain point in history, in response to specific
circumstances of time and place. Assuming anything else is patently ridiculous.
This is especially true when we consider the many directives Moshe Rabbeinu
issued later, urging the Jews to continue onward toward Eretz Yisroel and to
conquer the land.
does this mean for us? The Rebbe shlita’s general horaa (issued
to the entire world on Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752 – after the specific
directive pertaining to Lag B’Omer 5751) was that everything (yes,
everything!) we do must be fully permeated and saturated with Moshiach and Geula.
Every other aspect of the service of shlichus has been completed, and
"the only service that remains is to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu."
is, therefore, obvious that all our Lag B’Omer parades and celebrations, like
every other Chabad peula, must reflect this central message, as conveyed
through signs, banners, hats, T-shirts, etc.
our very resolution to implement the Rebbe’s wishes bring about the ultimate
objective of the Final Redemption, and may the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach stand at
the head of our Lag B’Omer parade this year in Yerushalayim.
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!