The Scene For Moshiach
Rebbe has led the worldwide teshuva movement * One of its products is
Rabbi Mordechai (Mutty) Gal who directs the Chabad House in Ramat Gan *
Rabbi Gal disseminates Chassidus to audiences far from practicing
Yiddishkeit * Beis Moshiach reporter Menachem Ziegelboim attended one
of these lectures and spoke with Rabbi Gal * A fascinating interview
with a Chassid and communications expert who believes in the power
of the media to create a revolution
talking about the teshuva movement that the Rebbe has directed,
you just have to accompany Rabbi Mutty Gal as he goes to give a class on
Torah or Chassidus throughout Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Gal has a certain
charisma that is hard to resist. His audience drinks in his every word.
a typical evening we arrived at the Chut HaMeshulash Club in
Yerushalayim. A bachur, who was inspired to become a baal
teshuva thanks to Rabbi Gal, is responsible for the place, and he
opens the doors for those who are interested in getting a taste of
after the other, dozens of young people file in, sporting earrings,
ponytails, and tattoos. Most of them have been to India and they come
here because they are drawn to mysticism. Rabbi Gal enters and begins to
speak in a soft and pleasant voice. He is able to convey even the
deepest secrets of Torah in the language of the people sitting before
him. They learn Tanya and maamarim, occasionally
interrupting Rabbi Gal to ask questions, which Rabbi Gal is delighted to
Thursday I accompanied Rabbi Gal to another class in an apartment near
Rechov Sheinken. Dozens of young people come for serious study of
Chassidus. In addition, Rabbi Gal has nearly ten other classes and
lectures he gives throughout the week. He is invited to places to which
other religious lecturers are not invited. Meretz youth, a group of
artists, even first rate media people come to listen to him.
Rabbi Mutty Gal was bar mitzva he did not have an aliya
l’Torah. In his parents’ home in Cholon it just wasn’t
considered important. His parents, who came from Bulgaria, knew very
little about Yiddishkeit. Mutty finished school and became a
commander of a Golani division. After the army, like many other
officers, he went to South America, where he worked as a security
officer at an Israeli embassy. From there he went to the United States.
He became a weapons instructor in Houston and then studied film and
television at N.Y.U.
that time, he lived in a loft in downtown Manhattan. He and two Israeli
friends made films and dreamed of reaching the top of their profession.
he ended up producing a documentary featuring Avital Scharansky, who had
gone out to generate public support for her husband Nattan (Anatoly)
Scharansky, who was then in a Soviet prison. They accompanied her for
three years to nearly every spot on the globe and met presidents, heads
of state, members of Congress, and other world-renowned people. This was
a period of intense involvement in Jewish issues, and Rabbi Gal’s
first acquaintance with the world of Jewry.
I recall that time, I remember a lot of contemplating about Yiddishkeit,”
reminisces Rabbi Gal. “I was in America for four years and never
considered returning to Eretz Yisroel. But I wanted to be inspired by a
real Jewish leader. A friend, Avi Piamenta, told me that there was a
special rabbi who lived in Brooklyn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I knew
nothing about him. All I heard was that he was not the cloistered type.
I decided to go see him one evening. This was during Slichos, 5738
went to 770 dressed, as usual, in jeans, T-shirt, and hair down to my
shoulders. I stood in the small zal with dozens of other people
before the Rebbe. The room was absolutely silent.”
that visit there was no going back. Gal decided to return to the Rebbe
to check things out further. “It was an ordinary weekday Maariv,
yet the Rebbe seemed as festive as could be. The Rebbe looked at me with
a gaze. I felt swept off my feet. The Rebbe’s intensity was just
day I arrived at 770 seeking someone to teach me about Judaism. I began
asking questions about Creation, the Torah’s view of our era, and the
purpose of Yiddishkeit. For close to a year I went to 770 two or
three times a week to learn.”
was a painful time for Gal because it seemed inevitable that he would
have to abandon his career at its peak in order to pursue Torah-true
Judaism. The film on Scharansky was a great success, and he had a very
attractive offer for another film, but his heart was in 770. He soon
began to receive letters of concerned from his parents, who had heard
about his new interest in Yiddishkeit.
decided to write to the Rebbe for advice. He related his life’s story,
mentioned his profession, and admitted that his parents were worried.
“I tried to be concise. I wrote to the Rebbe that I was on my way to
building a career, and related the work that went into it. On the other
hand, I mentioned that I was drawn to Yiddishkeit, but didn’t
know what to tell my parents and how to explain it all to them. I
concluded the letter with a request for advice and a blessing.
wrote the letter in the evening and at eight o’clock the next morning
the secretary called me and read to me a page of directives regarding my
personal life. Concerning my career, the Rebbe said, “The film
profession is not at all suitable to Yiddishkeit in general and tzniyus
in particular.” As far as my parents, the Rebbe said, “Tell the
truth: you returned to Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, Dovid and Shlomo,
and, of course, the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah
at Mount Sinai.”
does that mean?
this day I don’t understand it. I think there was no other way to
explain Yiddishkeit to my parents other than that statement;
perhaps not to the intellect but to the Jewish soul.
parents arrived two weeks later. At our first meeting they realized that
something interesting was going on here. They stayed in Crown Heights
and came to the davening in 770. That was my father’s first t’filla
in his life!”
can still see the awe and emotion on Rabbi Gal’s face as he recalls
his first yechidus with the Rebbe. “When I entered the
Rebbe’s room for the first time I listened to him and realized that he
represents an entirely unique approach. He sees the world differently,
as territory that he must infuse with kedusha. It was a
relatively long yechidus with the Rebbe sitting by a desk piled
I entered the room the Rebbe looked up at me and smiled. His face lit up
and he said in Lashon HaKodesh: “Hashem will surely fulfill all
the requests of your heart for good and for blessing. May you come to
disseminate Yiddishkeit in the world, especially Chassidus, until
the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, soon in our days, mamash.”
I left, I trembled for the next two and a half hours. It was the
ultimate experience, the ultimate level of purity. It was very
spent four years in America, 5735-5739. He was 27 when he became a baal
teshuva, and before that time he had seen the world. “What
attracted me the most,” he says, “is the urgency, the shlichus.
It’s not like I wasn’t dedicated before that. I had asthma as a
child but insisted on going to the army. I persevered in order to become
an officer and completed an officer’s course with a high score. What
appealed to me was the great love the Rebbe has, the devotion; going out
to the street and disseminating Yiddishkeit.”
years after he began learning about Yiddishkeit, he met Malka, a
former friend who was then learning at Machon Chana, and they married.
Both of them had found Yiddishkeit on their own. Before leaving
for Eretz Yisroel they went to the Rebbe for his bracha. Again
the Rebbe smiled. He looked up and said, “The shidduch is very,
very suitable.” The Rebbe repeated what he had said at the previous yechidus
about disseminating Yiddishkeit, particularly Chassidus.
“And to think that I was still in jeans with long hair,” says Rabbi
Gal in amazement.
a brief stint in kollel and two years in Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Gal
went on shlichus to Ramat Gan and Givatayim. He started from a
small office and was mekarev people by putting up mezuzos,
helping people with t’fillin, but primarily with Torah classes.
Mutty Gal worked on mivtzaim, but focused primarily on classes.
He is articulate and has the rare ability to explain things lucidly. It
is no wonder that people cram into his Monday Tanya classes at
the Chabad House.
Rabbi Gal came from the world of film and media, he managed to stay away
from it for years. Nonetheless, his knowledge and understanding of the
field and how to convey messages to a broad audience is something he was
destined to use to disseminate Yiddishkeit and Chassidus on a
few years ago before it became popular, Rabbi Gal presented a weekly
program to Arutz Sheva called “Farbrenging with Mutty
Gal.” He would host various guests in the studio each week, people
that no other religious host could get. Politicians such as Shamir,
Sharon, Kahalani, Gandhi. Artists such as Avi Toledano, Nancy Brandeis,
Shmulik Vilozhni, David Broza. With each one he would discuss their
connection to Yiddishkeit and Jewish tradition. After Rabin’s
death, he brought a group of young people to the studio. He spoke with
them and managed to penetrate their outer shell of klipos. He is
often invited as a commentator on religious matters on various
Gal’s uniqueness lies in disseminating Torah and Chassidus along with
his tremendous knowledge of the world of communications. His expertise
in these fields have led him to a painful awareness of the lack of
quality literature available on the topics of Judaism, Chassidus, and
Moshiach. “From a media standpoint we are sorely lacking,” he says.
“Chabad is simply not operating on a national scale when it comes to
the final shlichus of preparing the world for Moshiach. There is
nothing in the (Israeli) media about it aside from ‘putting out
fires’ in the wake of extremist actions.”
Gal does not have any illusions about the media people who prevent
religious Jews from utilizing the national media. “It’s a very
complicated situation,” he admits, “for, on the one hand, you cannot
abandon the arena to the Left, but on the other hand you cannot
broadcast the message we want to convey; they simply prevent us from
you give an example?
last year I participated in four television programs in which I
presented Yiddishkeit. The program was successful and was watched
by hundreds of thousands of people, but the Left did away with it.”
ago Rabbi Gal attempted a program called “Tiyul B’Pardes.”
“A guest star would come on the show with me, and together we would
dispel the myths surrounding Jewish concepts, such as kivrei
tzaddikim, the religious community, and reward and punishment. This
program, however, was also torpedoed by the Left, who were afraid it had
an element of hafatzas ha’Yahadus.”
Gal has countless similar examples. “This week I was supposed to begin
a series of lectures at Tel Aviv University about the foundations of
Chassidus, but the dean of the university nixed it with various
Gal sighed, “The media is waging war against religious Jewry. The
image of religious Jews as it appears in the media is far from
what can be done?
time for Chabad to take advantage of the snowballing rifts within the
country and come out with a series of projects about ahavas Yisroel
and explain that the religious-political image is not Judaism. Period.
It’s not the Rebbe’s way.”
the media is closed to us, how can we get that message out?
mivtzaim. By going out into the streets. With ads in newspapers,
such as the following message: The Chabad movement turns to the people
in light of the trend towards extremism and divisiveness, and calls for
increased peace and brotherly love. Something like that. Chabad’s role
over the years has always been to endear Hashem, Torah, and mitzvos
most important thing today is to give Chassidus classes to those on the
Left. It will be impossible to change their views without reaching out
with deep explanations. We shouldn’t be trying to come to an
understanding of military matters, religion, or politics. We must use
Chassidus to penetrate the soul. The changes have to be fundamental and
give a number of classes among people who are ardent Leftists, and I
have to deal with questions such as these…
as why did you get involved on behalf of Netanyahu?
Questions about the character of the religious public.
approach should we be using?
Yisroel. That’s the quality that breaks all barriers. We must
captivate them with Chassidus. Chassidus has the power to reach deeply
into the soul, and it arouses people in a way that makes the barriers
Mutty Gal gives the class at the club in Yerushalayim. More than two
hours later, until late at night, Rabbi Gal sits and answers questions.
The youth are alert and smart and they ask good questions. All you have
to do is look at them and watch their eyes as they learn Chassidus to
see their thirst.
and a half hours before dawn. On the way from Yerushalayim to Ramat Gan,
Rabbi Gal continues to explain his belief system.
learn Chassidus with people and at a certain point the barriers fall.
Unfortunately, at first people say that religious Jews are corrupt.
That’s what they hear on the radio and what they read in the paper.
But when you speak from the heart the truth comes out. Suddenly
everybody has a story about how they were helped by some religious Jew
or another. One with shalom bayis another one with chinuch,
a third with health. When they get even closer to you they tell you how
your family is nice and the family unity is something special that they
have never encountered before.”
is the reason for the media’s hatred of religious Jews? Is it because
there are more Knesset members with yarmulkes today?
one reason, which is why religious matters are more on the front burner
than ever before. Another reason is that the media today is invasive and
Gal also finds something positive in the media’s persecution of
religious Jews. “The attitude about religious Jews used to be – give
them what they want and they’ll keep quiet, because they represent the
political swing vote. Today, the religious Jews’ exposure gains for
is the reason for this change?
tremendous move to teshuva. Those who are involved with the
public at large know that today there is a wave of casual teshuva.
In other words, people are not taking drastic steps like wearing a kippa
or growing a beard, but many people are bringing nice ideas into
their homes such as a Shabbos table, lighting candles, or filling a
bookcase with Jewish books, which has become popular lately.
know many people in the media who participate in groups for Jewish
awareness, and they are slowly opening up to the world of Judaism.”
when they express themselves in the media, they express hatred!
on the political level, but on the personal level they are different.”
Gal explains this change in attitude as due to many families becoming
frightened by the poor educational level of the youth. “Terrible
things are happening today, and the G-dly soul of any parent is
trembling. They feel they are missing something, and then, even if
it’s a little later, they bring Yiddishkeit into their homes,
whether at a Shabbos table, with mezuzos, and so on.”
your time people became baalei teshuva and changed their
lifestyle from one extreme to the other, but today the teshuva is
apparently only as it suits individual needs...
true, but there is a reason for it. There was a wave of teshuva after
the Yom Kippur War. That phenomenon lasted from 1974 until 1980. It was
the post-hippie era, and the openness created a worldwide storm.
flower child generation reacted to the Vietnam War and the immorality of
the fifties and sixties that was hidden behind a veil of hypocrisy. The
hippies said there was nothing to be ashamed of, that a person has to be
creative and do whatever he believes in. The Rebbe encouraged this along
spiritual lines, saying that a Jew has to fulfill mitzvos and not
have changed and there are ever stronger klipos. The world of
temptation is big and powerful, since everybody is more aware and
exposed to what’s going on in the world.”
Gal analyzes the situation and gets to the root of the problem.
“Technology is constantly developing, and those who are middle-aged
are out of it. Parents simply don’t know their children. The youth
today has encountered all possible forms of impurity and has reached the
point where it simply wants to reject it all and find itself. That’s
why they travel to South America and India. They’re an unfortunate
bunch who literally suffer.”
some form or another, Rabbi Gal keeps going back to the need for
reaching out to people and disseminating Chassidus and the besuras
of traveling to India they should be moving towards Yiddishkeit,
Chassidus, and especially Moshiach, since they seek out the ultimate
truth. It’s just that the pipeline is blocked a little because we,
Lubavitcher Chassidim, don’t allow them entry. If Chabad Chassidim
stood united and presented the proclamation of the Redemption in the way
Chabad knows how, we would get everybody, because the thirst is
like to draw an analogy to the original Zionist movement of over fifty
years ago. A movement of a few thousand people sent representatives to
the Diaspora, begging Jews to move to Eretz Yisroel. Two young madrichim
went to my parents in Bulgaria, sat with a few dozen young Jews around
bonfires, and showed them a map of Eretz Yisroel. So, my parents moved
here at the age of 19 and began to dry the swamps. If the Zionists were
able to excite people about their cause, why can’t we, who have the shlichus
and ko’ach from the Rebbe MH”M?”
should it be done?
way Chabad has done things for years – with Tzeirei Agudas Chabad,
Chabad Houses around the country, thousands of activists who will go out
to the streets with typical Chabad fervor, N’shei Chabad, etc. If we
were to break through with all these powerful kochos, as
we used to do during evenings in the kibbutzim, and we would
convey the Rebbe’s message with words from the heart, the country
would react positively. The nation today is suffering and wants to leave
its torment behind.
you sure the people are aware that they’re suffering?
situation is really pathetic, with people unable to rely on their
friends. There’s violence in the schools; people see their own
children and their children’s friends and see their arrogance. It’s
just like it says in Maseches Sanhedrin. People are seeking an
alternative, and some of them come to a rabbi and want to be helped.”
they aren’t all approaching rabbis…
we have to approach them. There are 200 Chabad Houses around the
country. There used to be only a handful with only a few families, but
there was an atmosphere. When the Rebbe cried out “u’farazta,”
they all went to work with a warm attitude, which was happily
received by the man on the street. Many people still have a warm spot in
their heart for Chabad. On Rechov Bialik, the main street of Ramat Gan,
there is a Moshiach stand and people stop and ask, “What’s with
Moshiach?” They also put on t’fillin in order to hasten his
can learn (l’havdil) from one man who last year
“prophesied” that the Messiah would come on a certain day. Everybody
certainly remembers that. He managed to create a furor in Eretz Yisroel
and aroused a great yearning. There wasn’t a place around the country
that didn’t have advertisements. And this was all accomplished by one
believe that if Chabad would explain the subject of Geula in a
comprehensive way, if we gave out lots of material about Moshiach,
produced easy to read booklets about Moshiach, this fire of emuna
would ignite the great field of thorns.”
the course of a week, Rabbi Gal gives a number of lectures for dozens of
youth who are seeking an identity. They are intellectual people, and
you’d be surprised at who comes to learn Chassidus. Little by little
you see results, and they begin taking on mitzvos. “It just
proves it’s possible,” says Rabbi Gal, “but this is just a drop in
the bucket. We have to do this on a much larger scale.
the Chabad House in Ramat Gan is not only a center of activity but a
center of Torah as well. There is a beis midrash for daily
Chassidus study. Dozens of people leave work in the middle of the day
and come to learn Chassidus.
Gal plans on expanding and opening a more spacious place for lectures,
workshops, and classes, with dozens of classes being available
throughout the day. “If we just package it right, we can reach a huge
number of people, because we have the real message,” he says.
recent years Rabbi Gal has begun getting more involved in the media.
This is not in contradiction to the Rebbe’s directive not to work in
film. “Today it is not a profession. Today it’s a tool,” he
explains. “I don’t relate to a camera like a photographer, but as
someone using a tool. From one day to the next I’m amazed by how every
word the Rebbe uttered takes on deeper meaning.”
of the new projects which Rabbi Gal initiated is Massa Bar Mitzva.
He and his friend and media person Shuki Ben-Porat produced a video
which brings the message of Yiddishkeit and preparing for one’s
bar mitzva to those boys whose parents force them into having a bar
mitzva. For these boys this will be the first time in their lives
they will be going to shul.
storyline is simple. Eitan’s friend came from America. He is a
rebellious boy whose father decided he has to celebrate his bar
mitzva in Eretz Yisroel. Eitan tells Rabbi Gal about it. At the
rabbi’s initiative they go on a trip in Eretz Yisroel in search of the
roots of the Jewish people. Another friend, Uzi, joins them. The trip
becomes a series of adventures, beginning in the land of our Fathers in
the south and ending in the underground tunnels near the Kotel, where
they receive three tallisos. Eitan, of course, decides to remain
in Eretz Yisroel.
kind of adventures can you have when traveling with a rabbi? Many.
Removing an injured father and son from their car that rolled off a
cliff, crossing the Jordan in the area where Yehoshua crossed it,
visiting a sofer stam in Tzfas, and throughout the entire course
of their adventures they discuss Yiddishkeit. The rabbi also
encourages them to write to G-d and ask Him questions.
created a film to present the world of Judaism even to children who
aren’t ready to go to a rav or to learn the taamei
ha’mikra and their Haftora half a year before the
ceremony,” Rabbi Gal explains. “It was an attempt to extend a hand
to the non-religious community, showing them that an encounter with a
religious person is not all that bad.”
film they produced comes along with a video, familiarizing the viewer
with the shul, t’fillin, krias ha’Torah, and
the taamei ha’mikra, which are explained with the help
of animation. You can also get an audio tape with your own Haftora.
fortune was invested in the film – half a million dollars, which Rabbi
Gal and Shuki Ben-Porat raised from private investors who got excited by
the idea. The film has been translated into five languages and is being
shown in many countries around the world.
Somebody once called me and said it saved his children. Somebody else
said his entire family hated the religious, but after seeing the film,
their views have changed. A woman wrote to me saying that it brought her
back to Judaism after she had fled from it.
you get any feedback from the Rebbe?
sent the tape to the Rebbe and received this answer, “Hatzlacha
rabba u’muflaga” (great and incredible success).
Gal went to the United States for Yud Shvat 5756. When he arrived, he
was told they wanted him to make an international satellite broadcast
covering six continents, in which each place would accept the Rebbe’s malchus.
Since he was the only Chassid knowledgeable in the field, the job went
was the biggest job I ever did in my life. I wouldn’t do it again even
for a million dollars,” says Rabbi Gal.
arranged and produced the entire program. Four days before they were on
the air is when he arrived in the U.S., where he began from scratch. He
did work that usually takes dozens of people to do. Although he hadn’t
used a camera in years, he did a magnificent job handling this fantastic
television production, where he sat in a room facing 16 screens and gave
orders at a dizzying pace.
were many miracles throughout the broadcast,” says Rabbi Gal. “The
fact that six continents were on the screen simultaneously and the lines
didn’t fall is a miracle from Heaven. I know gentiles in this
profession who couldn’t believe it worked.”
from American professionals who saw the production were extremely
positive. None of them believed that the entire production had taken
only four days. “It’s the most complicated thing I’ve ever done,
and there’s no question that it all worked out in a supernatural
manner so that the Jewish people around the world could accept the Rebbe
in the Rebbe’s Honor
Mutty Gal’s talents in being able to reach audiences no other rav
can get to is really amazing. In Nissan 5751 he made a farbrengen
for the Rebbe’s birthday. He combined it with a dinner to benefit the
Chabad mosdos in Ramat Gan.
event took place at the Tel Aviv Hilton and all the Who’s Who were in
attendance: politicians, artists, writers, spiritual leaders, people in
the media, and businessmen (the kind with whom you have to make an
appointment half a year in advance). They all came in the Rebbe’s
the people in Eretz Yisroel in for a Jewish media revolution in the near
are being set up. In the package which the satellite company will
provide there will be a Jewish station. The fight surrounding this
station is immense. Various organizations want to get the rights to
Gal, along with his friend Shuki Ben-Porat, decided they could not let
this opportunity pass them by. Along with a group of investors, they
presented a proposal and are hoping for the best. “It’s one of the
last opportunities to enter the media arena,” explains Rabbi Gal. “A
station like that will enter hundreds of thousands of Jewish homes in
Eretz Yisroel, which is why there’s such a battle over getting the
rights to it.”
who have televisions are not chareidim, so why would they watch a
did a survey that pleasantly surprised us. It seems that many people are
sick of television as it is today and they want to see something on a
higher level. The general goal of people today is to gain information,
high tech with content, and not cheap things. We will provide this in a
Jewish way. Chassidus is the ultimate knowledge, and you just have to
know how to present it in the right way.