A Freilichen Shabbos mevorchim, a gut choidesh, un a hatzlocho’dige Tomid!
Please say extra Tehillim these days for Sholom Mordecha halevi ben Rivka, for an immediate yeshuah!
May we all hear and share besuros tovos and simchos!
ב”ה אור ליום כ”ח ניסן, “חודש הגאולה”, ק”י שנה להולדת הרבי, שנת “שבעת” לפ”ק
Mazel Tov to Rabbi & Mrs. Yosef Leib Vechter on the birth of their twin boys. Mazel Tov to Rabbi & Mrs. Avrohom Stiefelman on the birth of their daughter. May they bring them up lTOveCHuMAA”T mitoch harchovo, and to be true chayolim/os! (If anyone is aware of any mazeltov’s that I omitted please let me know).
Thank you as always for the feedback, it is much appreciated.
There was recently printed a sefer titled “eved Avraham anochi” which is the biography of the renowned chosid R’ Eliezer Karasik. R’ Leizer had an older brother, by the name of R’ Yaakov Boruch Karasik, who was an exceptional chosid and oived, and who served as a mashgiach in Tomchei T’mimim. The following is a translation of a memoir of R’ Leizer about his brother from the above sefer:
“It was about the year 5668 or 5669, and my brother, Yaakov Boruch, came home for a visit, from Lubavitch to our hometown Lopitch. He was 21 years old at the time, the age at which he had to face the draft, and he needed to undergo certain medical examinations to ascertain his eligibility for the army.
In the chassidishe shtibel, where we davened, the davening on Shabbos began at 8:30 in the morning, and lasted for about 2 hours. Everyone had completed Shacharis and were preparing to go home, but Yaakov Boruch was still immersed in his davening. I thought to wait for him, but my father indicated to me not to – though I couldn’t understand why not – and we went home and had our seuda. We completed the meal, and Yaakov Boruch was still not home.
I left the house to go play with my friends, when I suddenly heard a big commotion, and noticed many children and grownups rushing to the shul. It turned out that they were all running to see an unusual spectacle: Yaakov Boruch was still davening! Everyone was flabbergasted! How can someone daven so long, until late in the afternoon?! It isn’t Yom Kippur, and, besides, he isn’t holding a machzor for Yom Kippur?!
When they realized that he is so engrossed in his davening that he is totally unaware of his surroundings, their shock was increased. ‘He must have lost his mind, he went crazy’ they began whispering to each other.
I was devastated. I ran home, and told my parents about the commotion surrounding Yaakov Boruch and about what people were saying, and I began to cry. My parents, however, calmed me. ‘Don’t mind these simple people’, they told me, ‘they don’t understand anything. Your brother is a great person, and as you get older, you will get to know him’.
All day I remained in the house. I refused to leave because I was embarrassed of my friends. Towards evening Yaakov Boruch finally came home. He was accompanied by a group of children, who were trailing behind him like they follow a lunatic.
Yaakov Boruch, however, paid no heed to them, and continued on his path. And, indeed, it wasn’t long before they all came to recognize his greatness, and began to treat him with the utmost respect”.
The point is, the conduct of a chosid does – and should – seem crazy to others. Not just because they’re not used to it, so that once they became accustomed to people davening late it no longer seems unusual to them. But, rather, because it is a conduct that – to them – is inherently crazy.
If someone goes to China, and sees the way people dress, the way they eat food [with sticks instead of with forks and spoons], these practices may seem crazy to him. (And, if the Chinaman comes to America and sees everyone eating raw fish with some rice and a piece of cucumber – and calling it funny names – that may seem bizarre to him) But as he gets to know them, he comes to understand that they are regular people just like him, who like to eat and sleep and achieve success, and the differences in practice are merely superficial.
Not so with the chosid. Our differences are not at all surface deep. Rather, the differences in practice stem from a fundamentally different mindset. In fact, our outlook in life is (supposed to be) diametrically opposite of that of “normal” people. Because, for normal people reality is defined by the world around them. Of course, they may learn and daven (and spend Pesach in the most glatt kosher non-gebrockst hotel replete with shiurim etc.), but reality is the world, achieving success, doing well.
In contrast, chassidus expects us to adopt the mindset that ein oid milvadoi. As the Alter Rebbe writes in Likkutei Torah (in the maamar on sefiras ha’omer): in the future we will be extremely embarrassed about the fact that we recognized the existence of the world. Chassidus demands of us to live with a completely different reality; – that G-dliness is all that is real and true, and the world is an actuality only as a vehicle to serve Hashem.
When one lives with this reality, then – inevitably – his lifestyle will be deemed “crazy” by “normal” people. This has nothing to do with what they’re used to; – it is a mindset that is essentially ridiculous to someone living by the standards of the world, and no amount of “getting used to” can change that.
There is a story about R’ Moshe Feller, when he first went out on shlichus and he had a meeting with Professor Velvel Green a”h (a story that the Rebbe once recounted (briefly) during a farbrengen):
Rabbi Feller (tzu lange yohren) was new in the city, and was trying to establish himself, for which he was dependent on the goodwill of others. He was meeting with Professor Green, who was already a famous scientist and a celebrity, to ask him for some favor. They spoke for a few minutes, and the Professor was not being very accommodating.
Suddenly, in mid-sentence, Professor Green looked up, and noticed, to his great surprise, that the young Rabbi was no longer sitting in front of him. He was standing near the window and swaying back and forth, completely oblivious to the important person that it had taken him so much effort to secure a meeting with!
That is crazy!
It doesn’t matter what you’re accustomed to, it’s not a matter of being exposed to “different cultures” and “other religions”. It is crazy to anyone who lives according to the rules of the world. Because this is living by a completely different reality and with a totally different mindset.
So, if your friends and neighbors think that you’re “normal”, then you gotta check if you’re really doing things right. You may be learning and davening, studying chitas and Rambam, going on mivtzoim etc. But if people don’t see you as being “crazy”, then perhaps your reality is too similar to theirs.
You can go on shlichus, and people initially will view you as strange, but then they’ll eventually get accustomed to you. But this can happen in 2 ways:
One way is that they realize that even though he dresses differently with the funny coat and hat and the beard, he’s got strange customs (like walking around with branches for a week and eating cardboard for a week and wearing slippers etc. etc.), still, once you get to know him, he’s really not that different. Those are his traditions, his culture, but essentially he has the same aims and shares the same goals and the same pleasures as the rest of us.
That’s . . not so good!
The second way is the opposite. The people say: ‘Hey the Rabbi likes a pizza, he enjoys a good game of baseball, he understands the stock-market. But, after all is said and done, he’s so different, beneath the surface his life is not similar to ours at all. He’s really crazy. And if the Rabbi (who pitches such a good game and knows just how to enjoy his pizza) still retains his inherent “craziness”, then maybe it’s OK for us to explore it and start getting a little bit crazy too!
That’s the desired effect; – umekorvon laTorah!
Tomchei Tmimim taught us to be meshugoim. Regardless of what our official occupation is, regardless of what material pleasures we may pursue for a living, our true essence subscribes to a totally different reality. Our world – our real world – is one of Elokus bepshitus, where the utmost (and only) importance is learning, davening, performing mitzvos and serving the Eibishter!
Tonight is the 28th day of Nissan, 21 years since the Rebbe said the historical sicha, demanding of us to concentrate all our efforts towards bringing Moshiach NOW. Moshiach is not just another custom, or an inspiring midrash, nor is it some new cool slogans to pepper our speeches with.
Moshiach, rather, is a new world order. It’s a world of the ultimate revelation of G-dliness, of the universal recognition of Elokus bepshitus. Focusing on Moshiach, therefore, cannot be accomplished by paying lip-service to the “party”, learning an extra sicha, saying an extra teffila. We have to, instead, toil with all our might to change our entire mindset, our whole sense of reality. Because living Moshiach means living with the reality of everything that we learn in chassidus and everything that we say in davening. It is not congruous with anything that is acceptable according to the perspective of the world.
In short: living with Moshiach is the ultimate state of craziness!
So don’t try to rationalize it and package it and make it presentable. True the oros detohu need to be in keilim detikun, but they can’t conceal the oros detohu. If worldly people can still relate with you, if they still don’t think that you’re “crazy”, then perhaps you have to worry whether in fact you’re living with Moshiach.
Indeed, the Rebbe remarked once to a visitor: “You know, they say about me that I’m crazy about Moshiach”!
Because, the obsession with Moshiach is – by definition – an absolute rejection of everything that the world stands for. Thus, being focused on Moshiach implies, by the standards of the world, being “crazy”.
So let’s take advantage of this special day, and really change our reality, get crazy.
It starts from taking your learning more seriously, taking your davening more seriously and taking the Eibishter more seriously.
That’s a good first step to taking this whole crazy world a bit less seriously, and instead being truly crazy about Moshiach!
L’chaim! May we all do our part to change our reality and make G-dliness and Moshiach our true reality, and may the Eibishter in turn do His part and change the reality of the entire Universe to והי’ ה’ למלך על כל הארץ ביום ההוא יהי’ ה’ אחד ושמו אחד with the immediate hisgalus of Moshiach Tzidkeinu TUMYM!!!
Rabbi Akiva Wagner
לזכות ר’ שלום מרדכי הלוי בן רבקה, לגאולה וישועה קרובה ושלימה, תומ”י ממש בטוהנוהנ”ג