A Freilichen Shabbos Mevorchim, and may we receive the brocho of the Eibishter for the new year b’tov hanireh vehanigleh!
ב”ה כ”ו אלול, ה’ דסליחות, חודש הרחמים והסליחות, “מלך בשדה”, שנת “שבעת” לפ”ק
Dear Alumni Sheyichyu!
Mazel Tov to our son Yisrolik Wagner on the occasion of his Bar Mitzva. May he grow to be a true CHaYoL, and provide much nachas to his family and to the Rebbe. Mazel Tov to Lavy Kossovsky on the occasion of his engagement. Mazel Tov to Zalmy Brownstein on the occasion of his engagement. May they use out the special period of Yokor Mikol yokor to its’ utmost! Mazel Tov to Rabbi & Mrs. Zelik Langsam on the birth of their son. Mazel Tov to Rabbi & Mrs. Eli Janowski on the birth of their son. Mazel Tov to Rabbi & Mrs. Leizer Posner on the birth of their son. May they bring them up lTOveCHuMAA”T mitoch harchovo, and to be true chayolim! (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.
The following story was shared during the farbrengen of Shabbos slichos (I’ve never heard this rather amazing story before, and would be very interested if anyone could provide more details/sources/different versions etc.):
In the early years of the nesius of the Rebbe, there was a family in Crown Heights that was struggling. Their financial situation was tight, and this resulted in their being unable to hire help in their home. It was a household that was blessed with many children BH, and the house was a constant scene of chaos. Needless to say, the frazzled mother was very harried.
The family were not Lubavitcher Chassidim (like the majority of the families in Crown Heights at the time), but they had heard of the “new” Lubavitcher Rebbe, and some acquaintances were encouraging them to seek his advice and brocho. The husband was against the idea, not believing that any benefit would come from it, but his wife was at her wits end, and, desperate for some solution, she decided to try it.
When she came into yechidus, she told the Rebbe about her problem, expressing the fact that she was desperately in need of help. The Rebbe turned to her and said: “You need help? Then go out into the street and shout that you need help!”
The woman left the yechidus rather puzzled, and called her husband to relate what happened. Her husband laughed at her. “You see”, he said, “I told you that there’s no point in going to the Lubavitcher Rebbe; if you wanted to do something crazy you could have done so on your own”.
The woman, however, had more emunas tzaddikim than her husband (or perhaps she was just more desperate), and she decided to carry out the Rebbe’s instructions. She went out into the street, and began to scream that she needs help.
Suddenly a black man came over to her and asked her what she needs. She told him that her house was in complete turmoil, that she wasn’t coping, and that she was in desperate need of help. “I can probably help you”, he told the startled woman, “let me just check with my Mum”. Sure enough, the next day, bright and early, their newly hired black worker was putting the house in order.
The things he did in the house were – for the woman – a lifesaver. But she was still very nervous; – who knows how much he’ll charge at the end of the week, and they, after all, could not afford to pay (which was the reason they hadn’t hired help until then).
At the end of the first week, the woman (with no small measure of trepidation) approached her shvartze and asked him how much she has to pay him. “Just buy me a bottle of whiskey” was his reply. The woman was delighted. She had had housework for a week practically for nothing.
However, as he began working the second week, she began to worry again. ‘This week he’ll surely demand pay’, she thought to herself, ‘and I’ll have nothing to give him’. But her fears were again completely unfounded. At the end of the week, the worker once again informed his grateful employer that all she owed him was a bottle of booze.
This went on for about 30 years! At the end of that period, the woman passed away. Shortly thereafter, the black worker passed on as well. [Some Chassidim remarked, regarding this story: The Maharal created a golem that couldn’t speak, but the Rebbe created one that could speak].
We’re standing on the threshold of the new year, and every one of us is eagerly and earnestly completing our final preparations for the Holy day. Some of us are scrambling to figure out last minute ideas for appropriate hachonos that will get us into the right frame of mind for these lofty days. All of us are surely making every effort to increase in our Torah, our mitzvos and our avodas haTefillah.
But sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle of the hachonos fever, we may overlook the main thing: The goal is not to come into Rosh Hashono feeling satisfied that we completed our checklist and are ready for the great judgment. On the contrary; we are meant to feel needy and helpless.
Rosh Hashono is not (just) about the various things that we do, it’s more about sensing our desperation, and crying out for help.
We are all familiar with the moshol of the Baal Shem Tov, in which he explains that the whole idea of shofar is our heartfelt cry to the Eibishter: “Father, Father, Help, Help me!” The essence of tekias shofar, the aspect of it that has the power to “convince” the Eibishter to recreate the entire universe, is our turning to our Father in heaven as a lost and helpless child, screaming and begging Him to help us.
The Rebbe Maharash once went out to the Chassidim before the blowing of the shofar, and commented (with regards to the above-mentioned moshol of the Baal Shem Tov), ‘the main point is not even the words that are screamed – “Father Help me” – but rather the scream itself!
Because – more than the words – the scream that emanates from the depths of our soul is what really expresses our utter sense of helplessness; – our turning to Hashem with our very being. The scream encapsulates the yearning and thirst of our soul in a way that words never could.
And that is the primary ingredient of Rosh Hashonoh.
Because, as long as we retain our complacency and self-confidence, we are not yet ready for a genuine change. It is only our brokenness from the depth of our soul, ממעמקים, and our sense that we can’t exist like this anymore, a feeling so powerful that it is beyond words and tears at our very being, that alone readies us to leave behind our earlier existence, and be wholly and unconditionally subjugated to our Creator.
So, the goal is not to be able to feel that we did our share, to walk into Rosh Hashono and to pat ourselves on the back saying ‘here I am, I’m ready’. Rather, all of the hachonos in which we do engage, all of our increased learning and davening are aimed to help us access the depth of our neshomo, to tune in to our inner being, to be able to cry out to Hashem for help from the essence of our souls.
Like the woman in the story, we too hope and wish to experience open miracles that will help put our lives back in order (and perhaps the Rebbe did indeed create a being for her (it would not be unprecedented), a miracle that is intrinsically tied with Rosh Hashono, the day of the creation of Odom Horishon). We too wish for a way to manage the spiritual chaos and turmoil of our lives. But in order to experience the miracle, to draw it down, we need to realize our desperation and call out for help.
Chassidim would say a vort on the Posuk התנערי מעפר קומי :
It used to be that every housewife owned a rooster (they needed something to keep them entertained in those dreary days before i-pods and i-pads and i-touches). The rooster played a very important role, serving as their alarm clock every day, and had free reign of the house.
Naturally, the rooster also got very dirty from its excursions outdoors, and the balebuste took great pains to clean it every time it would enter, so that the dirt wouldn’t be scattered throughout her clean dwelling. This chore was very lengthy and tedious, and involved scrubbing and brushing each feather individually. However, occasionally the rooster would get an attack of nerves, and give itself a sudden violent shake. This shake-up would remove more dirt in an instant than all of the scrubbing would in an hour!
The same is true with us. We expend much effort these days on various hachanos and hachlatos, trying to remove every residue of dirt that clung to us over the course of the year. But in truth, if we would just give one good shake, zich a bissel a shockel ton, we would cleanse ourselves in a moment.
This is the essence of the cry for help, the contemplation of the bitterness of our circumstance, the impossibility of continuing a life devoid of G-dliness, and being shaken out of our complacency with the realization that we need help.
[I think it’s noteworthy (for those of you who don’t follow the news) that the media recently is full of hype about the fact that Obama allegedly didn’t grant Netanyahu a meeting. Why did this happen, and why did we have to hear about it (including those of you who just heard about it from me)? Presumably because of the very obvious message for us contained therein:
Netanyahu is, after all, a head of state, the prime minister of – by anyone’s definition – one of the most important countries in the world. And Obama, while the president of the United States, is after all not more than a president (though he may think that he’s a king).
And yet, for this head of state to gain an audience with the president can turn out to be difficult, or even impossible.
How much more so can it prove difficult for a plain and simple person to gain an audience with the King?!
Which should serve as the ultimate wake-up call and shake-up call to us: “Chapt arein the last few days of melech basodeh, when the True King is available and accessible to each and every one of us constantly, and not only grants us an audience at any moment, but He also fulfils every and all of our requests with a happy face and smiling countenance!]
As the Rebbe told the woman – “CALL FOR HELP”! Think about your situation, your helplessness, and scream out from the depth of your neshomo. Our Father is certain, then, to hear our cry, to renew His creation of the world, and to provide us with all of our needs in the form of a כתיבה וחתימה טובה לשנה טובה ומתוקה בטוב הנראה והנגלה בגו”ר!
L’chaim! May we all engage in the spiritual shofar blowing; – the heartfelt scream of our neshomo that is beyond words or intellect – alongside the physical performance of the mitzvah, and may the Eibishter immediately hear our cry and respond with giving each of us and every Jew a kesiva vachasima tova with abundant physical and material brochos and abundant spiritual brochos, beginning with the primary and ultimate brocho for 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