Thursday, November 18, 2010

Left with memories

A couple of years ago the Yeshiva High School of the Twin Cities had a banquet to celebrate the end of the Yeshiva year. When I say "celebrate", of course, it has different meanings for different people. Some of the Bochurim are undoubtedly quite happy that it's all over, while others are probably quite sad. As for me? I remember doing the postmortem this summer after finishing up Merkos Shlichus in Kansas and Missouri; I felt that I had accomplished a lot, but that there was a lot more that I could have done. Nine or ten months later, I feel pretty much the same. Thank G-d I accomplished a lot but there's still that nagging feeling inside that I could have done so much more. Oh well, that's life.

In other news, Rabbi Yosef Eizicovics Farbrenged beautifully last night. He said a lot of shtuff, most of which applied to the Bochurim here; of course, there was also lots of other goodies, which I'll be happy to share here now: And here we go...

There was once a Jewish community in Russia which received funding for various activities, including a school, hospital, orphanage, poor house, softball league, and various other functions. The government notified them that there would be an inspection, to see that the money was going to a good cause, and the community was worried. They were mostly Misnagdim, and therefore mostly normal. Unfortunately, there was also a small number of Chassidim among them, who acted in ways that were slightly out of the norm: they walked around ignoring everything and everybody, thinking Chassidus; they Farbenged 'till the wee hours of the morning; they spontaneously danced in the streets; in general, they weren't the very best ambassadors for a nice snaggy community. The inspection was drawing nearer, and the community council couldn't decide what to do. Two days before the government was delegation was to arrive, one of the town's men hit on a brilliant plan.
The great day arrived, and all the Chassidim of the town were crammed into a Shul, lured by the promise of a massive Farbrengen, at the community council's expense, and warned not to leave until the next morning. The government delegation toured the town's Jewish institutions, and turned to go. They were on the way to the train station when one of them noticed a large building that had yet to be inspected. He mentioned this to the other members of the delegation, and they all went over to investigate. The city council, which was accompanying them, tried to persuade them not to go, but it was to no avail, and the Shul was entered.
The scene that greeted their eyes was, to put it exaggeratedly, incredible. There was a massive Farbrengen going on: Chassidim were dancing on tables with bottles in their hands, doing somersaults and other stunt-like activitys; others were still Davening Shacharis, and they paced around with deep concentration; still others were singing to themselves, looking for all the world like shepherds in the Urals. The community council didn't know what to say. When everyone on the tour was outside again the head of the government delegation asked the community leader a question, "Why didn't you show us this before?" The leader started to explain, "Well, you see, we, um...". "It's quite impressive," said the government head, "you Jews are truly brilliant. In all the Russian towns and villages, all the crazies wander around and bother everyone. This is the first time I've ever seen them all gathered together, in one place, where they won't bother anyone. This is truly incredible!"

The lesson? Craziness is no problem when everyone is together. Trite, but true.

Once there was a (rich) guy who was brought closer to Judaism through two Jews, a Shliach in beautiful New Jersey, and a Rabbi Kaminetzky, or maybe that's Kamenetzky. Regardless, as you may or may not have noticed, one was a Lubavitcher and the other a Misnaged. The guy had a baby boy, and called in the Shliach to find out the different honors that are part of a Bris. The Shliach explained everything, and said that in Lubavitch, the biggest honor is reading the Rebbe's letter.
At the Bris the father announced, "With the reading of the Rebbe's letter, Rabbi XXX, Shliach of XXX; and with the holding of the baby during the reading of the Rebbe's letter, Rabbi Kaminetzky." The Shliach stood up to read, and Rabbi Kaminetzky stood up to go. He simply refused to hold the baby while the Rebbe's letter was being read, and was prepared to embarrass himself, the father, and everyone attending because of it. He was ready to lose a rich supporter.
After the Bris was over the father said to the Shliach, "I always knew that there was some friction between Lubavitch and Misnagdim, but I never saw it until now."

And what can we, us fine-feathered fiends, learn from this story? A lot of things: A. There are haters in this world, B. There are people who don't like the Lubavitcher Rebbe very much. As Rabbi Yos says, with regard to the Rebbe, you're either with him or against him, there ain't no middle road.

Yoni Chanowitz, fellow Shliach here at MyYeshiva told over a story about the Rebbe Rashab. After the Rebbe had finished saying a Maamar a guy came over and said, "Devarim Hayotzim Min Halev Nichnasim El Halev (words which come into the heart go into the heart), and I didn't feel the Maamar you just said at all. Hhmm?" The Rebbe Rashab gave him a piercing glance, and said, "Don't blame me if you don't have a heart."

Ouch