Saturday, February 23, 2008

Live with Manis

This Shabbos was the YHSTC Father-Son Shabbaton with Rabbi Manis Friedman, father of our gallant leader, and he was pretty good. Actually, he was great. The only problem is that it (obviously) wasn't recored, and I have difficulty in remembering everything a person says over the course of about six hours worth of speaking. But, because I'm so dedicated to you, my dear readers, I will try as hard as I can to give you the goods.

There was a famous disagreement between the Rebbe and the Friedriker Rebbe, about the importance of telling stories of miracles. The Rebbe asked his father in law, and I paraphrase, "Why don't you say miracle stories? I know that there are theological problems involved (major paraphrase), but they're so good for inspiring people, and raising their spirits." We don't know what the Rebbe was answered, but we do know that the only miracle stories the Rebbe told were always about the Baal Shem Tov, or another Chassidic personality, never having anything to do with Chabad. Here's an interesting story that illustrates this point.
The Rebbe once called up a Jewish guy and asked him to install air-conditioning in the Friedriker Rebbe's office. The guy came with his engineer (remember, this is the forty's) and the installation was done. While it was taking place, the man noticed the Friedriker Rebbe sitting by his desk, and he was awestruck. The sight of the holiest man of the generation was incredible, and he was extremely affected. Later, in the car, the man asked his non-Jewish engineer, "What did you think of the Rabbi by the desk?" The engineer replied, "What Rabbi?" The Jewish guy was amazed. He questioned further, and his engineer really hadn't seen the Friedriker Rebbe!
When he got home he called up the Rebbe and excitedly told him of the miracle that had taken place. The Rebbe told him, "What are you so excited about? The guy was busy working, he was involved in measuring, in calculating, it's no wonder that he didn't see my father in law."
The man said, "It was impossible to miss the Friedriker Rebbe. Did a miracle happen? Obviously. Did the Rebbe try to downplay it? Of course."

What does this story mean to us? I'm not sure. Certainly that the Rebbe followed instructions. And just as certainly, that there is stuff going on that we have no idea about.

Later on, or perhaps it was earlier, the question of creation was brought up. As I had just watched the Boteach-Hitchens debate, I was quite interested to see what the Rabbi would say. He blew my mind. What caused the big bang? Two things interacted. That's about as basic as you can get. There must be two things. Because if there's only one thing, why should it create a universe? There's no desire. That's where Judaism comes in. It teaches that G-d wanted to create a universe. So he did. Otherwise, why should it have come into existence? This is the reason we do Mitzvos. Because Hashem wants us to. For some reason, non-religious Jews and non-Jews understand this a lot more than Frum people. They say, "Why? G-d said so? OK." A frum Jew, on the other hand, will say something brilliant like, "Oh yeah? If G-d wants it so much, why doesn't he do it?" And how do you answer this? Well, it's pretty simple.
You listen to Him because He created you. Simple.

Anyway, we're having a Melaveh Malka with Rabbi Moshe Feller soon, so I better go. I'll try to update with some more shtuff when I have the time/will/memory.


e said...

I dunno. I find that the God-said-so,-so-just-do-it line doesn't work very well with our frie brethren.

Just like a guy said...

When was the last time you tried?

e said...

Agreed. The last time I tried was in the distant past. But it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

for more detailed [perhaps slightly more accurate] documentation and analysis of מופתים במשנת רבינו זי''ע see HaTomim pamphlet 2 p. 150 and Reshimos pamphlet 178.

Anonymous said...

correction: Reshimos pamphlet 138.