Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Pentecost Review

I know that everyone's been waiting with bated breath to find out how my Shavuos was. What? They're not waiting with with bated breath? Horrors! Oh well, I won't let a bunch of lackadaisical types ruin my triumphant return to the blogosphere.
On Sunday, I did a lot of things, none of which included taking a nap, which was the big sin last year. Sure, this time around I didn't have to wait for two hours in the Moshiach barbershop to get my hair cut, but that was replaced with some slaving away on a roof cleaning the gutters. This year, B"H, the trees have blessed us with a bountiful amount of seeds and other shtuff, which means that instead of having to clean the gutters at six month intervals, I had to do it just two months after the last time. Point is, I didn't manage a nap, which didn't bode well for my plans for world domination--oh, wait, I mean staying up all night.
So there I was, sitting calmly and collectedly, just starting Shemos in the Tikkun, when the first Bochur arrived, "My father said he was going to send me a Tikkun, but it never came. Do you have an extra one?", "I have a Tikkun in Crown Heights, of course I wasn't going to pay for another one, do you have any extra?", "I have fifteen in my house, my father was supposed to bring one when he visited, do you have any extra?", "I asked you to order one a couple of days ago, where is it?", "I forgot to order, any extra?". You get what I'm saying? Anyway, I had to tell all of these fine people that not only did I not have any extra but that it was their own fault. They lived.
When I was just finishing the Chumash the drinks began to appear. One of the things that happen when you don't have much money is that you have to skimp on essentials. I refer, of course, to Coca-Cola on Shavuos night. There are few things that are better in life than a cup of cool and refreshing classic Coke. Imagine my shock and awe when instead of that most delicious elixir of life we instead got 3 liter bottles of Supervalu artificially-flavored garbage. All right, so it kept me awake, but I'm not sure if that's because of the caffeine or because of the horrid taste. Anyway, with the help of some pretzels, I managed to finish the Tikkun this year, much to the joy of everyone involved in the operation.

In other news, the Bochurim of YHSTC heard a bunch of cool stories from Yisroel Wilhelm, brother by law of our retiring leader and Shliach of the Rebbe at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Here's the ones I can remember:

A non-Lubavitch Bochur was looking around for a group to belong to, and he came upon Lubavitch. He did his research, arranged a Yechidus with the Rebbe, and put together seventeen questions that he had on Chabad Chassidus. He knew that most people only got a minute or two for their private audiences, but he figured that his seventeen questions would merit a long and involved discussion. The appointed night arrived, and he came in. When he first saw the Rebbe he immediately regretted his ideas, because he realized that he was standing in front of a person who was a little bigger than all the previous Rebbe's he had visited. The Rebbe took about 10 seconds to scan the letter with the seventeen questions, and in that time managed to look at the Bochur three of four times. He then said, "The first sixteen questions are answered in Kuntres U'Maayan, which can be purchased from the Kehos Bookstore for 45 cents." While the Rebbe was saying this, he pointed in the direction of the store. The seventeenth question was regarding the famous statement of Moshiach to the Baal Shem Tov. When the Baal Shem Tov ascended to Moshiach's digs up in heaven he asked him, "When are you coming?" Moshiach answered, "When your wellsprings spread forth, and when everyone is able to unify divine names like you". The Bochur wanted to know why the Rebbe only focused on the first part, but not the second? The Rebbe answered (I've forgotten the first part of the answer, but it's not really so important), "Look outside. Do you see a world existing? It says that if there are no holy Tzaddikim constantly unifying divine names, then the world will cease to exist. As you can see, the world exists. We have to take care of the first part of Moshiach's instructions, and the rest will be taken care of."

The Baal Shem Tov always taught that a lesson can be learned from everything one sees, and even more so, that the only reason a person sees something is to learn a lesson from it. Reb Mendel Futerfas took this to heart, and he learned a very important lesson from the following story: Reb Mendel spent a lot of time in Soviet work camps, and he noticed that the prisoners were obsessive poker players. Card playing was against the rules, and every so often the guards would come in and do a search of the rooms where the prisoners played. Reb Mendel saw that the prisoners would be playing one second, and then when the door opened the cards would disappear, as if by magic. They guards knew that poker was being played, but they never managed to find any incriminating evidence. After a couple of weeks Reb Mendel grew quite curious; he too couldn't figure out where the cards were going. Eventually one of his fellow prisoners took pity on him, and explained, "Among the prisoners here are certain individuals who are excellent pick-pockets, which is why they ended up here. When the guards come they stash the cards in their back pockets, and later take them out when he leaves. The guards never suspect that the cards are in their own pockets!"
Reb Mendel explained the lesson in our service of Hashem: Whenever we have problems we tend to blame everyone else. We search around for a scapegoat, and are convinced that the problem is to be found outside ourselves. The truth is though, if we only looked at ourselves, we would discover that we are the problem!

There was once a Shliach who got into some trouble with the IRS. Basically, he was money laundering. Another Shliach ran away to Israel, but this Shliach was indicted and was being brought to trial. He wrote to the Rebbe, but received no answer. He called. No answer. He begged, borrowed, and stole, but nothing. Things were getting desperate. The Shliach knew that another Shliach, Rabbi Moshe Herson, would write a report of his activities to the Rebbe every Friday afternoon, and he was always answered. So the Shliach called up Rabbi Herson, and he asked him for his help. Rabbi Herson agreed, as long as the Shliach would tell the Rebbe the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Shliach, having no choice, agreed, and Rabbi Herson sent in the letter that Friday afternoon. Just a couple hours later, on Friday afternoon (!), the Shliach received a message from the Rebbe that he would have the full backing of Merkos in the case.
The lesson? Tell the Rebbe the truth. He knows who his Chassidim are, he knows who he made his Shluchim, there's no need to beat around the bush. Just tell it like it is.


Yosef HaKohein said...

Yashar Koach for the emotions charging from these stories

Just like a guy said...

My pleasure