Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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This Morning

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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      Early this morning, one of the larger Chabad yeshivas (religious schools) from outside of Jerusalem, came to the Kotel. Their schedule was to first sit in small groups, mostly with a chavrousa (learning partner) and learn Chassidus, (mystical teachings that are rooted in the Baal Shem Tov’s thoughts), and then an hour or so later, they straggled off to the local mikvah (spiritual/physical immersion in a pool of water).

image006     Then, they gathered in a large circle and sang Chassidic nigunim (spiritual melodies) for almost an hour. By then it was time for morning prayers.

     Please understand that I am not a Chabadnik. I love Chabad, and I have always worked hand-in-hand with them on a daily basis, but I never became a Chabadnik. When I first returned to Torah observance 35 years ago, the Chabad Rebbe was the Baal Shem Tov for our generation. Everyone seemed to agree on this. And the Rebbe said: “To please me, you do not have to dress like I do. You have to use your energy like I use mine.” So I never dressed like a Chabadnik. I never adapted their customs, but I have always loved them, and especially their path.

     Why all this background? I want you to know that what I am about to say is not coming from someone enmeshed within the Chabad system who is merely repeating their “company slogan.”

     I watched them sitting there in a circle, singing their warm melodies, and I could not restrain my love and respect for what they are doing. What is so special about them? They learn the same Torah that all yeshivas teach, and there are plenty of yeshivas that teach Chassidus, too.

     The main difference between Chabad Chassidus and all of the other Chassidus that I have seen is that Chabad Chassidus not only teaches you to love your fellow Jew, it also teaches its chassidim to do something about this love. It is not enough for them to say to another Jew, “I love you.” They are taught to try to bring every Jew they meet closer to the Torah and the love of Hashem. No one, ever--in the history of the world--has done what the Rebbe has done. No one else even dreamed to fill the world with outreach centers and Chassidim who stand at the doors like Avraham Aveinu (our father) looking for a soul to help! Vietnam has a kosher mikvah! China has kosher food! Japan has davening (Jewish prayers). India… Brazil… Siberia… and who could even list the places they reach?

     But even more important than their outreach centers, their Chabad Houses spread all over the world, is that each one of these students will become a walking “Chabad House.” When he sits in the airport waiting for his connecting flight, he is going to have his tefillin ready, and he is going to look around and ask, “Where is he? Where is that Jew that I was sent here to help?”

     As I stood there feeling the warmth of their voices, I tried to imagine: If each one of these boys goes on to touch only one Jew a day each day, for the rest of his life, he will reach over 25,000 Jews. This means that this class of some 100 boys is going to change more than 2,500,000 Jewish lives! And this from just one class in only one yeshiva!

    G-d bless them, each and every one of them. And may G-d bless them to find that Jew they are looking for. (And you and I, too)

3 comments:

yaakov said...

reb gutman, all your stories are inspiring..but this one is very special. i love chabad too..the are very warm, embracing, patient when you ask questions and truly radiate love for the jewish people. your piece is a warm and moving tribute to the rebbe and chabad.
kol hakavod!

Leah said...

amen. so, there's my mother - in- law and father- in- law vacationing in Bangkok, Thailand and there "happens" to be there 3rd cousin, a Chabad rabbi. Sweet!
I believe, too that they have such a special place for what they do.

Tali said...

I also really love Chabad, although I've never had any desire to become a Chabadnik. They have always been there when I needed them and I have tried to incorporate some of their hashkafah into my own.

The last Rebbe had a very different personality than most rebbes have had. Chabad's real power, as you described, comes from their seeing themselves as being a soldier in the army of Hashem. That is why they can influence without being influenced. They are soldiers on a mission of chessed, binah, and daas -- forward march!

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