April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

By Rabbi Judah Mischel

Reb Yanki Tauber related a ma’aseh—a story, about the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

“A group of highschool students once came to see the rebbe. The students had each prepared a question, which they posed to the rebbe in the course of their meeting together. The rebbe fielded an array of questions on faith, philosophy and modern Jewish life. At the very end of the meeting, one student raised his hand and with innocent audacity asked, ‘People say that you have supernatural powers … Is this true? Do you have the ability to perform miracles?’”

“The ability to work miracles is not confined to a select group of individuals,” replied the rebbe, “but is within reach of each and every one of us. We each possess a soul that is a spark of Godliness. So, we each have the power to transcend the limitations imposed upon us by our physical natures, no matter how formidable they may seem. To demonstrate this to you, I will now perform a miracle.” An audible gasp swept through the group.

The rebbe then scanned the room, making eye contact for a brief moment with each of the young people gathered around his desk. With a smile and serious tone, he continued, “Each and every one of us in this room will now resolve to improve himself in one specific area. You will each choose an aspect of your personal life, character development, mitzvah observance or commitment to bettering the wellbeing of others. It will be some improvement that you recognize as necessary, but, until now, you have perceived it as being beyond your ability to accomplish.

“I bless you to succeed, and prove to yourselves that the neshama, indeed, has the power to overcome the guf (body), this natural physical ‘reality’ within which we are accustomed to living. That will, certainly, be a miracle of note.”

~

This week will mark gimmel Tammuz, the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, zt”l. An indefatigable leader overseeing a worldwide network of shlichus, the rebbe was a tzaddik, a gadol baTorah, a commander-in-chief, a Nasi and a revolutionary and a spiritual entrepreneur. Considering it his responsibility to nourish and lift up every Jewish soul in the world, he was the great baal achrayus—leader of his generation. From Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, the rebbe engaged in advancing the depths of Torah insight and scholarship (there are more than 400 volumes of the Rebbe’s Torah in print), to sharing advice, insight and blessings with countless individuals across the world.

And, there were open miracles… A powerful flow of yeshuos manifested and continues to manifest blessings of success, healing, fertility, parnassa and rescue from danger. Miracles were “performed” at weekly distributions of tzedakah dollars, during “kos shel bracha” events following Yamim Tovim, through spoken blessings, prophetic advice, written responses to letters and prayer-requests that he brought to “the Ohel,”—the resting place of his father-in-law—the previous rebbe. Indeed, multiple volumes of indisputable, tangible miraculous wonders have been recorded.

The rebbe’s ability to see the big picture, to peer into the future and to understand the inner, hidden world, seemed to focus the power of his blessings and prayers into fulfillment of needs that the receivers had not even known about. He was an embodiment of the concept of צדיק גוזר והקב’’ה מקיים—“A tzaddik makes a decree, and Hashem follows it.”

All of this, however, misses the much more significant, and “miraculous” aspect of the rebbe’s impact. As Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotzk said, “There are rebbes who are so great that they can revive the dead. But really, reviving the dead is God’s business. The mark of a true rebbe is one who is able to revive the living … ” Over more than half a century of dedication to the men, women and children of klal Yisrael, and all humanity, the rebbe was מחיה החיים—he “resurrected the living,” often just through pointedly expressing his indefatigable optimism and faith in humanity, and his constant and persistent focus on the good.

The Rebbe embodied a superhuman, miraculous dedication to others and continues today to urge and empower us to confidently awaken the divine spark within and activate our Godly souls.

~

After sharing Torah thoughts, a maamar—discourse or a public address, the rebbe encouraged all to put the ideas discussed into action. Holy inspiration and awakening must be drawn down into vessels. In Chabad, a hachlata is a resolution, “a conscious decision,” to outwardly manifest one’s intentions for improvement and accomplishment.

This gimmel Tamuz—in the spirit and merit of the rebbe—let us make a hachlata: Choose an aspect of our life—some necessary improvement—and even if it seems beyond our ability, may we do it and be successful. Let us live with the rebbe’s example of optimism, faith and courageous action, and may we see open miracles in our own lives and the lives of all Israel!


Rav Judah Mischel is executive director of Camp HASC, the Hebrew Academy for Special Children. He is the mashpiah of OU-NCSY, founder of Tzama Nafshi and the author of “Baderech: Along the Path of Teshuva.” Rav Judah lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his wife Ora and their family.

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