We Have It, Now Let’s Use It!

We’re lucky to have the priceless gifts of a Jewish neshama (soul), the Torah, Chasidus and our Rebbe. And we’re blessed to know we have it. But how do we access it? How do we mine these treasures so that they illuminate our lives and provide the fundamental strength, guidance and solutions that makes life doable and worthwhile?
Most of the following suggestions won’t be new to you, there aren’t really any magic solutions, but this means that you already know what to do. Good luck!

Daven: Daven so that you can connect to Hashem, and daven to Hashem that you will feel your connection. Daven formally, twice daily if you’re a woman, or three times daily if you’re a man. And continue praying all day: “Hashem, please help me find the right words to reach this person.” “Hashem, we both know today’s schedule is too dificult for me and I trust that you’ll make it work for me somehow.” (In the past, after I have given over my scheduling worries to Hashem, planned events were cancelled or rescheduled by the other party.) “Thank you, Hashem, for making the bus come right now so I have a chance of getting there on time!” The more we involve Hashem in our lives, the more we see Him.

Learn Torah: There is so much to say on this topic that I’m saving it for another post. In the meantime, learn Torah!

Connect to the Rebbe: Of course, this means to learn the Rebbe’s Torah; say the Rebbe’s kapitel (chapter) of Tehilim every day; do what the Rebbe asks of us, especially in spreading Chasidus; and make sure to regularly write pidyonei nefesh and du”chimMore than this, though, the Rebbe should be alive in your regular life. This is especially important when raising young children, who need to learn that the Rebbe is always with them. Listen to the Rebbe’s voice (look herehere or here), even if you don’t understand Yiddish; watch videos of the Rebbe, even if it’s just to see the Rebbe in action; sing the Rebbe’s nigunim; and go to 770 and the Ohel, on special days and on regular days. On very special chasidishe days my high school principal would play a recording of the Rebbe davening shacharis (the morning prayer) while we davened so that we could daven with the Rebbe.

Keep in touch with your mashpia: This is one of the Rebbe’s greatest gifts to us! Asking someone to be your mashpia is in itself a tremendous accomplishment. But to get the full benefits, keep in touch with your mashpia; be honest about what is (or isn’t) happening in your life; and do your best to follow your mashpia’s advice, which is, ultimately, the channel for the Rebbe’s advice.

Teach: Officially or unofficially, long-term or short-term, for an hour or for a minute, we all have countless opportunities to share with others. I constantly try to look around and notice who can use a friendly smile, some quick explanation of what’s going on, or a story about the power of the day. I’m often surprised when an idea that seems simple to me generates such enthusiasm, especially when I’m speaking to someone whom I had assumed already knows it all. On a bigger scale, schedule a study session with someone or a few someones.  When you teach something, you sharpen your understanding of the concept; you feel grateful to have something to offer, and you are implicitly challenged to believe  and live by your own words. Often, the feedback you receive ignites a few new sparks in your own mind and heart.
And, as the Rebbe’s chasidim, by fulfilling the Rebbe’s constant demand to positively influence another person we strengthen our personal bond with the Rebbe.

Maintain your physical wellbeing: Torah commands us to care for our health, including body and mind.  Do what it takes to achieve and maintain your health for Torah, for the purpose of following this mitzvah and in order to be able to further serve Hashem. Do it with Torah, consulting with a mashpia or rabbi as necessary; improving your spiritual health (such as checking your tefilin and mezuzas), and implementing all kosher medical directives.  And always remember that your true and best medical Provider is Hashem.

Personally, I’ve spent many years trying to achieve optimal health in a certain area. At this point, boruch Hashem, I truly think I’ve done everything I can, and my challenge going forward is to maintain my health at this level. In theory, it would be nice to up my health even more so that I can do more, but I’m working to accept that I can’t and I don’t need to; this is where I need to be in order to be in order to best serve Hashem.

Eliminate or at least minimize interference: How can you upgrade the music you listen to? The clothing you wear? The kashrus (kosher standard) of the food you eat? Every change for the better, no matter how small it may seem, means less shmutz (dirt) in your life and more space for goodness and G-dliness.

 

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Never Lost It

To my surprise and disappointment, I was unable to find a Chai Elul farbrengen in Crown Heights this year. (I would arrrange one myself but I have nowhere to host it and, from experience, I’m not sure people would come.) Instead, I’m having a virtual farbrengen and I hope you’ll join!

For their initial publicity campaign J for J anonymously put up large posters that said, “We found it! We found it!” Jews for Judaism’s countercampaign was large posters that said, “We never lost it!”
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with two other women, both from frum families and one from a Chabad family. Both women are passionate about some self-help programs they have recently discovered. One of them described how she had crashed to such a low point that she began researching any and every self-help idea because she felt she couldn’t survive much longer without help. I asked her if she read God of Our Understanding by Shais Taub (excerpted here or, better yet, buy the book), where he eloquently shows how Torah and Chasidus illuminate Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. She said she was embarrassed to admit it, but no, she had not yet read it.
!אשרינו יהודים אנו, ומה נאים חסידים אנו ומה יפה חסידי חבד של אדוננו מורנו ורבינו
To paraphrase: We are so lucky to be Jews! Even better, we are chasidim! And best of all, we are chasidim of the Rebbe shlita!
When I think about these priceless gifts I’ve been granted, my neshama, the Torah, chasidus, our Rebbe, I’m filled with joy and gratitude. I am reassured as I know that I have where to turn when I need help moving forward. And I feel impelled to keep moving forward, because it would be a shame to squander such precious resources.
We don’t have to go searching for anything, as we never lost it. It’s ours and we know it and we get to enjoy it to the fullest!

Part 2: We Have It, Now Let’s Use It!

 

 

 

 

Hashem Desires the Heart

One day, a traveling storyteller, the future Baal Shem Tov, came to Tarnow and stood in the center of town, encouraging and inspiring the local Jews in their avodas Hashem (divine service). Reb Eliezer Lipa, a simple but sincere Jew, took a break from his tasks as a water carrier, and joined the circle of listeners. The Baal Shem Tov was telling the story from the Gemara of a wealthy man who lived in the days of the Bais Hamikdash (Holy Temple).
“The wealthy man was taking a fattened ox to the Bais Hamikdash for a korban (sacrifice). It was a massive beast, and when it decided to stop in its tracks nobody was able to convince it to walk further towards their destination.
“A poor man who was on his way home was watching the scene. In his hand was a bunch of freshly picked greens. He held them to the muzzle of the ox, and when the animal began to nibble he pulled back the greens and slowly led the animal to its destination at the Bais Hamikdash.
“That night the owner of the ox had a dream. In his dream he heard a voice which called out, ‘The sacrifice of the poor man, who gave up the bundle of greens he was bringing to his impoverished family, was a more desirable sacrifice than your fattened ox.’”
The Baal Shem Tov elaborated, “the wealthy man brought a large fattened ox for a korban. He was so happy at being able to bring such an animal that he also brought a sheep as an additional korban and made a huge feast for his family and friends. He also distributed the proper gifts from his korbanos to the kohanim. His joy was so intense that he held back nothing. The poor man, on the other hand, had only a bunch of greens to bring home for his family. What were his few stalks compared to the fattened animal of the wealthy man?
“Nevertheless,” concluded the Baal Shem Tov, “Hashem desires the heart. Any mitzvah a person does, whether great or small, easy or hard, is judged by how it is performed. A mitzvah done for Hashem’s sake, with great joy and purity of heart, is very precious to the Creator. Hashem cries out to the angels, ‘Look at the mitzvah My child has done!’ Hashem, from His place in the heavens, saw that although the wealthy man had offered much, the poor man had offered much more.”
Reb Eliezer Lipa’s listened to the story, and now he too longed to be able to do a mitzvah like the poor man, with pure intention and a joyful, overflowing heart The weeks passed and Reb Eliezer Lipa was still restless, as he ached with the desire to be able to do such a mitzvah.
One day, as Reb Eliezer Lipa was delivering water to one of his wealthy customers, he had the perfect idea! His four wealthy customers provided him with half of his livelihood, since they paid him a lot more than the going rate for a barrel of water. On the other hand, his friend Reb Zalman Dov supplied the town’s four shuls with water, which paid him half-price for their water. “I can exchange four of my customers for four of his,” thought Reb Eliezer Lipa. “Four wealthy homes for four shuls.” He was eager to serve Hashem by providing the water that the shul-goers would wash their hands with. Certainly the mitzvah was of more value than the profits he would give up. He went home and told his wife about the story he heard from the visiting storyteller, and how doing a mitzvah with joy is like bringing a korban in the Bais Hamikdash. His wife quickly agreed to the idea, as did Reb Zalman Dov, who greatly appreciated the extra income, and the exchange was made.
No one but Reb Eliezer Lipa and his wife knew what had happened, and they were overjoyed at the prospects for their new “business.” There were days when Reb Eliezer Lipa’s wife went to the river to participate in the mitzvah of drawing the water for the shuls. As they hauled the water, they would concentrate on the mitzvah of preparing the water for the congregants to wash their hands with before davening (praying), and their joy was boundless. For they understood that Hashem desires the heart.
Chassidim say that it was in the merit of their mitzvah that Reb Eliezer Lipa and his wife, who had previously been childless, were blessed with children. They gave birth to two sons, Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and Reb Zusha of Anipoli, two of the greatest talmidim (students) of the Maggid of Mezritch.

 

A Reader’s Questions 2, Updated

Recently, I “crashed” a friend’s chavrusa (learning partnership) and the three of us learned the bitachon sicha together. It was nice to have a hands-on opportunity to apply my posts in real life. As expected, the Rebbe’s words are clear and I only made a few minor changes to those posts based on our learning.
After we learned the sicha we read through my second post answering a reader’s questions. Not unexpectedly, my words needed quite a bit of clarification. I marked my revisions by marking the edited paragraph with a * and enclosing the change in  *s. Please let me know if I need to clarify further. Thank you!

This is the sequel of the email exchange I had with a reader this summer, as I wrote in this post A Reader’s Questions… 1.

The second thing I’m trying to understand is how to know what kind of keli (vessel, i.e. practical effort) to make when you’re having bitachon (faith). When is it too much, when should you do bare minimum and just rely on Hashem? How much of a keli do you make and then you can have your complete bitachon? I don’t know if this question is clear. Not all situations are written explicit in Torah so then how are you supposed to know what kind of keli Torah would want you to make for this situation?

Bitachon and hishtadlus (effort): I think finding a balance is one of life’s greatest, most persistent quests. There are countless sefarim (books) and farbrengens filled with this topic. In fact, I think they would make great color war team names! These are some of my ideas:

Daven, daven and daven some more.

Have a mashpia (spiritual mentor) and keep in touch with her.

*Learn Torah, especially chasidus. *Torah is a great energy booster, and a great alternative mind-filler from whatever doom and gloom you may otherwise be thinking. And you’re highly likely to be pleasantly surprised to discover a clue to your quandary in the Torah thought you happen to choose for the moment.*

Ask the Rebbe for help (either formally, in דוחים– personal accounts and פניםpidyonei nefesh, or informally, throughout your day).

Hishtadlus has to fit within the parameters of halacha (Jewish law). Tax fraud, for example, doesn’t count. Ask a rav (orthodox rabbi) when you have a question involving halacha.

*Enjoy Shabbos! The good thing (and the hard thing) about Shabbos is that there is nothing you can do about anything that needs to get done after Shabbos. The work of the weekdays is meant to prepare for and lead you to Shabbos. The rest and holiness of Shabbos are meant to energize your work during the rest of the week. (Likutei Sichos vol. 5, especially sections 11 & 12, discusses this element of Shabbos, and also discusses faith and effort.) *Keeping this in mind gives focus and cohesion to all your days. Your work week is intertwined with Shabbos, and the totality of your time is dedicated to the one goal of serving Hashem.*

*Give tzedaka (charity), whether with money or other forms of ahavas Yisrael (loving a fellow Jew). *It may seem counterintuitive but often one of the best ways to center and to transcend ourselves is to shift our focus to helping someone else. And, of course, being kind to another Jew is a good way to elicit G-d’s kindness towards you.*

**Listen to yourself. What is your mind thinking? What is your heart feeling ? What is your body doing? The expression “gut instinct” can and should be understood literally. Our physical and spiritual selves are breathtakingly intertwined. As we honor our integrity we grow in our ability to truly feel happy, healthy and whole.*

*Be willing to pause or even cease your efforts if they’re really not leading to the result you want. Sometimes the result we want isn’t the one we need, and when we aren’t successful I think, in a way, Hashem is “saving us from ourselves”. As a small example, I got a skirt before Pesach, and although it was designed with multiple shades of blue I couldn’t find any matching top. I finally realized I should try it on before continuing my mystifyingly unsuccessful hunt. I tried it on and I was able to see straight through all four of its layers, front, back and lining! I returned it, and thank G-d I ended up finding a pretty dress before Shavuos. *(I guess I didn’t need a new skirt for Pesach!)*

*I think the crucial avoda (service) is attitude. As I’m doing my hishtadlus I need to keep in mind that I am simply doing my part so that Hashem can do His. Depending on the task, it’s not always needed, and sometimes not even desirable, for me to invest myself, mind, body and/or soul, in the work. I don’t have to drive myself crazy and make myself sick, physically or emotionally. I only need to do the best I can with what I have (and “what I have” includes my internal strengths). As I’m working I shouldn’t feel worried or burdened or unfairly compensated or excessively proud or deserving. *(Feel free to substitute with the emotions that you struggle with.)* As my father says, “you do your best and Hashem will do the rest”.

When I’ve done my part, whether I can see the results immediately or not, whether they’re to my liking or not, I am really done. I don’t have to second guess myself or try one more trick. I don’t have to worry if and when my work will pay off the way I want it to. I don’t have to worry about how I’ll survive until it pays off. I don’t have to “keep cheshbon” (account) for Hashem of the work that I’ve done and my expectations that He will now play the part I’ve given to Him, כביכול (so to speak). As long as I’m confident that I’ve done my best, I can be certain that Hashem will do His best, which, baruch Hashem (thank G-d), is infinitely better than mine. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say, “let go and let G-d”. And when we do, Hashem will astound us with His overflowing, immediately appreciable goodness.

I hope this makes sense. This probably doesn’t sound very easy (it shouldn’t!) but I’m pretty sure it’s doable and worthwhile. And as the Rebbe always reminds us, it should be done with joy and a good heart, בשמחה ובטוב לבב. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on these topics! Please let me know if you have any more questions. n’eNow!

All the best!

Seder Hanigunim

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913800/jewish/1-Sholosh-TNuos.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/140683/jewish/Keili-Atoh.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913809/jewish/9-Niggun-Daled-Bovos.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913803/jewish/3-Kapelye.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/140674/jewish/Yemin-Hashem.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3298751/jewish/Tzemach-Tzedeks-Nigun-Hishtatchus-Symphony.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913805/jewish/5-Lchatchila-Ariber.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913806/jewish/6-Niggun-Hachono.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3913807/jewish/7-Beinuni.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/140731/jewish/Hu-Elokeinu.htm

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/140727/jewish/Nigun-Hakofos.htm

Timeless Stories

Good yom tov!

When I share stories on the blog I usually try to share unusual stories, those haven’t been told and published countless times. But recently I worked on a project that had  me searching for a number of stories of the Rebbe. I skimmed through the stories in To Know and To Care and I realized that although I had heard and read these stories many, many times, a few of them had settled so comfortably in my subconscious that I barely remembered them! I’m sharing some of them with you, so that you, too, can enjoy these stories once again.

Rabbi Moshe Hecht, the veteran shliach in New Haven, Connecticut, once found himself $100,000 short of the amount needed to cover the budget for the school he directed. Rabbi Hecht had a plan to raise the sum by finding 100 “friends” who would each donate $1,000. He told the Rebbe of his idea, asking for a blessing that his efforts should succeed.
The Rebbe replied with a blessing, and added : “From one such friend you have certainly not yet received a donation. His name is Menachem Schneerson. Check for participation enclosed.”
Together with the letter was a check for $1,000.

The Rebbe once told the following story:
“A letter arrived one day from man in Israel who was sick. He was scheduled to undergo a complicated operation and he requested a blessing. Nu, when a Jew asks for a blessing, shouldn’t I help him?
“I gave him the blessing, adding that he should commit himself to putting on tefillin every day. The man resolved to do so and his condition suddenly took a sharp turn for the better. The doctors were surprised at the remarkable change. They canceled the operation and the incident became the talk of the department.
“As the word spread, many patients inquired what had caused the sudden recovery. The man told them that he began putting on tefillin.
“‘If that’s the case,’ they responded, ‘we will also begin performing this mitzvah.’ And indeed, many patients began to fulfill this daily mitzvah.
“We can see from this,” concluded the Rebbe, “that the man’s stay in the hospital was intended to bring him and others to commit themselves to putting on tefillin. As soon as this mission was fulfilled, he was discharged.”

A state senator from New York once asked for a private meeting with the Rebbe. After spending over an hour with the Rebbe, he came out of the Rebbe’s room excited. “Until now, I never realized what a great man your Rebbe is!” he told Rabbi Leibel Groner, the Rebbe’s secretary.
The senator explained that he had sought the Rebbe’s counsel concerning certain issues involving the Jewish community. After offering advice with regard to these matters, the Rebbe asked if he could request a favor.
“‘Here it comes,’ I thought to myself,” he told Rabbi Groner. “‘Just like all the others, he’s looking for the payoff.’
“But what did the Rebbe ask of me?
“He said: ‘There is a growing community in Chinatown. These people are quiet, reserved, hard-working and law-abiding the type of citizens most countries would treasure. But because Americans are so outgoing and the Chinese are, by nature, so reserved, they are often overlooked by government programs. As a state senator from New York, I suggest that you concern yourself with their needs.’
“I was overwhelmed. The Rebbe has a community of thousands in New York, and institutions all over the state that could benefit from government support. I was in a position to help secure funding for them, but the Rebbe didn’t ask about that. He was concerned with Chinatown. I don’t think he has ever been there, and I’m certain that most people there don’t know who he is, but he cares about them. Now that’s a true leader!”

A Writing Workbook to Be Put Aside

צמחים במצוות

צמחים במצוות myvirtualhand@gmail.com

Client’s Instructions:

Project:
A writing workbook for students to practice writing the Hebrew print words in Hebrew script letters.

Sections:
Word lists of words the kids would recognize and be interested in
Sentences
Paragraphs

Content:
Surprise us!

For the sentences, I chose the 12 pesukim (Torah passages), and for the paragraphs I chose nigunim (chasidic songs).

The most fun for me were the lists, for which I chose a nature theme. I had lists on seasons, time, directions (with a fill-in compass), animal parts and more. The last list was titled צמחים במצוות, plants with mitzvos, and listed different objects or concepts. The next page had a bonus box, where the kids could write which מצוה or מצוות the words connect to and which plants are involved.

I created these bonus activities on my own initiative, partly because it’s such a treat to work with this school. I know they’ll be happy if their students temporarily put aside their writing workbooks because they’re now curious to learn more!

 

P. S. I received my client’s permission to share this

 

Mashpia- Some Ideas

Some  basic lingo:
Mashpia– literally an influencer; mushpa- one who is being influenced
Mushpa’le– someone who turns to you for listening and advice, even though you aren’t their official mashpia
TTYM- When all else fails, talk to your mashpia

When your mashpia advises you about something they are speaking with the Rebbe’s powers. You’re not just one human being asking another what to do, you are creating a channel for the Rebbe’s blessings by fulfilling the Rebbe’s will to find and speak to a mashpia. Speak as honestly as you can and accept their advice with as much humility as you can.
Someone was once deciding what to do for the upcoming summer. She wrote to the Rebbe, describing her two options, and when she opened the Igros Kodesh (Book of Holy Letters) it seemed clear to her that the Rebbe wanted her to go to place A. When she spoke to her mashpia her mashpia thought it was clear that she should go to place B. She went to place B that summer.

It’s best if you officially ask someone to be your mashpia, and if they officially accept the position. Fortunately, the Rebbe has made it pretty clear that someone who is asked should accept, unless it is particularly difficult for them.

This is probably most practical for someone still in school, but it’s easier to build a relationship with someone if you talk or do something together regularly. Learning something together is a great way to create a mashpia- mushpa relationship.

As a human being, your mashpia may not be able to help you in all areas. It’s acceptable to have a general mashpia and additional mashpia with whom you discuss certain topics. Or your mashpia may recommend you consult with someone else on an as-needed basis. You’re not committing to a life-long monogamous marriage!

It can be hard to find the right mashpia, to find the time to talk and to truly listen to each other but go for it! The Rebbe asked us to get a mashpia as a personal favor for him, but it’s really one of the greatest gifts the Rebbe has given us.

 

Mashpia- The Rebbe’s Personal Request

The topic of mashpia (literally influencer, i.e. a spiritual mentor) is a central and vital one. Although I have written about it in the past, I haven’t yet given it the proper attention it deserves. A special reader has requested that I write about this topic, and I will try my best.

First and foremost, these are the Rebbe’s words about making a mashpia. All emphases are in the original.

אמרו חכמים במשנתם: “עשה לך רב“, כלומר ישנו ציווי על כל אחד ואחד מישראל – מקטן ועד גדול –לקבל עליו ולעשות לו רב.
כלומר, נוסף על הוראת המשנה “איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם”, היינו, שגם מי שהוא, חכם גדול כו’, יכול להוסיף וללמוד מאחרים, ועד שיכול ללמוד מכל אדם (ואדרבה: הנהגה זו מוכיחה שהוא בגדר חכם, בדיוק הלשון “איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם”) – צריך להיות גם הענין ד”רב”, “עשה לך רב”, כלומר, ש”תקבלהו עליך לרב“, לסמוך על דבריו.
וטעם הדבר – מכיון ש”אדם קרוב אצל עצמו”, ובמילא, אינו יכול לסמוך על עצמו כו’, ולכן, צריך לעשות לו רב – שיחשיבהו גדול ממנו, ולקיים את דבריו.
ויש להוסיף, שגם מי שהוא גדול בתורה וביראת־שמים כו’, שקשה לו למצוא מי שגדול ממנו – הרי אף על פי שלא ימצא חכם גדול כמוהו, יעשה משלמטה הימנו, כי אין אדם רואה בעניני עצמו העצה הצריכה לו כמו שיראה זולתו, וזהו עשה לך רב, אף שאינו ראוי’, וכמפורש שבכגון דא יש צורך בענין של עשי’, “עשה לך רב”, אשר “לשון עשי’ יאמר על דבר שצריך לטרוח ולעשות על ידו”, עד לעשי’ מלשון כפי’ (כמו “מעשין על הצדקה”).
ובהתאם לכך, טוב ונכון ביותר, שכל אחד ואחת מישראל – האנשים והנשים, כולל ילדים וילדות קטנים – יקיים את הוראת המשנה “עשה לך רב” (ובנוגע לנשים ובנות – בלשון דאמרי אינשי “משפיעות”), על ידי זה שילך מזמן לזמן למי שגדול הימנו (“רב”), על מנת ובאופן לעמוד ל”מבחן” בנוגע למעמדו ומצבו בלימוד התורה, בנתינת הצדקה, ובכללות הנהגתו בעבודת ה’, גם בעניני הרשות, “כל מעשיך יהיו לשם שמים” ו”בכל דרכיך דעהו”, אשר, על ידי זה יקבל את ההוראה וההדרכה הנכונה (ללא השוחד דקרבת עצמו),
ומה גם שעצם הידיעה שמזמן לזמן יצטרך לתת “דין וחשבון” לבשר ודם, תפעל אצלו להיטיב את הנהגתו, ולהוסיף בכל עניני טוב וקדושה.

ויש להוסיף ולהדגיש על דבר גודל החשיבות והצורך כו’ דכל האמור, גם במשך כל השנה כולה, ויתירה מזה – תמיד כל הימים.
ולכן, הצעתי ובקשתי – בבקשה נפשית (ועוד יותר מזה, אלא שאין בידי לעת עתה ביטוי מתאים יותר כו’) – שיפרסמו את הדברים בכל מקום ומקום, – בשמי, או שלא בשמי, בהתאם להתועלת בנוגע לקיום הדבר –
שכדאי ונכון ביותר, אשר, כל אחד ואחת מישראל, אנשים נשים וטף, יקיימו את הוראת המשנה “עשה לך רב“, ומזמן לזמן יבואו אליו כדי לעמוד ל”מבחן” בנוגע למעמדם ומצבם בעבודת ה’,
אשר, על ידי זה יתוסף בודאי ובודאי אצל כל אחד ואחד מישראל בכל עניני טוב וקדושה, הלוך ומוסיף ואור
לקוטי שיחות כט 247-8

Our sages have said in their mishna: Make for yourself a rav, a teacher. Meaning, there is a commandment on each and every Jew, from small to big, to accept upon himself and to make for himself a teacher.
Meaning, this is in addition to the teaching of the Mishna, “who is a wise person? One who learns from every person”, which means that also he who is a great scholar can add and learn from others, to the point that he can learn from every person… This scholar also needs to have a rav, “make for yourself a rav”, meaning, to accept upon himself as a rav, to rely on his words.
The reason for this is because “a person is close to himself”, and consequently he cannot rely on himself. Therefore, he needs to make for himself for a rav, whom he will regard as greater than himself, and he will fulfill his words.
And we can add, that even someone who is great in Torah and fear of Heaven, etc., that it is hard for him to find someone greater than himself, even if he won’t be able to find a great scholar like himself, he should make [a teacher] from someone who is below him. Because a person cannot see in his own matters the advice that he needs for himself as someone else can see, for this he is told, make for yourself a rav, even if he is not worthy. As it is made clear that here it is necessary to have the concept of making, make for yourself a rav, that “the expression of making is said about something that needs to be toiled and done on his part”, even to the degree of making from the expression of forcing (as in, “forcing to give charity”).
And apropos to this, it is good and very proper that each and every Jew [the Hebrew words used here are both male and female], men and women, including young boys and girls, should fulfill the teaching of the mishna to “make for yourself a rav”. (And in regards to women and girls, the colloquialism is “mashpios” [vs. the male “mashpiim”].) That from time to time he will go to someone who is greater than him (rav, also meaning large), so that and in a manner that he will stand up to a “test” in regards to his standing and situation in learning Torah, in giving charity, and in his general behavior in serving Hashem. This includes mundane matters, as, “all your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven”, and, “in all your ways you should know Him”. In this way he will receive the proper instructions and guidance (without the bribery of self-interest).
In addition, the knowledge that from time to time he will need to give an” accounting” to a human being will effect upon him to improve his behavior and to add in all matters of good and holiness.

We can also add and emphasize about the great value and need, etc., of all that was said, also throughout the entire year, and even more so, constantly, every day.
Therefore, my advice and my request- as a soul request (and even more than this, except that I don’t have right now a more fitting expression)- that you should publicize these words in each and every place- in my name, or not in my name, relative to its effect on the practical fulfillment of this matter: That it is worthwhile and very proper that every single Jew, men, women and children, should fulfill the instruction of the mishna to “make for yourself a rav”. And from time to time they should come to him to stand for a “test” in regards to their standing and situation in their service of Hashem.
That through this there will be added, most certainly, to every single Jew in all matters of good and holiness, going and growing in light.

 

The Persian Tanya

גוט יום טוב!
לשנה טובה בלימוד החסידות ובדרכי החסידות תכתב ותחתם!

Good Yom Tov!
May You Be Inscribed and Sealed For a Good Year in the Study of Chassidus and the Ways of Chassidus!

Two years before the Iranian Revolution, in 1979, most of the Jewish population had already fled from Iran. But Rabbi Yedidia Ezrachian remained at his post as head of the Jewish community in Iran and the leader of the rabbinical court for three more years. Upon the Rebbe’s instructions, Rabbi Ezrachian had worked to publish the Tanya in Iran, but by the time it was ready the revolution had taken place and Khomeini was in power. Rabbi Ezrachian was told to remove all the Tanyas from the publishing house and bring them to the community’s library. There, in the large hall, they were temporarily stored in disorderly piles.
The new government announced a law in which all Iranian citizens and public institutions had thirty days to get rid of all artifacts, papers or books marked with the royal emblem, the name of the Shah, or anything related to pre-revolution Iran. The law stated that after thirty days, anyone who had any object with one of these symbols would be severely punished and possibly even executed.
The Jewish community’s library archives held many historical treasures, and most of the documents and books bore the royal emblem, as well as the name of the Shah. There were gold coins that the community had produced in honor of the king’s coronation and to celebrate 2,500 years since the coronation of Koresh. On one side of the coin was a menorah, and on the other side was the royal emblem, an image of Koresh or a crown. Morally, it was very hard to make peace with purging an entire library and huge archive, and even when they reluctantly began doing the work they had no way of complying in such a short time.
At the end of the month, before they had managed to complete the job, two government supervisors came to conduct a search in the offices to make sure the library had complied with the purging law. When Rabbi Ezrachian opened the door he was certain that his life was over, and that the entire Jewish community was in peril. He said vidui (confessions) and shema as he went to greet the officers.
As the group entered the hall, the first thing they saw were haphazard piles of the Tanya. One of the supervisors bent over and picked up one of these books. Opening the book at random, the officer ordered the pale, trembling rabbi to translate it exactly as it was written.
The Tanya was open to the first page of Shaar Ha’yichud V’ha’emuna (The Gate of Unity and Belief). Rabbi Ezrachian translated and explained that the Tanya teaches us about the unity of G-d, and that we need to serve Him with love and fear. When he was done, the officer closed the book, kissed it with traditional Iranian reverence, and said, “A book like this we all need! In a place that has books like this one there is no need for additional inspections!” Moreover, a special edict was written to protect Rabbi Ezrachian, a man who clearly honored “Allah”, in the future, and to allow the rabbi to complete the task of translating this holy book.

After a few years, Rabbi Ezrachian left Iran, first living in Israel before moving to Great Neck, New York. He merited to have many private audiences with the Rebbe, and tried his utmost to fulfill what the Rebbe wanted from him. Rabbi Ezrachian has translated the Chumash, the Sidur Tehilim, and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Abridged Code of Jewish Law) into Farsi. The Rebbe personally checked several of the translations.