Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Rebbe speaks of his Upbringing

Once, someone asked me: “How is it that you are not hurt by insults, a second who abuses further, and a third outbidding all of those with his verbal abuse?” I replied: “It is my upbringing”. I am not saying that these do not bother me; but these do not affect me to change my ways. When events threaten human lives – it is forbidden to remain silent!” This is a clear Halachic declaration based on a clear and absolute Talmudic decision [Eruvin 45.1].

G-d helped me (not that this was my personal choice or desire) that I was the firstborn to my father who subsequently became the Chief Rabbi of Yekotrinoslav. In those days in Russia it was necessary to conduct disputes and send responsa to questions and verbal abuse; replies had to be in the Russian language. As I was the oldest son of the Chief Rabbi of the city, this responsibility fell upon me. [The fact that I was able speak Russian and was knowledgeable in further secular areas gave fuel to further abuse by those who were takers of bribery who were themselves knowledgeable in these fields but made a secret of this, whereas I did not].

I was trained in those days [some 60 – 65 years ago] not to wait for honourable titles, to sit, wait and remain silent. It is forbidden to take such a position. This is not the way I was educated and brought up. My opinion in matters of education is that where lives are under threat it is forbidden to remain silent even if you are sure that immediately [or tomorrow or the day after] so-and-so will bad mouth you. I will not be affected thereby. What is however harmful is that some time later there arrives a Jew who speaks outright lies. The issue is not one of the negative Torah command that it is forbidden to hand over territory to a gentile, but of lives under direct threat! In order that the public should not remain under any illusion, we spoke of this, repeated our words, put it in writing, had the issue put into print, published and requested that all interested parties publicise this: In Shulchan Aruch section Orach Chayim Laws of Shabbos siman 329 are written clear words on the matter. And yet, regardless, it has no effect and bothers him naught. It is meaningless to him, because he has taken monetary bribes!

I will not change my actions or forsake the path trodden out for me by my father and my teacher my father-in-law: “Take no notice of insult, even of a decree by gentiles!” Some argue: “You are annoying the gentiles!” My father-in-law had the choice not to be involved with the gentiles neither with the Yevseksia [Jewish anti-Semites]. He could have sat in peace and study with the members of his household and pupils and all those who wished to study with him. Had he done so, no-one would have harmed him. Certainly he had the opportunity to escape from there as did others [until this very day they remain shamelessly silent knowing fully well that they opened the road for others to give up their leadership, abandon their sheep and run for more secure pastures to study Torah in peace!]

My father-in-law did not abandon his flock. He remained up until the moment when he was forced to escape because they [the communists] prevented all possibilities for him to continue his work of spreading Torah and Judaism by arresting anyone who had any contact with him! To the contrary: when he crossed the border, he reconnected with those who remained in Russia.

And now we can see the fruits of his endeavours: G-d-fearing Jews, alive, learning Torah and observing Mitzvos, with the self sacrifice to spread Judaism.
[Spoken at the farbrengen 20 Av 1979]