This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Behaalotecha (5769)
This week's Torah reading begins with the commandment of lighting the Menorah in the Temple.
The Chassidic Rabbis point out that every detail of the Torah is eternal, alive and vital and, although we haven't had a Holy Temple or a Menorah for almost 2,000 years, nevertheless every Jew, is a Holy Temple in all its details; especially the Menorah.
As is pointed out in the prophesy of Zechariah 2 (which is this week's Haftorah).
To understand this, here is a story (HaGeula weekly page #458).
Sarah (fictitious name) was really in bad shape. Several years ago her husband passed away and now her daughter was about to move to Montreal with a gentile.
The story occured some 30 years ago in Paris. As is well known there was always a very large Jewish community in France, but forty years ago only a small percentage were 'orthodox' and Baali Tshuva were almost non existent.
But Sarah was an exception. While her husband was alive they followed the French tradition of liberty equality, fraternity and minimum Jewish identity.
But after his passing she began attending Torah classes, asked a lot of questions and became more observant. But her daughter Rivka (pseudonym) wanted no part of it.
Tensions grew in the house. Arguments, threats, and ultimatums finally culminated in Rivka leaving home. She rented a room on the University campus where she was learning and it didn't take long until she had a gentile boyfriend.
Poor Sarah was beside herself with confusion and grief. On one hand she loved her daughter but on the other a Rabbi said that if a Jew marries a gentile, his/her relatives should declare a week of mourning and consider the transgressor as...dead. Rivka…dead?
Sarah was a working woman and when, as part of her work, she had to fly to New York, one of her friends suggested that while she was there she should make it a point to be by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Sunday, when he passes out dollars and pour her heart out. The Rebbe, they said, has a reputation for solving problems, often in miraculous ways.
Sarah took the advice and as soon as Sunday rolled around there she was, standing in a seemingly endless line before the Rebbe's headquarters in Brooklyn. But when her turn came and she was standing before the Rebbe she barely managed to speak more than a few words, so great was her awe.
The Rebbe gave her two dollar bills, one for herself and one for her daughter and told her to consult with Rabbi Shmuel Azimov who runs the Chabad House in Paris regarding her daughter.
'At least there's hope', she thought to herself as she left the Rebbe clutching the dollar bill. A week later she was back in Paris, had located Rabbi Azimov, and was telling her story.
Rabbi Azimov had no idea what to do! "There must be a reason the Rebbe sent her to me" he thought to himself, but I don't know what it is. With almost no experience in such cases he just asked her a few questions… thought for a few seconds and said, "The main thing is not to break off contact and certainly not to sit 'Shiva'. The only hope you have is love. Tell her that you love her no matter what she does." He said this with authority but really he was wondering where he got his ideas from.
Sarah did as she was told but it didn't seem to help much. A few weeks later her daughter announced that her boyfriend, was going to Montreal Canada to finish his Masters degree and she was going to accompany him.
Sarah remembered Rabbi Azimov's words and held back her emotions. She wanted to scream, to tell her daughter she was committing suicide, she was an ingrate, a disgrace, but she didn't. She just repeated how she loved her no matter what.
Perhaps it was Sarah's reaction made an impression on him, perhaps the change in climate but in any case once they were in Montreal things took an interesting turn. He decided that he wanted Rivka to get closer to true Judaism. Certainly he wasn't aware that Jews weren't supposed to marry gentiles and that it might mean the end of their relationship but, being a very intelligent man he decided that if he had a Jewish girl there was no reason she shouldn't show it.
After some research, he decided the best place for her to go was the local Chabad House run by Rabbi Mendel Raskin. At first Rabbi Raskin didn't know what to do but after a few minutes realized that the girl was genuinely interested and her boyfriend asked good questions!
This went on for a year or so. Then, after he finished his degree and got a good job in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rabbi Raskin suggested they contact Rabbi Kalmanson who runs the Chabad House there.
Rabbi Raskin thought to himself that this could be the big break he was waiting for; Rabbi Kalmanson had all sorts of experience and was a fantastic speaker; certainly he could convince them to split up; that, marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew is bad for everyone involved.
And Rabbi Raskin was right! It worked! Her boyfriend sat up entire nights with Rabbi Kalmanson asking questions and getting answers until one day he announced that after much serious thought he decided that the Rabbis were right. It was wrong that a gentile and a Jew should be together and therefore he decided the best thing for both of them would be if he….converted to Judaism!
The process took almost two years of hard work but in that time he acquired a massive knowledge of Torah, Talmud and Chassidut and finally he converted and set a time for his wedding which was held in Paris, France.
The wedding was something that those present will never forget. The groom, who had just completed his conversion a few months earlier, repeated, by heart, a long complicated Chassidic-Kabbalistic discourse by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the simcha (joy) of everyone, especially of the bride's mother, was unlimited!
But perhaps the most interesting thing was the conversation between Rabbi Azimov and Rabbi Kalmanson (who the couple invited to preside over the wedding.
Rabbi Azimov, who was almost in tears of joy, told Rabbi Kalmanson that since the day he gave Sarah the advice to not cut off contact he had terrible pangs of conscience. He kept thinking that perhaps he should have told her to be severe. Perhaps if he would have told her to threaten her daughter, the girl would realize she was committing spiritual suicide, snap out of it and not leave with the gentile!
But now he realized that the Rebbe's advice to see him was exact and that the Rebbe must have put the words in his mouth. It was exactly the best advice.
This answers our questions. The Jews are G-d's chosen people; chosen to teach and 'illuminate' the world with the awareness of how close and good G-d is. How He constantly creates everything, listens to all prayers and provides sustenance for ALL His creations.
But each Jew has the power to illuminate in a different way; in general seven, corresponding to the seven emotional attributes (Sfirot) of G-d and the seven branches of the Menora.
As we saw in our story; each person contributed in a different way to making positive changes in others.
But the one who really lit all the lamps was the Rebbe; he inspired Rabbi Azimov to inspire Sarah to inspire her daughter and her boyfriend and everyone else involved.
So will be the job of Moshiach; to 'turn on' every Jew and eventually every gentile as well (to fulfill the Seven Noahide Commandments).
Then the entire world will be a Holy Temple and a Menorah; filled with light, warmth blessing and meaning.
We must just do ONE more good deed to bring....
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