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Parshat Matot (5765)

This week's section begins with the laws of vows. If a Jew makes a vow to do or to abstain from doing something it becomes a sin to break that vow and an obligation to fulfill it.

This shows the power of speech. Just by uttering a few words, for instance, "I swear to eat that pickle" a plain pickle becomes as a 'mitzvah'.

The power of Jewish speech is awesome.

This is especially relevant to our time, the period of 'The Three Weeks' of mourning for the Temple, or rather for the Temples.

The Talmud tells us that the First Temple was destroyed due to the heinous sins of murder, licentiousness and idolatry while the second Temple was destroyed due to causeless hatred which is much worse:

The first Temple was rebuilt after seventy years of exile, while after the second destruction we, almost thousand years later, are still suffering in exile.

That is the power of speech; in our case evil speech.

But the Talmud also tells us that the power of good is greater that that of evil.

In fact one of the 'mottos' of the Chabad Chassidim is, "Even one small light can disperse much much darkness."

If evil speech can do so much damage then think of what good speech can do!

The life's work of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was, and still is (Tzadikim live eternally), to encourage Good Speech.

Only through this can we transform the exile to redemption, bring Moshiach and rebuild the Third Temple.

Here are three examples of how to do it.

1) In 1978 the Rebbe suffered a severe heart attack in the middle of the festivities of Simchat Torah; one of the most joyous holidays in the year.

The large synagogue emptied out in an instant. The Rebbe was taken to his room while the thousands of Chassidim stood outside weeping and praying. Doctors and equipment were rushed in and the situation became more and more severe.

Reports were more and more pessimistic and it became clear that this could become one of the saddest days in history. The Chassidim were broken-hearted. No one spoke. They just stood outside reading T'hillim (psalms) and weeping like children.

Suddenly the door to the building opened, one of the Rebbe's personal secretaries came out and everyone fell silent, trying to hold back the tears, praying, hoping that he was going to say anything but....

He announced:

"The Rebbe said, "in much joyous singing and music!!" (b'Rov Shira v'zimra!!).

Immediately the Chassidim began singing and dancing with even more vigor than before (if that was possible) and in no time the Synagogue was overflowing with Joy and song. And it worked!!! The next day the doctors announced that the crisis had passed.

2) Although the Rebbe was out of danger after his miraculous recovery from his heart attack the doctors set severe restrictions.

But the Rebbe did not exactly follow their orders. In fact several months later, well before the minimum time, he resumed speaking publicly to his thousands of Chassidim.

It was at one such lecture (called 'Farbrengen' in Yiddish) that one of the doctors that had treated the Rebbe decided he had to come. Of course he came to see this great Rabbi, but his main goal was to warn his ex-patient against over-exertion.

Thousands of Chassidim filled the room. The Doctor was given a seat of honor next to the Rebbe who received him warmly and then, turned to the crowd cleared his throat and began to speak.

The doctor was shocked; the Rebbe was intending to make himself heard without a microphone (it was Shabbat) to thousands of people! But he comforted himself with the thought that the Rebbe certainly would only say a few words like the other Chassidic Rebbes. After all, just his presence, like theirs, was a sufficient novelty.

But he didn't

The Rebbe, had a lot to say and, as was his custom, spoke for over a half-hour! Non-stop! And it was obvious that there was more to come!

The Chassidim sang in unison a beautiful wordless song while the Rebbe looked at the crowd and nodded 'L'chiam' to every one that had an upraised cup of wine.

Meanwhile, the doctor took the opportunity to lean over and whisper, "Rebbe, do you know that there is a thirty five percent chance of a recurrence? You should not exert yourself so."

Apparently the Rebbe did not hear him over the noise because he did not respond at all, so the Doctor leaned a bit closer and raised his voice.

"Rebbe, you shouldn't be speaking for such long times. There is a thirty five percent chance that you can have another heart attack!"

But the Rebbe seemed not to have heard again. After all he was an older man etc.

So the Doctor put his hand on the Rebbe's arm to catch his attention and spoke even louder, "Rebbe, did you hear what I said? I said that...

The Rebbe turned to him with a smile and said, "Yes, I heard. You said that there is a sixty five percent chance that there is nothing to worry about."

After the Farbrengin the Rebbe told one of his secretaries that he doesn't want that doctor to treat him again; doctors must be optimistic.

3) The next story I heard from Rabbi Shalom Jacobson just a few days ago.

Since the Lubavitcher Rebbe took over the job of his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe in 1950 he never took a vacation and never even left the few blocks of the Chabad Headquarters in Crown Heights, except for visiting the Chabad Camps in the Catskills three times.

Early in his reign he went to visit the Chabad summer camp that was made for young boys in the Catskill Mountains.

When the boys heard that the Rebbe was coming they set to fixing their rooms; making the beds, scrubbing the floors, washing the walls, cleaning the grounds, until even the dining room which was usually in shambles, looked like a wedding hall.

But when the Rebbe arrived he wanted to see everything; even places they didn't clean well like the kitchen, the boiler rooms, the tennis courts. Even 'The Captain's Quarters'!

The Captain's Quarter's was the name for a deserted, out of the way bungalow hut, which possibly could have once been fit for humans but was so run-down that it was used only for storage. The staff filled it with rolls of paper, cans of paint and any other thing they wanted out of sight and, of course, the boys added to the ambience by painting slogans, 'clever' sayings and their names on the walls.

In fact the place was such a mess that someone took a piece of paper, stuck it on the outside of the door and wrote on it, "Zaicher L'Churbon" [In memory of the destruction (of the Temple)] as a joke.

{Note: it is an obligation for every Jew to make some sign or mark in his home to remember the Temple destruction].

Anyway, the Rebbe approached the hut as everyone watched in horror; it was the only place in the camp they didn’t even THINK of cleaning and they were really ashamed - they had wanted so much to make a good impression!

The Rebbe opened the door, peered around inside for a minute, closed it, looked at the sign sloppily stuck there and turned to the crowd. The boys didn't know whether to just stand there or run and hide, especially those that wrote their names!

The Rebbe pointed to the sign and asked aloud, "What is this?"

Everyone just stood there speechless trying to pretend that all this was really not happening and hoping the Rebbe would just shrug his shoulders and continue to another hut.

But the Rebbe smiled, turned to the boys again and said, "Why does it say 'In memory of the destruction?" It should say "A reminder for the Temple!" (Zaicher L'Mikdosh)

(i.e. This hut; so full of youth and life, is not a reminder of the depressing past but of the joyous future; the Third Temple.)

This is the type of attitude and speech that will bring Moshiach, re-build the Temple and gather all the Jews to Israel: namely to see and SAY only the potential good in every situation… no matter how bad it may seem at present.

A small light will transform much darkness.

Especially in these incredibly dark and confusing times when the Israeli government is encouraging anti-Semitism and endangering not only Israeli but world Jewry, the Rebbe's advice shines like a beacon of light.

Each and every Jew can change the entire world. And every Jew is an emissary to SAY and do everything possible; with all one's time and all one's energy (Kol Y'may Cha'ye'chaw) to bring....

Moshiach NOW!!

Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

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