This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Va'etchanan (5765)
This week's section contains a paragraph with two of the most central ideas of Judaism: The giving of the Torah and the Oneness of G-d (4:32 - 35)
"Ask if from the beginning of time....has there ever been such a great thing or even heard like it: That a nation would hear G-d speak from the fire like you did and live or that G-d took one nation from another with miracles....You have been shown to know that G-d is L-rd… there is nothing beside Him.
This is not only saying that our religion is the best, it is saying that the others are fantasy; our G-d is the ONLY real existence. And our Torah is the ONLY one.
In other words, the beliefs of some six billion people; all the other religions and philosophies in the world, are wrong!!
And the proof is, that none of them even MADE UP such a story ('even heard like it') that G-d spoke to all of them publicly and He is the only existence.
Isn't this asking for trouble? Isn't it dangerous to advertise such a thing? Especially when we are so outnumbered!
To answer this here is a story (Rabosainu N'siainu vol. 3 pg. 206)
The Russian revolution was a bloodbath; the 'Red' communists were determined to destroy the 'old order' and overthrow the Czar at all costs, while the 'White' loyalists were determined to kill all the communists.
Fighting raged in the streets and, of course, the Jews suffered the most; especially at the hands of the 'Whites'. There were a large number of Jews high in the communist ranks (the saying was 'if you weren't a communist you were never young') and the whites decided to kill them all.
But the biggest anti-Semites were the Cossacks.
The Cossacks besides being fierce 'White' loyalist devoted to the Czar, they were devout Russian Orthodox Catholics and blood thirsty murderers - while the Jews were none of the above.
It's no surprise that one of the favorite Cossack 'pastimes' were 'Pogroms', namely attacking Jewish towns and villages and killing everyone there. Tens of thousands of Jews found their savage deaths in this way.
It was in this atmosphere that the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Shalom DovBer (called the Rebbe RaShaB for short) called a young Chassid by the name of Rabbi Laizar Nanas (who later survived twenty years of hard labor in Siberia) into his office and asked him to deliver an important envelope to the Rabbi of Y'kat'rinoslav, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, which meant an eighteen hour train ride!
Early the next morning Rabbi Laizar went to the station and bought a ticket. As he did so the full meaning of what he was doing hit him. For a Chassid to go into the streets was dangerous, how much more so on a train for so many hours! He was sure to be seen. And almost as sure to be killed! There were Cossacks everywhere, especially now that the Rebbe moved his headquarters southward from 'Lubavitch' to 'Rostov' where Cossacks flourished.
But a Rebbe never makes mistakes - that is what a Rebbe is; a leader, prophet and teacher who is always right (or as the Seventh Rebbe said; the Rebbe of each generation is the Moshiach of that generation)
So Reb Nanas whispered a prayer, bought a first class ticket (Cossacks NEVER traveled first class) and returned to the Rebbe for a final blessing. But try as he did he couldn't conceal his fear.
"Rebbe" he almost cried, "I'm traveling alone and the trip will be very dangerous."
"What?" said the Rebbe calmly, "A young man that learns Torah in Tomchei T'mimim (name of Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshivot) says that he is traveling alone?! "Alone?
"Why G-d is with you all the time and in every place; the entire world is full of His glory."
But Reb Nanas was living in the 'real' world, and he was scared,
"Rebbe, the Cossacks are everywhere and they murder Jews!" he tried not to whimper.
But the Rebbe stood firm, "When the Torah says that G-d fills the entire world it means even the Cossacks!"
Encouraged a bit by the Rebbe's words and his own cleverness for buying a first-class seat, he forced a smile and headed for the train. But when he boarded and opened the door to his 'first class' car his world blackened before him; it was FULL of drunken Cossacks! Maybe twenty of them!!
At first he considered just going back but it was too late, the doors locked and the train began to move so he tried to ignore his surrounding, thought of the Rebbe's blessing, entered, found a corner and sat down.
The train moved slowly (in the end the trip would take seventy two hours instead of eighteen!) but Reb Nanas just tried to read a Torah book he brought along until he fell asleep and be calm. And it worked! No one bothered him!
The next morning he woke at the crack of dawn with the hope that none of his traveling companions would awaken from their stupors while he prayed, but he was in for a bitter surprise.
He was a few minutes into the Morning Prayer wearing his Tallit and Tefillin (prayer shawl and phylacteries) when one of the sleeping Cossacks opened one eye and shot a blood curdling look at him.
He tried to not think about it and pretend he saw nothing but it was done.
The Cossack got out of bed, left the room and returned a few moments later, face dripping with water, clutching a freshly opened bottle of vodka in his hand.
"Friends! Wake up!!" he yelled "Here I have a bottle of Vodka in one hand and a dead Jew in the other!" As he said this he reached into his bag and pulled out a rifle. Come, wake up and drink to our roommate the dead Jew!"
He took another swig from the bottle and passed it to the first one who sat up in bed. Then, when his hand was free, he shouldered the gun and pointed it at Rab Laizer yelling to his friends, "Come, wake up fellows!! I'm waiting for you to pull the trigger! "
"Ehh!!" Yelled another Cossack who had sat up in bed and realized what was happening, "What are you doing?! Are you crazy? You want to waste a bullet on that scum, and dirty the place with blood while you're at it. I have a better idea. First, pass the bottle!"
He took a long swig and he continued; now all of them were in various stages of waking up and were listening. "Let's throw him out the window and see how he hits the rocks!"
Another joined in, "Hey! Good idea!! Ha Ha Ha!! Here, see? We're going uphill. Soon we will be on the top and we'll have some fun! Give me some vodka. Grab him!!" He motioned with his hand as he drank.
One of them opened the window and a freezing, snow-filled air blasted into the car while two others stood up from their beds and went to grab our hero.
There was no where to run and fighting was out of the question, each one of them was at least twice his size, Reb Nanas realized that this was the end. "I probably wasn't worthy of the Rebbe's blessing" he thought to himself.
Then suddenly an older Cossack with a long handle-bar mustache and only one leg propped himself up with his crutch from his mattress on the floor, and yelled out;
"Helloo! Listen fellow soldiers!! Listen to me! I want to say something. Stop for a minute and listen!" When he got their attention he continued.
"I live in Rostov and opposite my house lives a Rabbi that thousands of Jews like this one here follow every world that comes form his mouth. Now you know that our enemy is the cursed Communists and many of the Communists are Jews. But they aren't like this Jew here. In fact, the Communist Jews hate that Rabbi and his followers even more than they hate us.
"Nothing would make those dirty Communist rats happier than if we killed this boy. Do you understand? Do you want to make the Communists happy? My advice is just forget it and leave him alone!"
And they listened!
The rest of the trip was like a dream. Just as the Rebbe said, "G-d fills the world, even the Cossacks.'
This answers our questions. The goal of Judaism is to teach the entire world the truth - and that is what the world respects and needs and we have no need to fear.
Like the Cossacks in our story: as devoted as they were to their god, their bible and their Czar they realized that our G-d, our Torah, and the Rebbe are in a different category altogether.
But this was only a beginning.
Moshiach will reveal these truths (see the very end of Maimonides' Mishna Torah) and the world will follow much more openly and willingly than the Cossacks in our story.
And The Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the time for all this is NOW!
Although for almost two thousand years it was dangerous to reveal the truth, now we have nothing to worry about.
ALL the six Billion gentiles in the world are ready and willing to hear the seven Noahide Commandments (see Chapts. 9 – 11 of Maimonides Hilchot M'lachim for details) and serve the Creator according to the Torah.
It all depends on us.
Like Reb Laizer in our story it is not easy to listen to the Rebbe against such odds. But our success is certain and our worries are imaginary!
[The most blatant and absurd example at is how the Israeli government created, armed, encouraged, justified and now is surrendering to terrorists who practice and teach destruction when, in fact, we could easily be educating them to a truly peaceful and productive way of life. If we weren't afraid.]
All we have to do is be brave, do what we can and we will see; the world is ready for....
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