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Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Tammuz 3, 5767, 6/19/2007
Today, the third day of Tammuz, is the yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Perhaps more than anyone in our time, he spread the light of Judaism to Jews all over the world. Chabad Houses are located in almost every country. Chabadniks have booths in airports from Paris to Hong Kong, eager to assist a wandering Jew put on a pair of Tefillin. Come Hanukah time, Chabad menorahs are lit in every city square. The picture of the Rebbe adorns the homes of millions of Jews, reminding them of the traditions of their Forefathers.
I remember the first time I saw him, I was standing in the small prayer hall in the building next to 770 when the Rebbe entered to daven Mincha. A wave of holy energy emanated from him like a beam of light, sending me tumbling backwards into the wall. It was an amazing experience.
In addition to his towering Yiddishkeit, the Rebbe was a great supporter of Israel. Often he warned that the surrender of territories in the Land of Israel would bring danger to all the nation. And how right he was! After Oslo, Israeli buses and Jews were blown up all over the country. After the disengagement from Gush Katif, hundreds of deadly missiles rained down on Israel’s north. And we see today what has become of Gaza – a haven for terrorists that threatens us all.
The Rebbe’s great love for Eretz Yisrael finds expression in the life of the founder of Chabad, Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the “Tanya,” one of our 10 recommended books. The Ba’al HaTanya, as he is known, was imprisoned in Russia when informers accused him of treason against the state. After a thorough investigation, he was set free. In a letter to the Rebbe of Berditchev, telling him of his release, he writes: “Hashem has arranged my release by virtue of th merit of the Holy Land and its inhabitants. This is what stood by our side and will always assist us in rescuing us from the oppressor and delivering us from distress.”
Rabbi Shlomo Yisachar Teichtal explains in his book, “Eim HaBanim Semeichah,” that the Land of Israel has the power to save us though G-d’s blessing to our Forefathers, as it says, “And I will remember My covenant with Yaacov, and also My covnant with Yitzhak, and also My covenant with Avraham I will remember, and I will remember the Land” (Vayikra, 26:42). This means that even should the merit of the Patriarchs run out, then Hashem will remember the Land of Israel and save us! From this we learn that the merit of the Land of Israel is even greater than the merit of our Forefathers.
Greater than the merit of the Forefathers
Another great teaching of the Rebbe was the importance of charity. Every weekday, he would hand out dollar bills to the long line of people who would come from all over the world for his blessing. On a simple level, he was teaching people to turn money into the doing of a mitzvah, rather than making its acquisition the goal of their lives. On a deeper level, the Tanya explains the great virtue of charity which is equal in weight to all of commandments. While other mitzvot are performed with the body and its different organs, the giving of charity is also performed by what the “Tanya” calls, the vitalizing soul. This is because, in the case of charity, a person “gives out of the toil of his hands, and since surely all the strength of his vitalizing soul is embodied in the execution of his work through which he earned his money, when he gives his money for charity, his whole viatl soul ascends to G-d.”
In the great merit of the Rebbe and the Torah teachings of all the Tzaddikim, and in the great merit of Eretz Yisrael and the mitzvah of charity, may the complete Redemption come speedily, in our time. Amen.