In the memory of Eliyahu David Kay, z"l - 19th of Kislev

There is a dimension of inwardness, often hidden but waiting to be accessed, in the world.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Ofer Haddad

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

On the surface, both of them were educators. The accursed terrorist Fadi Abu-Shkhaydam taught religious studies at the Islamic Rashidiya school in East Jerusalem. Eliyahu Kay, on the other hand, worked as a guide at the Western Wall. What an unfathomable difference between a religion of death and a religion of life.

One ordered his wife and children to leave the country before he committed his murderous act. The other brought his family to Israel, his brothers and parents simply following in his footsteps by making aliyah. He had been planning a wedding with his fiancee, which was to take place in the coming months.

One was a member of Hamas' Temple Mount contingent. He prayed there, hearing and delivering sermons that promoted terrorism. The other stood every day at the entrance to the Kotel where he greeted each visitor and guest, spoke to them about the city, and regaled its beauty. He was especially moved by those from the Diaspora who sent him pieces of paper upon which prayers were written; he dutifully slipped them between the stones of the Kotel.

Several days ago, Eliyahu told a friend that after years in the army, in yeshiva, and in agriculture, he felt that when working at the Kotel he was completely living his dream. He had just finished Sunday morning prayers at the Kotel and was murdered wrapped in his tefillin while holding "Likutei Sichot" (Collected Talks) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

When the Holy Temple stood, mourners would enter from the exit gates in order that everyone present would see them, stop, comfort them, and say: "May the One who dwells in this house console you." May all of us be consoled.

What did I learn from the Tanya? For the 19th of Kislev

The book of Tanya is the primary text of Chabad Chasidut. It is customary to study a portion of it each day. Yesterday we finished the yearly cycle and today, the 19th of Kislev, we begin to study it anew.

This is not just another date on the calendar. The yearly Tanya cycle begins on this particular day because it marks a festive and world-changing event: It was on the 19th of Kislev, 5559 (1798), that the Alter Rebbe was released from a Russian prison after he had been sent there for the crime of disseminating Chasidut.

The Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was the author of the book of Tanya and the founder of Chabad Chasidut.

In a certain sense, Chasidut itself left prison on this day, as though official recognition to study and disseminate it had been granted from on high. Since then, it has been conquering the world. Every Chabad house, every Chasidic tune, everything started from there. Today, multitudes throughout the world participate in 19th of Kislev events, as people go out from confinement to freedom, from self-limitation to limitless possibility.

I strive to study the daily portion of Tanya and today, baruch Hashem, I began the Tanya anew. I do not always understand what I read in this profound work, and don't ask me to repeat every idea that it contains. Yet if I had to summarize it in one word, that word would be penimiyut (inwardness).

There is a dimension of inwardness, often hidden but waiting to be accessed, in the world. There is a potential for illumination and vitality and soulfulness and meaning in everything we do, but we need to bring it out. A person can pray, but how does he pray? A person can be married, but what is the quality of the marriage? A person can be a parent or teacher or student, but in what manner?

The question is not only about what we do, but how we do it. Do we perform like robots or act with fire and enthusiasm? In a time of much hitzoniyut (outwardness), Chasidut - whose holiday is celebrated today - offers us inwardness instead.