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The Shtreimel and the Kibbutz

Friday, 18 June, 2021 - 5:13 pm

A Jew who hailed from Galicia (a region in Poland) once came to the Rebbe. He was very taken with the Rebbe’s scholarship, charisma, and spiritual stature. He declared to the Rebbe boisterously, “Lubavitcher Rebbe, with your holiness and leadership qualities, you could have tens of thousands of Chassidim who are adherents of other Chasidic sects. They will all come streaming to you as their Rebbe. But you will need to start wearing a Shtreimel (fur hat). We Jews from Poland and Hungary could not conceive of a Rebbe without a Shtreimel.”

The Rebbe smiled and replied. “These Jews that you speak of already have a Rebbe. How many Kibbutzniks will become my Chassidim if I start wearing a Shtreimel?” In other words, the Rebbe pointed out to him, that a Shtreimel is not going to help attract Jews without a spiritual direction in life. As for the others, they already have a direction and leadership, albeit of a different nature.

Yet, in a brief comment on this week’s Parsha, the Rebbe offers an insight into the role of Moses and relates it to his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe.

We know that for the 40 years in the wilderness, the Jews experienced three constant miracles. The Manna came to them in Moshe’s merit. The water flowed from the rock in Miriam’s merit. The Clouds of Glory protected them in Aaron’s merit. When Miriam and Aaron pass away in this week’s Parsha, there is a brief interruption of the water and the clouds, but in the end, to quote the Talmud, “They all returned in Moshe’s merit.”

The Rebbe explains, that while Moshe’s primary thing is Torah, (represented by the Manna – food for the soul), when needed he can even provide water and clouds (which represent other spiritual needs). Speaking as a chasid of the Previous Rebbe he said, “A chasid should always know, that his Rebbe can be a conduit for all of Hashem’s blessings.”

Indeed, while the Rebbe never wore the Shtreimel, countless Jews who were associated with other religious Jewish ideologies and disciplines, came to embrace the Rebbe as their Rebbe.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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