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Our Glorious Future

Friday, 14 August, 2020 - 4:44 pm

This past Monday we marked the Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s father, R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, who passed away in 1944 while exiled in Kazakhstan. He served as the Rabbi of Yekatrinaslav (Dnipro) in Ukraine for many decades, where he worked tirelessly in defense of Judaism and the Jewish people in the Soviet Union. He was arrested before Pesach in 1939 and eventually he was sentenced to 5 years of exile in Chi’li, a hamlet deep in Kazakhstan. After being banished to Chi’li, he was eventually joined by his wife, Rebbetzin Chana, who remained with him until his passing. She kept a journal, which was published and translated a few years ago.

Malkie and I are privileged to have children named for R’ Levi Yitzchok and Rebbetzin Chana, who we view as our “spiritual grandparents.” Reading her diary was very poignant for me, helping me gain further appreciation for their sacrifice. It also heightened our recognition of how special it is that even under such trying circumstances he was able to produce profound scholarly writings, most notably in the realm of Kabbala.

In one of her diary entries, Rebbetzin Chana describes Pesach of 1940, their first in Kazakhstan. The previous Pesach they had been separated as he was in prison. She talks about how difficult it was to find proper lodgings – when just two weeks before Pesach they were evicted for using too much water to clean their space. She depicts her 4 hour train journey to a “nearby” town that had a greater concentration of Jewish exiles, so that she could get Matzah and a new tin pail in which to cook. They managed to find a Jew to invite as a guest to their Seder. Finally she describes the actual Seder. The three of them were sitting together, while Kazakh peasants were scoffing at their “celebration” just outside the window. They had almost nothing on the table. Everything but the Matzah was makeshift. Yet the Rav led a spirited Seder replete with singing and lengthy discussion that lasted until 2 AM. He talked about our glorious past. Though the present was not so gratifying, he talked about our hope for a glorious future.

80 years later, while we are not facing as grim a situation as they experienced, people are worried about the present. There is the pandemic, the economy, anti-Semitism, the state of our country and the world. People are worried. As Jews we must know that, first of all Hashem is in control. So therefore we have nothing to worry about even in the present. Secondly, even as the present doesn’t appear to be rosy, we have our hope and assurance of a glorious future.

As we prepare for the upcoming Jewish New Year of 5781, we pray that Hashem blesses each of us and all of us together, with open and revealed good. A good and also sweet year, so good that we can actually taste the goodness. May this be the beginning of our glorious future.

Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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