Evidence of Russian Collusion

Thursday, 1 August, 2019 - 12:33 pm

They have discovered evidence of Russian collusion! Relax; take a deep breath. I am not talking about 2016. I am referring to a recently discovered audio clip of a phone call between New York and Moscow in 1986.

First some background. As we all know, following the Communist revolution, the Soviets clamped down considerably on religious practice and education. For seven decades Judaism was kept alive in the Soviet Union by a network of underground activities overseen by Chabad chassidim. There were several opportunities for Jews to leave the USSR. but the vast majority remained trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The Rebbe remained in constant contact with the Jews of the USSR by means of coded letters and smuggled communications by visitors. Some visitors were even brave enough to film movies of the Jews in Russia and their messages for the Rebbe. (See the film Embers for more on this –

One of the individuals who traveled to Russia frequently was Rabbi Berel Levy – the founder of the OK Kosher agency. As a Kosher supervisor he had access to the Soviet Union for business purposes. Shortly before Purim in 1986, he was directed by the Rebbe to place a phone call to Reb Getche Vilensky, a top figure in the Chabad Russian underground.

Rabbi Levy, using two operators, reaches Reb Getche by phone and tells him that the Zeide (grandfather – the Rebbe’s code name) wants to know why Kalman Meilach (Tamarin – another active Chabad chasid) was refusing to take insulin. The phone call lasted about 7 minutes, most of which was Rabbi Levy making sure that the message was understood. In the course of the conversation Rabbi Levy emphasized that the Zeide wants to know from Kalman Meilach himself why he is not taking the insulin. He asked him to tell a certain person who was going to be visiting Russia soon thereafter, and that she would get the message to the Zeide.

I cannot even fathom how much that phone call cost. Yet the Rebbe was so concerned about this single yid stuck in the USSR that he went to great lengths to find out what was going on. Several weeks later two bochurim (one was the brother of Mrs. Nemes) were traveling to Russia to arrange Pesach activities, and they were instructed to get a letter in writing from Kalman Meilach on why he refused to take the insulin. It turns out Kalman Meilach was worried about the insulin containing porcine products. This in itself is amazing. He was willing to risk his health over this issue. (It turns out that there is no halachic issue with it; but he was not certain in Russia.)

May we merit to have a fraction of the Rebbe’s Ahavas Yisrael and Kalman Meilach’s yir’as shamayim.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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