Friday, October 19, 2007

The Rebbe "For this Reason I am Asking Because, of Your Influence "

"You are one of a select few whom I am approaching in this matter, knowing of your position of influence and connection with the medical profession, which could be used to great advantage and effect in promoting the cause espoused in the memo- which I feel certain, will meet with your approval, and the Zechus Harabim will help further"

-The Rebbe

I would like to present part two of the Rebbe's Perspective on Yoga and Mediation. Special thanks to Dr. Audi Gozlan PHD, director of KABALAH Yoga in Montreal Quebec and to Rabbis Eli Silberstein and Asher Lowenstein. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 85 in the series).

Preface to the Rebbe's Letter

Many people were surprised at reading the letter last week and learning about the Rebbe's acceptance of the usefulness of meditation. The letter which follows may be even more shocking. In it the Rebbe seems to acknowledge that this is a controversial opinion which would elicit much opposition. Nonetheless, he explicitly states that his comments on meditation are meant to support the argument of those who find benefits in meditation.

It should be noted that the Rebbe stipulates that the opinion be kept confidential since it could lead people to associate with improper practices and groups which are related to forms of meditation.

Dr, Yehuda Landes

881 seale avenue P.A.

Calif. 94303.

Greetings and blessings:

It is some time since I heard from you, and I trust that all is well, it is surely unnecessary to add the insofar as a Jew is concerned "all is well includes" above all, advancement in the torah and mitzvoth in the everyday life.

The purpose of this letter is to send you the enclosed memorandum which is self explanatory. The reason it has been written as a separate piece without a signature, and to some extent confidentiality is that the subject matter is of a sensitive nature and the memo could be used to encourage that which it seeks to discourage and preclude, namely involvement in eastern cults. For it may be argued by many who are already involved in the therapy discussed in the memo, or are tempted to become involved, that until such time as a medical profession, will openly adopt the same methods of treatment and provide an alternative, they are justified in seeking this therapy elsewhere, especially if they take care to avoid active participation in the idolatrous rites and ceremonies that go with it. In support of this contention they can site this memo which (1) confirms the therapeutic value of the said methods and (2) indicates also that the idolatrous elements in the said cults germane, indeed non-essential, to the therapy itself.

For this reason I am asking you- as all others whom I intend to approach in this matter- to use your discretion in connection with the enclosed memo, as to its source and its utilization, etc.

I must, however, point out with all due emphasis that in my opinion the problem has reached such proportions that time is extremely important.

Every minute that could be saved in speeding the implementation of the program suggested in the memo could be a matter of spiritual Pikuach-Nefesh for many actual and potential victims of the said cults.

You are one of a select few whom I am approaching in this matter, knowing of your position of influence and connection with the medical profession, which could be used to great advantage and effect in promoting the cause espoused in the memo- which I feel certain, will meet with your approval, and the Zechus Harabim will help further.

Needless to say, on my part I will do all I can to mobilize all possible cooperation in behalf of this cause which, I strongly believe, should be pursued with utmost vigor, without fear of duplication, or overdoing it.

Your comments on all above will be most welcome.

With esteem and blessing,

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Picture Description: A Yechidus with the Rebbe that took place in the wintter on 1964.

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Rebbe "I Have A lot of Enjoyment From your Pictures"

“The Rebbe once noted photographer Levi Yitzchak Freidan's enthusiasm by joking, "If only the bachurim (yeshiva students) were so into learning as you are into your pictures!”

-Rabbi Klein

Levi Yitzchak Fraidin stands out as one of the best Chassidic photographers of his generation. Mr. Fraidin’s pictures of the Rebbe rank among the finest in their category.I would like to present an interview [published in Maariv, 1976] with a renowned journalist, upon his returning from his first trip of photographing the Rebbe. also included is interesting pictures of the Rebbe (part 23 in the series)

When did the idea to exhibit these pictures of the Rebbe arise?

I had the idea to take pictures of the Rebbe, at his headquarters, about three months ago.

Since I moved to Israel eighteen years ago, I became connected to many of the Rebbe's followers here. On one occasion, the Rebbe instructed a well-known Chassid, Rabbi Pinches Althoiz, to help me out with my (photography) work.

During the last couple of years, my close friends have asked me, “What's with you, Levi Yitzchak? Why have you still not been to the Rebbe?” Throughout this time, I did have the inner desire and will to go to the Rebbe. This year, my older son, Yisroel Aryeh, graduated from Bar Ilan University, where he studied history. Upon his graduation he told me, "Abba (Daddy), come! We must travel to the Rebbe."

I told my son that when a Chassid travels to the Rebbe, it is not simply another trip. I sat down and wrote to Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s secretary, that I wanted to come with my son to the Rebbe for the Yomim Tovim. I mentioned that I wanted to take pictures of the Rebbe, and of the general scene surrounding the Rebbe. A couple of days later, Rabbi Chodakov told Rabbi Wolf in Israel, to let me know that my request was granted.

When was the first meeting that you had with the Rebbe?

The day after I arrived in New York, the Rebbe went out to pray in the small shul right near his office, where he was normally called up to the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays. There was unbearable pushing inside the small shul. I was barely able to enter the shul, when I suddenly found myself a couple of feet away from the Rebbe. I immediately began photographing the Rebbe.

Did you talk with the Rebbe?

With the Rebbe, there is no small talk. Only when the Rebbe turns to you and asks you something, you answer him.

That same night, there was a farbrengen in the large shul downstairs. There were about 4,500 people in the shul. The Rebbe sat elevated in the center of the room, with Rabbi Chodakov on his right and the Rebbe's brother-in-law, Rabbi Gourary, on his left. Generally, the Rebbe delivers his talks, and, in between talks, the Chassidim sing Chassidic melodies. People hold cups in the air, waiting for the Rebbe to nod his head in their direction and say l'chaim.

That night, the Rebbe pointed a finger in my direction and instructed me to say l'chaim. The Chassidim instantly gave me a cup of wine, and I said l'chaim. Then the Rebbe raised two fingers, indicating that I should say a second l'chaim. I did.

I began to walk towards the Rebbe's place. When I got there, the Rebbe asked, “You are Fraidin?"

"Yes,” I replied.

The Rebbe then continued, "You should know that I have a lot of enjoyment from your pictures."

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"The Rebbe Sat in The Front Seat Of The Car"

"When you look at a real yeshiva Student you see right away his real entity, which is Torah, to the extent that it takes over every detail of his life and affects his friends too

-The Rebbe

Amongst the many things that the Rebbe encouraged his students was that they should write down different questions and difficulties in the subjects that they are studying and to try to find new ideas and answers.

I would like to present a beautiful encounter of a student who learned in 770 in the 1940’s, he would write into the Rebbe different questions that he had in Torah and the Rebbe would respond to him. Also included is interesting pictures of the Rebbe (part 34 in the series)

"When I was a student in the 1940s, I would write to the Rebbe asking various questions that I had on Chassidic passages. The Rebbe always answered whatever I asked. After the Previous Rebbe passed away and the Rebbe stepped into his father-in-law’s position, I stopped writing because I understood that the Rebbe had much more important things to deal with.

I was on the way to my brother-in-law’s wedding, and I had the great privilege of riding in the car with the Rebbe, who would often officiate at wedding in those years. The Rebbe sat in the front seat and I joined Rabbi Chodakov in the back.

Turning around and offering a faint smile, the Rebbe mentioned, “It’s been a long time since I received any of your questions in Chassidus!” I replied that obviously the Rebbe now had more important things to take tend to and could not be bothered with my questions. The Rebbe disagreed, telling me that he still would like to get my letters.

Following the wedding, I sat down and wrote the many questions that accumulated since I had stopped asking. Not receiving any response, I nonetheless continued submitting my questions, as the Rebbe had requested.

This went on for thirteen weeks. Each Friday I would write my questions and before Shabbos I would give it to the Rebbe’s secretary; but I received no reply.

After some time, I received a letter from the Rebbe pertaining to other matters. However, at the end of the letter the Rebbe had added in his handwriting, “Your letters were received at the proper time, and when I will have time I will, please G-d, answer all of them.”

A short time later, I received another letter containing answers to all of the questions I had posed. It had been such a long time since I sent the questions in, that I had to look up my original letters to remember some of the difficulties.

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

The Rebbetzin "Are You Going To the Rebbe's Farbrengen"

"I phoned Beis Rivkah and I asked to speak with Chaya Lew. The secretary explained to me that there is a school policy not to allow girls to take phone calls on the school telephone. The Rebbestin concluded: "I don't know how to get in touch with her."

- Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka

In honor of Chof Beis Shvat I would like to present an Encounter with the Rebbetzin. Also included is interesting pictures of the Rebbe part 55 and 56 (the first picture is Rebbetzin Chana and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka at a wedding) Special thanks to Rabbi Shmuel Lew and Rabbi Zalman Lebovic.

"When my oldest daughter was studying in New York at Beis Rivkah, my father-in-law and mother-in-law, Rabbi Zalman and Mrs. Jafee, went to visit the Rebbetzin.

It was during the month of Tishrei, and they took along with them other members of the family, including my daughter who was studying in New York. My father-in-law explained to the Rebbetzin that his granddaughter is staying in New York to study, and that although she does not have any relatives in the community, she is very happy to be here within the community and to study in the Rebbe's institution. When the Rebbetzin heard this, she replied:

"I will try to keep in touch with her"

A number of weeks later, on Yud Daled Kislev (the anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin), my father-in-law phoned the Rebbetzin to wish her Mazal Tov on her anniversary. The Rebbetzin told my father-in-law, "I am trying to contact your granddaughter but I am unsuccessful!" My father-in-law asked the Rebbetzin how she is trying to contact her. To which the Rebbetzin replied:

"I phoned Beis Rivkah and I asked to speak with Chaya Lew. The secretary explained to me that there is a school policy not to allow girls to take phone calls on the school telephone. The Rebbestin concluded: "I don't know how to get in touch with her."

My father-in-law gave the Rebbetzin my daughter's phone number at her apartment, where my daughter and two of her friends we living. The Rebbetzin phoned the apartment and one of my daughter's friends told the Rebbetzin that she was not in and that she was out shopping and asked the Rebbetzin if she wanted to leave a message. The Rebbetzin asked her to tell Chaya that Mrs. Schneerson from President Street called and would appreciate it if she returned her phone call. This is how the relationship began and from then on Chaya would visit the Rebbetzin.

On Purim, my daughter brought the Rebbetzin Mishloach Monos . When she entered the Rebbetzin's home, the Rebbetzin asked her to eat something. My daughter explained to the Rebbetzin that she had already eaten. The Rebbetzin then asked her if she would be going to the Rebbe's Farbrengen. When my daughter responded that she would be going to the Farbrengen, the Rebbetzin exclaimed: "At the Rebbe's Farbrengen, there is a lot of pushing, so please eat some more food for extra strength!"

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Rebbe, "The Nature Of American Jewish Students"

"..However here in the United States we have a different audience and a youth which radically differs from the type whom Rabbi Hirsch had addressed originally...”

-The Rebbe

The following is a very unique letter of the Rebbe. From the year 1962 to a Professor at Yeshiva University, in which the Rebbe explains the nature of today’s American Jewish youth and why they can’t relate to Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch’s (" The Father of Modern German Orthodoxy ") approach to Judaism of “Torah v’Derech Eretz”.

“I must touch upon another, and even more delicate, matter concerning the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch whom you mentioned in your letter. There has been a tendency lately to apply his approach in totality, here and now In U.S. America While it is understandable that the direct descendants of Rabbi Hirsch or those who were brought up in that philosophy should want to disseminate his teachings,

I must say emphatically that to apply his approach to the American scene will not serve the interests of Orthodoxy in America. With all due respect to his philosophy and approach which were very forceful and effective in his time and in his milieu, Rabbi Hirsch wrote for an audience and youth which was brought up on philosophical studies, and which was permeated with all sorts of doctrines and schools of thought and disciplined in the art of intellectual research etc. Thus it was necessary to enter into long philosophical discussions to point out the fallacy of each and every thought and theory which is incompatible with the Torah and Mitzvoth. There was no harm in using this approach, inasmuch as the harm had already been there, and if it could strengthen Jewish thought and practice, it was useful, and to that extent, effective.

However, here in the United States we have a different audience and a youth which radically differs from the type whom Rabbi Hirsch had addressed originally. American youth is not the philosophic turn of mind. They have neither the patience nor the training to delve into long philosophical discussions, and to evaluate different systems and theories when they are and introduced to all sorts of ideas, including those that are diametrically opposed to the Torah and Mitzvoth, and there are many of them, since there are many falsehoods but only one truth, this approach can only bring them to a greater measure of confusion. Whether or not the final analysis and conclusions will be accepted by them, one thing is certain, that the seeds of doubt will have multiplied in their minds, since each theory has its prominent proponent bearing impressive titles of professors, PhD’s, etc.

Besides the essential point and approach is “Thou shalt be wholehearted with G-d, thy G-d.” The surest way of remaining a faithful Jew is not through philosophy but through the actual experience of the Jewish way of life in the daily life, fully and wholeheartedly. As for the principle “know what to answer the heretic,” this is surely only one particular aspect, and certainly does not apply to everyone. Why introduce every Jewish boy and girl to the various heretics that ever lived?

The whole problem is a delicate one, and I have written the above only in the hope that you may be able to use your influence with certain circles in Washington Heights, that they should again re-examine the whole question and see if the Rabbi Hirsch approach should be applied to the American scene. My decided opinion is, of course, that it should not, and I hope that whatever measure of restraint you may accomplish through your influence will be all good. I hope to hear good news from you also in regard to this.

Enclosed is a copy of my message to the delegates of N’shei Chabad, which I trust Mrs. Good man will find interesting, since the contents of the message are intended for all Jewish men and women.

I was gratified to read in your letter that you recall our conversation with regard to your writing of your Memoirs, and, as in case of all recollections in Jewish life, the purpose of which is to give it expression in actual deed, I trust that this will be the case also in regard to your Memoirs.

I want to take this opportunity to mention another point which we touched upon during our conversation, and which I followed up in writing. I refer to the movement of “Torah v’Derech Eretz” which has sometimes become a doctrine of “Derech Eretz with Torah” alluding to the saying of our Sages that Derech Eretz came before Torah. However, the term “Derech Eretz” is interpreted as a college education, and it is claimed to be the doctrine of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch of blessed memory.

As you will recall, I made the point in my previous letter on this subject that in my opinion, with all due respect to this policy and school of thought which had their time and place, they are not al all suitable for American Jewish youth and present times and conditions, especially in the United states. I even made so bold a move as to try to enlist your cooperation to use your influence to discourage the reintroduction of this movement on the American Jewish scene, since it is my belief that your word carries a great deal of weight in these circles here.

I want to note with gratification that on the basis of unofficial and behind the scenes information which has reached me from the circles in question, the point which I made with regard to this school of thought has been gaining evermore adherents. It is becoming increasingly recognized that a college education is not a vital necessity and is not even of secondary importance. Many begin to recognize that the Torah, Toras Chaim, is, after all, the best S’chorah, even as a “career.” In the light of this new reappraisal, attendance at college is being recognized as something negative and interfering with detracting from the study of Torah. So much for the younger generation. However, the older generation, especially those, whose own character and background has been fashioned overseas, in Germany, still cling to the said school of thought. The reason may be because it is difficult for a person in the prime of his life, or in a more advanced age, to radically change his whole outlook and reexamine the whole approach in which one has been trained and steeped, in the light of contemporary conditions in the Unites States, or it may simply be due to inertia and the like.

In view of the above, and inasmuch as a considerable impact has already been made in the right direction, I consider it even more auspicious at the time that you should use your good influence in this direction. All the more so since, judging by your energy and outlook, I trust you can be included with the younger generation and not the older one. For the younger generation is not only more energetic and enthusiastic about things, but is more prone to take up new ideas which require an extra measure of courage, to be different from others and to face new challenges. I believe that you have been blessed with a goodly measure of these youthful qualities.

I might conclude that this subject is timely in these days, on the Eve of Shavuot when the first condition of receiving the Torah was the unity of the Jewish people so that it could be receptive to the unity of G-d, as expressed in the first and second of the Ten Commandments. For the unity of G-d means not only in the literal sense of the said commandments, but that there should be no other authority or power compared with

G-dliness, until there is the full realization that “There is nothing besides him.” And this idea is brought about by the One Torah, which is likewise one and only and exclusive, so that when we say that it is “Toras Chaim,” it means that it is literally our very source and only source of life in this life, too, and that there can be no other essential source or even a secondary source next to the Torah, even as far as our daily resources in the ordinary aspects of the life are concerned.

Good Shabbos


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007