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Op-Ed: Now That Would Be a Nice Birthday Present!

by Matisyahu Abarbanel, Esq.

Adam, a young Jewish man, recently graduated university with a major in Philosophy. Yet through all his studies the thing he longed for always seemed slightly out of reach.  In search for what he couldn’t find in the pedagogical world of theories he grabbed a backpack and headed East for Rishikesh, India, and sought out the advice of a renowned yogi.

After several months he was able to finally meet the revered instructor. “I am here searching for truth, enlighten me,” Adam requested of the old man with the long white beard.  The yogi nodded and instructed Adam to follow him to the Ganges River. The yogi pointed into the Ganges and told Adam, “What you are searching for is in the river.” As Adam peered into the river the yogi held his head underwater for an extended period of time that seemed like an eternity. He pulled Adam up as the young man spit out water, chocked and gasped for air.  “I came here looking for truth, not to drown” Adam muffled out. The yogi responded, “If you search for truth like you just searched for air, you will find it.”

This story resonates deep within me, for like Adam, I too travelled across the world, in both time and space, searching for the one thing that continued to elude me my entire life.  I didn’t find it in the pages of Aristotle or Nietzsche, in the courtroom as an attorney, on a Yoga mat or on the stage of comedy clubs.  No matter where I searched it was nowhere to be found.  Who would have ever imagined that what I searched for was inside of me all along? It seems like yesterday, but it was 9 years ago that my travels and searches brought me to Eretz Yisrael. The bliss of standing at the Kotel and breaking down crying was unsurpassed by the greatest highs I had previously experienced. For at that moment I knew, for the first time in my life, that G-d really does exist. With the bliss of that moment of insight came the reality that meant it was time to do something about it. So at the young age of 33 I was ready for the next chapter in my ever twisting and turning journey of life.  I bounced from advisor to mentor to Rabbi only to find myself more and more confused. “Litvack? Sefardi (my father’s background)? Ashakazi (my mother’s background)? Breslov?” I looked countless guides across the Holy Land in the eye and asked, “Why can’t I just be a Jew?”

I bounced from Yeshiva to Yeshiva, until Baruch Hashem I finally found my place in Chabad Lubavtich.  Many things attracted me to, and have kept me as a Chabadnick; the uplifting Niggunim at farbrengens, the deep mystical teachings, and the joyous Shabbat tables.  But one thing, more than anything else has kept me so enamored with Chabad, and that is the Rebbe.  I’ve partied with rich and famous people, and sat at business meetings with multimillionaires, yet never before in my life had I ever experienced such unwavering dedication, devotion and determinism from a human being.  And what was just as mesmerizing was the same level of dedication from his thousands of representatives and millions of followers throughout the world.  Yet my newfound joy at finding my new home, was once again questioned as the dividing game reared its all too familiar face, “So are you Moshiacist or Anti?” Huh? What is that supposed to mean? You mean there are different kinds of Chabad too?

“Baruch Dayan HaEmes,” I have said and read those words over the past couple months so often, R’L, that I can no longer keep count, as Anash has been shaken with a tremor it hasn’t felt since Gimmel Tamuz. The recent deaths of countless shluchim, their families and Anash across the world have left us all with countless questions and very few answers. While I am not claiming to be G-d’s lawyer, the blaring thing that keeps starring me in the face is achdus.  It’s real easy to throw that word around, but it’s time for something much more, for one of the things our Rebbe exemplifies to us is that hamisa hu haikar.  So my purpose in writing this is with the hope that maybe someone will read this and be so sick of the pain that they will be stubborn enough to do something about it.

Think of your brother in your community, the one that without much thought pops into your head and really gets under your skin, and if you are on a higher level than most, then at least the one whose ‘politics’ rub you the wrong way. Now grab that chutspanick, and give him the strongest and deepest hug within your capacity and tell him that you love him.  How do you tell someone you love him if you don’t mean it? Easy, because Hashem loves him, and the Rebbe loves him, and every single thing that he has done up to this point, whether you agree with it or not, or like it or not, is Hashgaca Pratis.

Do you have to agree with what he does or doesn’t do? Of course not. In fact you don’t even have to like him, but he is your brother, and it’s time to put down the weapons.  The love that is shared, or supposed to be shared, amongst Chasidim is a deeper and stronger love than that of a father and a son, for we are truly brothers in the most real sense of what that means.

There is a mushel of a king who is on the way back to his castle and he cannot ascend the winding road that leads him home due to garbage in the road. Surely one wouldn’t expect the king to get out of his carriage and move the garbage himself! Yet we sit and wait and cry for the Rebbe to take us out of the gulus, and he should, and he should do so immediately! Yet at the same time we should get together and move our own garbage out of the way to clear the path.

So this Yud Aleph Nisan let’s give the Rebbe the ultimate gift that a father wants more than anything, to see his children not just ‘get along’, nor talk about their need for unity, but to really reunite together, as one.  Whether that means community wide achdus Fabrengens, or a couple of Chasidim sitting together and working out their differences, because we must always remember that there is only one true judge, and that is Hashem, and the judge in the time of the Redemption, as brought down by our sages, will be Melech HaMoshiach himself. So hang up the black robe and stick the gavel in the drawer and leave the job of judging to the true judge. And who knows, maybe, just maybe if we try hard enough to really love and respect each other, then we will merit to see our Rebbe immediately in the Full and Final Redemption and we can all rejoice together, once again, as who we really are, one Chabad with one Rebbe.

3 Comments

  • 1. MUST SAY wrote:

    I HAVEN’T READ ANYTHING SO HONEST, STRAIGHTFORWARD, TRUTHFUL AND HELPFUL IN A LONG TIME.
    thankyou. I respect you so much and bless you for these words.
    You are chrystal clear in your thoughts. How refreshing and wonderful. I pray that people really think into what you’re saying.
    I needed to hear that!!
    THANKYOU.
    that was chizuk for the yomtov. Now I know that there are some people out there who are really gifted and blessed and brilliant.

    Reply
  • 2. Yossel wrote:

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. I just hope EVERYONE, from our leaders, to the “water drawers” reads it and takes it to heart.

    If you are involved with bashing anyone else for whatever reason, or if you are in a position of power in the community and you are fighting against another Jew, you may want to internalize the fact that YOU may be contributing to the tzoros of our community.

    Thank you.

    Reply

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