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Weekly Story: Do You Really Mean It?

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

Reb Yecheskel Feigen (a secretary of the Frierdiker Rebbe and a mashpia in Tomchei Tmimim, known as Reb Chatshe) was once farbrengening with his students in communist Russia. In middle of the farbrengen, they heard someone by the door and everyone was fearful that it was the infamous NKVD or KGB. So they immediately put into effect the escape plan, dispersing and/or doing something else.

After some time passed, they all realized it was a false alarm and the farbrengen resumed.

We don’t know exactly what Reb Chatsha said, but evidently he touched a chord, as one and then another student, began crying, expressing their remorse.

To their shock, their beloved mashpia said, “Your tears are nice, but they are almost meaningless.” [Author’s comment: In today’s terminology, called fake news or fake tears.]

Seeing the shock and disappointment on their face, Reb Chatsha explained, “You cried because you felt you have to correct something in your character and I believe you truly want to do so. However, a while ago we had a scare; then you didn’t just stand in fear, you knew you had to do something. Some of you went upstairs and made believe you were sleeping, others went to the back door to escape etc. so when you felt you were in danger and had to do something, you didn’t just sit in fear and trepidation, you actually did something.

But now that you felt you have a character flaw you give a cry. But what are tears going to accomplish? You have to do something concrete, and then you will improve your character.”

I heard this anecdote last Shabbos at a farbrengen and the mashpia continued that this is applicable right now. We are in midst of the three weeks, a time of reflection and mourning on the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. But, giving a sigh that we are still in golus (exile) is not enough; that shows it did not truly affect you. Because if it is truly meaningful to you, you would follow the Rebbe’s takanah of learning about the building of the third Beis Hamikdash, in Yechezkel, Mishnayous Middos, and the Rambam etc. as the halacha states, “Whoever learns the laws of korbonos (sacrifices), it is as if they brought a korbon.” So too whoever learns about the building of the Beis Hamikdash, it is as if they built the Beis Hanikdash.

Additionally, in numerous farbrengens, the Rebbe stressed that the way to build the third Beis Hamikdash is by rectifying the cause of its destruction. Our sages tell us that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam (baseless hatred), so we should have ahavas chinam (baseless love).

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran educator and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be contacted at

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