How A Short Farbrengen Changed A Community
Reb Hillel Paritcher added to the known saying brought by the Alter Rebbe, “what a good, brotherly chassidishe farbrengen can accomplish, even the angel Michoel cannot accomplish. Not only can a brochah of chassidim during a farbrengen accomplish in the material world … Additionally, a chassidishe farbrengen accomplishes in the spiritual sense by improving the daily conduct of the participants—Hashem’s children, giving Him tremendous pleasure.” Yeshiva Bais Shalom Postville saw this in action.
A few weeks ago moments before Shabbos a simple sign was hung on the bulletin board of Yeshiva Bais Shalom Postville “Rabbi Karp will be Farbenging after the Seudah in the dining hall”.
After the seudah a group of bachurim gathered for the farbrengen, farbisen was put out, niggunim were sung and lechiem was said. “I was speaking with someone who toured a place where they make movies” Rabbi Mendy Karp began, “he told me about how they trick people but they say it’s fine ‘because you believe it’. This is like this world, we’re all ‘living in a movie’, stuck in this fake world, if we would just look away, and focus on true reality we would be able to see through the trickery, and see the true reality”
Among those joining the Farbrengin was one of the Talmidei HaShluchim, hearing this analogy, he took issue with it “how could that be? Hashem wants a dirah betachtonim in a fake reality, Hashem lehavdil just wants to win a video game?” A heated argument ensued between all present, and it quickly became clear that more thought and research was needed. So the idea was proposed “We should debate this”. Soon after Shabbos, the details were decided and sign-up sheets for each team were put up. The debate would be in two weeks.
The Bachurim quickly got to work, asking anyone they could find for sources and arguments, preparing tens of sources from all across nigleh and chassidus.
“It was amazing to see the Bachurim koching in chassidus in and out of shiur” Rabbi Levi Ceitlin, Maggid Shiur and Debate judge said.
Questions like “which side are you on?” or “whose going to win”, were as common as “whats for lunch”. The discussion in yeshiva was transformed to inyonim of Torah.
As the day approched, both teams pulled out all the stops, calling maskilim from across the country for sources, writing up speeches, and ultimately submitting over 30 mekoros which were swiftly assembled into a kuntres for all the judges, viewers, and debaters.
הקהל את העם – As the night of the debate came, the anticipation was palpable, both sides put there finishing touches on their arguments, and the whole yeshiva, as well community members gathered to watch.
למען ישמעו ולמען ילמדו – The debate began with both teams presenting their side, followed by rebbutles, both teams quoting sources and responding to the other teams arguments.
“I was very impressed, especially with the retzifus, mekoros were flying, samich vov etc. etc.” Rabbi Shmuel Benshimon Rosh Yeshiva of the Postville Yeshiva Gedola and judge expressed at the end of the debate. Rabbi Benshimon and Rabbi Ceitlin were joined by Rabbi Chaim Abrahams, a senior member of the Postville community, and former member of Va’ad LeHafatzos Sichos, responsable for publishing synopses of The Rebbe’s Farbrengens allowing chassidim across the world to read what The Rebbe spoke about soon after each Shabbos.
ויראו את ה’ אלקיכם – This debate helped bachurim, those watching and especially those debating got a solid understanding, in a way of not just hearing, in a distent way, but in a closer way like that of seeing, of understanding a full sugya, as Zalman Engel, one of the debaters put it, “I learnt how to do proper research, and I feeI that I now have a more complete understanding of a concept in chassidus.”
The winners recived a trophy and both teams recived gift certifictes for sefarim for their hard work.
Late into the night and for days after the debate, the topic was discussed in yeshiva, many spending time outside of seder to learn the kuntres of mekoros, and eiger to join the next debate, the topic even reached the local cheder where the young students were heard discussing the question, truly האנשים והנשים והטף.
The Debate was orginized by the Talmudei Hashluchim and sponsored by generous donors, to help cover costs of future debates and other engaging programming please consider donating to the Postville Shluchim Fund at: https://cash.app/$PostvilleShluchim83
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