An Interview With the Rebbe Regarding the Six Day War

The following is a Yechidus of the Rebbe, with Shmuel Avidor, a writer for Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, Regarding the Six Day War. It’s an excerpt from the new book on the Rebbe www.inspiringageneration.org

What should I write in the newspapers about the spiritual arousal, as an outcome of the Six Day War, which many Jews are experiencing?

You should stress the importance of putting on Tefillin every day, and keeping the Laws of Family Purity. The latter is very difficult to maintain; but now that people are searching for ways to fill their spiritual voids, the opportunity of emphasizing it is feasible. We must work very hard to persuade Jews to go to shul on Shabbos. When going to shul, if they feel that the only impetus to go is that it’s Shabbos, and, keeping with their observance, they must attend, then that will have no subsequent effect on their religious observance outside of shul.

It has been observed that everyone feels that there is a difference between Shabbos and the rest of the week; even those who, instead of going to shul go to the beach, act differently: taking along special food on Shabbos simply because they sense a festive atmosphere (a little Yom Tovdik). Nevertheless, they persist in going to the beach, not allowing Shabbos to have its incredible effect on them, despite their awareness of its sanctity.

The same holds true regarding those, obviously more involved, who go to shul on Shabbos. Appearing in shul, without conviction, merely since that is what their tradition expects, will not have much influence on their lives.

Beginning to appreciate, however, the great value of the service in their shul, people just stepping into shul, even without praying, will experience a practical effect on their Judaism and an enhancement of ties connecting them to the Jewish People. When coming to shul with the proper appreciation, although initially not participating at all, their attitude will change entirely: first they will desire to offer a small prayer or recite a chapter of Psalms and eventually they will take part in the prayers with everyone else. Additionally, while in shul, from time to time they will hear an inspiring talk motivating them to make essential changes in their lives.

This desired influence on one’s life away from shul applies to everything. The significance of the morning prayers, for example, is not only that when a Jew prays to G-d, he connects to holiness and G-dliness, but also that when he concludes his prayers they maintain a constant and decisive impact on his whole day.

Similarly, when encouraging an increase in observance, inspired by the Six Day War, the change must be in a profound and lasting manner, remaining for many years.

I recently had a discussion with a Rosh Yeshiva regarding which aspects of Judaism should be encouraged in the aftermath of the war. He told me that people should set aside additional time during the day to study the Torah.

I disagreed with him, because, although that is definitely a noble idea and worthy to be adopted by all, it is imperative that new steps be taken, directly ensuing from the unprecedented inspiration which is result of the Six Day War; his suggestion, on the other hand, is a normal way of raising religious observance, not proportionate to the current circumstances. Again, what must occur is a much deeper and essential change.

***

“What is the Rebbe’s opinion concerning the recent decision of the Israeli government to compartmentalize Jerusalem’s Old City, allowing the Jews to settle only in the Jewish Quarter?”

The Rebbe answered, “I cannot understand why the government is holding up Jews from settling in the Old City. The government committed a very big blunder, when, having the chance, they didn’t send away all Arabs from there, ostensibly to placate the Arabs and minimize criticism.

Now, although they left all of the Arabs in those areas, the Arabs are already speaking badly about the Jews. Some time soon, there will be [further] elections, and, because Israel is a democratic country, giving the Arabs an equal chance to vote, we cannot know what the outcome will be.

”I was not in Egypt, and I didn’t talk with Nasser; but I am sure that in his mind, it was clear that after conquering Sinai, Israel had possession over it, and that he never dreamed that he would get it back. This is something the world thought too. Israel, with their faulty policies, is the one who instilled in people’s minds that Sinai should be returned. That was an enormous mistake which, unfortunately, cannot be corrected. Have they behaved this way because they’re scared of upsetting Russia? America is the one that should be scared of Russia, not Israel.“

Concluding his answer, the Rebbe turned to Avidor. ”Please tell me, is the spiritual arousal experienced by many after the war still as strongly felt?“
”It has subsided considerably,“ Avidor answered, ”but there are still those who remain inspired, especially among Sephardim.“

”All Jews are in a state of awakening,“ noted the Rebbe, addressing the difference between types of Jews. ”With the Sephardim it is only in a more revealed manner. In general, it’s a lot easier to affect them because they divulge their emotions; Ashkenazim, on the other hand, conceal their feelings.“

”Should I write an article in the newspapers about the conflict presently raging in Israel, between the observant Jews and the non- observant Jews?“ asked the journalist.

”No,“ the Rebbe said. ”If your readers themselves ask about it, only then must you answer and explain the issue, in a manner that dispels their question from the outset. As long as people are not asking of their own curiosity, you should not broach this topic,

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