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The Rabbi's Blog

A Message from Rabbi Spalter

An End To Mass Shootings

Gun Control, Bump stocks, NRA, Armed teachers, Security guards, Second amendment, student protests etc. These and other clichés are all over TV, Online Media sites, Social media, Town halls and so many other venues and understandably so. Broward County and the country at large are still traumatized by the horrific slaughter that took place a week ago Wednesday. I myself will never forget that night. As I concluded my JLI class and turned on my phone I saw that I had many missed calls. They were all from my colleagues, Chabad Rabbis of Coral Springs and Parkland who were looking to inform me that one of the missing children was a grandson of a Weston resident who is a close friend of mine. I got into my car and drove straight to parkland. The surreal sight that unfolded in front of my eyes as I walked in to the Heron Bay Marriot Hotel will remain with me forever. I saw the Seventeen families waiting. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends; some crying, some praying, some just talking and others screaming. But all were waiting. Waiting for the authorities to inform them anything they could about their missing children. These families had all scoured the hospitals frantically looking and hoping that they will find their child in the emergency room, operating room or anywhere in the hospital with a sign of life. But sadly they were not found. They were told to gather in the Marriot Hotel and wait there for further information and wait they did…. for hours. To witness the agony of families waiting for long hours to hear what they probably already knew deep in their heart, was so heartbreaking. Only at 1:30 in the morning did the deputy Sherriff start calling in one family at a time and inform them that the worst had happened. As I said I will never forget that evening.

What saddens me a week later is not only the reality that 17 parents will never see their child again until Moshiach comes. It saddens me to see and hear the predictable discourse in the media and elsewhere unfold as if we have learned nothing. Over the last 20 years America has seen so many of these mass shootings and murderous acts. It behooves us to look at this honestly and ask ourselves, where is this coming from? What is the cause for this? Why have we never heard of this 30 and 40 years ago? The easy answer is: Mental Illness, guns etc. And it might be part of it. Of course, I will not get into a political discussion about the second amendment and all, I will leave that to others. I do, however, want to draw your attention to something equally or maybe even more important.

In April of 1981, after the attempt on President Reagan’s life by John Hinckley, The Rebbe spoke about that event and wondered how someone could do such a terrible thing. He was not from a poor background; he was well educated etc. How could he do such a terribly immoral act of trying to murder the President? The Rebbe spoke then about what is missing in our public educational system. He spoke of the importance of starting every school day with a Moment of Silence. A moment where every child can meditate on something higher than themselves. He emphasized that the parents should instruct their children on what that moment of silent meditation should be about. The Rebbe went on to say that a Moment of Silence is the only real way to ensure that all children will be aware that there is something above themselves. It might sound trivial to you but think about the affect of children thinking every single day about a higher authority. It is a sad fact that most American children today can go through weeks, months and even years without thinking even once about G-d, purpose of life etc. It is mind boggling but it is true. I am convinced that a Moment of Silence in the beginning of every day would be the most effective way to reduce crime in general and particularly mass shootings in America. There is no question that we need to beef up security in the schools and put in other necessary measures to create a safer environment for our children and citizens. But there is a spiritual component to all of this as well and neglecting it will do no one any good. Children need to be aware that this world is not a jungle. They need to know that G-d created the world with a purpose and that they are part of that purpose. A moment of Silence would go a very long way in creating this kind of awareness. And this awareness, if instilled from the child’s earliest years, would set him or her on a path and life of morality. If every school in America adopted this daily custom, we would raise children with a greater sense of morality and awareness and we would be a much safer society. On Monday, a group of Rabbis met with the governor to discuss this very initiative. He Showed much interest. I hope he does what he needs to make this happen. It will solve most of these issues.

May G-d console the families and the entire nation. May the prophecy of Isaiah that “G-d will put an end to death for ever and the lord will wipe the tear from every face…” be fulfilled with the coming of Moshiach, Now.  

The Women's Liberation Movement

The Women’s Liberation Movement

This weekend I am spending some very much needed quality time with my children at home. Leah is in New York attending the women’s convention of Chabad emissaries together with three thousand other women from around the world. That means, I get to baby sit my younger children and find out what it means to clean the house, make breakfast, get them into and out of bed Etc. Rabbi Mendel is going through the same basic training as Chaya is also living it up in the Big Apple enjoying some much deserved time with some family and friends. I always enjoy this annual weekend because it allows me to appreciate just how incredible the Shluchos of Weston really are. I don’t know how they do it. After five days of this I feel like I need a full physical and much more. Anyway, this is the weekend of the women, they go and get their spiritual batteries recharged.

We are told that it was in merit of Jewish women that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt. The women never lost faith, kept having children even though they were well aware of Pharaohs decrees against Jewish children. Their faith in G-d knew no bounds and they inspired their husbands to continue to be fruitful and multiply in Egypt. I have no doubt that like then, these Shluchos of today are the ones in whose merit the Jewish people will once again be redeemed through Moshiach. Their faith and commitment to their communities, while at the same time raising their own families which average about a football team each, is remarkable. With all the talk of women’s lib and feminism, these heroic Shluchos spanning the globe, are the true liberators of women. They have shown that women can be effective in the world no less than men, and in many ways much more, and at the same time be true to their most sacred role; being mothers and the progenitors of the Jewish people for eternity. These Shluchos are the ultimate Women’s Liberation Movement. Liberation as in maximizing one’s truest self, and they sure are maximizing the feminine powers that G-d gave them. The Rebbe empowered these women to go into the world and transform communities together with their husbands into havens of spirituality. These Shluchos manage to find the time and energy to co-direct institutions, schools, summer camps, Hebrew Schools, Friendship Circles (organization for special needs children) and so much more, while at the same time not forgetting for a moment their most important role as the mainstay of the home. They are blessed with the gift of managing both worlds; their homes and families and the outreach programs of their respective Chabad Houses. Look at any of these women as they light Shabbos Candles on any Friday evening; their faces shine and glow with true happiness. They are fulfilled. They are content. They are wholesome. They are mothers. They are community leaders. The are Liberated. Some would call them magicians, I call them angels or just true Chassidim of the Rebbe who believed in them, empowered them and gave a whole new meaning to feminism.

Indeed, this weekend is the convention of the most potent group of women the world has ever seen. It’s the convention of the true Women’s Liberation Movement. To them ‘women’s lib’ is not an empty slogan or worse, they are truly liberated women who live their lives to the fullest.

I hope they enjoy every minute of their conference, as for me I got to get back home to get it ready for Shabbos, If I don’t do it this week no one else will. I must admit, I look forward to next week.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Glory of the Princess is Inside


 

In honor of 22 Shvat, Yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka OBM (Wednesday, February 7)


As many of you know, I’ve had the great privilege of growing up in the neighborhood where the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rebbetzin lived for over 50 years. Growing up in Crown Heights, just a few blocks away from the Rebbe’s House and Shul, gave me the opportunity to see him almost every day. I would daven with him every Shabbos and many weekdays, attend all his Farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) and be present for many other occasions that were held in the now famous 770 Eastern Parkway. In short, my youth was enriched by the all goings on in and around the Rebbe’s court. Being enmeshed in all of it is undoubtedly the greatest privilege one can have.

People ask me all the time how many times I saw the Rebbe? I simply cannot answer that question. I’ve seen him thousands and thousands times. But if you asked me how many times I saw Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe’s wife, the answer is very different. I saw her only once. The Rebbetzin avoided being in the public, in fact she hardly ever left her home. The Rebbetzin, an erudite and wise woman, carried the mantle of her position in a most humble and unpretentious fashion. There were those who would visit her at her home but they were far and few between. Ninety-nine percent of the Chassididm never saw the Rebbetzin. Though she was the wife of a leader revered by hundreds of thousands, almost nothing was known about her until after her passing, when those who knew her felt that they could tell of her life and personality without violating her jealously guarded privacy.

Before her husband became the leader and Rebbe, he too was completely reserved and did all he could to conceal his true greatness. Both the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, two of the greatest personalities of the last century, were the best kept secret. Of course, as people got to know him better they saw that behind his disguised façade was a giant. A giant in terms of holiness, Torah scholarship and character. Elder Chassidim related that when her father, the previous Rebbe, passed away in 1950, it was the Rebbetzin who convinced her husband to become the new Rebbe. She said to him after months of his refusal to take on the mantle of leadership, that he had no choice. Otherwise her father’s holy work would be discontinued. After much persuasion she finally convinced him and in 1951 he officially became the Rebbe and known to the public. Soon his greatness and holiness would become apparent to all. As for the Rebbetzin? She insisted on remaining a closed book. She continued in her usual fashion, doing her best to remain inside and away from the public disguising her true greatness. She gave the Rebbe to the world, supporting everything he did with complete devotion from behind. Her devotion to the Rebbe and Chassidim knew no bounds. For example, she never went to sleep before the Rebbe came home. At least three times a week that meant three, four or five a clock in the morning. Those nights were Yechidus nights, when anyone can make an appointment to see the Rebbe privately and seek out his counsel. Those audiences lasted into the wee hours of the morning, during which time the Rebbetzin would remain awake until the last person left and the Rebbe would come home. Only then would she retire herself. I can go on and on with examples of her steadfast commitment and loyalty to the Rebbe, to Chassidim and to the Jewish people.

It was only after she passed away that the Rebbe began to relate to the public her true quality and great personality. The Rebbe opened a window into the unknown depth and true nature of who the Rebbetzin really was. He said on one occasion that only G-d knows her true greatness. What he meant to say was that she was able to disguise her exalted towering greatness even from him. Her righteous soul and regal character became a symbol to tens of thousands of women across the globe. Her inspiration continues to light up the world as thousands of institutions carrying her name continue to bring light and love to millions of people. Thousands of young women and girls, my daughter included, who are the Rebbetzins namesake are all over the world carrying on her message of modesty, regality and steadfast devotion to the Rebbe and his holy goal of bringing redemption to the world with the coming of Moshiach.

May her memory be a blessing to all of us.    

 

 

 

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