Tradition Transmission

Friday, 5 April, 2019 - 3:10 am


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

It is always special to visit my parents in New York and spend time with them.

During my current visit I got a special treat. My father shared a deeply personal story with me. One that took place more than six decades ago, at the celebration of his Bar Mitzvah. The celebration took place in the fledgling Chabad community of Melbourne, Australia.

At the Bar-Mitzvah celebration Mr. Zalman Yankelevitch (Ben-Yaakov), a visiting politician from Israel, was honored to address the crowd.

Mr. Zalman Yankelevitch, a religious Jew born near Lodz in Poland, was a powerful orator. In his passionate address delivered in Yiddish, he spoke as if he was the mouthpiece of the myriads of children who had not survived the recent Holocaust.

In descriptive language he painted an imaginative throng of children who were pleading not merely to be memorialized but to vicariously carry on living. ‘The children whose lives were cut tragically and brutally short, are standing here, imploring you to live your life on their behalf.  To carry on the Jewish traditions and create the meaningful Jewish future that was cruelly denied them ….’.

‘Mr. Yankelevitch’s passionate words to me as a young Bar-Mitzvah boy, placed an overwhelming weight on my young shoulders’. ‘'I was sobbing so heavily and was so overcome by emotion that I was unable to deliver my ‘pilpul’ (Talmudic discourse) that my father had prepared for me to recite’ recalled my father.

My father concluded his reminiscence with the following statement that left me with a lot of food for thought. ‘This message delivered at my Bar-Mitzvah and its highly demanding call to action, remained embedded deeply in my subconscious.  It was likely what created that insatiable, unfulfillable desire within me to achieve. It was that mission that was thrust upon me to achieve the goals of those saintly souls whose lives were cut short unnaturally’.

This story touched me deeply, because while I had never heard the story before, I felt as if I knew it from the inside. It was no doubt an event that shaped my life too. My father’s constant drive to achieve, and rebuild the post-Holocaust battered Jewish world, impacted my siblings and I. It affected us in a very positive way as far as it seems to me. The effect of that immemorial speech impacted the way I raised my children.  

I asked my father for permission to share this story with you.

For this is truly the story of our people. The story of Am Yisrael.

The Jewish people is no stranger to the colossal influence of transmission of tradition.

On Pesach the Torah instructs fathers to answer their children as to ‘why is this night different that all other nights’. The message of indebtedness and thankfulness to G-d for the Exodus from Egypt has been passed down through the generations in an unbroken chain, for more than three thousand years!

Pesach is without question that most celebrated Jewish holiday.

It is the basis of the entire Judaism. For it is only once we were freed from Egypt that we became an independent nation. Forty-nine days after we left Egypt, G-d gave us the Torah.

Eating matzah on the night of Pesach, particularly the handmade shmurah matzah which is called ‘the bread of faith’, is a mitzvah that strengthens our faith in Al-mighty G-d.

It is for this reason that the Rebbe urged and encouraged us to be proactive about reaching out and providing Pesach to all whom we can reach. To do all that is within our power to ensure that every Jew has a Seder on the eve of Pesach. So that not just the ‘four-sons’ come to the Seder. To make sure that the ‘fifth-son’, the one who wasn’t planning on coming to the seder, also comes!

For the unbroken and uninterrupted chain of Jewish tradition must continue. It is we, who need to transmit to our children and it will be they who will transmit to their children in an lengthening chain of generations.

Chabad of Thailand has ambitiously taken up the challenge to host in excess of fifty-five hundred guests at a dozen locations around Thailand. Many of them young heroes who have just given three years of their life defending our people in our homeland.

It is a challenge to pay the bills for the Seder.

This is what brings me to New York during this hectic time before Pesach. To knock on the doors of offices of generous Jewish donors. Asking them to add their link in the chain of Jewish continuity by hosting guests at our Seders.

You too can participate in providing this essential Jewish experience by clicking here.

Please consider this a personal invitation to our communal Seders in Thailand.

Reservations can be made here, or if its easier, just email me back that you will be coming. Please invite any other Jewish people that you know. We will be most happy to have them.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS (a long and special PS) Last Friday, Chabad of Thailand had the indescribable merit to save a life. Literally.

Hear the story in Rabbi Wilhelm's words, (translated into English)-

"This past Friday, I received a call from a concerned man in Toronto. He told me that his elderly parents had arrived in Bangkok to visit on Thursday afternoon. On Thursday evening, his mother left their hotel room and had not been seen since. She had simply disappeared.

I immediately went to the hotel, with the Chabad Houses’ security team. We met with the missing woman's husband and tried to get as much information as to where she may have wandered off to. By this time, we had reached out to the police and they conducted an intensive search operation in the area of the hotel.

After an extensive search, the woman was found, thank G-d.

She had become disoriented due to the long and arduous trip to Thailand and had left her hotel room and wandered around areas of the hotel which were not usually accessed by guests. She had landed up falling into a deep three-meter shaft near the hotel's pool and refrigerator rooms. Lifting her from the shaft was not an easy process. In order to reach the woman, the hotel had to break open the walls of the refrigerator rooms which they graciously agreed to do. When she was brought up from the pit, she was unconscious and very weak. BUT ALIVE thank G-d.

We brought her by ambulance to the hospital where she was checked. Thank G-d, there were no significant injuries and a little later, she regained consciousness. As of now, she is feeling good and should be released very soon.

We are grateful to YOU, our friends, who through your support, create happy endings to dramatic stories like this one.

Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov

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