Avrohom Rainitz, Beis Moshiach
Until two-and-a-half years ago, Rabbi Reuven Wolf was known primarily by his community in Los Angeles. He suddenly became known worldwide, thanks to a powerful and unforgettable speech he gave at the Kinus HaShluchim in 5777 in 770. He told about his personal transformation that came as a result of an-depth study of Geula and Moshiach, and called upon his fellow shluchim to wake up from their slumber and learn inyanei Geula in-depth and live the Geula in all aspects of shlichus.
Lubavitchers in Eretz Yisrael were also inspired by the speech he gave at the main event for the following 11 Nissan. He described to the crowd of thousands the dilemma he had been struggling with for months and his conclusion that the proclamation of “Yechi Ha’Melech” and kabbolas ha’malchus of Moshiach, which is the shleimus of kabbolas malchus Shomayim, is the essence of all of Judaism and Torah and mitzvos; how every Chassid has to accept the malchus of the Rebbe Melech Ha’Moshiach with the declaration of “Yechi Adoneinu.”
I spoke with R’ Wolf and was surprised by his candidness. Despite his incomplete command of Ivrit, which made it hard for him to express himself fully, his fiery inner truth burst forth from him and filled in what language alone could not convey…
GENUINE EMUNA IS NOT AFFECTED BY THE PASSAGE OF TIME
It will be Gimmel Tammuz soon and if, G-d forbid, the Rebbe will not appear by then, we will be marking 25 years since the concealment of Gimmel Tammuz 5754. Since then, we find ourselves in a tremendous nisayon that grows ever stronger over the years and yet, we see that Chassidim continue to believe that the Rebbe is the Nasi Ha’Dor and Moshiach Tzidkeinu and anticipate his imminent revelation. What is the secret to this burning faith and how come it has not cooled over the years?
The fact that there is no weakness despite the many years that have passed, goes to prove that this is a genuine belief, since the source of a true belief is in such a lofty place in the soul which is above time. In this exalted place, time has no meaning. It makes no difference whether a day or a year has passed.
It says “and they believed in G-d and Moshe His servant.” Just like belief in Hashem is not limited to a certain time, and even though the Jewish people have experienced thousands of years of galus, including extremely difficult times, expulsions and forced conversion decrees, our faith has not weakened. Why is that? Because it comes from that sublime source where time has no impact or meaning.
In addition, we received special empowerment from the Rebbe in the strengthening of our faith and firmly planting it in that place that is not at all affected by the passage of time. In the last maamar that the Rebbe gave out, on Purim Kattan 5752, “V’Ata Tetzaveh,” the Rebbe innovates that the source of emuna is higher than the certitude that comes from seeing a thing, since it comes from the essence of the soul which is one with G-dliness. The fact that emuna is not an add-on to a person’s existence, but one with his essence, makes it impossible for it to be weakened.
After the Rebbe gave us the maamar, aside from the fact that when we learn the maamar, it strengthens our emuna, by the act of giving out the maamar the Rebbe endowed us with this special power. Even before we learn it and before meditating on it, the Rebbe himself already brought it down to this physical world. You can say that the maamar “V’Ata Tetzaveh” is the secret to our emuna in recent years.
Aside from the strengthening of emuna in a general sense, in this maamar, the Rebbe effected the drawing down into the world that the longing for Moshiach be so firmly implanted in us that every moment that Moshiach is not here, we are completely shaken. For some, it will burst forth from them more often and for some, less often, but generally speaking, compared to what we had decades ago, today we see an entire generation of Chassidim to whom it is clear, without a doubt, that it is impossible to continue in this exile-world as it is today. We must have the Geula!
I UNDERSTAND BUT…
We heard about the change you have undergone. After many years in which the subject of Geula and emuna in the Rebbe as Moshiach were on the sidelines, suddenly, it exploded outward with great force and has swept up in its wake thousands of Chassidim who watched your inspiring speeches. What caused this awakening and have you found the “recipe” to wake every Chassid from the slumber of galus?
I have to stress that, in a general way, I always had the emuna. Deep inside, I always believed that the Rebbe is Moshiach and we need to bring about his hisgalus. Even logically, it was clear to me that it couldn’t be otherwise.
Anyone who has the foundation of the teachings of Chabad Chassidus, especially the Alter Rebbe’s basic principle that the purpose of creation is Yemos Ha’Moshiach; whoever knows the main point of Moshiach whose job it is to bring about the G-dly hisgalus to the world; whoever learned the Rebbe’s first maamar in which he declared the role of our generation to draw the Shechina down to earth – understands that it is not possible that this all ended on Gimmel Tammuz. It is out of the question for him that suddenly, another Moshiach will appear.
If it’s all clear, where were you all those years?
Gimmel Tammuz created a darkness in the world and this darkness entered me too, an inner darkness in the inner recesses of my soul that created a divide between rational understanding and feeling it. The topic of Moshiach was hidden deep in the dark recesses of my mind and did not emerge to affect my daily life.
What caused the change?
Learning. And not just learning but in-depth and thorough learning, just like the Rebbe says in the sicha of Balak 5751, that when you learn inyanei Moshiach and Geula, it leads to living inyanei Geula.
You can say I was missing the aspect of daas in inyanei Geula and Moshiach, and as the Alter Rebbe explains, daas is from the root meaning connection and bond, “that he attach his daas with a strong bond and implant his thoughts.” That’s what I was missing, to connect, bond, with inyanei Moshiach. When you connect to something, the thing comes to life.
Serious learning took place because of two factors. One was, when I was asked to speak at a women’s gathering following a number of tragedies among shluchim. Young shluchim passed away and there was a great awakening. We felt that something was amiss that needed to be corrected. In my speech, I said that the difficult situation put us up against the wall and obligated us to do everything we can to bring the Geula. When you look at the Rebbe’s sichos, we see that the direct way to bring the Geula is through learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula.
After the gathering, the women told me, you raised a good idea so please help us do it. I accepted that and began learning and teaching inyanei Moshiach and Geula; this was at the end of 5774.
The second factor was the events occurring in the world during that year when I began giving a weekly shiur on inyanei Geula and Moshiach. I suddenly saw current events from a different perspective, with the realization that this was part of the Geula process. If we just open our eyes, we see the Geula process hurtling along and when we see it before our eyes, it changes our lives. It also caused me to take the learning much more seriously.
And without learning inyanei Geula, it’s impossible to identify the Geula process?
Actually, sometimes, the sequences of events are so clear that you’d need to be blind not to see the approaching Geula. Even someone who doesn’t learn would see it. But, without learning, it could be interesting, even exciting, but it doesn’t have the ability to change your life. Only Torah has the power to change the life of the person who contemplates those events.
In the speech you gave at the Kinus Ha’Shluchim, you spoke about the book Inyano shel Moshiach. What appeals to you about this book?
Before I learned Inyano shel Moshiach, I knew that the Rebbe is Moshiach but did not attribute a position of central importance to it. Rabbi Sholom Ber Wolf, the author, shows the centrality of “Melech Ha’Moshiach” in the Rebbe’s sichos about the Geula. I suddenly realized that this entire process revolves around the Rebbe, the king.
You suddenly get that all of Judaism, all of Torah and mitzvos, revolve around one point – drawing down the malchus of Hashem to the world as it is manifested in the malchus of Moshiach. “Melech Ha’Moshiach” becomes the central point of Judaism.
I’d like to emphasize that even someone who is involved in Geula and Moshiach without an emphasis on Melech Ha’Moshiach, fulfills the Rebbe’s directive to live Moshiach and Geula. Unfortunately, there are many Chassidim who, due to concern with what people will say about Moshiach’s identity, completely neglect inyanei Moshiach and Geula. This is one of the things that it really pained me to discover and for me, it was an impetus to take a clear side, with lots of publicity, even though it goes against my nature and usual practice, in order to wake people up.
WITHOUT CHASSIDUS YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF THE PROCESS
R’ Wolf did not grow up in a Lubavitcher family. He was born in a Chassidishe family in Boro Park. For many years he visited many Admorim, (“When I was living in Boro Park, I went to all the Admorim in the world though not to Crown Heights.”), but did not find what he was seeking.
He learned in Yeshivas Slabodka in Bnei Brak, where he first became acquainted with Chabad Chassidus. He went to the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad for Shabbos where he met the legendary mashpia R’ Mendel Futerfas, and he became very attached to him. At that time, he set up an intensive learning schedule in Chassidus for himself with the mashpiim R’ Zalman Gopin, R’ Yosef Yitzchok Offen, R’ Mendel Wechter and R’ Zalman Landau.
In recent years, he is a sought-after lecturer within Torah circles in Los Angeles and he started an organization called Maayon Yisroel, where most of the participants are not avowed Lubavitchers.
We spoke about the emuna among Lubavitcher Chassidim, but our main role is to spread the message further. As someone who works with all kinds of people, what do you think is the best way to inspire Litvishe Jews to belief in Moshiach and how can we inspire Poilishe Chassidim?
Today, everyone sees that something amazing is taking place in the world. You don’t need to be a Lubavitcher to look at the world three years ago and the way it looks today to see that they are two worlds. Mainly, in the way world leaders relate to Jews, Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim. Everyone sees the amazing change and realizes that this is miraculous, not something natural.
Many lecturers, including those not in Chabad, express amazement about the big miracles and some even connect these events to the Geula process. There are others who consider it a small salvation within the galus and it doesn’t occur to them that what’s going on is part of the activities of Moshiach himself.
Why? Because in order to understand the depth of the connection of these events to the Geula, you must learn the basics of Chassidus and mainly that the Geula is the final step in turning this lowly world into a dwelling for Hashem and that the way to accomplish this is by refining the lowest elements so that they too agree to the Geula and help achieve it.
Whoever is unaware of these principles, to whom the world is a dark, corrupt place, and to whom Moshiach is like a meteor that comes from above to suddenly illuminate the dark world, does not see these current events as something messianic. But if he’d learn Chassidus and realize that there is a process here of refining the world that began with Avrohom Avinu, continued with the Giving of the Torah, and was intensified with the revelation of Chassidus and reaches its peak in our times, the world suddenly looks altogether different.
At this stage, he can understand on his own that the Rebbe is Moshiach, even if we don’t tell him. In classes that I gave in recent years, I focused on learning the Rebbe’s sichos of 5751-5752. It is clear to me that many listeners of these shiurim realize on their own who Moshiach is, without my saying anything explicitly.
Because when you realize that Moshiach is a revelation of G-dliness in this lowly world and the revelation of pnimiyus haTorah, then it is clear to all – who is revealing G-dliness to the world if not the Rebbe?
This is one of the reasons that spreading the wellsprings is a prelude to Moshiach, beyond the fact that the revelation of pnimiyus haTorah is what Moshiach is all about, because without the fundamentals of Chassidus, people do not understand what Moshiach is and therefore, they don’t have the ability to identify the Geula within current events.
As someone whose shlichus is primarily with non-Lubavitchers, and through your lectures you reach so many people, Litvish and Poilish Chassidim, how has your personal life change been viewed by them?
As you’ve said, for the past ten years, I have reached a broad array of people, mainly through the spreading of classes on Chassidus by way of the distribution of CD’s in religious communities and on our website maayon.com. From the feedback I’ve received over the years, I’ve learned how interested people are to get an inside look of Torah study and the fulfillment of mitzvos. People say that the Chassidus shiurim changed their entire outlook on life. Torah and mitzvos becomes illuminated with an inner, deep light. Even those who did not become Lubavitchers outwardly, have had their minds, their perspective, changed.
Just as the transformation of people’s thought processes did not take place all at once, but took years of classes, so too, the transformation that I experienced in inyanei Moshiach did not happen with one shiur. Over three years of hearing the Rebbe’s sichos on the subject, they, and I, underwent a transformation in a very deep way.
Since they were full partners to the transformation, from a place of an inner understanding of the processes, not even one came to me with complaints. I received no negative feedback!
Even when I spoke in 770 and at the 11 Nissan event in Eretz Yisrael, where I spoke explicitly about the Rebbe as Moshiach and proclaimed Yechi – I’ll tell you the truth, although I put it all out there, in order to wake up Anash, I was nervous that there would be some pushback. But people got the underlying message behind what was actually said. I saw that most of Anash agree with the basic idea and it’s only that sometimes, lots of dust accumulated over the emuna.
I have no doubt this is a special bracha from the Rebbe. Indeed, throughout this journey, I have received directives and blessings from the Rebbe until I’ve felt that the Rebbe is holding my hand and leading me, step by step, and telling me – speak like this!
WE NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GALUS LIFE AND GEULA LIFE
In hindsight, did the transformation in your thinking about the Geula change your daily life? Is there a significant difference between life before and life after, or has it only been a change in point of view?
Definitely! The transformation changed every area of life. First of all, my life became happier! When you feel each day, how the world is advancing toward Moshiach, that’s a cause for great joy, one literally feels like dancing from all the joy! Especially during the last year or two, in light of the big miracles; with every passing day it becomes ever clearer that we are in the final moments before the hisgalus. It is very joy inducing and adds new flavor to life.
Spiritually too, as in hiskashrus to the Rebbe, it was hard for me to fulfill those directives connected with kabbolas ol like learning Rambam. By nature, I like to learn Chassidus and can learn Chassidus for six hours in a row, but to learn three chapters of Rambam I needed kabbolas ol and I wasn’t always successful.
As long as my hiskashrus to the Rebbe came from my personal desire, that I be someone mekushar to the Rebbe – so, like everything else that depends on us, there are ups and downs. But ever since I internalized the awareness that we are in a Geula process and the Rebbe is Moshiach, the awareness that I must carry out the Rebbe’s wishes penetrated more deeply, because the Rebbe is king and you can’t play around with that!
Today, I cannot go to sleep before finishing that day’s Rambam, even if I’m keeling over in exhaustion, because the Rebbe will be appearing momentarily and how can I face him? What will I say? That I was tired and couldn’t carry out his order? He is the king of the entire world and we have to accept his rule. It’s not at all possible not to fulfill his orders, whether we want to or not. We must submit to him.
The amazing thing is that even in my material life, I see an enormous change, but before telling you about that, I want to make an important point. As I understood from the Rebbe’s sichos, the world is now in a state of bein ha’shmashos (twilight), between galus and Geula. Actually, this is a situation which provides every one of us with the ability to choose. We can continue living in galus, because as long as we haven’t achieved the complete Geula there are still the remains of the darkness of galus. Or, we can live with the light of the Geula that gets brighter with each passing day.
It’s our choice. It’s like Hashem is saying to us, “I am placing before you life and death; choose life!” And when you choose to live in Geula, Hashem responds to us in kind with open miracles, like in the time of the Geula.
I’ll give you an example from the fundraising for my mosad. I don’t like raising money and I’ve always seen miracles from Hashem. Every time I was stuck, I saw the Rebbe’s brachos. But from the time I started to live Geula and Moshiach, relatively speaking, I see open miracles like in the Geula. Every month, the money I need to run the mosdos comes to me; most of the time, without effort on my part and from places I didn’t dream of, as though the Rebbe is saying to me: Don’t worry. You do your thing and I’ll take care of the rest.
Ever since I realized what was happening, it took all the pressure I was under, at the end of every month, which is when you need money for salaries and other expenses, off of me. I live with utter bitachon, not because I’m on that level but simply because I see open miracles, just like the Rebbe says that today you can rely on miracles. It’s just that for miracles, you really need to live the Geula.
For example, a year ago Lag B’Omer, I was at a Shabbaton in Texas with a group of Litvishe people who invited me for an entire Shabbos about the Geula and Moshiach. It was a fantastic Shabbos. After Shabbos, I discovered that the organizer of the event had made a mistake and ordered a return ticket for Monday afternoon instead of Sunday. I was stuck there for another day and what especially bothered me was the fact that it was toward the end of the month and I had to raise another $30,000.
When I am in Los Angeles, I can speak to friends and somehow arrange things, but in Texas I could do nothing. And when I arrived in LA Monday afternoon, I had to prepare a shiur that I would be giving that night and so, another day passed without fundraising.
After the shiur Monday night, I got a phone call from a friend who didn’t feel well who asked me to come to him the next morning with his tefillin. He also asked what expenses I had for Lag B’Omer because he wanted to help out. I told him that we would talk about it the following morning.
Knowing his ideas of what it means to give, I thought I might get $500 from him. When I arrived, he said, it’s an eis ratzon (auspicious time) now. If you ask for $80, I will obviously give it to you, but you definitely can ask for more.
I said: I will tell you how much I urgently need and you decide. After a brief calculation, I told him that in two hours I had to put at least $22,000 in the bank.
He thought a bit and then said: If I give you $18,000, will that help?
I said: Of course! And I’ll have to somehow arrange for the rest.
He thought again and finally decided: I’ll give you $22,000.
Since he wasn’t in his house, he did not have his checkbook. He asked me to go to his bank and told the manager there to give me a book of checks for his account. When I returned with the checks, he thought a bit and then said: Why should I give you only $22,000? I’ll give you $25,000.
And that’s what he did!
The rest of the day, I met other people who, on their own, asked to take part in the Lag B’Omer activities. A week later, I sat down to make a calculation and noticed an amazing thing: That Tuesday before Lag B’Omer, I miraculously received exactly 33 thousand dollars; 33 being the numerical equivalent of Lag!
THE REBBE HIMSELF IS RUNNING THE GEULA PROCESS
During the years 5751-5752, the Rebbe spoke about world events, saying they are “a microcosm and a model and a preparation” or even “a microcosm and beginning” of Yemos Ha’Moshiach. Was that about specific events at that time or an ongoing process so that today too, there are world events that are part of the Geula process? How do we know what is part of the Geula process?
In the sicha the Rebbe said on Shabbos Mishpatim 5752, he said that the general impact on the actions of the nations of the world is the job of Moshiach himself. We, the Chassidim, work on the Rebbe’s shlichus to draw Jews toward the Geula and also work with gentiles so they observe their seven laws. But regarding the general conduct of the nations of the world, the Rebbe himself deals with that.
After Gimmel Tammuz, there was a period of great decline, like a retreat, G-d forbid, from the Geula process. In Eretz Yisrael, the Oslo peace process proceeded, leading to the terrible Intifada; ISIS rose up as a power in the world; and then there was the terrifying presidential administration of Obama, who signed a nuclear deal with Iran that placed Israel in very real danger. The worst thing was that the entire world accepted all of this and bought the lie that the only way to peace is by conceding parts of Eretz Yisrael including Yerushalayim and the Har Ha’Bayis, the site of the Mikdash and Holy of Holies! It was a period of great darkness.
I saw a piece in the Rebbe’s sicha from parashas Mikeitz 5752 that illuminates that period with a new light. The Rebbe says, “And one can say that coming close to the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu is also the reason for the increased darkness in the world. Because of the increase in holiness, there is also the increase of the opposite, that which opposes the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and it is necessary to fight the opposition, for this is a matter of fighting the wars of Hashem until he is victorious.” I suddenly realized that even the period of darkness was also part of the Geula process.
Superficially, it looked like a reaction of the forces of evil, a last gasp before submitting to the work of Moshiach. The European Union, the Left in the U.S., the universities and media, all joined forces against the Geula. They set out to destroy the world with things that are the opposite of tznius, the destruction of the family unit, and mainly, war against the territorial “shleimus” (wholeness) of Eretz Yisrael. This period reached a peak in the final days of Obama’s presidency when he gave the green light to the United Nations resolution against Israel and supported the International Conference on Middle East Peace in Paris in favor of the Arabs.
On a more profound level, even this period was part of the Geula process and the Rebbe was moving things forward behind the scenes. And then suddenly, against all predictions, in the darkest time, the miracle occurred and Trump was elected and turned things upside down.
On another occasion, I explained in detail how most of the big moves Trump made occurred on Chabad dates and the peace summit to dismantle nuclear weapons in North Korea happened motzoei Chof-Ches Sivan, to hint that everything is being done by the Rebbe.
The amazing thing is that it’s all hidden within nature. It’s incredible; on the one hand, nobody believed it would happen. On the other hand, what happened was completely disguised in the normal way of things.
When Moshe Rabeinu was born, everyone knew that the Geula process had begun, but it took many years until the final year, when the Geula process accelerated, with a new plague every month, until they finally left Egypt. I don’t know exactly which stage we are in now, whether the plague of blood or frogs, boils or locusts, but it is clear that we are in the final stretch before the Geula.
Sometimes, there is clear synchronicity between what it says in the papers and what we learn in the sichos of the Rebbe, it’s just extraordinary!
R’ Naftali Estulin lives in my neighborhood. He is one of the veteran shluchim of the Rebbe in Los Angeles. For many years now, whenever something unusual would take place in the world, he would say to me, “See what the Rebbe Melech Ha’Moshiach is doing in the world.” He always said that all big world events are part of the Geula process, but as long as I did not delve into the sichos, I did not get just how right he was. Today, I see it all before my very eyes!
THE REBBE IS LEADING ME BY THE HAND
In your speech at the Kinus Ha’Shluchim and at the 11 Nissan event in Eretz Yisrael, you told about your personal transformation. You shared your personal doubts until you reached the conclusion that you did. I imagine it wasn’t easy to tell the world your story and so I want to know, why did you decide to do it? What gives you the strength to deal with the ramifications of your decision, particularly among your own community?
After I learned the sichos and realized how central Moshiach’s existence is to the Geula process, I was tremendously pained, really anguished in the depths of my soul, by how this all-important point of the Rebbe’s role turned into a scary idea. People felt uncomfortable, or even truly afraid to even say “Moshiach.”
When you realize that the Geula process is not just another one of the Rebbe’s things, but it’s the beginning, middle and end of the Rebbe’s entire nesius, and as a counterpoint to that you see how people are covering it up and trying to redesign the Rebbe’s image as a “great Jewish leader” who came after the Holocaust and breathed life into the Jewish people, that is simply diminishing the persona of the Rebbe and hides his true existence and main role!
It hurts me, so I could not remain silent. I found it necessary to say the truth and to wake up those who are not yet aware.
The truth is that despite my pain and the desire to wake people up, I would not have dared to do it if not for receiving clear direction from the Rebbe. Whenever I wrote to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh, I opened to clear answers. The Rebbe blessed me and instructed me to speak strongly and not be fazed. After the speech in 770, when I felt uncomfortable with the commotion that resulted, I opened to an encouraging answer from the Rebbe.
When I started with the speech in 770, I thought it would only inspire the shluchim. I didn’t think it would reverberate so strongly. I consider this a heavenly intervention that just before the Geula process began to accelerate, the Rebbe decided the time had come to wake up those of Anash who were asleep on the job. I don’t know why me, why I was picked to be the good shliach for this important matter.
As I mentioned earlier, things went over rather smoothly with the members of my community, but I was nervous at first. It would have been enough for just one to decide to declare holy war against me, and to destroy is easy … What gave me the courage to go public despite my concerns was the understanding that this is the most important matter in Judaism and if I can contribute my part to something so important, what value is there to some sorrow and shame that I might endure?
Today, as I say every morning, “fortunate are we and how good is our lot,” I definitely include the fact that I merited to inspire Anash in this most crucial matter. There is no greater zechus!
There are many other Chassidim who, deep inside, know the truth but prefer to continue to push the topic aside and not deal with it, in fear that learning the Rebbe’s sichos about Geula will force them to change their way of life. What message do you have for them?
Very simple, think: do you want to be the last person to wake up for the Geula? We are expecting the Rebbe’s hisgalus momentarily, and what will we look like when the Rebbe appears and only then will we remember to finally shake ourselves awake. What will we say? How will we justify ourselves?
As I emphasized throughout our conversation, the best way to strengthen oneself in inyanei Moshiach and Geula is to start learning the Rebbe’s sichos on inyanei Moshiach and Geula. We are guaranteed that our eyes will be opened and we will see the world marching toward the complete hisgalus of the Rebbe, teikef u’miyad mamosh!
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