Shneur Zalman Levin, Beis Moshiach
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Hertzel: It’s common that when someone is asked how his kevutza year was, for him to say that his kevutza year was the most special with the most amazing things happening. Still, I think that my kevutza year, 5750, was really something special.
When we were in 770 that year, we followed every detail of the Rebbe’s conduct. If you look at the diaries of that time, you can see that from 5750 and on, there were many changes in the Rebbe’s conduct. Some were changes in his personal conduct and some were changes in how he conducted himself towards the Chassidim. The common denominator among them was they were all indications of a major change in the Rebbe’s nesius.
I will give you a few examples. First, Rosh Hashana in 5750 was on Shabbos. Usually, we speak less on Rosh Hashana, even divrei Torah. Other than the farbrengen at the end of the second day of Rosh Hashana, the Rebbe did not say sichos on Rosh Hashana. But in 5750, in the middle of shacharis on the first day, we were told that the Rebbe would hold a special farbrengen after the davening! There are no words to describe the excitement of the bachurim at that time – who could even guess what revelations would take place at this special farbrengen.
Naturally, the rest of the davening was more like Simchas Torah than Rosh Hashana … The davening ended around two and about half an hour later the Rebbe came down for a farbrengen.
Another special thing that happened then, for the first time, was that the Rebbe said a sicha every day of the month of Tishrei, which had never happened before. The Rebbe even said a sicha on Yom Kippur after the fast.
There was another change that occurred then, albeit not by direct order of the Rebbe but definitely with his consent. Until that year, the Rebbe would daven while standing on a rug that was placed to the right of the aron kodesh. During Tishrei, when many guests came and they wanted to see the Rebbe, a raised platform was erected on which the Rebbe davened.
At the end of Tishrei 5750 however, the platform was not dismantled as it was every year. It remained in place and the Rebbe began davening on the raised platform even on regular days of the year, as befits a king.
Another astonishing thing that began in 5750 were the special motions of encouragement. Until then, the Rebbe would encourage singing with his hands when he entered to daven (when he would go up on the platform he would turn to the crowd and encourage the singing) only at times that were “above the limitations” like Simchas Torah, etc. From 5750 and on, the Rebbe began regularly encouraging the singing when he entered for tefillos even on regular weekdays!
Another indication of doing away with the normal limitations in 5750 was during the distribution of mashke at the end of farbrengens, instead of singing V’Harikosi Lochem Bracha, which used to be sung, the Rebbe began singing the Hakafos Niggun of Simchas Torah! This went on every single Shabbos!
Without a doubt though, one of the main things that occurred that year is that the Rebbe began repeating numerous times that we are in the sixth millennium after midday, which is like erev Shabbos after midday. Just as on erev Shabbos afternoon we begin tasting the Shabbos food, so too, we are starting to taste the revelations of the Geula.
One of the blatant manifestations of that – at least from our perspective – is that starting from 5750, the Rebbe began wearing a silk sirtuk, which is a Shabbos garment, on weekdays too. This had never been done before.
There were many other changes and special things that happened that year but from the few examples I brought, you can see the general trend toward preparing for the Geula and even getting a taste of the Geula.
“MELECH HA’MOSHIACH REVEALED”
Toward the end of 5750, the Rebbe publicly proclaimed the Besuras HaGeula, starting with “humble ones, the time for your redemption has arrived.” The first time that the Rebbe spoke about this was on Shabbos, parshas Reeh 5750. One can say that the entire matter began due to an “arousal from below” as follows:
At that time, the conclusion of Tishrei 5750, there was great tension over what was happening in the Persian Gulf with Iraq threatening to conquer the entire area. Facing off against him were the United States and other countries who were determined not to allow Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, to carry out his plans.
One day, a Chassid hung up a copy of a Medrash cited in Yalkut Shimoni on the wall in 770, which seemed to relate directly to current events. The Medrash says that these events indicate that this is “the year in which Melech HaMoshiach is revealed.”
Some time later, when the Rebbe passed by the notice board, he looked at the copy of the Medrash hanging there. Later on, the Rebbe asked the secretary why the Chassid hadn’t added the next lines in the Yalkut Shimoni, “When Melech HaMoshiach comes, he stands on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash … and says, ‘humble ones, the time for your redemption has arrived.’”
Of course, the missing lines were added to the page and at subsequent farbrengens, the Rebbe referred to this Medrash at length and explained how each detail connected with current events.
After these explicit references by the Rebbe, people began to relate to the words of the Medrash as something actual and literal, since the Rebbe said it was happening at that time and that year was the year that “Melech HaMoshiach is revealed.”
Indeed, it was from that time that the great wonders of the Gulf War began.
“IT SEEMS TO THEM …”
Now I will relate some episodes that I remember from that time, as a tamim very distant from the threats of war:
Friday, 2 Shevat 5751, the news was that missiles had landed in Eretz Yisrael! This was after many sichos in which the Rebbe said that Eretz Yisrael is the safest place in the world and the war was for the benefit of the Jewish people. You can imagine how people felt when after everything the Rebbe had said, missiles had landed in Eretz Yisrael.
What did the tmimim do when they heard about the missiles? There was a group that ran for their Tehillim; after all, there was a war in Eretz Yisrael and they needed to arouse heavenly mercy! Others began to dance; after all, the Rebbe said there was nothing to fear and surely miracles and wonders would occur.
I remember some of us going to ask one of the mashpiim what he thought. We needed to know what to say to people on mivtzaim as well as to ourselves.
The mashpia said, first, if we want to analyze the events we had to wait for them to end. The war had just begun and it was not yet possible to come to any conclusions.
Second, one could view everything in one of two ways. For example, when a person is injured in an accident, he could think his situation is bad, or he could remember that it was an open miracle that saved his life and he ought to rejoice and thank Hashem that he remained alive.
Another thing, noted the mashpia, we need to remember that the Rebbe is a prophet, and no word that he utters will remain unfulfilled. If he said that Eretz Yisrael is the safest place in the world, it surely is even if we don’t fully understand it.
More than anything else, I remember the reaction of another mashpia in 770, Rabbi Yitzchok Springer a’h. If you knew him, you knew a tamim. From the time he left Tomchei Tmimim he did not change an iota; he was battul and utterly mekushar to the Rebbe.
When they told him that missiles were landing in Eretz Yisrael, he immediately said, “So it seems to them.” If the Rebbe said Eretz Yisrael is the safest place and the radio said missiles landed, then it is obvious who we should believe.
Throughout the war, the people saw open miracles and wonders that happened daily. Whoever was there knows that there were such miracles that even irreligious people conceded that this was the hand of G-d; completely supernatural occurrences.
“YOUR PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED!”
To conclude with the Gemara in Meseches Megilla that says that before Moshe’s birth, Miriam prophesied, “My mother will give birth to a son who will save Israel.” Then Moshe was born. The Gemara says that her father Amram “said to her, my daughter, your prophecy was fulfilled.”
A few months later, when Moshe was placed in the water, “her father banged her head and said, my daughter, where is your prophecy?”
In our generation, when the Rebbe announced as a prophecy that our generation is one of Geula, it was an era full of miracles. Nearly every day, the Rebbe gave out dollars, lekach etc. People were “flying” and it was clear to all that the prophecy was being fulfilled.
Then came a period of darkness which obscures the fulfillment of the prophecy and some ask, “Where is your prophecy?” – the reality around us looks just the opposite! We need to know that what the prophet, the Rebbe, says, is true and the reality obscuring it is just a test we need to withstand.
May we merit to see all the revelations in the most complete way immediately and instead of asking, “Where is your prophecy?” each one will point at Moshiach and say, “your prophecy was fulfilled.”
HOW THE REBBE SAVED HIS LEG
Mr. Moshe Eliron: When I see you fellows, you remind me of those days when I served in the army. Since we were in the army, we fought; you were the spirit and spiritual strength that stood behind us and gave us the power to win.
I came here to New York for medical treatment and felt that I ought to pay a visit to 770. For me this is the closing of a circle. Allow me to explain myself and I will begin with my personal story with the Rebbe.
In 5742/1982, I served as a platoon commander in the Golani Brigade. With the outbreak of the Peace in Galilee War, after we conquered Ramat Arnon and other areas, we arrived at the outskirts of Beirut.
The job of my unit was to conquer the outskirts of Beirut, primarily the airport. During intense fighting, we sustained a direct hit that severed my left leg entirely and part of my right leg too. During the evacuation, I also got a bullet in my lung and they threw some grenades that riddled my entire body with shrapnel.
I was sent to Rambam hospital in Haifa and my body was completely covered in bandages and casts.
As I lay in the hospital, a young Lubavitcher would visit me every day. He was all of sixteen and he put tefillin on with me. We spoke a little about different things.
At a certain point, the late Professor Stein who was the head of the department told me there was a bad case of gangrene in the upper part of my right leg and he thought there was no choice but to amputate the rest of the leg. Obviously, I became very tense and I guess it showed on my face because when the bachur came that morning to put tefillin on with me, he asked me why I looked so sad and what was bothering me.
I told him they planned on amputating my leg and this was the end of the world to me. I would not be able to go back to serve in Golani and my life would no longer be a life.
He immediately suggested that I write to the Rebbe. I asked him, “Who is the Rebbe?”
He said, “The Rebbe of Lubavitch.”
I agreed and wrote in my own style, “Hello Rebbe, I bless you that you live long. I am an officer in Golani and they are going to amputate my leg. Do something …”
The boy took the letter and said he would send it to the Rebbe and the Rebbe would bless me with a refuah sheleima.
A week later, they brought me into the operating room, removed all the bandages and cast that was on my leg and made a final examination before the amputation. I remember the doctors looking at one another in astonishment. The flesh was healthy and pink. According to the medical literature, the flesh of my leg should have been black. That’s the way it had been a few days earlier! Now it was healthy!
I recovered and returned to Golani. I served as a battalion commander, and then I became the deputy brigade commander of Golani.
I’ll just mention that I never again saw the boy who put tefillin on with me and I am sure he was a messenger from heaven to convey the Rebbe’s blessing and to save me.
OUTBREAK OF WAR
I was Deputy Brigade Commander of Golani during the Gulf War. In my opinion, this war actually began in 1981 when the Israeli air force, in a daring operation, destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor. It was a clear message to Iraq that they shouldn’t try to attack Israel.
After that attack, the ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, plotted revenge against Israel and the time came in 1991. At that time, Saddam Hussein had a very powerful army with several million soldiers. He had many weapons and various types of missiles: conventional, chemical and biological. Conventional missiles destroy the entire area when they land. Chemical and biological weapons are designed to cause very heavy damage. They would fill chemical missiles with mustard gas that spreads throughout the area where it explodes and leads to many casualties.
It should be emphasized that these were not regular missiles but Scud missiles. The length of a Scud missile is thirty-six feet; it weighs 1543 pounds; it can fly more than 435 miles; and it is usually accurate and reaches its target. A “regular” missile causes tremendous damage. When a missile like this is fitted with a chemical warhead the destruction is far worse.
As senior IDF commanders at that time, we prepared for an attack on Israel by Iraq. We divided the country into zones. The Tel Aviv Zone was the central zone. Acco and the Haifa gulf were another zone, etc.
When the war began, and Saddam Hussein sent nine “regular” missiles in the first days, there was great confusion in the government. Some of the senior commanders wanted to attack Iraq and some wanted to wait and not respond. A special delegation led by the Deputy Chief of Staff left for the U.S. to convince them to support an attack.
For political reasons, Israel did not respond directly against Iraq and this was so that the coalition that America had put together, which included some Arab countries who were against Israel, did not fall apart (as Saddam had wanted).
It is also important to note that the Israeli people were very afraid because at least we (in command) knew, more or less, what was going on, while the people in Israel, who did not know what was happening, thought we were about to have a world war, G-d forbid. Israeli streets were empty; people were afraid to go out.
The United States put forth an ultimatum to Iraq and when Iraq did not abide by the ultimatum, the coalition forces attacked Iraq. The Iraqi military soon capitulated and the war was over.
Beyond this amazing victory, I want to address a different point that many do not consider when talking about the miracles of this war.
During the war, thirty-nine missiles landed in Israel. In Saudi Arabia, forty-six missiles landed. In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of American and Saudi soldiers were killed and thousands were wounded. In Israel, one person was killed and that was because of a heart attack while running on the stairs!
Another thing, Saddam was crazy and would do things others wouldn’t do. How is it that he did not attack Israel with chemical weapons? How was it that only conventional missiles landed in Israel and they barely killed anyone?
There is no logic to this. It makes no sense that that many missiles landed and people weren’t killed! It’s an open miracle!
I’ll conclude with one of the miracles of the war that wasn’t publicized. Everyone thinks that Israel did not participate in the war and this is incorrect. We did not openly participate but we executed a number of operations, some of which are top secret till today.
After the tension of the first missiles, Israel decided to eradicate the missile launchers that were aimed at Israel. They sent a number of planes to the Iraqi desert that dropped in Israeli commandos whose goal was to destroy the missile launchers in southern Iraq. This operation was halted due to the intervention of the U.S. that demanded that Israel not attack Iraq. However, in the meantime, our forces eliminated about twenty-five launchers out of seventy.
In this operation we also saw open miracles in that the Iraqi army barely disturbed the operation and our forces were able to eliminate a large number of launchers and return in peace.
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