By Ariella Dashiff, Beis Moshiach
Once a Gerer chassid came to his rebbe, the “Beis Yisroel”, and cried to him that his son was departing from the path of Torah. “They say that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” he noted, taking the blame for his son’s failings. “When there’s a normal wind,” the Rebbe replied, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but the winds blowing in our times are not normal.”
But let’s think about this matter a bit more:
What does an apple do when it falls from the tree? It lands on the ground, cracks, rots, and then its seeds come out. The rains come, moisten the ground, and the seeds sink into the mud. They expand, sprout, and grow into a new and beautiful tree with many branches bearing fruit.
There is a well-known joke about a Breslover and a Lubavitcher whose souls went up to Gan Eden on the same day. Since they weren’t tzaddikim, not even beinonim, the Heavenly Court ruled that they had to go through Gehinom. “Rabbi Nachman,” the Breslover cried, “I was in Uman on Rosh Hashanah!!” His rabbi immediately appeared, grabbed him by his long peyos, and pulled him out of Gehinom. The Lubavitcher, seeing that this worked, cried out to his Rebbe as well, “Rebbe, I was in 770 for Tishrei!!” In the blink of an eye, the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach appeared, handed him a dollar, and said: “This is for the Chabad House. A blessing for success. May it be a continual activity.”
So, what does an apple do when it falls far from the tree? It opens a Chabad House! And if the wind (spirit) is not normal – a spirit of folly or a spirit of arrogance – and he finds himself very far from the tree? Then, he uses them to establish a Chabad House in that remote location where these winds brought him. As the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe MH”M have taught us in the ma’amarim of “Basi Legani”, we must use the ruach shtus (spirit of folly) and transform it into holiness.
These are the talents possessed by our children: The powers of folly and arrogance within the realm of holiness. While they are capable of falling very far from the tree, they can also sow seeds containing the Chabad genes – the genes of self-sacrifice beyond all reason, the genes of love for a fellow Jew, even one very far from Yiddishkeit, the genes of strict observance of mitzvos and Jewish customs that the world considers delusionary.
Just to illustrate this fact in real-life terms:
Because of this spiritual “genetic” material, it is very difficult for a Lubavitcher Chassid, even a “borderline” one, to build a Jewish home with someone who is not Chabad. As the Rebbe Rayatz said, “Our ziburis (worst of the worst) is better than their idis (best of the best).” We are told, that the Rebbe Rashab handpicked himself the souls of the “tmimim” from the Heavenly treasury of neshamos.
Beyond all the praise and accolades, being a Chabadnik carries its share of obligation. There’s a reason why you have been given these strengths. Wherever you are, the Rebbe goes with you, and the Rebbe demands the utmost stringency in mitzvah observance, the utmost tznius, the utmost Ahavas Yisroel, the utmost studying of Chassidus…the utmost in mivtza’im.
What must the tree do to make certain that it will grow many branches bearing fruit? First of all, unconditional love.
None of this “If you don’t clean up your room, if you don’t daven Ma’ariv, if you don’t learn well – don’t bother asking me for anything. Get to work, you’re just wasting your time” type of talk. Instead, “Are you here? Wonderful!! Come, sit down, eat something. How were things with your friends? Where did you go?”, “Here, ziskeit, take some money, go and buy yourself something.”
Secondly, your “apples” must have a direct connection to the tree’s roots: the Rebbe, Chassidus, farbrengens, Chabad minhagim. Encourage your children to have their own connection to the Rebbe! Being a Chabad Chassid shouldn’t be a “family” affiliation, but a personal connection. Your child should grow up knowing that even if he doesn’t “get along” with his parents/teachers/friends, he and the Rebbe have an open channel.
The main thing is to drive away the anger and to bring much love, patience, and communication into the home. Furthermore, even if we don’t know what to do with the child, and we literally feel helpless – it is better to be helpless, happy, and loving than helpless and depressed. What’s important to know is that children learn a great deal from the way we react, even if they have difficulties at that moment accepting what we are doing. Therefore, quite often, perhaps always, the way in which we convey the message is more important than the content of the message itself.
Yes, children need boundaries and they should be brought up with Chassidishe expectations. But Chassidishe expectations must be transmitted in a Chassidishe manner: with a smile and empathy towards the child, with a hug and an explanation that will satisfy the child as much as possible.
So that’s it, dear trees, it has been well established that we do the very best we can. And when a person wants, aspires, and knows that he needs to affect a change in his middos, Hashem will make it possible for this to happen.
We, together with our children, are the generation of the Redemption, yet they are closer than we are to the whole concept of Geula, even with the challenges they face that no previous generation has ever encountered. While in generations past, Chassidim with true mesirus nefesh were few in number, today there are many who go out on the Rebbe MH”M’s shlichus, devoting their lives and the lives of their children for the sake of the Jewish People, bringing the Geula!
The tree is never jealous of its apples. May we see our apples grow new apple trees all over the world and surpass us in every way!
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