Article by Rabbi Mendel Itzinger: When I feel down and dejected, when I grieve the world that was, or worse, when I don’t feel at all… the story of Munkatcher Chossid Reb Moishe Kraus comes to mind.
By Rabbi Mendel Itzinger – Head of Igud Yeshivos Lubavitch
I never met Cantor Kraus, but he had a big impact on my life.
A few years ago, I came across the story of Reb Moshe Kraus.
It was near the start of the second world war, and he was sitting at the table of the Rov in Chust, when word came that R’ Boruch Rabinovitch, then Munkatcher Rebbe, the son-in-law and successor of the Minchas Elozor, was on a train together with his son and thousands of other Yidden being deported from Hungary to Kameitz-Poldosk.
One didn’t have to be a war expert to understand that Reb Boruch’s life was in danger, so the Rov of Chust immediately dispatched Moishe to the station with $500 hidden in a Sefer, instructing him to hand it over to R’ Burich’l for him to bribe whoever he needed so his life would be saved.
It wasn’t easy for young Moishe to find the Rebbe, and the sights and sounds he saw in the station on that hot summer day in the station would leave a scar for life.
So when he finally found the Rebbe in the sixtieth carriage he searched (!), he blurted out: “Rebbe, how much Kiddush Hashem does Hashem need already?”
Reb Burich’l looked at him lovingly and replied:
“Moishele, the people that are being killed now are Kedoshim, they will go to the highest places in Gan Eden, but they are not dying Al Kidush Hashem, because they are not given a choice.
Do you know when it will be Kiddush Hashem?
When Be’ezras Hashem you, me, and my son Hershale will survive the war, and despite it all, we will keep Shabbos, put on Tefillin, and keep all the Mitzvos, that will be the Kiddush Hashem”.
If I may, I would like to have a word with the younger generation, those of us who grew up “post-Gimmel Tammuz” (though many of us in the younger generation are, unfortunately, not so young anymore…)
We often ask the older generation, “How can you expect me to be a Chossid like you — I was born after Gimmel Tammuz.”
Often, it’s more a statement than a question.
You know as well as I do that their answer, “We had a Yetzer Hora then too” means nothing to us.
Because, of course, they had it easier than us!
Just like I have it easier than boys a few classes below me, who were never Zoiche to see the Rebbe.
Of course, we are jealous, and we have every right to go about our Avoda with a בכיה תקיעא מסטרא דא, but know, that ultimately that ‘Question’ or more accurately that ‘Complaint’, has no merit.
I have learned Tanya many times over, and I have yet to see where the Alter Rebbe writes that one only needs to strive to be a בינוני until ג’ תמוז תשנ”ד.
I have looked in מפרשי התלמוד and have yet to see anyone who says that our Neshomos no longer make a שבועה that we will be a Tzadik and not a Rasha.
Because we have a job to do, regardless of the darkness and difficulty around us.
Yes, I get frustrated at the challenges in the dark world we live in today, but that is only because my heart doesn’t always feel what my mind knows.
And when I feel down and dejected, when I grieve the world that was, or worse, when I don’t feel at all… Reb Moishe Kraus comes to mind reminding me:
It is because of this very difficulty, because of this very darkness, that
What we do today does more to bring Moshiach than anything we did thirty years ago.
Boy-oh-boy do we have it harder, but every time we Daven as Chossid should, every time we say no to our indulgences, every time we do a Mitzvas Asei or withhold ourselves from doing a Lo Ta’ase, we are making a Kiddush Hashem in a way the “older generation” never could.
We are making a Dira in a Tachtonim impossible for our parents.
You, the Bochur today. Me, the Yungerman today.
We are a walking talking Kiddush Hashem.
Reb Moishe lived to be 100 years old and was Nifter last week, childless.
May his guidance to be ‘Yidden as before’ even when the world is not ‘as it was before’, serve לעילוי נשמתו, and may we all ask of Hashem the same question young Moishe asked his Rebbe: “How much Kiddush Hashem already!”
VIDEO: Cantor Kraus relates the story