From the Anash.org Inbox: In a legendary sicha predicting the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the Rebbe turned to the chassidim and encouraged them to engage in activities that would help the situation, rather than checking the news.
By Avraham Berkowitz
During this tense time, as we are concerned about our brothers in Eretz Yisroel, we try to keep up to date with what is happening with our fellow Yidden and keep them in mind.
But what can start as a good gesture can sometimes become an obsession. Instead of focusing on what we can do to help the situation, we check the news countless times each day and discuss what should be (or could have been) done.
In a famous sicha from 26 Nissan 5751, not long after the Gulf War, the Rebbe spoke about the miracles that had taken place and the downfall of Saddam Hussein.
In that context, the Rebbe mentioned the practice of checking and becoming proficient in the news and suggested that a much better use of time would be to daven, learn, and do mitzvos to bring Moshiach. The Rebbe explained that following the news in detail was futile and silly, and unbefitting for a “wise people.”
Here are the Rebbe’s words:
“It’s customary in our times that everyone feels they need to know what’s written in the newspapers. And not just to know it, but to be involved in it and consider all its details.
“It is to such an extent, that people give opinions, saying for instance that General So-and-So said something reasonable (a gleiche zach), whereas General So-and-So said something ‘crooked’ (a krumeh zach), adding evidence from the words of another army chief. With all the pilpul (fine distinctions) and consideration involved.
“In truth, since the Jewish influence in these matters directly is limited, and the main influence is through reciting Tehillim, and through adding in Torah study and the observance of mitzvos, particularly bhiddur, especially through the study of pnimiyus haTorah which is connected to the coming of Moshiach. One should be involved solely in these matters.
“And yet, a person spends a significant amount of time to know about these matters. He is so engrossed in it, that whatever he doesn’t know, he asks and clarifies with his friend. He inquires about the opinion of this army chief, and the opinion of the other army chief. He then catches how the army chief made a mistake, that he regretted and changed his opinion, he admitted that he was wrong or claims that this was his original intent, and so on.
“All of this is illogical and abnormal even for non-Jews, how much more that it is illogical for a ‘wise and understanding people,’ as we have discussed on several occasions…”