The Incredible Story of a Tanya Printing in Raging Rafah

R’ Ezzy Morgenstern, a Major in the IDF, has a side gig that has been taking up his time and energy: printing Tanyas in cities recaptured by the IDF. spoke to him to hear the incredible story of a recent Tanya printing in Rafah, Gaza.

By reporter

Born and raised in the Anash community of Morristown NJ, Major Ezzy Morgenstern moved to Eretz Yisroel where he joined the IDF and rose to the ranks of Major. As a Lubavitcher chossid, he sees his work in the IDF as a shlichus, and endeavors to spread Yiddishkeit wherever he is stationed.

When the IDF entered Gaza, the idea came to Ezzy to print a Tanya in Gaza cities. With great efforts, he managed to arrange a a printing of the Tanya in Khan Younis, a major Gaza town. But when they moved further in, Ezzy began to look into printing in another battle-furious Gaza city: Rafah (Rafiach).

The first step in figuring out the logistics for such an operation was finding a connection with the special transport unit that goes into active battlefields to transport soldiers and supplies. That unit prepares all day and then goes in under the cover of night to transport life-saving equipment and move around troops.

“After a bit of poking around,” Major Ezzy told, “I found a Lubavitcher in the unit who would connect me with a member who could help with the printing when they go to Rafah.”

The challenge was that the transport unit moved the whole time, and they didn’t remain in any one spot for enough time to print the Tanya. To arrange for them to stop and stay still for the duration of the printing would be extremely difficult. The next best option would be to print it in the back of an army Hummer as it drove around during night duty.

However printing on a moving vehicle is technically challenging, and the most fitting piece of equipment for the job would need to print swiftly and efficiently. After intensive research, Major Ezzy found a printer that could spit out 52 double-sided pages in one minute, significantly more than a regular laser printer which prints about 30 in the same amount of time.

With the new printer all set, the next arrangement would be finding electric power. Since the hummer had no outlets, a generator would need to supply the electricity. Unfortunately, a generator is much too noisy for undercover army activities. A special eco-flow power bank was acquired that could handle the printing. Now that he was 14,000 shekels closer to his goal, he moved on to the next step: when to go and most importantly, how.

“I waited to hear from them, to see when I could come to do the printing, but I wasn’t getting the call,” he shared. “Then, suddenly, while I was in the middle of printing a Tanya in another Gaza city, Netzarim, I got the call that I could go to the South to meet the transport unit tomorrow.

“My unit is stationed in the North. I was up all night and needed to pack up the gear with me, then drive North to unpack and repack and then drive the few hours down to the South where the Gaza border is.

“As I’m exhaustedly driving down I get a call from the men on the border who say ‘Look, it’s super complicated, hundreds of things could go wrong. You won’t be able to go in with us, just plug it in and leave it.

“Now, anyone who knows how finicky printers are can understand that plugging in a printer and hoping it will obediently print out 100 Tanyas without further interference, especially one that is connected to a complex energy source and is bouncing up and down on blasted roads in a war zone, is not a viable plan.”

“I continued the drive and hoped things would work out once I was there in person. Unfortunately, in-person was not much better. At the army base, officers were buzzing around planning the nightly incursion, and things looked bleak. No one would take responsibility for the printing and no one would allow me into Gaza.”

“Suddenly, a soldier sees me arguing and asks what’s going on on? I said, ‘I’m Eliezer- I want to print a Tanya.’ The soldier got super excited and said ‘Wow! Tanya is the greatest thing- it’s amazing that you will print it!’ The officer I was arguing with asked him, ‘Do you want to print it?’ The soldier looked surprised but said no.”

“I kept an eye on that soldier, and meanwhile, as the rest of the officers went in for the briefing, I started a practice run of the Tanya and showed them how to use it. I printed three sets while waiting for them, and when they came out, I called that soldier over and told him it was all up to him if it happens or not.

“The guy agreed finally and said ‘Meet me at 6:30 at the border, I’ll be with my truck’. I go in my car and wait for them at the border. I loaded it onto a Hummer and started printing perek Lamed Beis to learn from those, while I chatted with every soldier who walked by and gave out the Tanyas I printed in Khan Younis. The soldiers all really appreciated it and put it in their pockets to keep on them.”

“Finally, at 6:45 the soldier came and I told him, ‘It’s up to you, if you come out with a hundred Tanyas, I’ll get you tactical gear from America.’ I then prepped the machine so it worked perfectly with all the parts, showed them both what to do, how to add paper, deal with a jam etc. and prepared to drive back to the base.

“Meanwhile, everyone is taking pictures and videos as I’m farbrenging with soldiers, and then they leave. I drive back to the base to wait, and I get a picture of them playing niggunim. As I’m pulling into the base I get a call- the machine stopped printing….”

“Frantically, I try to help them on the phone as they try to figure it out, but they soon lose connection as they enter the war zone. Not one to give up easily, I wrote a letter to the Rebbe and placed it in a volume of Igros Kodesh that I had with me. The letter he opened up had a last line that said: “Thanks for sending me the recording of the farbrengen from Yud Tes Kislev in Kfar Chabad, ta”ch.” This calmed me down and made me feel that it would be all right.

“Finally, the soldiers return an hour and a half late the next morning as I was in middle of arranging another printing, this time in the city of Jabaliya. They come up to me ecstatic and say it all worked out! I think the paper sensor was having a hard time with the papers bouncing up and down and kept assuming that the tray was overfull, so it made issues. But Boruch Hashem the guys thought to open the side tray, and they patiently fed it page by page.

“At 2 AM, I drove back to base and got there at 5. After I davened, I opened the precious box of Tanya’s to see if the number they managed would reach 100 so that the printing would be legitimate, as the Rebbe asked it to be. I counted 64 that they did and another 40 from the ones we printed right inside the border of Gaza while we waited for the hummer to show up – so 104 in total. Mission accomplished!”

Major Morgenstern concludes his amazing story with a heartfelt wish: “May these Tanyas be a merit for Am Yisroel and may we speedily be safe and sound in Eretz Yisroel with Moshiach!”


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