In the early 1900s, after some devastating pogroms, the Rebbe’s melamed found a source in the Torah for what was going on. The Rebbe repeated this episode one Simchas Torah and concluded, “Still, a pogrom is a pogrom!”
By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash
In the early 1900s, there were many devastating pogroms, R”l, in Ukraine. The Rebbe’s melamed said that he found a source in the Torah for what was going on. “What’s gained by knowing that it’s hinted to in the Torah? A pogrom is a pogrom!” the Rebbe asked his teacher.
“When a Yid knows that it’s in the Torah it makes it easier on his heart,” replied the teacher.
When the Rebbe repeated this episode during the Simchas Torah farbrengen of 5723 (1962), he concluded, “Still, a pogrom is a pogrom!”
This story lends perspective to what we’re experiencing right now: An intense vacillation between the knowledge that everything is from Hashem, and yet, “A pogrom is a pogrom!”
On Simchas Torah, we conclude reading the Torah and immediately start again from the beginning. The last letter of the Torah is a lamed and the first letter is a beis. The Kli Yakar explains: Hashem’s name has three distinct letters, yud, hei and vov. Add a lamed or beis to any of these three letters and you’ll get a complete word:
לי, לה, לו. בי, בו, בה
No other letters in the Aleph Beis will yield a word when combined with every one of the three letters of Hashem’s name.
This phenomenon captures what the Torah is all about: Hashem.
Hashem says, בי, everything is dependent on Me, and we recognize this and respond, בו, בה, everything is dependent on Him. (Kabbalah explains that Hashem is referred to both as a masculine and a feminine entity.) Then Hashem says, לי, everything belongs to Me, and we recognize this and respond, לו, לה; it’s all His.
The beginning and end of everything is: Hashem. Nothing is ever, c”v, outside of Him, and nothing happens without Him.
Is it by chance that the recent horrific attacks happened as Yidden worldwide read the ending and the beginning of the Torah?
In these unfathomable and challenging times it’s crucial to be reminded that Hashem is with us and He’s in charge. The world is not a free-for-all. Everything is Hashem and Hashem is everything.
In no way can we explain why things are happening the way they are, but knowing that it’s all from Hashem should be a comfort.
Another message from the Torah’s ending and beginning letters is that they spell the world “lev,” heart.
When the Rebbe started a campaign that every Yid—man, woman and child— should purchase a letter in a sefer Torah, the Rebbe said that when Yidden unite through Torah we become like one person with one heart.
If we feel heartache about what’s going on in Eretz Yisroel, this is because part of our heart is in Eretz Yisroel, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters who are suffering there.
However, heartache from looking at another horrific image or video will not help our fellow Yiddishe hearts in Eretz Yisroel. But lifting up our hearts and the hearts of our families and friends through a tangible increase in Torah and mitzvos will have a direct, positive effect on the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel.
During the same talk when the Rebbe shared the episode about the pogroms, the Rebbe also explained some of the pesukim we read during hakafos. One of them is, “There is none like You among the godly, O Lord, neither is there any like Your works.” אין כמוך באלוקים ה’ ואין כמעשיך.
Which “works” are we referring to?
We acknowledge that there is none like Hashem but at the same time, the Rebbe said with emotion, we know all the suffering Yidden have endured throughout the generations. From the Holocaust to the difficulties in earning a living even in America due to keeping Shabbos, and everything in between. And for this we ask Hashem to finally make it known that there is none like His Yidden. How will it become known that we’re special? When Hashem shows us especially good care.
A pogrom is a pogrom! We are Hashem’s children and we should not have to know our uniqueness only from what is written in our holy seforim, we should experience our greatness in a very real and tangible way!
May Hashem comfort those grieving and may Hashem protect all the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel, especially the soldiers fighting for our safety. And may Hashem bring an end to this suffering with the coming of Moshiach, now.
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