Monday, November 29, 2010

Thoughts After "Shabbos Thanksgiving"

The 19th of Kislev is observed as the "Rosh Hashanah of Chasidus". It is the day in Lubavitch when the annual reading of the Tanya is started anew. It is also the day when the alter Rebbe was freed from prison in Russia. Lubavitch and Chassidism were a wellspring of strength that kept the spark of Judaism alive under communism when faith was driven underground for over 70 years.It is observed along with the 20th of Kislev, which is the day after his release when the Alter Rebbe was able to rejoin his chasidim after his time of imprisonment.

The 21st of Kislev is a holiday in Satmar, when the Satmar Rebbe, Rabenu Joel Teitelbaum was freed in 1944 from Bergen Belsen,and was permitted to go to Switzerland. He later became a guiding force to chasidim around the world.

Both the Lubavitcher Rebbes (Josef Yitzhak and Menachem Mendel) and the Satmar Rebbe attracted "orphan chasidim", chasidic Jews who had lost not only their families but their rebbes and rabbis, as well as their entire communities. During the war were days, weeks and months in which towns died together. Both the Lubavitcher and Satmar rebbes and their respective movements gave spriritual and material support to these "orphaned chasidim", reviving broken bodies and souls. The Lubavitch and Satmar movements were among the groups that survived in sufficient numbers to take in the remnants of other chassidic groups that had ceased to exist as communities.

This year, Thanksgiving, the 19th, 20th and 21th of Kislev occurred on successive days. To me, it was a four day festival in which to thank G-d for physical and spiritual survival as well as for a peaceful and free country in which to live and worship freely. The succession of secular and Jewish holidays reminds me of a duty to light up the world and to contribute to it.The themes of all three holidays, both civil and religious, reinforce each other. To everyone, both the children of Abraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov as well as the children of Noah, I wish a "Chag Someach" a happy holiday.

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