5 Tishrei 5778 / Monday, September 25, 2017 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
 
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Long Beard, Short Emuna     Long Beard, Short Emuna

People are prepared to spend weeks and months away from their families traipsing around the world looking for handouts, but they won’t try speaking to Hashem…

 



 Avremel is a very pleasant individual, but he suffers. His most difficult challenge on Shabbat is refraining from  biting his fingernails, even though they’re already bitten down to the skin. He has a tell-tale twitch in his left eye and he picks at his beard all the time. He’s an upright person who won’t touch a morsel of food that’s does not display the BaDatz hechsher that his Chassidic group eats and he won’t walk out of his front door without wearing a hat and a long reckyl (suit coat). Avremel knows that it’s wrong to get angry so he doesn’t shout at people. He also bites the bullet when his wife complains that he’s not making enough money. The truth is that he works three jobs; together, they consume fourteen hours of his time a day, so you can’t say that Avremel is lazy. The problem is that in his circle, you have to keep up with the Goldbergs, and the average Mrs. Goldberg won’t be seen at a social function without a Euro-Kastem natural-hair wig with a natural-looking part that costs well over $1000. So, Avremel bites the bullet, continues biting his fingernails, and shells out the money for the sheitel-macher (wig maker), money that he more than often does not have.
 
Hashem has blessed Avremel with fantastic son-in-laws. They learn all day long. They’re considered sharfers, “sharp ones”, the best boys and strong Chassidim. They walk 50 meters ahead of their wives and they won’t talk to fremders (strangers) – anyone, even with beard and payot, that doesn’t belong to their Chassidic group. The problem is that with three married daughters, Avremel shoulders half of three monthly mortgages. If he would stand erect, he’d be 6’2”, but with such a load on his shoulders, I can look him straight in the eyes and I’m only 5’9”.
 
The other day, Avremel and I met each other in a neighborhood bomb shelter after taking cover from one of the recent GRAD missiles that was fired at Ashdod from Gaza. Avremel looked especially forlorn, even more than his usual jittery self. I put an arm on his shoulder and asked him if the missiles were frightening him, especially one had already landed a few hours earlier only three streets away. “No, Reb Lazer, the missiles don’t bother me. I’m glad you asked, though, because I need someone to talk to.” In Avremel’s Chassidic group, you don’t tell others your problems because that either destroys your façade or messes up shidduchim (so they believe, nebich). As such, Avremel has to chew quite a bit of anti-acid tablets. I pray that he doesn’t get a bleeding ulcer or something worse, G-d forbid.
 
I thought that from the look on his face, maybe one of his children were ill; fortunately, that wasn’t the case, Avremel told me solemnly that he just finalized a shidduch (marital match)for daughter number four. “Mazal Tov,” I smiled, somewhat perplexed at his lack of joy and enthusiasm on such an occasion. But, many of his peers react the same way – a shidduch means more keeping up with the Goldbergs, more financial commitments (whether he can afford them or not), and more worries. “So what’s the problem?” I asked, pitying these poor Chassidim who live their lives without Rebbe Nachman’s books (“it’s not our custom,” they say) and without the Garden of Emuna, the Garden of Riches, and the other life-saving teachings of my beloved rabbi and teacher Rav Shalom Arush, may Hashem bless him always.
 
“My inlaws are willing to foot the bill for half an apartment in Ashdod, as long as we don’t buy a flat that costs more than 600,000 Shekels.” For that money, they can find a 65 square meter flat in one of the mitchardim, the less expensive neighborhoods adjacent to the Chassidic neighborhood.
 
“That’s terrific,” I commented. “They’re willing to give 300,000 NIS toward the flat above and beyond paying for half the wedding expenses – what’s wrong with that?”
 
“But, Reb Lazer – I don’t have the other 300,000; if I don’t give my half, they won’t give their half. And, the wedding is only 7 months away. I can’t go overseas to schnorr (beg), because I can’t take off of work. I can barely make a living, so how will I afford to make another wedding?”
 
“Avremel, you don’t make weddings, Hashem does!”
 
“Reb Lazer, that’s either Baal Teshuva talk or Breslever talk. We don’t think like that. We have to raise the money ourselves!”
 
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here’s a man of 48, born into a Chassidic family; he learned in cheder, in lower yeshiva, in upper yeshiva, and then for another seven years in rabbinical kollel before he had to go to work to pay his bills. It was pitiful to see such a person with beard, long sidecurls, a long coat and Chassidic knickers with black socks living a life completely without Hashem and devoid of emuna.
 
Avremel had tears in his eyes and his upper lip was quivering. “Where in the world am I going to get 300,000 shekels in 7 months? It’s impossible!”
 
Li hakesef ve’li hazahav, ne’um Hashem!” I quoted the Prophet who tells us that Hashem has all the gold and silver. If we need money, we go to Him. “Why not try talking to Hashem?”
 
He shrugged his shoulders and made a face, as if I asked him to eat a lemon. “What, do you think I’m weird or something?”
 
Astonished at the things he was saying, I finally understood what Rav Shalom always tells me – Moshiach will bring the whole world to teshuva, but he’ll save the religious for the last, for they’re the toughest nuts to crack. According to Avremel and his skewed notions, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and King David were all weird, for they all spent hours daily talking to Hashem.
 
I tried a different strategy. I opened my wallet and took out a 200-Shekel note. “Avremel, I’m an agronomist by profession. I know how to plant seeds and make them grow. Consider this a seed…”
 
He didn’t want to accept the money but I insisted.
 
“You can water the seed by talking to Hashem for 20 minutes a day, asking him to help you buy an apartment for your daughter.”
 
“Twenty minutes!” he gasped. “How’m I going to do that?”
 
“I already gave you a big discount – Rebbe Nachman says that 60 minutes a day is an absolute obligation.”
 
Funny, but people are prepared to spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets, spend weeks and months away from their families traipsing around the world looking for handouts, but they won’t try speaking to Hashem for an hour a day. Why? The other Chassidim might accuse him of Breslever tendencies, heaven forbid…
 
After haggling with me, Avremel finally agreed to try speaking to Hashem for three minutes a day. Rebbe Nachman said that a little bit is good, too…
 
If people only knew what a beautiful life they could live with emuna; if they only knew that you can’t be an upright believing person without daily personal prayer; if they only knew and internalized the Thirteen Principles of our faith…
 
Since my talk with Avremel, I’ve added an extra prayer to my daily personal prayers: “Please, Hashem – open up the hearts of the Avremels of the world. Let them learn emuna! Let them taste true happiness and a truly sweet life.”
 
And I terminate my daily personal prayers with a song and dance: “Ashrenu – how fortunate we are! Thank You, Hashem, for bringing me to Rebbe Nachman! Thank You, Hashem, for giving me Rav Shalom! Thank You, Hashem, for emuna and for hitbodedut!”
 
There should be a law: long beards and long sidecurls must be accompanied by long emuna.
 
I wonder what all the rebbes and the Chassidim will do if it turns out that Moshiach is a Moroccan-born Baal Teshuva. May we all strengthen our emuna, amen!





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  13 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  ness
chaim6/22/2015 10:48:22 AM
     
 
  2.
  Why not?
Yitzchok2/1/2015 8:06:22 AM
     
 
  3.
  all chassidim are good!
shea12/15/2014 8:31:25 PM
     
 
  4.
  Ger Bashing
YH11/18/2011 2:30:09 AM
     
 
  5.
  No insinuations
Talmida of Rav Arush and Rav Brody11/16/2011 3:09:14 PM
     
 
  6.
  Moroccan-born Baal Teshuva Moshiach
Anonymous,11/14/2011 10:15:24 PM
     
 
  7.
  Moshiach
Shea11/14/2011 9:38:29 PM
     
 
  8.
  duhh!!!
davy11/14/2011 6:21:52 PM
     
 
  9.
  What about אין סומכים על הנס???
Michal11/14/2011 5:26:13 PM
     
 
  10.
  they won’t talk to fremders (strangers) – ... that doesn’t belong to ...
David11/14/2011 5:14:21 PM
     
 
  11.
  this was great
Chana Jenny Weisberg- JewishMOM.com11/14/2011 11:18:43 AM
     
 
  12.
  emuna
Jewgirl11/14/2011 8:30:32 AM
     
 
  13.
  emunah
Anonymous,11/13/2011 7:22:04 AM
     
 

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