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That is when we got a serious push to follow through on our decision. When they returned home, the idea of working in Beit Shemesh occurred to him. Why here? Because before I got married, I lived in Yerushalayim. Beit Shemesh has grown to a population of , people. In less than a decade, it is likely to become one of the ten largest cities in Eretz Yisroel. But back then, when the Weiner couple moved there, there were only 15, people.
I went to Tzach and asked if there was a shliach in Beit Shemesh. I was told there wasnt and I decided to go to this small town and begin working. I went with a friend to the Beit Dagan junction, wanting a bus that went to Beit Shemesh. My friend decided to hitch us a ride and the driver of the second car that stopped near us told us that this is where he was heading. Today, I know that it is highly unusual to find a driver at Beit Dagan who is going to Beit Shemesh, he said with a smile.
We discovered that not only was he heading where we wanted to go, but he also had a picture of the Rebbe in his car. The man, who was not a Chabad Chassid, was a teacher in a vocational school. He lived in Beit Shemesh. As things developed, this man who gave us a ride became one of the people who were a tremendous help to us in settling in the town.
This showed us that the Rebbe is with us and that he helped us from the very outset. The population of Beit Shemesh at that time was comprised of people whose traditions were Sephardic. They had a warm feeling for traditional Judaism. It was a traditional place. You could always feel Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim on the street. I am talking about the time before Russian and Ethiopian immigrants came here. I was the first ultra-Orthodox and Lubavitcher person in the town.
I remember that there was a clearing on the mountain that was designated as the future site for ultra-Orthodox Jews, but they hadnt started anything yet. On Hei Teves of that year, there was a dramatic change regarding shlichus in Beit Shemesh: That year was Didan Natzach and we decided to write to the Rebbe and ask for his blessing and permission to move to Beit Shemesh and be full-time shluchim there.
We did not receive a response. We asked him to submit a note for us. On 9 Nissan we received the Rebbes response: With the counsel and consent of Chabad askanim and rabbanim in Eretz Yisroel. Since this was not a typical response, we went to four committees for their approval before heading to Beit Shemesh: Rabbanei Chabad, the then existing umbrella group for Chabad Chassidim they even provided funding for half a year and Tzach, who gave matching funds.
As for the approval of Chabad askanim, R Weiner asked a friend what this meant. The friend advised him to get together some Lubavitchers who were involved in askanus and to ask them. That 8 5 Kislev is what he did. I told them what I needed and they wished me well. Another six months went by until the Weiners moved to Beit Shemesh, which did not stop them from continuing their work in the meantime including a big Lag BOmer parade, a Siyum HaRambam, and summer activities. After we found an apartment, we moved in for Simchas Torah with our oldest daughter who was born in Elul.
But they werent alone.
In addition to the Rebbe who accompanied them, they arrived with seven bachurim including my brother-in-law, Yisroel Maidanchek, Bentzi Borgan and others.
We made a minyan together with some local people who had become close to us during the year we had worked there.
We even had Tahalucha to various shuls. At first, I opened a Chabad house in the center of Beit Shemesh, the area now known as the old Beit Shemesh, and began doing the usual shlichus work.
He suddenly discovered that an entire city had been built around him and it was ultra-Orthodox. Even Chabad Chassidim had started a community there, or actually, several communities. The Beit Shemesh of is a sort of ingathering of the exiles. Alongside Jews who are not yet frum who live in the original city, there now live religious Jews of all types and backgrounds: Chabad and Litvish and Sephardim, and zealots from Yerushalayim in a neighborhood bordering a knitted kippot population.
The veteran among them is R Moshe Rivkin, in charge of outreach in the financial district and director of the soup kitchen and other projects.
He is mainly out in the field, and is very connected with the residents of the city. He is the neshama of Beit Shemesh, whom people love, and he is very successful in being mekarev people. He began as program director at the Chabad House. Today, he runs four preschools in which children are registered.
R Chaim Faro, a longtime shliach in Manchester who made aliya, wanted to continue working in shlichus.
He learns with many people who speak English. He is the rav of a shul in the old section of the city whose population is not yet religious. He is a rosh kollel and shliach for those who speak French. He gives shiurim and is involved in various projects. Chabad community in the city maintains tight knit neighborly relations in a way that likely does not exist anywhere else. Even the character of the community is unique to Beit Shemesh. Despite the anti image which Beit Shemesh has acquired in recent years due to its reaction to the Eidas activities, R Weiner speaks of Jews whose hearts are receptive to Torah and mitzvos: They welcomed us very nicely.
All in all, it is a warm, traditional city and we have been beneficiaries of their fondness, then and now. Even recently, when there is so much tension between the population at large and the ultra-Orthodox, everyone knows that Chabad is out of the picture; that we are here, with all our hearts, for everyone, without examining where they stand religiously.
We have never been spoken of derogatorily. R Weiner with his first mekuravim at the Rebbe, near the house on President Street Issue Shlichus appoint a principal.
Not only wasnt he a Lubavitcher; he was as far away from it as east is to west. The parents refused to accept him and decided to fight for their rights, i. Eventually, on the day after Chai Elul, the Chassidim won. When we asked R Weiner to tell us about it, he referred us to the archives of Chabad.
As was publicized last week, the Chabad schools waged a strike following the Education Ministrys decision to appoint a person who does not identify with ultra-Orthodox values and who, in addition, was pushed aside from previous positions due to arguments with his staff of teachers and for poor relationships with parents of students.
In his petition, he asked the court to decide based on rational grounds, namely that just as it is obvious that an ultraOrthodox person would not be appointed to a religious public school or to a public school, so too, it is unreasonable to appoint someone without ultra-Orthodox values to run an ultra-Orthodox school.
Likewise, he argued, he does not consider it acceptable to appoint someone in Beit Shemesh who was forced out of The mayor of Beit Shemesh visiting a Chabad school. On the left is R Weiner The protesters stood wearing long zebra kapotes and hoarsely yelled gevald. Tensions heated up and the organizers of the Chassidus shiur decided to smuggle the maggid shiur, the mashpia R Mendel Wechter of Nachalat Har Chabad, out the back door.
The reason for this has to do with the tremendous development of the city, mainly in the past, when an apartment could be purchased at a reasonable price. Beit Shemesh is conveniently located and has transportation access to all over the country. Around Beit Shemesh are open mountainous areas with good air.
The Lubavitchers who came here from abroad were looking for a close, warm community, says R Weiner. Along with the expansion of the community, starting in , schools began opening one after another. The shliach R Yisroel Beiser is in charge of the preschools, R Chilik Kupchik runs the elementary school for boys, having gotten the appointment after a fierce battle, and a girls school is run by Mrs.
Chani Aryeh of Kiryat Gat. About four hundred students, boys and girls, attend Chabad schools in Beit Shemesh; the numbers grow from year to year. The battle for the boys school took place four years ago. On Motzaei Shabbos there was an emergency meeting of the parents of the students in the Dvar Avrohom Shul with the participation of the entire parent body, rabbanei Chabad, the shliach R Eliezer Weiner, and others. The main speaker was R M. Gluckowsky, who spoke about the mesirus nefesh needed for pure chinuch of children.
He also said that the Rebbe had instructed Chabad to enroll its schools in the public-religious school system so as to obtain funding with which they could open many schools in order to save the immigrant children during the years of aliya to Eretz Yisroel.
The Rebbe said explicitly at the time that this was solely on condition that there would be full educational autonomy and that all the appointments of educators and principals would be made solely by Chabad rabbanim and askanim. It was always like that. Whenever the Education Ministry interfered, the Rebbe said they should leave the publicreligious system and join the network of officially recognized private schools.
The Rebbe stressed that the union with the public-religious was solely for the purpose of maintaining the Chabad schools, and that this union was not holy and they could and should defect from it if there would be no choice but to do so. Eventually the matter reached a satisfactory conclusion: The judges on the High Court of Justice reprimanded the representatives from the Education Ministry and asked what the purpose in their stubbornness was, and who needed a principal if there were no students.
The judges did not understand why they had to impose on a community school someone who did not identify with its values. In the end, the Education Ministry caved in and canceled the appointment. They said that there would soon be a public tender for the position of principal and the principal would be selected solely with the approval of the administration of the mosdos.
The students went back to school. The present principal, Yechiel Kupchik, is highly regarded. Today there are six shluchim who work with R Weiner with impressive unity and collaboration, thank G-d, as he put it. The shluchim are spread out through the city. They meet a few times a year, to farbreng and talk.
As part of the programming which includes shiurim, mivtzaim, house calls, mosdos and more, R Weiner puts an emphasis on Geula and Moshiach: When it comes to Inyanei Moshiach and Geula, the community is united. There is a consensus on the subject; even though we dont all think alike there are differences of opinion which we cannot deny the debates never deteriorate into machlokes.
I think its a very positive situation. There is an ongoing shiur on the weekly Dvar Malchus. All in all, the shluchim and Anash live with the subject. Material is given out on Moshiach and Geula, and there are shiurim and mashpiim who farbreng on the subject.
Issue 11 Shlichus If someone back then would have told him about dozens of young men who belong to the Toldos Aharon Chassidus crowding around the mashpia R Zalman Gopin in Beit Shemesh, he would have laughed. There are also conversations with people on the street: those who do not yet identify as religious, the traditional Jews, and Polisher Chassidim too, whom he describes as smart people who ask to the point and respond appropriately. They attend farbrengens even though they know that the Rebbe MHM will be spoken about, but that doesnt bother them; on the contrary.
Just this week, two sisters who are not yet religious came to me. One of them came here before in order to ask for a bracha and she opened to an amazing answer which is why she brought her sister. I was amazed to hear the first one, who did not look at all connected to religion, say to the other one, who seemed like her, You must listen to whatever the Rebbe writes and cant play games with the answer.
If you ask, you have to accept the answer.
It was moving to see the pure faith of those who are seemingly distant and their hiskashrus and bittul to the Nasi Hador. If someone back then would have told him about dozens of young men who belong to the Toldos Aharon Chassidus, crowding around the mashpia R Zalman Gopin in Beit Shemesh, he would have laughed.
But today, this is a reality. This sea change began fifteen years ago when the impossibility of the cost of religious housing led askanim to look for alternatives to the big cities. Beit Shemesh, which is twenty minutes away from Yerushalayim, was chosen as an ideal place for young couples who wanted to be close to Yerushalayim and not far from the center of the country.
Aside from those, there are two Chabad shuls where most of the congregants apparently are not Lubavitch, considering their dress. In this unique shul, there are shiurim in Chassidus every night and there is a large library for Chassidus. Rabbis Wechter and Gopin give shiurim in Chassidus there. The fifty or so members of the khilla identify as Polisher Chassidim and Lubavitchers, but their children do not attend Chabad schools.
There is another shul, similar in format, located in the Cheftziba neighborhood, called Beis Menachem. The gabbai is R Menachem Schwartz. The people who daven there, like their counterparts in Dvar Avrohom, do not look like Lubavitchers, but they keep Chabad customs, go on mivtzaim, send their children to Chabad schools and even bring mashpiim like R Zalman Notik and R Zalman Landau to farbreng with them.
The Dvar Avrohom people call them Meshichistin. R Shimon Wallis is the one who works intensively with this crowd. The mashpia R Zalman Gopin gives a shiur once a week and has a following, and every so often there are farbrengens with mashpiim.
Many English speakers were drawn in through this shul. They were attracted to Beit Shemesh due to the high quality life of life and the more reasonably priced apartments.
There is also a Chabad shul for French speakers called Ohr Lubavitch. That there are shuls for speakers of different languages is ideal for Lubavitchers, who can enjoy community life without having to contend with a foreign language and mentality.
The irreligious sector is not overlooked either. We see miracles as well as the simple 12 5 Kislev Chassidim of all backgrounds farbrenging in the D'var Avrohom Shul Chanukas ha'bayis R Sholom Feldman was once brought to farbreng with the Neturei Karta and Toldos Aharon crowd, and they were eager to hear what he had to say.
It was quite a sight to behold. They didnt let him go until six in the morning. R Michoel Taub of Kfar Chabad also farbrenged there and it was tremendously inspiring. The participants, non-Lubavitchers, said afterward that they cried that night, they were so moved.
R Weiner said, Most of the people in Beit Shemesh, even the ultra-Orthodox, are not pleased by the zealots behavior.
They are a small, fringe group that is causing damage to the city and the religious themselves. With their demonstrations, blocking buses, and burning trash bins they hurt their own neighborhoods. Its a shame they dont realize this. He says that when he attends Kinusim of the shluchim, and people hear that he lives in Beit Shemesh, they say, The place where they throw stones. Thats what they associate with it, sad to say. Aside from the story with which this article began, in which they were disturbing a Chassidishe farbrengen, he says that there is hardly any interference with Chabads work, because it focuses mainly on those who are not yet religiously observant.
We dont operate in their neighborhood except on rare occasions, so we dont disturb them. At the same time, there are shiurim given by mashpiim like R Mendel Wechter and R Zalman Gopin; this can drive the zealots crazy.
They usually do nothing, but there are times they pick up their heads and its not pleasant. The demonstration against R Wechter, for example, expressed their anger that even people from the best families in their circles were attending shiurim in Chassidus. Unfortunately, word got out and they threw these men out of kollel. This affects some of them, but there are those who are not afraid and have no qualms about announcing their affiliation with Chabad, such as the grandson of the previous Admur of Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok and who is the nephew of the present Admur.
He openly attends the farbrengens and speaks about the Rebbe like a Chassid in every respect. There are numerous minyanim for Shacharis from in the morning, and dozens of minyanim for Mincha and Maariv. That is also where we usually hold the main farbrengens because this is the center of the community.
They merely serve to emphasize how important the work of Chabad is to this city. We are the only movement which both the ultraOrthodox as well as the not yet religious view as a unifier of all the factions in the city. This is the case even though we do not hide our views about Geula and Moshiach. If you take the approach of not being fazed by those who mock, you end up succeeding.
He said that when he had a fight with another boy, the teacher sided with the other boy without hearing his side. Another time in class he was punished when he wasnt the guilty one. Weve been hearing about these unpleasant incidents for a while now. Should we call the principal? When the simcha comes from spiritual things and a person rejoices over spiritual success and Torah achievements, it is a loftier type of simcha for it is connected to spiritual things.
But this simcha is still dependent on something, and therefore it is also limited and it can only break through some limitations.
But when a person rises to the state of essential joy, the joy over the very fact of being a Jew, joy over being on the threshold of Geula and hinei zeh Moshiach ba, this is a simcha above limitations. Consequently, it breaks through all boundaries and reaches to the essence of the persons neshama and the very essence of Hashem.
This is a simcha which reveals the essence and brings the Geula. A simcha like this has an effect not only on us and not only on those around us, but on all Jews in the world even if they are unaware of it. When we rejoice on the Chag HaGeula, we break additional boundaries in the world and add to the Geula itself. When we rejoice on this day over the very fact that we have a Rebbe and this Rebbe went from darkness to light, we break boundaries, reveal the essence, and add to the Geula of the Rebbe Rayatz.
Since the Geula of the Rebbe Rayatz is the Geula of all the Jewish people, for by his leaving jail we were all redeemed, when we rejoice on the Chag HaGeula, we add to the Geula of every Jew everywhere, even those who dont know about the Chag HaGeula. Not only that, but we also receive additional powers to overcome our obstacles, to break through our personal barriers.
The story is told of the two holy brothers, R Elimelech of Lizhensk and R Zushe of Anipoli, who were both arrested and put in a small cell.
Not only was it small and crowded, but in the center was a bucket which is where the prisoners relieved themselves. He looked over at his brother and saw that R Zushe was happy. He asked him wonderingly, What are you happy about? We are in this crowded cell, we are the only Jews here, and we cant even think Torah thoughts because of that bucket!