Letter from the Kaliver Rebbe of Brooklyn (shlit"a)

to the in the Greater New York Area, and Worldwide


Rosh Chodesh Adar 5778 (Feb. 15, 2018 c.e.)

Dear Jewish Brethren,

Rarely have we faced a crisis demanding action to save Jewish souls as the one now confronting our Jewish brothers and sisters from Buchara. For generations, amidst hostile conditions, their ancestors sacrificed greatly to maintain their Jewish identity and practice. Ironically, today, in our free and open society, many of their children are sent to public schools due to lack of funding. Worse yet, deprived of proper Torah education, many are intermarrying with non-Jews, presenting an existential threat to the viability of their future Jewish identity at both the individual and communal levels.

Recently, a tragic home fire in Flatbush, NY claimed the lives of several members of a Jewish family. We witnessed many holy Jews mobilizing to do whatever they could to aid in rescue efforts, and help the surviving victims. We are a caring people who respond with compassion to those in trouble.
Please know, a fiery conflagration is raging in the Borough of Queens, destroying and burning thousands of Jewish souls. We must recognize our obligation to do whatever we can to save them, just as we would rush to rescue them from bodily harm.

The previous generation produced two wicked and accursed enemies of the Jewish people. One was Hitler, may his name be blotted out, who committed a physical Holocaust upon millions of Jews. The other was Stalin, may his name be blotted out, who wrought a spiritual Holocaust which destroyed the souls of millions of Jews.

The world speaks much of the physical Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis. But in truth, it is more important to speak out against the spiritual Holocaust enacted by the Communists which caused Torah and Judaism to be forgotten from the Jewish communities of the former Soviet Union. Its devastating effects continue to threaten us today, destroying the spiritual lives of Jewish immigrants from Russia and beyond.

Our holy Sages taught, causing someone to sin is reckoned as worse than murder. Sin damages the soul, the most important part of a human being. The body was only created to be a container for the soul during its limited sojourn on this world.

Thus, someone who rescues Jewish souls fulfills the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael, loving a fellow Jew, and Gemillus Chasadim, charitable acts of loving kindness, in the greatest fashion possible. Saving souls is included in the mitzvah of rescuing lives which can override other mitzvos. Shelah HaKadosh stated that saving Jews from sin is included in the mitzvah of "do not stand idly by your brother's blood."

Furthermore, saving Jewish souls also fulfills the special mitzvah of Loving Hashem. Our Sages interpreted the verse, "And you shall love Hashem your God" to mean that one's conduct should inspire other people to love God just as Avraham Avinu's example brought masses of people closer to God.

The Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvos explains that the Mitzvah of loving God mandates seeking out people to serve Hashem and believe in Him. One who truly loves Hashem, will call others to know the Truth and love Hashem as well! Particularly, the Holy Shechina cries over lost Jewish souls as a parent cries for a lost child. Restoring the relationship is a great act of kindness toward Hashem.

This idea is alluded to in this week's Torah reading [Trumah] in the verse, "and take for Me an offering." Rashi explains "for Me, for My Name." We are commanded to donate money to build the Tabernacle for the Sake of Heaven so that people come to love Hashem through the manifest Divine presence in the Sanctuary and through the example of the people who served there.

The Mishkan was the place where Kohanim served Hashem. The purpose of this was to return Jews to Hashem and bring them close to Torah. Navi Malachi said regarding Aharon HaKohen, "and he returned many from sin, for the lips of the priest guard knowledge, and we should seek Torah from his lips."
Some erroneously think they only need worry about people from their own community. This is a mistake rooted in the time before the revelation of our master the Baal Shem Tov, zy"a when sharp divisions existed between various Jewish groups such as between Sephardim and Ashkenazim and Jews of various lands. Divisions also existed between scholars and workers. Each group only worried about the members of their own community and did not care about the conditions of others.

Heaven sent the Baal Shem Tov to strengthen the concept that all Jews are connected; we are all the Children of God. Jews began to show concern for all other Jews and worked to ensure that all Jews come close to Hashem and His Torah, even the simple folk. The Baal Shem Tov said concerning his mission in life that he came to this world to strengthen three things: "loving Hashem, loving Klal Yisrael, and loving Torah".

The Baal Shem Tov's disciples, and disciples of his disciples all the way to our generation worked hard to rescue every Jew from sin, without regard of their background. Many of our ancestors and teachers such as the Holy Rebbe R' Elimelech of Lizhensk zy"a and our master, the holy Rebbe Isaac of Kalov, zy"a, worked harder to fulfill this concept to the point that they merited transforming entire communities of Jews who were totally materialistic into Bnei Torah who revere Hashem.

Here in the United States, the state of Judaism was on a very low level as I saw, for example, when I arrived to America from Romania in 1948. Only one small mikvah served the entire Boro Park neighborhood in those days, until Gedolim and Tzaddikim arrived with their followers and built Torah institutions which brought life to the Jewish souls.

Here in the United States, the state of Judaism was on a very low level as I saw, for example, when I arrived to America from Romania in 1948. Only one small mikvah served the entire Boro Park neighborhood in those days, until Gedolim and Tzaddikim arrived with their followers and built Torah institutions which brought life to the Jewish souls.

My dear Brethren, the voice of the spiritual blood of our Bucharan Jewish brethren is crying out to us. We are obligated to help ensure their children are enrolled in holy Jewish schools and to build new schools to rescue thousands of Jewish families from falling into the destruction wrought by the plague of assimilation. If we remain silent at this time, we cannot claim that our hands did not spill this blood. Where will we run to escape the pain of our Father in Heaven?!

There is no greater mitzvah than this, as is known from many statements of Chazal and is spoken of at length in the Holy Zohar on Parshas Terumah, that through this we will be worthy to all of the blessings spoken in the Torah.

[signed by Rabbi Moshe Taub, the Kaliver Rebbe]

Translated by Rabbi Yitzchak Kolakowski - Edited by Rabbi Avrohom Shalom Farber

Photo caption: The Kaliver Rebbe writing this letter after conversation with Rabbi Yitzhak Israeli, Chief Rabbi of the Bukharian Community


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