Friday, October 19, 2018

Parsha Lech Lecha, long time no see, story

Parsha Lech Lecha

The last two Parshiyos dealt with the creation of the world and the new world for all the children of Noach. This Parsha deals with the revival of Monotheism by Avram later to be Avraham ben Terach. He was the first to begin Kiruv Levavos (hearts/minds) to G-D. Before the standard interpretation, I start off this year with some home spun interpretation.

12:1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.

When Avraham left Ur Chasdim and Haran for HASHEM, he was a pioneer. The first time he was a political refugee. The second time as a religious and physical pioneer. I used him and Rabbi Akiva as my own models. Avram was the outsider. When I left the Reform to Atheistic World many friends and acquaintances disappeared. I was in many ways an Evri (from of the other side). I had gone from the left-wing side of the tracks to the religious side of the tracks and at the same time from the left-wing politics to the right-wing politics. I was not pro-Sodom neither in my religious views or politics. Yet like Avraham I could rescue the leaders if they fell captive to an enemy.  

My pioneering was not like that of Avraham and Sara but the Kiruv (bringing closer to Judaism) spirit was there. I ended up with a few religious families in Ashdod and then helping put together Chashmonayim which was the forerunner for Modiin and Modiin Illit. All these were ideas of others who did not settle physically but like Avraham, in my own way, I pioneered with no food store or telephone in my area. However, there were others before me who moved in with gas refrigerators and a few hours of electrical generation. Avram had none of these conveniences or a car that could travel to a supermarket in Lod or Bnei Barak.

We know where Haran is today and it looks similar to what it was in the time of Avraham Avinu donkey carts and houses built out of earthen materials. I saw a different film years ago but this will do. Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlita went to search for the Ur Kasdim that Avram left. MOST PEOPLE THOUGHT I was crazy. Only a few said they would join me if they could. As for me, I love travel and adventure, and this was a great opportunity for both. I would do “Lech-Lecha” myself, and retrace the historical and heroic steps our greatest ancestor of all, Avraham Avinu.
After months of research and of saving up money, I set out for Ur Kasdim, the birthplace of Avraham. Easier said than done, because there is no longer any place called “Ur Kasdim.” There is only a lot of discussion from over the ages as to where it might have been.
In 1862, Henry Rawlinson identified Ur Kasdim with Tell el-Muqayyar, near Nasiriyahin southern Iraq. In 1927, Leonard Woolley excavated the site and identified it as a Sumerian archaeological site where the Chaldeans were to settle around the 9th century BCE. Recent archaeology work has continued to focus on the location in Nasiriyah, where the ancient Ziggurat of Ur is located.
According to the Rambam, and before him, the Roman historian Josephus, Ur Kasdim could be located at one of various Upper Mesopotamian or southeast Anatolian sites, such as Urkesh, Urartu, Urfa or Kutha. Not knowing which city for sure, I decided to visit all of them.

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curses thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'

What goes around comes around. Once there was a man brought in from the outside in a company to be a boss. One of the workers he did not like. He took it out on the very religious worker and refused to sign a raise for him despite over-time work and a good attendance record. The man then applied for a transfer out of the department to another department and the boss refused to sign it. The man then went to both the union and man power in the company and the boss refused. Manpower and union finally removed the worker from the department and granted him a raise. A number of years later, the boss relatively young suffered a stroke. He began apologizing to others in an attempt to make up for his bad behavior but the man was gone. This is the way of HASHEM. When somebody comes with hatred and abuses others, it boomerangs. This is what happened to those who cursed Avram.

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him; and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

We don’t know how strong Avram was at this age. I could not fathom this the first time I read this with Rashi in my twenties. At the age of 71, I am beginning to understand the difficulty although I do not travel by donkey or prepare for a journey into some unknown land. Although, there is an indication that he traded and know the routes although he might have traded with Lot in Sodom as we see on the commentaries about Bris between the pieces below. That Bris occurred when Avram was 70 according to a number 430 years in Egypt.  

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

What happened to these souls? After Avram died or they drifted away. The seed was there and one or two of their descendants would become converts.

6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, … 9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

Finally Avram wants to settle down and grown crops and graze animals but wait:

10 And there was a famine in the land; and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was sore in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife: 'Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon. 12 And it will come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they will say: This is his wife; and they will kill me, but thee they will keep alive.

I wrote last week about Saddam Hussein and the wives of generals. This practice by despots has not stopped and is quite dangerous for husbands with attractive wives.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may live because of thee.' 14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15 And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16 And he dealt well with Abram for her sake; and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels. 17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said: 'What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19 Why said thou: She is my sister? so that I took her to be my wife; now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.' 20 And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him; and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that he had.

It was not uncommon for beautiful women to be captured at the border and brought to Pharaoh but this time HASHEM helped Avram in the background. Pharaoh acts like a Tzaddik but was far from it. It is only later on with the Plishtim that we learn that because there was no fear of heaven in this place.

13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he went on his journeys from the South even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Ai; 4 unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first; and Abram called there on the name of the LORD. 5 And Lot also, who went with Abram, … 7 And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle. And the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot: 'Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.' 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou go unto Zoar. 11 So Lot chose him all the plain of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed east; and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Avram was interested in the spiritual aspects of the land while Lot was more interested in the physical. In the end most of his family died off, he barely escaped with his life due to the merit of Avraham and he became a drunkard and had children of incest.

12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the Plain, and moved his tent as far as Sodom.

Avraham would be in Eretz Yisrael while Lot would be in the lowland of Sodom.

13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners against the LORD exceedingly.

This is the place where you want to live and educate your daughters? What type of a spiritual let down you are doing to yourself?

14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him: 'Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which thou see, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.

Even with the long 2000 years of Gallus, there was a small Yeshiva of Jews in Eretz Yisrael but not during the beginning of the nation when Yacov went to Mitzrayim.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto thee will I give it.' 18 And Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Avraham continued spreading the word of G-D to the mostly pagan nations and peoples.

14:1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela--the same is Zoar. 3 All these came as allies unto the vale of Siddim--the same is the Salt Sea. 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out these 14 years must have occurred before Avram started out at the age of 75 for if I add 14 to 75, Avram would be 89 and had fathered Yishmael. The Bris between the pieces which occurs after victory has Avram as childless. Rather commentators that I have pointed out in the past say that the Bris occurred before Avram left Haran. It would appear that Lot had previously lived in Sodom before they got so wicked and were under the rule of the same king that ruled over Haran. Avram must have traded with him back then. The Bris between the pieces was made on what would be Pessach night 30 years before Yitzchak was born.

… 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five. 10 Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and they that remained fled to the mountain.

These are the sink holes of the Dead Sea that even recently swallowed a good part of (Petrol) Gas Station in Ein Gedi. There is a detour route on road 90 there today. The kings did not believe that Avram was rescued from the furnace but when they were rescued they believed. [Believing in G-D and being a G-D fearing person are not mutually inclusive and the people of Sodom became more and more wicked as they even wanted to physically attack the angels (men of G-D) right before the destruction.

11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew--now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.

This is Tel Dan at the foot of the Mt. Hermon Range.

15 And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

The surprise attack by night had caught the whole army by surprise and they fled without weapons or even their animals and the kings escaped with their lives.

16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh--the same is the King's Vale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High. 19 And he blessed him, and said: 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.' And he gave him a tenth of all. 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: 'Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.' 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom: 'I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou should say: I have made Abram rich; 24 save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, let them take their portion.'

HASHEM has already made Avram rich and he needs nothing more. He is truly rich as written in Perkei Avos: “Who is rich? He that is satisfied in his lot.” {I met Rav Shach and read about Rav Shteinerman. They both lived with little or no furniture and just enough for holy books – Rav Shteinerman did not get his salary for six months, when the Yeshiva came to pay him, he said I have gotten along well use the money for the Yeshiva.}

15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying: 'Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, thy reward shall be exceeding great.' 2 And Abram said: 'O Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go hence childless, and he that shall be possessor of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?' 3 And Abram said: 'Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed, and, lo, one born in my house is to be mine heir.'

Avram could not have children based on the position of Jupiter in his horoscope (Medrash). The L-RD in a vision takes him above the stars. That is when he is told to count them.

4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying: 'This man shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.' 5 And He brought him forth abroad, and said: 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if thou be able to count them'; and He said unto him: 'So shall thy seed be.' 6 And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness. 7 And He said unto him: 'I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.' 8 And he said: 'O Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?'

Wherefore shall I know that this is real prophecy and not a wishful thinking dream?

9 And He said unto him: 'Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.' 10 And he took him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each half over against the other; but the birds divided he not. 11 And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 And it came to pass, that, when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a dread, even a great darkness, fell upon him.

Avram was 70 years old. He has pursued an army with a small party of men from Chevron to close to Damascus which even by automobile with modern roads is quite a few hours’ drive. He has then taken the captives, supplies and spoils back to what is modern Yerushalayim. He met with Shem, the Cohain of the ALL MIGHTY. At this point he is told to take from his own animals the Korbanos. As he slaughters and flays them, he has to fight off birds of prey. He is so exhausted that sleep overcomes him. As the dread and darkness fall upon him, he hears:

13 And He said unto Abram: 'Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

The seed will not be the seed of Yishmael for he is not pure. The seed will be from Sarai who is pure. The 400 years will start with the birth of your son. However, the birth of your son unknown to you will be 30 years later and only 5 years from now will you be told Lech Lecha.

15 But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 And in the fourth generation they shall come back hither; for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full.'

Does a generation last 100 years for 4 generations but rather in the 4th generation after your children will start living in in a strange land, then they will be redeemed.  

17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and there was thick darkness, behold a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch that passed between these pieces.

Avram worked so hard to make the Korban before sundown, but when he awoke, it was after the sun had set.

18 In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates; 19 the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, 20 and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, 21 and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.'

16:1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bore him no children; and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

Our story now returns to after Lech Lecha and Avram’s stay in Mitzrayim.

2 And Sarai said unto Abram: 'Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray thee, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall be built up through her.' And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.

The slave girl has now become a wife of the master of the house.

4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

She now started to get into her head that she was more important than Sarai.

5 And Sarai said unto Abram: 'My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.' 6 But Abram said unto Sarai: 'Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her that which is good in thine eyes.' And Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face.

She ran away and would have stayed away except for the Angel. Avraham was given Yishmael at this time for his reward but Sara’s action would lead the roots of hatred imbedded in Hagar that would from the womb make Yishmael a rival or Yitzchak.

7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said: 'Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, whence came thou? and whither go thou?' And she said: 'I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.'

You shall return and submit yourself at this time so that Yishmael shall be educated by Avram in monotheism for a future religion.

9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her: 'Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.' 10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her: 'I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her: 'Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.'

This is a description what Yishmael will be and what will become of his religion.

13 And she called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, Thou art a God of seeing; for she said: 'Have I even here seen Him that sees Me?' 14 Wherefore the well was called 'Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

I assume that this is south of Kadesh Barnea that is on the modern border of Israel – Egypt and somewhere before the modern El Arish or at El Arish. At this point she stops her journey to Egypt and returns the trip back to Chevron for this was before the naming of Beer Sheva.  

17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him: 'I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.' 3 And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying: 4 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations.

Now is the prophecy of the birth of Yitzchak. This will explain why Avraham took the words of the angels who visit in next week’s Parsha seriously and Sara laughs at them. Avraham received the prophecy and Sara did not.

5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee.

Avram and Sarai cannot have children but by changing your name now, you have a new astrology from this day on and Avraham and Sara can have children. For this reason often it is a custom to give a new name to a person that is gravely ill to keep him alive and change his Mazel.

6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. … 10 This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.'  15 And God said unto Abraham: 'As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her; yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her.'

Yacov shall father the holy nation and Esav shall father many nations.

17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart: 'Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?'

Unlike Sara’s laugh of disbelief as she had long ago stopped having the signs of a child bearing woman, Avraham laughed like one who had a few Le Chaim glasses at a Simcha.

18 And Abraham said unto God: 'Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!'

Avraham is proud of this son Yishmael who is monotheistic, has physical strength, prowess with a bow, has learned hospitality and very honorable to his father.

19 And God said: 'Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.

Your true heir both financially and spiritually will be Yitzchak.

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee; behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

He shall be able to rule over 12 countries. (Note Islam is in the Far East, African and Iran but it appears the real children of Yishmael are more in the Middle East)

21 But My covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.'

G-D set before Avraham sort of a Stonehenge type sign on the sundial when Yitzchak would be born. (Medrash)

22 And He left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. 23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

Avraham wasted no time. He had been a fighter for HASHEM, a soldier to free Lot and now he was not being slack about preforming the Mitzvah. He immediately set forth with zeal to do the bidding of HASHEM. {We call this in Yiddish A shuck-L or post haste no nonsense not dawdling.}  

24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

For this, he was rewarded with 1300 years of ownership of Har HaBeis but instead of the Temple Beis HaMikdash and Korbanos, he built a Mosque and had his hand on all the archeology to erase all evidence of Yitzchak’s children.

26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house, and those bought with money of a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Voice recognition. I was talking to my friend Albert about not recognizing people that we knew years ago. I am lucky that people recognize me as my hair style is the same. I am about the same build from my sports I walk straight. But I left one job 35 plus years ago and at the doctor’s office I met a friend from about 1.2 km away from me but we pray in different Synagogues. His wife is easy to recognize black haired wig same face. Another friend was waiting after I. He said hello with my name luckily the Dr. said “J” you can come in. About 20 plus years ago at the Daf Yomi he was thinner and had a full head of hair that was shorter cut. A year ago I met a cousin who was a real heart throb in 1968. Girls were coming up to him in the NY Subway to ask directions. Last year he was almost completely bald. He sat next to his older brother and then I recognized who he was!

Mrs. Mozart, Dr. Victor Frankl and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. By Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson

In 1981, when Rabbi Jacob and Edla Biderman arrived in Vienna to serve as Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Austria, they initiated sending an annual appeal to all the local Jews along with a Jewish calendar in honor of the upcoming High Holidays. To their surprise, the famed Viennese professor Victor Frankl (1905-1997), author of the perennial best-seller Man's Search for Meaning and founder of Logotherapy, each year before the High Holidays would send a donation to "Chabad of Vienna."
Nobody in the Chabad center or in the larger Jewish community could understand why. Here was a man who was not affiliated with the Jewish community of Vienna. He did not attend synagogue, not even on Yom Kippur. He was married to a devout Catholic woman. Yet, he would not miss a single year of sending a contribution to Chabad before Yom Kippur.
The enigma was answered only in 1995, two years before Dr. Frankl's death at the age of 92, when Marguerite Kozenn-Chajes (1909-2000) walked into the office of Rabbi Jacob Biderman, the ambassador of Chabad to Austria The then 85 year old woman was dressed very classy, and looked youthful and energetic. She told Rabbi Biderman: "I know you think you are the first emissary (shliach) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Vienna; but that is not the case. I have served as the first ambassador of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to this city, many years before you."
"Really, I am the First Emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Vienna"
Marguerite went on to relate her story.
Her mother's maiden name was Hager. The Hagers were no ordinary Jewish family but descendants of the Rebbes of the famed Vishnitz Chassidic dynasty. Marguerite was born in Chernowitz, where she studied to become an opera singer, and then moved to Vienna where her career blossomed. She married a Jewish young man with the family name Chajes. [1] They had a daughter.
Marguerite performed during the 1930's a prominent festival of music and drama, held each summer in the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
On 12 March 1938, German troops marched into Salzburg. The Anschluss -- the annexation of Austria by Germany -- was now complete, Nazi ideology immediately began to affect the Salzburg Festival. All Jewish artists were banned, the leading Jewish conductors and composers were removed. Yet Marguerite Chajes was still performing.
For the Festival in August 1939, Hitler himself made an appearance at two Mozart operas. He did not know that one of the young women singing majestically was a young Jewess, a scion of a leading Chassidic family, Marguerite Chajes.
Shortly thereafter, the general management made a surprise announcement that the Festival would terminate on 31 August, a week ahead of the scheduled finale on 8 September. The reason was, supposedly, that the Vienna Philharmonic was required to perform at the Nuremberg Party Convention. But the Germans were brilliant deceivers. The true reason became apparent on 1 September when the German army invaded Poland and unleashed the Second World War, exterminating a third of the Jewish people, including Marguerite's family.
On the very night after her performance at the Salzburg Festival, close friends smuggled Marguerite with her husband and daughter out of Germany to Italy. From there she managed to embark on the last boat to the US before the war broke out just a few days later. Marguerite and her family settled in Detroit, where she became founder and president of the Pro Mozart Society of Greater Detroit, and acquired in her circles the name "Mrs. Mozart."
Years passed. Marguerite's daughter grew up and married a doctor, who, in 1959, was honored at the dinner of a Chabad institution. In conjunction with that occasion, Marguerite had an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
"I walked into the Rebbe's room," related Marguerite to Rabbi Biderman, "I cannot explain why, but suddenly, for the first time since the Holocaust, I felt that I could cry. I -- like so many other survivors who have lost entire families -- never cried before. We knew that if we would start crying, we might never stop, or that in order to survive we can't express our emotions. But at that moment, it was a though the dam obstructing my inner waterfall of tears was removed. I began sobbing like a baby. I shared with the Rebbe my entire story: My innocent childhood; becoming a star in Vienna; performing in front of Hitler; escaping to the US; learning of the death of my closest kin.
"The Rebbe listened. But he not only listened with his ears. He listened with his eyes, with his heart, with his soul, and he took it all in. I shared all of my experiences and he absorbed it all. That night I felt like I was given a second father. I felt that the Rebbe adopted me as his daughter.
"At the end of my meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I expressed my strong desire to go back for a visit to Vienna." She craved to visit the city of her youth.
"The Rebbe requested from me that before I make the trip, I visit him again.
You Will Prevail
"A short while later, en route to Vienna, I visited the Rebbe. He asked me for a favor: to visit two people during my stay in the city. The first was Viennese Chief Rabbi Akiva Eisenberg, and give him regards from the Rebbe (the Rebbe said that his secretariat would give me the address and literature to give to Rabbi Eisenberg.) To find the second person he wanted me to visit I would have to look up his address myself. The Rebbe said that he headed the Vienna Policlinic of Neurology. His name was Dr. Victor Frankl.
"'Send Dr. Frankl my regards,'" the Lubavitcher Rebbe said to me, 'and tell him in my name that he should not give up. He should be strong and continue his work, with complete resolve. No matter what, he should not give up. If he remains strong and committed, he will certainly prevail.' The Rebbe spoke in German for a long time about the messages he wished to convey to Dr. Frankl. I didn't understand what the Rebbe was talking about. Who was this Dr. Frankl? Why was the Rebbe sending him this message? Why through me? I did not have an answer to any of these questions, but I obeyed."
Marguerite traveled to Vienna. Her visit with Rabbi Eisenberg proved to be a simple task. Meeting Victor Frankl proved far more difficult. When she arrived at the clinic they informed her that the professor has not shown up in two weeks, thus there was no way she can meet him. After a few failed attempts to locate him at the clinic, Marguerite gave up.
Feeling guilty not to fulfill the Rebbe's request, she decided to violate Austrian mannerisms. She looked up the professor's private home address, traveled there and knocked at the door.
A woman opened the door, and in response to Marguerite's request for 'Herr Dr Frankl,' invited her in.
The first thing Marguerite caught sight of in the home was a cross, hanging prominently on the wall. (In 1947 Frankl married his second wife, Eleonore Katharina Schwindt, a devout Catholic. They had a daughter Gabriella.)
"It was obvious that this was a Christian home. I thought to myself, that this must be a mistake; this can't be the person whom the Lubavitcher Rebbe wanted me to encourage."
Victor Frankl showed up a few moments later, and after ascertaining that he was the professor, she told him that she had regards for him.
"He was impatient, and frankly looked quite uninterested. It felt very awkward."
"I have regards from Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn, New York," Marguerite told him. "Rabbi Schneerson asked me to tell you in his name that you must not give up. You ought to remain strong. Continue your work with unflinching determination and resolve and you will prevail.
"Do not fall into despair. March on with confidence," Rabbi Schneerson said, "and you will achieve great success."

"Suddenly," Marguerite related, "the uninterested professor broke down. He began sobbing and would not calm down. I did not understand what was going on."

"This Rabbi from Brooklyn knew exactly when to send you here," Dr. Frankl told her. He could not thank her enough for the visit.
"So you see Rabbi Biderman?" Marguerite completed her tale, "I have been an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Vienna many years before you came around."
Forever Grateful
Rabbi Biderman was intrigued. What was behind the Rebbe's message to Victor Frankl?
Frankl was born in 1905 in Vienna. The young Frankl studied neurology and psychiatry, and in 1923 became part of the inner circle of one of the most famous Jews of the time, Dr. Sigmund Freud, the "Father of Psychoanalysis" who lived and practiced in Vienna.
The "Final Solution" did not skip over the Frankl family. His mother and father were murdered in Auschwitz; his first Jewish wife, pregnant, was murdered in Bergen Belsen. All of his siblings and relatives were exterminated. Professor Frankl was a lone survivor in Auschwitz (he had one sister who immigrated to Australia before the war.) After the war, he returned to Vienna where he taught neurology and psychiatry.
Victor Frankl was now 90 years of age, and was an international celebrity. He had written 32 books which were translated into 30 languages. His book "Man's search for Meaning" has been deemed by the Library of Congress as one of the ten most influential books of the 20th century.
"I called him a few days later," Biderman recalls, "and asked to meet him. But it was difficult for him to meet me in person. So we spoke over the phone. Initially he sounded impatient and somewhat cold.
"Do you remember a regards Marguerite Chajes brought you from Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn," Rabbi Biderman asked Dr. Frankl.
Suddenly, a change in his voice. Dr. Frankl melted. "Of course I remember. I will never forget it. My gratitude to Rabbi Schneerson is eternal."
Frankl also confirmed the rest of the story Marguerite had already explained to Rabbi Biderman, which revolves around one of the greatest debates in psychology of the previous century.
Frankl and Freud
Already before the war, and even more so during his three years in the Nazi death camps, Victor Frankl developed ideas which differed radically from Sigmund Freud. Yet the faculty of his department and the academic elite in post-war Vienne consisted of staunch Freudian scholars. They defined Frankl's ideas as "pseudo-science."
Freud emphasized the idea that all things come down to physiology. The human mind and heart could be best understood as a side effect of brain mechanisms. Humans are like machines, responding to stimuli from within or from without, a completely physical, predictable and godless machine, albeit a very complicated machine.
Victor Frankl disagreed. He felt that Freud and his colleagues reduced the human being to a mere mechanical creature depriving him or her of his true essence. "If Freud were in the concentration camps," Frankl wrote, "he would have changed his position.. Beyond the basic natural drives and instincts of people, he would have encountered the human capacity for self-transcendence. Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those chambers upright, with the Shema Yisrael on his lips."
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
He concludes that even in the most severe suffering, the human being can find meaning and thus hope. In his words, "Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'" A person was not a son of his past, but the father of his future.
After the war, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he developed and lectured about his own approach to psychological healing. He believed that people are primarily driven by a "striving to find meaning in one's life," and that it is this sense of meaning that enables us to overcome painful experiences. In the second half of his book, Frankl outlines the form of psychotherapy that he developed based on these beliefs, called logotherapy-the treatment of emotional pain by helping people find meaning in their lives.
But in the Academic Vienna of the 40's and 50's they defined Frankl's ideas as fanatic religiosity, bringing back the old, unscientific notions of conscience, religion and guilt. It was unpopular for students to attend his courses; his lectures were shunned.
"My position was extremely difficult," Frankl shared with Rabbi Biderman. "Rabiner Biderman!" Frankl said, "I could survive the German death camps, but I could not survive the derision of my colleagues who would not stop taunting me and undermining my success."
The pressure against Dr. Frankl was so severe, that he decided to give up. It was simply too much to bear. He was watching his life-work fade away. One day, sitting at home, he began drafting his resignation papers and decided to relocate to Australia where his sister lived. In the battle between Freud and Frankl-Freud would at last be triumphant. Soullessness would prove more powerful than soulfulness.
Hope & Resolve
Then suddenly, as he was sitting at his home, downtrodden, in walked a beautiful woman. She sent him regards from a Chassidic master, Rabbi Schneerson from Brooklyn, New York. His message? "Do not dare give up. Do not dare despair. If you will continue your work with absolute determination, you will prevail."
Frankl was stunned. Somebody in Brooklyn, no less a Chassidic Rebbe, knew about his predicament? And what is more -- cared about his predicament? And what is more -- sent someone to locate him in Vienna to shower him with courage and inspiration?
Frankl began to cry. He was deeply moved and felt like a transformed man. It was exactly what he needed to hear. Someone believed in him, in his work, in his contributions, in his ideas about the infinite transcendence and potential of the human person.
"That very moment I knew that I would not surrender. I tore up my resignation papers. New vitality was blown into me. I grew confident and became motivated."
The Conflict between Religion and Therapy
Why did the academic community dismiss Dr. Frankl?
In a letter dated June 19, 1969 (3rd Tammuz, 5729), to an Israeli psychiatrist, Dr. S. Stern-Mirz in Haifa, concerning one of her patients, the Lubavitcher Rebbe presents one possible reason. [2]
"I would like to take this opportunity to add another point, albeit this is her field, that the medical condition of...proves (if proof is needed in this area) the great power of faith-especially when applied and expressed in practical action, community work, observance of mitzvot, etc.-to fortify a person's emotional tranquility, to minimize and sometimes even eliminate inner conflicts, as well as "complaints" one may have to his surroundings, etc.
"This is in spite the philosophy that faith and religion demand from a person the "acceptance of the yoke," to restrain and suppress natural instincts and drives, and is, therefore, undesirable for any person, particularly in the case of a person who requires treatment for emotional anxiety.
"I particularly took interest in the writing of Dr. Frankl (from Vienna) in this matter."
[One episode to illustrate this: A religious Jewish psychiatrist, Jacob Greenwald (today in Jerusalem), related that he was once invited by the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a visit. The Rebbe wanted to know if he was familiar with the writings of Victor Frankl and if they could be integrated into a Torah perspective of therapy. Greenwald was surprised of how familiar the Rebbe was with Frankl's works, "especially due to the fact that to the best of my knowledge his writings were available at the time only in German and Portuguese."]

International Influence
Back to the telephone conversation between the Chabad ambassador to Austria and Dr. Frankl.
"Indeed," Victor confirmed, "the words of Rabbi Schneerson materialized. My work soon began to flourish."
A short while later, Frankl's magnum opus "Man's Search for Meaning" was translated into English (first under a different title.) It became an ongoing bestseller to this very day and has been deemed as one of the most influential books of the 20th century. The professor's career began to soar. The once-scoffed-at professor became one of the most celebrated psychiatrists of a generation. "Man's Search for Meaning" has been translated into 28 languages and has sold over 10 million copies during his life time. Frankl became a guest lecturer at 209 universities on all five continents, held 29 honorary doctorates from universities around the world, and received 19 national and international awards and medals for his work in psychotherapy.
His brand of therapy inspired thousands of other books, seminars, workshops, new-age and spiritual groups, which have all been based on Frankl's ideas of the unique ability of the human to choose its path, discover meaning in every experience. From Scot Peck's "Road Less Traveled" to Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits," and hundreds of other bestsellers during the last 30 years, all of them were students of Victor Frankl's perspectives.

Victor Frankl concluded his story to Rabbi Beiderman with these words stated above: "I will eternally be grateful to him, to the Lubavitcher Rebbe."
Then, not knowing whom he was talking to, Victor Frankl added:
"A number of years ago Chabad established itself here in Vienna. I became a supporter. You too should support it. They are the best..."
Finally, Rabbi Biderman understood why he was getting a check in the mail each year.
Frankl & Judaissm
The story, though, is not over.
When Dr. Frankl was asked about faith in G-d, he regularly gave an ambiguous answer. Throughout his years he never displayed any connection to Jewish faith or practice.
Yet in 2003, Dr. Shimon Cowen, an Australian expert on Frankl, went to visit his non-Jewish widow, Eleonore, in Vienna. She took out a pair of tefilin (phylacteries) and showed it to him.

"My late husband would put these on each and every day," she said to him.
Then she took out a pair of tzitzis (fringes) he made for himself to wear.
At night in bed, the widow related, Victor would recite the book of Psalms.

Indeed, Haddon Klingberg, author of When Life Calls Out To Us: the love and lifework of Viktor and Elly Frankl, the only authorized biography of Viktor and Eleonore ("Elly"), writes:
"After his death I asked Elly if he actually made these prayers every day. 'Absolutely. He never missed a day. Every morning for more than fifty years. But nobody knew this.' As they traveled the globe Viktor took the phylacteries with them, and everywhere, every morning, he prayed. He uttered memorized words of Jewish prayers and Psalms."
"After Viktor died I saw his phylacteries for the first time. Elly had placed them in the little cubicle with his few simple possessions..."
It seems that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was determined to help Dr. Frankl get this message out to the world: We really do have a soul; the soul is the deepest and most real part of us; and that we will never be fully alive if we don't access our souls.
[1] He was a grandson of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes, who lived from 1805 till 1855, was one of the foremost Galician Talmudic scholars. He is best known for his work Mevo Hatalmud (Introduction to the Talmud), which serves both as commentary and introduction, as well as for his commentary on the actual Talmud. He was also the nephew of Rabbi Zvi Peretz Chajes, who served as chief Rabbi of Vienna, from 1918 till his death in 1927.
[2] Published in Igros Kodesh vol. 26 p. 156.
Source: Condensed (23% less) by Yerachmiel Tilles from a well-researched article by the incomparable YY Jacobson on //
Connection: Weekly Reading (beginning) "Lech Lecha" -- "Go to Yourself" or "Go for Yourself" -- the truest expression of "man's search for meaning."

Biographical notes:
Dr. Prof. Victor Frankl - see story above

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson [11 Nissan 5662 - 3 Tammuz 5754 (April 1902 - June 1994 C.E.)], became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law's passing on 10 Shvat 5710 (1950 C.E.). He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century C.E. Although a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.

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Inyanay Diyoma

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My thoughts exactly: I'm writing the following as a POLITICAL SCIENTIST, which is my area of expertise.
The Democrats tried to get rid of Trump - and cut the legs out from under his authority, first with phony charges of Russian collusion, then with "pee-gate", then with threats to use the 25th Amendment to get rid of an incompetent old geezer - and all these efforts failed. TRUMP WAS BRINGING THE AMERICAN ECONOMY BACK!
So, what to do? The ONLY way to get Americans to get rid of Republican authority in Congress is to convince them that they (the Republicans) are running the economy into the ground! THAT IS THE REASON FOR THE SUDDEN DECLINE IN THE STOCK MARKET! It worked in 1930, when the market crashed in 1929 because it was overbought. So NOW THEY ARE GOING TO TRY THE SAME THING - EXCEPT THAT THIS MARKET DECLINE WILL HAVE BEEN MANAGED BY THE DNC (Democrat National Committee)! THEN, HOPEFULLY, AN ENRAGED ELECTORATE WILL KICK REPUBLICANS OUT OF CONGRESS IN THE CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS in November!
Please share this information far and wide.  The Democrat Party in the United States will do ANYTHING IT CAN to bring down Donald Trump - INCLUDING BRINGING DOWN THE AMERICAN ECONOMY!
Blessings from Samaria,
Ruvy Kossover

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A restful, quiet and peaceful Shabbos. Stay healthy and make sure that children have the measles injection.
Rachamim Pauli