1. [On Motzoei Shabbos parshas Yisro, the weekly Tanya shiur (lesson) on radio celebrated the conclusion of a year’s broadcasting, and the beginning of the new year’s shiurim. In connection to this, the Rebbe Shlita made the following remarks.]
Learning Tanya on the radio is a manifestation of the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chassidus to the outside. Through the radio, the actual wellsprings of Chassidus are spread instantly to every place in the world, engulfing the “outside” in the wellsprings — and thereby purifying the “outside.” It is the preparation to the fulfillment of the promise, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd as the waters cover the sea,” for, as was promised to the Baal Shem Tov, Moshiach will come “when your wellsprings shall spread forth to the outside.”
Radio is a comparatively new technology. Only recently has it been utilized by Jews for holy purposes such as learning Tanya, whereas before that it had been used for secular and even unholy purposes. On this basis, say some Jews, Tanya should not be learned on radio, for radio is intrinsically evil.
Such a claim is not only wrong, but totally contradicts Torah and the Jewish faith. Nothing and nobody but G-d has the ability to create even the smallest thing (Sanhedrin 67b; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin, 7). This is fully recorded in Scripture (Bereishis 1:1): “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth” — “‘the heavens’ — to include everything therein, and ‘the earth’ — to include everything therein” (Rashi, Bereishis, 1:14). Evil cannot create; everything in this universe, including the ability to transmit through radio, is a creation of G-d. In the words if the Alter Rebbe (Tanya, p. 260): “He alone has it in His power and ability to create something out of an absolute naught and nothingness.”
If the above applies to even the smallest things, it certainly applies to radio, a powerful force that G-d invested in nature enabling a person’s voice to instantly be heard all over the world.
Since everything in the world was created “for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of Israel” (Rashi, Bereishis 1:1), it is clear that the powerful force of radio was created so that it be utilized for holy matters, such as the dissemination of Torah. Indeed, our Sages explicitly state (Pirkei Avos 6:11): “All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory.”
However, as in all matters, man is given free choice to use radio for good or evil — “Behold, I have set before you this day [a free choice] between life and good and death and evil” (Devorim 30:15). And, says G-d, “Choose life!” (Devorim 30:19). That some people misuse radio for evil purposes is therefore no reason not to utilize it for the purpose for which it was created — “for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of Israel.”
We find a parallel to the above in Mishnah (Avodah Zorah 4:7): “The [Jewish] elders in Rome were asked, ‘If [your G-d] has no desire for idolatry, why does He not abolish it?’ They replied: ‘If people would worship something unnecessary to the world, He would abolish it; but they worship the sun, moon, stars and planets. Should He destroy His universe on account of fools?!”’ In our case, because there are fools who use the power of radio for bad purposes, should this prevent the use of it for good purposes?
But, counter those people whose whole delight is to interfere with good and holy projects, the use of radio cannot be compared to the above mishnah. The sun and moon, the purpose of which is to give light, were created before fools began to worship them; therefore it makes sense that G-d should not destroy His world on account of fools. Radio, however, was originally used for secular and even profane purposes. How then can we say that radio was created only “for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of Israel?”
An explicit refutation to this argument is found in a Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 16:2), which states: “The world was not worthy to use gold. Why then was it created? For the sake of the Mishkan.” Gold was created in the six days of creation and was immediately in evidence, as stated (Bereishis 2:12), “The gold of that land is good.” Yet from creation to the making of the Mishkan there were 26 generations! And even before gold was used for the Mishkan it was used for idolatry, as Rashi says (Devorim 1:1), “They used gold for Baal,” and as the Midrash relates, there were idols of silver and gold in Avraham’s times. Nevertheless, after gold was used for idolatry, it was used for the purpose for which it was created — “for the sake of the Mishkan.”
Hence, although the earliest use of radio was for unclean purposes, this should not prevent Jews for using it for holy purposes — the goal of its creation.
Ironically, those very same people who decry the use of radio to spread Torah use its power for secular things. The telegraph runs on the same principle as radio, and these people use them in their business dealings. To use radio or telegraph to make money is permitted, it appears. But when it is used to disseminate Torah — it is all of a sudden prohibited to use this “evil” means ...
Whence comes this illogical thinking and this claim that radio is a creation of evil? It is not the use of radio per se that bothers them. It is the dissemination of Chassidus that vexes them; and their chagrin causes them to find any pretext to condemn the spreading of Chassidus as a bad thing — to the extent that they put forward arguments that contradict a basic tenet of the Jewish faith.
We speak of this only because it is necessary to emphasize and adjure that one should not be ashamed because of scoffers. Instead, one must increase as much as possible in the dissemination of Chassidus via all means — including radio.
It is certainly unnecessary to warn that one should not engage in dialogue with these people, or to answer them, for their whole desire is that we be like them, G-d forbid. The previous Rebbe once commented on the verse (Devorim 26:6) “VaYoreiu osonu haMitzrim,” which means “The Egyptians did bad to us.” The term “osonu,” here meaning “to us,” is highly unusual in this context, for “to Usti would normally be “lonu” in Hebrew. “Osonu” usually has the meaning “with us” or just “us.” The previous Rebbe explained that it says “osonu,” for the Egyptians wanted to make the Jews as evil as themselves. The verse thus reads “The Egyptians made us bad.”
So too in our case: These people desire to make us as themselves, G-d forbid. The proper approach therefore is to totally ignore them, separate from them, and to concentrate wholly on observing Torah and mitzvos and disseminating Judaism and Chassidus. Our task is solely to illuminate the world with the light of Torah, Judaism and Chassidus.
May it be G-d’s will that all these matters be fulfilled with pleasantness and with peace, with true and full serenity.
2. [The Rebbe spoke the following words in connection to the “Melaveh Malkah” planned for motzoei Shabbos parshas Terumah (this Shabbos) on behalf of the organization which helps Jews behind the Iron Curtain. The Rebbe’s words follow the Zohar he previously cited (in conjunction with his analysis of his father’s writings).]
The Zohar (II, 163b-164a) states that R. Elazor met R. Yose, R. Yehudah and R. Chiya on the way, and, among other things, told them that the Bais Hamikdosh, unlike the Mishkan, was guarded by G-d Himself. R. Elazor then continued to say: “And you, holy saints, are not guarded as the Mishkan was guarded, but as the Bais Hamikdosh was guarded, namely, by the Holy One Himself ... For wherever the righteous are on a journey, the Holy One guards them continually, as it is written: ‘The L-rd will guard your going and your coming.”’
This passage of Zohar is saying that although G-d Himself guards only the Bais Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim, nevertheless, G-d guards Torah sages also outside Jerusalem.
The Torah Sages of whom the Zohar is talking lived at a time when there were no decrees against the observance of Judaism. They could fulfill Torah and mitzvos freely, and journey and talk of Torah matters without fear. Yet, G-d Himself guards them.
Jews living behind the Iron Curtain do not have such freedom. They observe Torah and mitzvos with great difficulty; indeed, they must exhibit literal self-sacrifice for every detail of Judaism. Certainly, then, G-d Himself guards them.
Further, this situation has existed for over fifty years, a period of time termed by Torah “forever.” And Jews behind the Iron Curtain still stand strong! The Talmud (Kesuvos 33b) says that had Chananiah, Mishoel and Azariah (who with self-sacrifice refused to worship idols) been subjected to more severe punishment — i.e. for a longer duration of time — they would have worshipped the idols. Yet Jews have been behind the Iron Curtain for more than fifty years — and have withstood the test!
They have stood firm although no escape from their situation seems possible, no hope that they can soon emigrate — as can be seen from the fact that the situation has remained in its status quo for so long. And still they fulfill Torah and mitzvos and educate their children in the same path — although they cannot promise their children that if they stand firm in their religion, the situation will change and they will be able to observe Torah and mitzvos in peace. They cannot promise such a thing for they do not know if it will happen — for since the situation has remained unchanged for over fifty years, and indeed, gets worse from time to time, no escape seems to be apparent.
Such a state of affairs should normally produce the question “How long!” — How long will G-d continue to keep them in their bitter exile. But these Jews do not ask this; they continue to observe Judaism with whole-hearted devotion, and their only request is — that they be successful in withstanding the test, and in fulfilling Torah and mitzvos.
Our intention in saying this is not, of course, to measure the greatness of these Jews against the greatness of the Sages of the Mishnah. Yet, Torah explicitly says, “The man Moshe was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth;” and the Alter Rebbe explains that Moshe was very humble particularly towards the last generation preceding the Messianic era, for he saw that they fulfill Torah and mitzvos with immense self-sacrifice.
May it be G-d’s will that the efforts of the organization which helps Jews behind the Iron Curtain be highly successful. In truth, it is the Jews behind the Iron Curtain who help us to observe the Torah and mitzvos. Torah and mitzvos are from G-d, and a Jew’s association with Torah and mitzvos must be through self-sacrifice to G-d. When Jews behind the Iron Curtain observe Torah and mitzvos with literal self-sacrifice, it becomes sufficient for us to serve G-d with potential self-sacrifice.