By Yochanan Gordon
People always wonder why the news that we are bombarded with daily is for the most part negative. Media outlets say, people are drawn to bad news, which is a study for a different time. However, that would explain why a large part of the news stories that we encounter are of a negative slant.
We’d like to think that we are different – but are we?
Many of the most popular stories on this site and many other Jewish sites and blogs are those of people who in one way or another are looking to challenge the system that they belong to. Just to name a couple, the dramatic back and forth of Chabad Lite, the areas of tznius, Call of the Shofar, education, tuition and shidduchim are all topics that caused a firestorm of comments with tons of name calling and finger pointing which did not go a long way in uniting us and accentuating the beauty of Chabad Chassidus and its worldwide movement – but who is looking for good news anyway?
To contrast this, I was in Monsey this past Shabbos and the rav of the shul was speaking about the horrific tragedies that have befallen us lately and the loss of some great luminaries that he focused on in order to wake up the Kehilla to learning Torah and doing Mitzvos with greater fervor and going out of their way to help the shul and help their fellow neighbor in need.
It seems that after the Friday night Drasha, a congregant approached the Rav and asked him why he always focuses on the negative if there is so much beauty and happiness within Klal Yisrael? The Rav addressed this congregants question in his Shabbos Drasha and answered in the classic litvish fashion which had something to do with G-d not being so happy with the state of the Jews in 2014 and how He expects more from us.
There is an interesting phenomenon that I have observed in the way people respond to stories that are posted online. Some of the most viral web posts have been stories of unprecedented kindness and heroism that turns people onto the beauty of the world in which we live.
In fact, using an example from this site I am inspired by the reaction to the Chassidus applied series which this past Sunday evening broadcast its third episode where Rabbi Simon Jacobson has addressed some of the most vexing questions and how to overcome these issues from a Chassidic perspective. Another series of late that has received a rather warm reception has been Reb Yoel Kahn‘s weekly webcast on the Parsha.
What emerges from this is the notion that people are just as crazy about positive news and self-help classes if it’s given in a friendly and non-judgmental manner – which is what Chassidism has always been about since its inception in its appeal towards the masses.
This morning after Shacharis, I sat down for a few minutes to read a few lines in the Sefer Peirush Hamillos of the Mitteler Rebbe and was overcome with a sense of ecstasy.
I left shul humming under my breath a Chassidic niggun and peered into the Heavens and thought how great our Rebbeim were and how fortunate we all are to be a part of such an illustrious sect within the Jewish people. The beautiful part about Chassidus is that it doesn’t have to be Peirush Hamillos, or Torah Ohr, or Derech Mitzvosecha – rather it could be a Sicha, a video of the Rebbe or a Chassidishe story that could just as easily fan the flame of G-dliness within our souls capable to aid us in rediscovering the beauty of Chassidus.
I once heard an anecdote of a Chassid who traveled from one of the more distant outposts to greet the Rebbe and get a blessing for him, his family and his Shlichus. During his meeting, he lamented to the Rebbe about his inability to constantly be in the Rebbe’s presence. The Rebbe responded to him, “Through learning what I learn we could meet. When I walk in the street I review Tanya and if you do the same we will meet somewhere in the middle.”
This is an important story for those who feel they have been gypped in a sense by not being able to live in the same generation as the Rebbe and therefore blame all our failures and shortcomings on that predisposition. The Rebbe Rashab prior to his histalkus said, “I am ascending on high but my teachings I am leaving with you.”
This describes the notion of Anochi which stands for, “Ana Nafshi Kesavis Yehavis” – which says that the Rebbeim wrote their essence into their teachings. It’s time we rediscovered our rich heritage and be the harbingers of light, happiness and positivity in the face of all the darkness.