The Sephardic community of Crown Heights gathered this Motozei Shabbos Parshas Toldos for the first of their monthly Melava Malkas during the winter months.
This week was chosen as the first week due to the proximity to the 1st yahrzeit of the Shluchim to Mumbai, Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg, and the 2nd yahrzeit of the first Shliach sent by the Rebbe to Morocco in 1950, Rabbi Shlomo Matusof OBM.
It was also the Shabbos before 8 Kislev, which marks 27 years from when the Rebbe sent the 2nd group of Talmidei Hashluchim to Morocco, amongst them Rabbi Lazer Avtzon, the founder and President of Cong. Merkaz Sefarad Chabad of Crown Heights and a nephew of Rabbi Matusof.
The evening began with a full course meal offered by two members of the Shul, Shimon BenAbou and Dani Ledayov.
The first speaker was the Shul’s RabbiMeir Shoushan, who welcomed all the guests and encouraged them to continue working together to unite the local Sephardic community through participating in the daily Shiurim of the Shul and activities such as these special Melava Malka gatherings.
He then related a story of the Baal Shem Tov as customary by Chasidim.
The singer and Paiyton, Yossi Matouf then led the crowd with several beautiful Chabad and Sephardic nigunum.
This was followed by an address by guest speaker Rabbi Dovid Bouskila, who was the Mashgiach Ruchani of Mosdot Otzar HaTorah/ Neve Chalom in Morocco and France for many years, and was also the person chosen by the late Shliach, Rabbi Leibel Raskin OBM to translate the Tanya into Arabic.
Rabbi Bouskila related how he was approached by Rabbi Raskin, and that he had initially refused, as had never learned the Tanya and was not familiar with its teachings. Rabbi Raskin offered to learn Tanya with him twice weekly, and after familiarizing himself with the Tanya, he accepted the challenge to translate it into Arabic.
Rabbi Bouskila had the crowd speechless as he said, “To be perfectly honest with you, prior to learning the Tanya, I had no idea who and what Hashem is, but after learning the Tanya, and translating it into Arabic, I finally began to understand the connection between Hashem, the world and human beings.”
He then continued to relate that after finishing the project, Rabbi Raskin suggested that they both travel to the Rebbe to present the Tanya in Arabic to him. In the Yechidus, the Rebbe asked him if he appreciates the value of his work, to which he replied, I assume it will help people who don’t speak Ivrit to understand the Tanya. Upon hearing this, the Rebbe replied, “Translating the Tanya in Arabic will break the Klipah of Yishmael and this will bring the Geulah that much closer.”
He also spoke about the unbelievable work accomplished by the Rebbe through his trusted Shluchim to Morocco, and how the Rebbe is to be credited for saving Moroccan Jewry, especially in light of the Alliance’s efforts to modernize, secularize and assimilate Moroccan Jewry.
Rabbi Lazer Avtzon then related the Sicha of the Rebbe to the Talmidim Hashluchim 27 years ago this week, in which the Rebbe spoke about the greatness of the Jews in Morocco, who have a rich history of Rabbonim, Poskim, Tsadikim, Mekubalim, etc., and that the work of the Shluchim was to learn Chasidus with them, since Chasidus is the closest thing to Kaballah, and that through these efforts, we would bring back the glory of the Sephardic community as it used to be.
Rabbi Bouskila then led the bentching, after which the crowd remained to watch the newly released JEM video, Faithful and Fortified, with Hebrew subtitles.
As Rabbi and Rebetzin Bouskila and a number of their children representing the Moroccan Jewish Community of Flatbush left, Rabbi Avtzon took them for a short visit with Rebetzin Pesia Matusof, who thanked them for coming and for sharing kind words on her late husband.