Jews and the Government

The saintly Rabbi Yisroel, the famed Ruzhiner Tzaddik – Rabbi Yisroel Friedman – was born in the year 1796 in Pszedborsz, near Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine province. His father Rabbi Sholom Shachne was a son of Rabbi Avrohom known as the “Malach” (Angel), the son of the Mezritcher Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber (successor to the Baal Shem Tov). In 1838, Rabbi Yisroel was denounced as a “rebel” against the Czar, and was imprisoned in Kiev and, later, in Kamenetz-Podolsk, for almost two years.

When he was temporarily released on Shushan-Purim 1840, he managed to escape Russia. He eventually settled in the Town of Sadigora, Austria, continuing his leadership of his followers until his passing in 1850.
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Shabbos Spent with Barbary Lions

Our story takes us back some 250 years to the city of Fez, today in Morocco.

Fez lies in the western part of northern Africa, known as the Barbary Coast. Rabbi Masoud Refael Alfassi lived in Fez. He and a group of friends longed to live in the Holy Land and one day they finally decided to travel 3,000 miles, through the Sahara Desert, to the Land of Israel.

They joined a caravan of traders, travelers, and camels, that was leaving Fez for the East and the Holy Land.
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Reb Zusya of Hanipoli and a Tailor

Penniless as always, patient as always, Reb Zusya of Hanipoli knew no rest – and now his wife was nagging him for a new dress. In the end he had no option but to somehow put together the money needed. He bought the material and handed it to his wife to give to the tailor. Now, surely, he would enjoy some peace and quiet.

But when Friday came, he saw clouds gathering over the features of his Rebbetzin.
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The life of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Once, during the difficult days under the Romans, Rabbi Shimon sat with his fellow rabbis, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yose ben Chalafta. During their conversation, they were discussing the Roman rule. Rabbi Yehuda spoke first saying, “The Romans aren’t all bad. They have invested in dozens of beneficial projects, beautiful cities, bridges and roads, which all serve to enhance public life.” Rabbi Yose remained silent.

Only Rabbi Shimon spoke up in fearless disdain of the wicked conquerors. “How can you say that?  Everything they have done was only to satisfy their own greedy desires. They built cities to contain their houses of vice and bridges as an excellent source of revenue to fill their coffers!”
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The Rebbe saved her life!

There was a young kallah (bride) from a Satmar family who, as her wedding day approached, wanted to go to the Rebbe for a bracha (blessing). Her family members tried to dissuade her from going (as they were not followers of the Rebbe and in some cases very much against the Chabad ideology) but she was adamant.

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Reb Menachem Mendel of Kosov

The holy tzadik, Reb Menachem Mendel of Kosov*, was a true lover of the Jewish people. He would always look for ways to help a fellow Jew in his time of need. His heart was filled with compassion and love for each one. He would go around collecting tzedakah and secretly give it out to poor and destitute families.

This is the way he acted beginning when he was still a young man and continuing throughout his life.
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Reb Naftali of Ropshitz with the Jews of Lublin

Blizzards and storm winds had pounded Lublin and the surrounding countryside for several weeks. The roads were piled so high with snow that no one was able to go anywhere.

This meant that the farmers weren’t able to reach the city with their produce and food supplies were dwindling rapidly.
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Biography of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson

The Chassidim of Nikolayev would fondly recall Chana’s scholarship as a teenager. When a maamar (Chassidic discourse) would arrive from Lubavitch—either repeated by a Chassid who was present at the Rebbe’s discourse, or as notes sent to her father’s home—she would meticulously and faithfully transcribe it, making it available for the eager Chassidim.

Bright and talented, Chana had an excellent ear for music—a quality she shared with her father.
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