Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Sukkot Spanning the Generations
This article was taken from the Chabad.org website. It was written by Menachem Posner. We usually do not copy the images from the Chabad website, however, since this article is about two specific historical figures, I thought it appropriate to use the images as well. I am hoping that by providing the appropriate attribution, that we will not get in trouble for using this article and images.
|Rabbi Peretz Mochkin.|
The year was 1927. The place was Simferopol, southern Ukraine, then part of the USSR. Rabbi Peretz Mochkin was a marked man. As a devoted follower of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, active in the Chabad’s underground network of Jewish institutions, he lived his days in constant fear of the secret police and their proxies.
Just before the joyous holiday of Sukkot, Rabbi Peretz fell ill with typhus and felt that his days were numbered. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. His old friend, Yankel, a rabbi from the town of Zhuravitz, had made the 1,200-kilometer journey to visit and bring the Mochkin family some much-needed holiday cheer. Rabbi Peretz’s daughter, Guta Schapiro, later would recall to her grandchildren that “The sukkah was very small and very poorly built – we did not want the KGB to know about it – and Rabbi Yankel was a large man, so when he sat in the sukkah with my father, there was no room for anyone else.”
The men began singing “A Sukaleh a Kleinier,” a Yiddish folk song about a Jewish family in a rickety sukkah. As winds howl outside, the father in the song reassures his family that the holiday candles will not blow out and the sukkah will remain standing. As the two men sat and sang, and the makeshift sukkah swayed back and forth with their every movement, the children knew in their hearts that no one – not even Stalin – would extinguish the flame of Judaism.
Rabbi Peretz eventually recovered and escaped the Soviet Union in 1947. Rabbi Yankel had been arrested in 1937 by the KGB and shot for his “counterrevolutionary” activities.
By a twist of Divine humor, Rabbi Yankel’s great-granddaughter, Chanie Galperin, married Rabbi Peretz’s great-grandson, Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff. The Russian communists are long gone, but the rabbis’ lineage is going strong.
Nearly 90 years later, Rabbi Chaim and Chanie Lazaroff, co-directors of Chabad of Uptown have made it a tradition to host 100 people in their gargantuan sukkah every year on the first night of Sukkot as a tribute to their forebears and the triumph of the Jewish spirit.
“It’s a beautiful evening of singing, lots of delicious food, and a heartwarming celebration of unity, with so many Jews packed into one sukkah together,” said Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff.
Putting People First
"Get an editor. Your first sentence has a mistake."
Ouch. I quickly reread the e‑mail that I'd just been sent. My face flushed with embarrassment.
I was angry, too. Why did he have to be rude about it? Why not write, "Great e‑mail; just wanted to mention that you have a small typo in the first line. Thanks for including me on your e‑mail list"?
Then again, the point remained, either way he broke it to me: I really need to double-check my work before I hit the "send" button. And his blunt response would probably do a better job of reminding me to check my work the following week.
Would you rather that others are nice to you, or honest with you?
Moses did not fade. That is the accolade the Torah gives him at the end of his long and eventful life:
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his natural force unabated.
Somehow Moses defied the law of entropy that states that all systems lose energy over time. So do people, especially leaders. The kind of leadership Moses undertook -- adaptive, getting people to change, persuading them to cease to think and feel like slaves and instead embrace the responsibilities of freedom -- is stressful and exhausting. There were times when Moses came close to burnout and despair. What then was the secret of the undiminished energy of his last years?
The Torah suggests the answer in the very words in which it describes the phenomenon. I used to think that “his eyes were undimmed” and “his natural force unabated” were simply two descriptions, until it dawned on me that the first was an explanation of the second. Why was his energy unabated? Because his eyes were undimmed. He never lost the vision and high ideals of his youth. He was as passionate at the end as he was at the beginning. His commitment to justice, compassion, liberty and responsibility was unyielding, despite the many disappointments of his forty years as a leader.