Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Frying Pan to Fire
(L-R: Reb Leibel Raskin (partially hidden), Reb Shlomo Matusoff, Reb B Gorodetzky, and TL"Y Reb Sholom Eidelman)
Reb Shlomo Matusoff lived from birth to adulthood under Soviet rule, no matter what commenter U N says. As a young Bocher he was arrested and imprisoned - together with a dozen other Bochurim - for studying Torah, mostly Gemorroh, Rashi, Tosfos by the way. After surviving the war years in faraway Uzbekistan - as did many other Chassidim and Nit Chassidim - he managed to escape the Soviet Union and arrive with hundreds of other Lubavitcher families to the D.P. Camps of Poking, Germany to await his final destination. Some waited a few years, but in the end they came אל המנוחה ואל הנחלה. However, Reb Shaym'ke, instead of traveling with the others to the relative comfort of Israel or the United States he was dispatched to far-off Morocco in 1950. He was in essence the first Shliach of the Rebbe, and he saved thousands of Moroccan children from Shmad. His passing this Sunday leaves a great void in the Lubavitcher/Shlichus family.
When I see people knock the institution of Shlichus, or I see other organizations touting their accomplishments, I think of people like Reb Shlomo and lbc"l Reb Sholom Eidelman ZG"Z and Reb Laibel Raskin O"H and laugh. I laugh at bitter old people like the Natchalnik who obviously got his daily dose direct from the Kremlin, and still can't shake it from their collective memories. They seem to have a whole different view of reality, sort of like the Arab view of the world, that everything we see is really a sinister Zionist plot, with all the buttons being pushed by the Mossad, which in this case would be the powers that be at Chabad. The International Chabad movement got all its people together and came up with this big conspiracy about how they survived all those years under Lenin and Stalin, when in reality it was really the Litvishe and Peylishe who did all the work. We just never see or hear from them, because they shun Koved and publicity, מה שאין כן the Chabad PR monsters.
So while the rest of your (and mine) Zeides and Bubbes were learning about stocks and bonds and Cobalt China and Mom's knishes Reb Shlomo was learning about donkies and Chumus, about Hashkavot and Mimuna. He was traveling from town to town in Morocco and setting up Chadorim and learning Torah with Yiddishe Kinder. Sefardishe Kinder. Thousands upon Thousands of Jewish children were saved from Shmad and the secular Alliance Schools that were offering a "better life" to these impoverished children if only they'd forget about being Jewish. Most children raised in Morocco in the last 50 years were Talmidim of Chabad schools. Living in Morocco meant constant uneasiness - if not fear - about being Jewish in a Muslim land, and there were times when their lives were in very real danger. Yet, with Hashem's help and the Rebbe's blessing they managed to raise a family there that puts most Gezha Crown Heights families to shame. Yes, the Matusoff children were sent away at a very young age, and yes they didn't merit to see the Rebbe as often as they liked, but it was worth it. Unlike other times when writing about such personalities I'll refrain from making comparisons to others.
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