By Dovber Grunblatt & Levi Shemtov Meet Gabi, champion of…
As in past years, the Merkos Shlichus office arranged a Yom Iyun for the bochurim traveling to some 270 cities, many without any existing Jewish infrastructure. In what has become a highly anticipated event among the participants, the Yom Iyun provides an opportunity for the bochurim to receive an comprehensive training on the ins and outs of conducting a Seder, both from a practical perspective as well as a Halachic one.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, opened the evening by welcoming the attendees and announcing that this year’s group has more than 600 bochurim going on Merkos Shlichus, the largest in recent years.
Rabbi Yosef Vigler, Rabbi and Shliach in Flatbush, NY, addressed the halachic aspects of running a Seder. He specifically addressed the need to focus on Halacha, even when the people participating might not understand the significance of the different things we do throughout the night. Rabbi Vigler spoke in depth about the various processes of koshering Keilim, and the intricate laws of selling Chametz in general, and relating to travelling in different time zones in specific. The bochurim came away with a clear understanding of the many facets involved in preparing a Seder according to Halacha.
Giving the bochurim a sense of the bigger picture they are part of was Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos, who shared his memories of the very first years of Merkos Shlichus in the late 40’s. “It happened to be that the original Merkos Shlichus grew into the enormous Shlichus that we have today. And much of the growth of Chabad around the globe happened because of the bochurim that went out during the summer for Merkos Shlichus.” He then related his thoughts on the connection to that day’s Torah portion – regarding Aaron’s avodah in the Beis Hamikdash with Moshe’s assistance – informing us that the key to our success is Moshe – the Rebbe. We must treasure it and not take it for granted.
Rabbi Kotlarsky expounded on that theme, and spoke about the great zechus of going on Merkos Shlichus. He stressed the importance of viewing the shlichus as Shlucho shel Odom Komoso. “You have to know who you are representing. Every interaction with a Jew can be the deciding factor on what will happen in the next steps of his Yiddishkeit.” He exhorted the bochurim to not forget the true purpose and mission that Merkos Shlichus was founded for.
Instructing the Merkos Shluchim on how to run the actual Seder was Rabbi Mendy Samuels, Shliach to Simsbury, CT. He highlighted the oft-repeated fact that you never know what impression you will make by simply walking in the street, so presenting yourself in a dignified manner at all times is crucial. With his trademark humor and candor, he reminded the bochurim that it is important to know your crowd and understand what to say at the Seder that will move them.
At the close of the program, which included a special video presentation of the Rebbe and a group picture, the bochurim left inspired and educated to bring the holiday of Pesach to tens of thousands of Jews worldwide.