By Sholom Kass & Chaim Itkin In addition to visiting…
You’ve scrubbed, cleaned and polished the hall; there isn’t a speck of chometz to be found. As the guests begin pouring in for the Seder, one of them happily presents you with an expensive bottle of scotch whiskey as a gift. What to do?
650 hundred bochurim will be heading out on Merkos Shlichus this Pesach to all corners of the world. From Rwanda, Ghana, New Zealand and Poland to Russia, Greece and Iceland; from China and India to Texas and California.
To better prepare for daunting task of preparing sedorim for hundreds of guests in these challenging situations, hundreds of bochurim packed into the Jewish Children’s Museum this past Thursday for a Yom Iyun; learning halachos, tips and tricks from the experts.
“You represent Chabad, you represent the Rebbe!” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, which sponsors and coordinates the project. Drawing from his forty years of service to the Rebbe, Kotlarsky shared from his treasure of stories and information to impress upon the bochurim the power and long term affects their visits will have.
World renowned halachic expert, Rabbi Mordechai Farkash, taught bochurim the dos and don’ts, and advised them on how to deal with various halachic problems that may arise. Farkash deftly navigated the boys through Sedorim which may have to begin well before nightfall, and advised them on how to ensure everyone fulfills the mitzvos of Pesach properly.
“I am pleasantly surprised at how many bochurim are travelling out,” said Rabbi Josh Gordon, of Chabad of Encino, California. Gordon told of the immense impact a seemingly minor encounter with a Jew could be, telling the story of meeting a Lubavitcher bochur whose mother he had called him 30 years before to learn Tanya. “Who could have imagined that a simple Tanya shiur would result in a family of mekushorim to the Rebbe?”
Bochurim were notably engrossed in the talks, with many aggressively taking notes. “While you may look like a wreck after having worked for days on end to prepare the Seder, it is important the guests don’t see that side of you,” stressed Rabbi Tzali Wilshansky, Merkos Shlichus veteran, and shliach in Kenosha, WI. “There is no excuse for not looking presentable, and acting as a Shliach of the Rebbe.”
“It was fascinating,” said Saadia Weingarten, of Grand Rapids, MI, and heading out to Pristina, Kosovo. “I feel far better prepared to be able to perform the Seder with maximum efficiency and responsibility.” Rabbi Schneur Nejar, who coordinates Merkos Shlichus along with Rabbi Mendel Kotlarsky, claims It is imperative the bochurim head out equipped with all the tools possible. “This event helps ensure they appreciate the wealth of opportunity, and are armed with the keys to success.”
Prior to heading outside for a group picture, the bochurim heard from Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, director of Chabad House HQ at Merkos, who gave them important technical travel tips and documents, as well as guides, haggados, bedikas chometz kits and other necessary materials. “We have done everything possible to ensure a smooth experience for each of these bochurim who are giving up spending Pesach with their families, to help their fellow Yidden.”
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