Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Kiddush HaShem of a Chabad Shaliach

Rabbi Raphael Rutman (screenshot)
A massive Kiddush HaShem. That is the only way I can describe it. A true example of a devout Jew living up to the mandate of Tikun Olam B’Malchus Shadai – repairing the world with the Kingdom of God.

This morning while I was involved in my daily morning ritual of having coffee and a doughnut while watching the news, I witnessed something amazing. A reporter doing a segment on how victims of a small Ukrainian town hit particularly hard by  Russian brutality were being cared for by a charitable organization. 

And that’s right. You guessed it. It was a Jewish organization headed by the very Orthodox looking Rabbi Raphael Rutman.

Rabbi Rutman is a Shaliach (emissary) of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe who back in 1992- sent him to Ukraine for purposes of reaching out to Ukrainian Jewry. After the Russians invaded that country last February devastation and depravation followed. 

As a result of that, Rabbi Rutman’s focus has changed. He is currently the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine and heavily involved in saving Ukranians from starving to death. Thousands of Ukrainian victims of war from all religions rely on his organization for food and water.  There is no discrimination whereby Jews are singled out for help before anyone else. Ukrainians from that small town are desperate and have nowhere to go for that food and water. All are treated equally by Rabbi Rutman’s organization. His goal is to save innocent Ukrainian lives. 

The reporter showed the non Jewish beneficiaries of his efforts expressing extreme gratitude to this organization for literally saving their lives. On a daily basis. Without his help they would litteraly starve to death. They all acknowledge that. The fact that this rabbi is a recognizably Orthodox Jew is what makes it such a huge Kiddush HaShem.

This is not an unusual circumstance for Chabad. When it comes to helping fellow Jews, they are perhaps the most dedicated people on the planet. When the situation calls for it they rise to the occasion - as did Rabbi Rutman. 

The very fact that Chabad Shiluchim (emissaries) are willing to live in virtual deserts of Jewish culture and infrastructure for purposes of outreach tells you something about their level of commitment to fellow Jews. Of all stripes. 

Credit for that must be given to their late Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. There are very few Jewish leaders that have the ability to motive their flock  the way he did. It is because of that ability, that one can find thousands of Chabad Shiluchim all over the world in the most remote locations. If even a small number of secular Jews can be found there one will very likely find a Chabad Shaliach there, too.

The Rebbe’s mission of reaching out to all Jews survives him. His influence was so strong - so pervasive that Chabad outreach might even be stronger now than it was during his lifetime. There are more Shiluchim spread all over the world now than ever.

This is why there is a Raphael Rutman living in a war ravaged country out there making a Kiddush HaShem. I am in awe of what they have accomplished. The entirety of Orthodox Jewry ought to recognize that and be grateful to  Chabad for all they do. And to recognize a Kiddush HaShem when they make one. Which I am proud to do here.

This doesn’t mean that I no longer have issues with Chabad. I do. Some of them rather serious. Those issues have not gone away. But frankly those issues pale in comparison to all the good they have accomplished in service to God, the Jewish people, and humanity. They have my utmost admiration. As they should from the rest of us. And I salute them.