Friday, May 27, 2011

Ungrammatically Correct

G-d spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert (1:1)

The Torah was given to us in the barren, ownerless desert to emphasize that no man may claim any superior right to the word of G-d. It is equally the heritage of every Jew, man, woman, and child, equally accessible to the accomplished scholar and the most simple of Jews.

- Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory

The Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, wife of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, was forever reciting Psalms, but with many mispronunciations.

Once, she commented to her son, Rabbi Yehudah Leib: "You know, it's strange. By now, I should know the book of Psalms by heart. I've been reciting the Psalms every day for many years now." "True," said Rabbi Yehudah Leib, "but each time you recite them with new mistakes."

The Rebbetzin related this exchange to her husband, adding that perhaps she had better stop her custom rather than distort the holy words. "No," insisted Rabbi Menachem Mendel, "continue to recite as before."

Later, Rabbi Menachem Mendel admonished his son and instructed him to ask his mother for forgiveness. "What do you know?" he told him. "My success in Petersburg1was in the merit of your mother's Psalms."

1. In 1843, the Russian interior ministry called a 'rabbinical conference' in the czarist capitol of Petersburg. At the conference, the leaders of the 'Enlightenment' movement joined forces with the czarist government to use the forum in their program of forced assimilation for the Jews of Russia. In the course of the conference, Rabbi Menachem Mendel was arrested no less than twenty two (!) times for his defiant and unwavering stand in defence of traditional Jewish life, but in the end his efforts met with complete success.

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