23 October 2009

A man in a box

Actually, four couples (Noach, his wife, and their three married sons) and a really, really BIG man (Og) on top of the thing. What happened was, G-d decided to destroy the world except for Noach and his family. Ergo the floating Box (Ark) where they spent a year while the world known to them was being cooked (the waters were hot and sticky) into oblivion. When the waters finally subsided, the faced a whole new reality, a complete paradigm shift.
But if G-d wanted to kill everyone why wasn't it done quietly while allowing Noach and family to survive? Then Noach could've re-started the world immediately and wouldn't have needed an ark?

This story might provide an answer:

In 1992 an 85-year old woman went to see Rabbi Biederman, the Rebbe’s shliach in Vienna.
Her name was Margareta Chayos, a retired opera singer and she related a remarkable story. Her ancestors had been the great Holy Rebbes of the Vishnitz Chassidim. But she somehow had drifted from complete observance, travelled to Vienna and became a successful opera singer.

After Austria was annexed by Germany, all Jewish artists were banned. But she was overlooked and in August of 1939 actually performed in two Mozart operas for Hitler (yemach shmo). Soon after the Second World War began and her career in Austria ended.

She escaped to Italy and from there found her way to the U.S. She settled in Detroit and married a Jewish man (a grandson of one of the famous Rabbi and Talmudic commentator, the Maharatz Chayos).

Her family and friends were murdered by the Germans. After the war, Judaism rebuilt itself in Europe and Margareta Chayos' daughter grew up and married a prominent Jewish doctor. On one occassion he was being honored at a fundraising dinner for Chabad in New York. Margareta, as his mother-in-law attended and a private audience was arranged for her with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

“I walked into the Rebbe’s room,” Margareta related to Rabbi Biederman, “I cannot explain it, but I felt that I could cry. I had never cried before. We knew that if we would start crying, we might never stop, or that in order to survive we couldn’t express our emotions. But I began sobbing like a baby. I shared with the Rebbe my entire story.

"The Rebbe listened with his eyes, heart, and soul, and he took it all in. I shared everything and he absorbed everything. That night I felt like I was given a second father. I felt that the Rebbe adopted me as his daughter.

"At the end of our meeting I expressed my desire to go back and visit Vienna and the Rebbe asked me to visit him before the trip.

"A few months later I visited the Rebbe. He asked me to do him two favors and visit two people in Vienna to give them his regards. The first was the Chief Rabbi Akiva Eisenberg and the second was a Jewish professor at the University of Vienna.

“'His name is Dr. Frankl. Send him my regards and tell him in my name that he should not give up. He must remain strong and continue his work with vigor and passion. If he continues to remain strong, he will prevail'.

"This was totally strange to me. Who was this Doctor and why was the Rebbe sending him this message through me? I had no answer but decided to comply.”

"Once in Vienna, finding Rabbi Eisenberg was simple, but meeting the professor was more difficult. I finally found his house. A woman opened the door and I saw behind her a room filled with crosses, it was obvious that this was a mistake; this can’t be the home of the person whom the Lubavitcher Rebbe wanted me to encourage but nevertheless I asked if the professor is at home.” “Yes, please wait."

"Moments later a middle aged man came to the door, He looked tense and uninterested. I felt very awkward.”

“I have regards from Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn , New York ,” I told him. Rabbi Schneerson asked me to tell you in his name that you must not give up. You ought to remain strong and continue your work with unflinching determination and you will prevail. Do not fall into despair. If you march on with confidence, he promised that you will achieve great success.”

"He looked at me like he had seen a ghost, his eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped in disblelief. After a minute, he started shaking, put his face in his hands, and broke down sobbing like a baby. He could not calm down. He started weeping uncontrollably.

“I cannot believe this!” Dr. Frankl said repeatedly. After we sat down and he calmed down, he said, “This Rabbi from Brooklyn knew exactly when to send you here. It is a miracle! You have saved me!” He began crying again and could not thank me enough. I don't know what effected him so deeply. "

Rabbi Biederman thanked her but was intrigued. What really was behind this story?

It turned out that Victor Frankl was still alive, (he passed away in 1997, five years later at 87) and was well known and was a regular donor to the Chabad House in Vienna!

Biederman recalls, "I called him, introduced myself and asked him if he remembered the regards Margarete Chajes gave him from Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn some forty years ago?”
“'I don't remember the name Margarate Chajes, but of course I remember that day! I will never forget it. My gratitude to Rabbi Schneerson is eternal.' He answered emotionally.
"I invited myself over and he told me the rest of the story,
"He told me that as a young man in Vienna he excelled in the study of neurology and psychiatry and in the early twenties became part of the inner circle of the famous Dr. Sigmund Freud, the "Father of Psychoanalysis".
"But when the Nazis came, everything turned over; he and his family were sent to concentration camps where his parents, his pregnant wife and everyone else dear to him was killed. But despite it all he did not lose his positive spirit. And that was his problem!
"Already before the war, and even more so during his three years in the Nazi death camps, he had developed ideas which were contrary to the theories of Freud and his followers.
"Freud believed that humans are vulnerable, selfish animals governed by subcounscious frustrations and haunted by complexes and psychoses. The sole purpose of therapy, according to him, was freedom from these problems and no more. "But Frankl taught that the essense of man is the 'capacity for self-transcendence' – wholesome and deeply spiritual, never defined by life’s circumstances and limitations, but rather responsible to reform them by defining their meaning and message.
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others. They were few, but they offer proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
"But in the the 40’s and 50’s Freud's ideas reigned supreme and Frankl was dismissed as fanatic religiosity, raising up unscientific notions of conscience, faith and obligation. It was unpopular for students to attend his courses.
' I survived the German death camps and kept my spirit there but I could not survive the merciless derision and taunting of my colleagues undermining my every attempt at progress. Finally, after years of it, I was drained and depressed. I fell into a melancholy and decided to quit. I had no friends, no supporters. I began drafting my resignation papers.

"'And then suddenly, this woman gives me regards from Rabbi Schneerson from Brooklyn! Hope! Inspiration! Somebody in Brooklyn, no less a Chassidic Rebbe, knew about me! Appreciated me! He knew my predicament! He cared. At that time I was a nobody, rejected and alone! This was a miracle! How did he do these things?

“'Indeed, his words came true. I fought! And shortly thereafter, I was given a Chair at the University. My book 'Man's Search for Meaning' was translated into English and suddenly I became one of the most celebrated psychiatrists of the generation.

Frankl added: “A number of years ago Chabad established itself here in Vienna. I became a supporter.”

Frankl's book became a milestone that totally changed moden thought and put psychology and 'self-improvement' on the positive path that it is on today.
He wrote 32 books translated into 30 languages. He became a guest lecturer at 209 universities, held 29 honorary doctorates from universities around the world (more than any other man) and received 19 national and international awards and medals and his book “Man's Search for Meaning” sold some ten million copies and became listed by the Library of Congress as one of the most influential books of the century!
And all this would not have happened were it not for the prophetic vision, genius, and unending love of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
But the story is not over.
In 2003, Dr. Shimon Cown, a Lubavitcher Chassid from Australia, who is also an expert on Frankl, went to visit his non-Jewish widow (in 1947 Frankl married his second wife, a very devout Catholic, Eleonore Katharina Schwindt) in Vienna.
They spoke for hours and at one point she took out a pair of tefilin and tzitzis and showed it to him. “My late husband would put these on each and every day,” she said to him. "He never missed a day!
"When asked in interviews whether he believed in G-d, he would usually not give a direct answer. But a day of tefilin he would not miss!"
It seems the Rebbe elevated the professor in more ways than one.
This answers our questions. The flood and ark are necessary for true change. The flood waters are the confusions and difficulties of life that rid us of our false conceptions and egos and force us to realize that in order to survive we must raise ourselves above our present state and enter an 'ark'.
This is the message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as he expressed it to Dr. Frankl: don't let ANY situation get you down, rather rise above and fix it. Enter the 'ark' of truth and make a new world.
But the Rebbe also knew that this idea would be more acceptable to the coming from a science professor than from a Rabbi like himself. And that was the purpose of the flood.
Just as G-d purified the negative world with the flood so the flood of difficultes Dr. Frankl experienced in his life purified him and the negative views of science that prevailed. Through Dr. Frankl science ITSELF announced that we must raise above and transform nature!
Kabala says that in the Ark there was the spirit of Moshiach: total peace, security and awareness of G-d. Noach was beginning a new world where he hoped all mankind would participate (therefore the Torah plan for gentiles is called the NOAHIDE commandments). So also, Abraham; the spiritual father of all nations, rose above the masses to bring the message of G-d's goodness and omnipresence.
And today it is being done by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and those like him (including Dr. Frankl); informing us that WE can do it!!

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