Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mission in Hell

A social phenomenon in current Israeli society is the "festival". The great Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 that took place in upstate New York serves as its model. These festivals no longer happen in America but in Israel the tradition carries on and draws a large following. Thousands of Israeli youth gather at various venues several times a year to spend a few days together and indulge in whatever theme prevails. It could be a Beer Festival, a Music Festival or an Artwork Festival; Actually it's just an excuse to just come and "hang out" and have fun together.

One Chabad chassid got the bright idea to "crash" such sites. He took it seriously and finally won approval by the director of these festivals and of the police. He and his team create a Chabad "domain" within these festivals. It has become so well entrenched, in fact, the team, in whatever festival it happens to find itself, goes by its own autonomous name - "Festival of Lights"; A festival within a festival. Another most important result thanks to this Chabad initiative has been the removal from the festivals of a once-rival group - christian missionaries.

Last Shabbos the "Festival of Light" team, under the direction of self-appointed Chabad emissary, Rabbi Michael Kedlborg, joined the "Drugs Festival", in what turned out to be the largest festival of the last decade in Israel. His team comprised a small group of Chabad men who staked out a spot where they set up their large tents to accommodate the drifting youth.

The venue for this Drugs Festival was near "Yesod Hama'alah" situated in the Hula Valley.

Festival conditions were extreme and hectic. In the shade, the temperature registered 103 degrees. The soil, very dry and dusty, spawned a constant cloudy overcast of powdered dust. A storm swept through Friday afternoon that whisked away many tents. Portable chemical toilets weren't emptied and by Shabbos afternoon began overflowing. A single, small faucet in the sprawling area malfunctioned.

Despite these difficulties, the "Festival of Lights" team, with heroic effort managed to set up their tent-halls and get ready for Shabbos, which included two huge pots that eventually provided cholent for hundreds of participants.

On Friday night about 10,000 Israelis streamed to the festival! They filled the entire landscape, the basin of a huge fish pond that long ago dried out.

The Chabad structure attracted many attendees the entire night. Scores of kiddushes were said, as were hundreds of "LeChaim's". Like a watchtower on a dark sea, the teeming masses got a taste of Jewish light.

When the young rabbi awoke Shabbos morning, he found thousands of youngsters already up, under the influence of various drugs, dancing and jumping about to loud, deafening music.

"I felt really bad, as if in a dream of being in hell. I felt like my strength was oozing from me. I wanted to pack it in. I couldn't take this sick, oppressive atmosphere. But during the day, as hundreds were coming in to visit us, and were saying the Shabbos kiddush, learning some Tanya and discussing with us profound issues, I understood that the whole atmoshpere was merely an external shell, and what really mattered to them and what their souls yearned for was, in fact, the Redemption! The director of the Festival too was very grateful for our participation."

The following pictures were taken soon after arrival on Friday, afterwhich they had no spare time left:

1 comment:

  1. beautiful write up. the whole world yearns for Moshiach. it's just hard to realize at times.

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