In a demonstration of this reconciliation, Rabbi Gutnick flew especially to Sydney to personally participate in the Barmitzvah of HaTomim Menachem Mendel Feldman, son of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok HaCohen Feldman and grandson of Rabbi Pinchus Feldman.
After being honoured with reading the Rebbe's traditional Letter to the Barmitzvah Bochur, Rabbi Gutnick launched a worldwide appeal to all Jews and especially to Anash, to learn from their personal example, to do all in their ability to make peace with one another and work out ALL differences, thereby enabling all of us, Besoch Klal Yisroel, to be a vessel for the blessings of Hashem Yisborech, first and foremost, to greet Moshiach Tzidkainu now!
The joy of the entire community was expressed by Rabbi Daniel Kaye who, on behalf of the assembled made the blessing of "Shehechyanu" to which everyone responded with a loud Amen.
Mrs. Ziporah Oliver who initiated this historic reconcilaition shared her personal reflections on acting as the broker for the Feldman/Gutnick Reconciliation"
The process of negotiating the peace between Rabbi Pinchas and Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman, and Rabbi Joseph Gutnick took exactly two months: it began on 25 Sivan and was completed on 25 Menachem Av.
I believe this date is significant:
1. The number 25 is related to Kohanim, for it is the numerical value of the first word of the commandment to the priests to bless the Jewish people; the members of this conflict were Kohanim.
2. It occurred in the Hebrew month of Menachem Av, which literally means “comforting the father.” The conflict dating back to 2003 brought tremendous distress to the late Rabbi Chaim Gutnick, of blessed memory, and so the peace forged was a source of comfort to their father, Rabbi Gutnick.
3. Menachem is also the name of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory, whose movement had been shamed by the public nature of this conflict, which was held between members of his movement.
I am confident that success in this endeavour was achieved through divine intervention. As we say in our prayers, “May He Who makes peace in His heavens make peace for us and all of [the people of] Israel.” All success stems from Above. The task for us mere mortals is to actively pursue peace, even it involves expending strenuous effort. This effort creates a vessel into which the divine blessing of peace can flow, be received, and be maintained.
But how was it done?
One of G-d’s names is “Shalom,” which is related to the Hebrew word “shleimut,” completeness. Conflict distances us from G-d. It is the handiwork of the dark side, and if we allow it to continue it seeks to drag us down into a quagmire of negative behaviours.
In most protracted conflicts there are “two sides to the story,” and many unpleasant and painful feelings are provoked. It is important to acknowledge this. Thus, in my efforts to negotiate peace I did acknowledge the claims, but I insisted that I would not become involved in any conversation that would not further the pursuit of peace. Instead, I articulated the good qualities of the other side; this can be a tricky dance. I did as much as possible to focus single-mindedly on promoting positive, constructive moves toward peace, despite various discouraging turns of events along the way. I term this approach “inspired innocence.” Thank G-d, the efforts proved successful.
I am an old family friend of many family members on both sides of the quarrel, and I would consult with Rabbi Chaim Gutnick and was a friend of the late Rebbetzin Rosie, his wife. Thus, this conflict brought me much personal distress.
At first this reconciliation seemed an impossible feat, but I felt that I owed it to Rabbi Chaim Gutnick to try. I refused to accept the prevailing despairing view that this conflict was irreparable. I resolved that even if I would fail, it would only be after “giving it my best shot.”
In this process I was inspired by the teachings and guidelines of the Torah, which “was given to make peace in the world.” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Chanukah 4:14)
Thus, my message is: don’t give up in pursuing peace.
Every person in a position to bring peace carries the responsibility to do his utmost to foster it, all the while pleading for assistance from G-d.
Expect the road to be long and tortuous, fraught with heavy rains, rocky stretches, and unexpected twists and turns. But keep plodding, never give up and turn back. G-d is waiting for you to demonstrate your tenacity, and hopefully you will be granted the privilege of promoting peace. Even if you do not succeed, know that your efforts were not in vain, for they model worthy behaviour for others, and “the task is not yours to finish, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Ethics of the Fathers, 2:21)”
Moreover, every good deed is significant and makes a powerful positive difference in the cosmos, as Maimonides writes, every person should consider himself perfectly balanced between reward and punishment. Similarly, he should see the entire world as similarly balanced because of his deeds. If he commits one sin, he tilts the scales of judgment for himself and for the entire world toward guilt and condemnation, and consequently he can be the cause of the whole world’s destruction. But if he does one good deed, he can tilt the scales of judgment for himself and the whole world toward merit and can bring salvation and deliverance for himself and the whole world. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 5:1)
In particular, making peace is a consistent theme in Chabad Chasidic philosophy. Thus Rabbi Schneerson taught that since achieving peace is of extremely lofty importance, and is a crucial element in bringing about the ultimate Messianic redemption, there is tremendous opposition to it, and intense effort is required to overcome this.
I wish to particularly recognise the roles of Rabbi Pinchas Feldman and Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman, and Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, who made great efforts and sacrifices to achieve this peace. I wish to thank Rabbi Eli Feldman for his assistance.
May all who read this be written and signed for a good and sweet year. May every single person’s effort, in their own lives, to pursue peace contribute to tipping the heavenly scales and ushering in the era of universal peace, with the coming of the Moshiach.
Zipporah Oliver OAM
(61) 0438 345 770