It’s 2am Monday morning, and I’m participating in the longest Zoom call in history… Chabad rabbis from across the world have been connecting at all hours of day and night, in a call that has been going strong for 120 hours with no sign of letting up. How do I begin to describe the tremendous energy pulsing through the chat? How can I convey the sense of connection we feel, the inspiration we share, the strength of this brotherhood?
It’s 3am on Tuesday morning and there are 651 other Chabad rabbis with me on this call. A rabbi from Florida is sharing a very personal story about his son’s illness. He describes how the doctors had given up all hope. He refused to listen and went to pray at the Rebbe’s ohel. Then he went from doctor to doctor with unyielding faith, and ultimately found a doctor who agreed to operate. Today, thank G-d, his son is well and healthy! The doctor who operated calls it nothing short of a miracle.
It’s 7pm on Tuesday and I am back on the Zoom. There are now 1000 Chabad rabbis in the room with hundreds waiting to join when space allows. This time, a rabbi is sharing the challenges he faced when he first moved to his remote town with his wife and young family. With tremendous faith and blessings from the Rebbe, he persevered, and over the years has built a thriving community.
It’s 4am Wednesday and there are 700 rabbis on the call. A colleague in Europe shares a story of his personal encounter with the Rebbe in the 1980’s which transformed his life.
It’s now Thursday, 10am, and the moderator asks all 750 of us to please say l’chaim and pray for the speedy recovery of a number of ill people, whose names he reads aloud.
None of this was planned. It was the annual farbrengen that we usually have in-person after the concluding banquet at the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, but the days’ long continuation happened organically. The official Zoom account even tweeted “wow!” when they heard!
Think about it. How long could you stay in a chat with your closest family and friends? An hour? Two? Three if you’re lucky? Yet here I am, 120 hours in, with my colleagues and friends from across the world, and at no point have there been fewer than 300 rabbis in the room! I’ve seen friends from Cape town and Sydney, Cambodia and Nigeria, Argentina and Russia. The language changes from Hebrew to Yiddish to English, with translation in the chat box.
So what is it that’s keeping us in this space together for so long?
It’s the common denominator we share: an insurmountable faith that we will overcome our challenges and fulfill our mission to make this world a better place. We are the Rebbe’s army, dispersed across the globe but unified by a single, shared goal. This is our chance to fortify our troops. To share, to bond, to be in a space with others who understand our daily struggles. And struggle we all do. But despite the challenges we face, we know, without a shadow of doubt, that everything will ultimately work out according to G-d’s plan.
There’s a well known saying, “A chassidic farbrengen can accomplish that which the angel Michael cannot accomplish.” A chassidic gathering is so powerful it can pierce the very heavens! When Jews unify, it unleashes a power that can blast through all barriers.
And having been part of this 120-hour-long (and counting!) farbrengen, I feel the intensity of that power, and would like to take the opportunity to bless you all with health, happiness, nachat from your loved ones, and everything you need and want. May we merit to witness the coming of Moshiach right now – even before I hop back on the Zoom call for my next dose of inspiration!