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A Journey To Lost Twin Brothers In the Jungles Of Sri Lanka

Rav Shneur Maidanchik, a Chabad shaliach in Columbo, the capital of the southern Asian island country of Sri Lanka, wrote a moving story [in Hebrew] on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

He wrote: “A few months ago, two Sri Lankans arrived at our Chabad house in Colombo. To this day I don’t know why they came, but they mentioned that there are twin Israeli brothers – monks who live in a temple named Samanalawewa in the jungle. They gave me a phone number of a person who’s familiar with the temple. I started trying to track them down and realized it would be difficult since they’re in an area that is a 5-hour trip from Colombo – through rainforests and jungles – with no normal access road.”

“Today, I made a decision that I have to find them. I didn’t have their phone number or address so I decided we would just embark on the trip. I searched for a long time for a driver with a suitable vehicle, and Rav Shnuer Ariel [a fellow Chabad shaliach], and I embarked on the trip at 5:20 in the morning – a journey into the unknown…”

“When we got close to the area we were looking for, we asked the driver to ask the locals about the Samanalawewa temple, and one of them was able to lead us there. We stopped the car right when a monsoon had started – torrential rain. We set out with all the stuff we brought, including tefillin. We went down and up the mountain, between rivers, and it turned out that we were directed to the wrong temple. We met a local monk there who didn’t speak a word of English. We tried to talk to him and then he pointed forward and said ‘sudo,’ which means ‘white’ in the local language. White person. We realized that we had to travel forward to meet the two white people we were looking for…”

“We returned to the car sopping wet, drove three kilometers in the direction the monk indicated, and suddenly we saw a sign: Samanalawewa! We got out of the car and found an area that was completely empty of people and traffic. A boy with a motorcycle stopped next to us and agreed to take us inside. We walked and walked in rainforests with leeches sucking our blood, literally.”

“And suddenly, suddenly we see them! Two sweet Israeli brothers, twins, sitting in a cave in the rock, with all green surroundings, with only the sounds of streams and birds.”

“Of course, they were astounded. How did we get to them? They’ve been there for five years and an Israeli only visited them once. They asked us if goyim have a neshamah and from there a discussion developed about Tanya and Chassidus – we spoke about the Geulah and the Goel. We sat with them for several hours in a warm and loving atmosphere. Their outer shell (klipah) slowly cracked open and their inner spark was revealed. At the end, they put on tefillin and we also gave them a mezuzah for shemirah. One of the brothers asked on his own how to toivel his dishes to purify them. We made up to meet again in Colombo.”

“כי לא ידח ממנו נידח”
עם ישראל חי
מצאנו את האבדה שלנו.
כולנו אחים.
דווקא היום.
‘בואו נזכור את זה.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

28 Responses

  1. i hope the shluchim didn’t actually go into a temple which is a place of tuma’ah of the worst kind of avodah zara.
    besides this is hardly a thing for religious frum media to publish it looks like religious Jews are ch”v lenient or understanding towards avoda zara r”l…

  2. Amazing story a modern day attempt to rescue two
    List Jews and bring them back
    Whole other criticize and find meaningless fault these two chabadniks went to try to save them from them selves

  3. I’m assuming lekaf zechus that perhaps the mitzvah of saving a yid and the parameters one is able to employ in that regard somehow was forgotten by “pureyiddishkeit”? I am Dan LeKaf Zechus because I can’t fathom why in such an inspiring story a Yid, a Ma’amin, would seek to unearth the spectre of Avoda Zara and attempt to besmirch two Yirei Hashem …

  4. Beautiful! One may be mechalel shabbos to try to rescue someone from shmad and enter the place of AZ for this purpose.

    (I note they are outside the place of AZ and the article says they found them in a cave – but critics see and read what they want to , to give themself excuses to criticize, but that gives them pleasure and simcha, so who am I to deprive them of their enjoyment)

    To ‘pure yiddishkeit”, I certainly hope that when your child is in a church or temple, you won’t hesitate to enter it to try to save her without first spending days asking shaylos if it is muttar to enter the place of AZ for this purpose.

  5. @Pure

    This is the difference between a Jew and a jew (small j with small minds).
    There are people who go into filth to rescue other holy Jews and there are those who sit comfortably on the sideline and theoretically Paskin Halacha with a blind hart.
    jews (small j) need to get into the filth in order to save themselves someday and guess who will be there.

    Thank you Chabad for everything you do.

  6. I was waiting to hear from the “regulars” that start foaming from their mouth whenever they see “chabad”.

    I wait to hear them howling at the moon with the usual complaints:
    “the tefillin isn’t placed prefectly”
    ,“Chabad propoganda”
    “inappropriate to leig tefillin in the streets”
    ,“messianics” etc…

    and now the ultimate foolish complaint:
    “frum media to publish it looks like [“maras ayin”?] religious Jews are ch”v lenient or understanding towards avoda zara r”l” – a complant against YWN fir even publishing such an article – which can be “machshil” others to be “lenient or understanding” about AZ. Really?!

    Because, such howling harmonizes well with the howling of all sonei Yisrael that seek to find fault in any Yid, and all leftist haters, that hate yiddishkeit in sny form but specifically target Chabad, in a symphony of hatred against fellow yidden.

    Approprate for tisha b’av.

  7. Any negative comments are representative of really lonely people. This is such a beautiful story. I hope they light the flame in them and fill their lives with what they were missing and they come to live a Torah observant life. Thank you.

  8. Rebbitzen Goldenpickanicerscreenname:
    You missed mentioning the one about hiskashrus to a dead rebbe who, in their theology, is omniscient and omnipotent and runs the world (and is also Mashiach who will return from the dead – just like the Christians claim about their mamzer).

    But, of course, you know better than even the great gedolim like Rav Shach who, even back then, knew this and called out Chabad for their foolishness.

  9. Rebbitzen Goldenpickanicerscreenname:
    The story doesn’t say that they expected to find them outside, only that this is what ended up happening. This implies that they were in fact prepared to enter that temple of idolatry.

  10. Frumshmurda718 “Why do chabadskers love associating with avodah zara”, you will understand when your child starts serving yoshke or joins a monastery in the far east, and Chabad invites your child for a shabbos meal and for the first time in many years, your child puts on tefillin (on a hand covered in tattoos), maybe then you will understand why Chabad goes into the darkest places to help a yid find his or her way back to yiddishkeit, or maybe you still won’t understand.

  11. Hakatan, you crawled out from under the rock to spew poison on an international kehilah of hundreds of thousand yidden, including countless world renown rabbonim, roshei yeshivos, manhigim, marbitzei torah, mechaber seforim. You earned a spot at the dias of the gathering of sonei yisroel.

  12. I can assume these 2 Sheluchim were in cell phone/zoom contact with someone at Ohel, who could place note at the Ohel immediately when they were still at this cave, and could receive immediate guidance how to proceed.

  13. I hesitate to comment on this story for many reasons, and seemingly the comments already posted and “approved” are way off the mark. Way off any mark. For example, I don’t know anything about these two shluchim, how learned they are, how wise they are, etc., so it’s hard and probably wrong to criticize their actions. But the commenters here all speak like groisse lamdonim, and condemn or praise the shluchim when they are basically ignorant of the reality of the situation (and the associated halachic aspects). And I don’t know if they put themselves in a matzav of sakanah by going on this wild goose chase, and I don’t know what the shlichus handbook says about that, nor about going into a bais AZ to put tefillin on a wayward Jew. So I don’t really want to comment on the incident and its actors at all.

    My reaction revolves more around a Chabad problem, not this incident per se. Why is this story being told or published? Does the effectiveness of Chabad outreach become improved in any way? Does someone make money because it’s published? Are the twin brothers more likely to become frum yidden because the article is “liked” by the more emotional amongst us? Obviously none of the above. In my personal life (mostly due to my wife’s talent, I must admit), I can regale you with kiruv stories that not only outshine any silly or not-so-silly anecdote reported by Chabad, but have led to real results of frum Torah families with their children in regular mainstream yeshivos and they themselves living in kollel communities and the like. Just as an example of the emotion-laden success reports, recently a family member became ill (he’s fine now B”H), and within a couple of weeks there were large daily tehillim groups of over 50 young women for a zchus for him — all my wife’s former (perhaps not so former) students, all whose parents were and are m’chal’lei Shabbos, and all who are married and raising Torah families. But I don’t regularly report on it, so why does Chabad?

    But I think I do know the reason.

    The fact is that by and large, in spite of the greatness of the Rebbe a”h, the Torah velt does not accept Chabad philosophy, mostly because of their adherence to not-necessarily-Torah ideals (I believe the main objection was and is their idolization of a human vs HKB’H). Chabad knows this, they know it very well, and are extremely pained by it. So they want the frum oilam to read their emotional (somewhat) stories, and ooh and aah about how wonderful Chabad is, and then regale in how half the readers say with conviction How wonderful Chabad is, and their kind should multiply in Klal Yisroel, and others condemn anyone who dares to say a bad word about them, etc. This makes them feel “accepted”.

    So if Chabad adherents are so insecure in their conviction about how correct and how Yiddish and how Olam-Habbah-compatible their mehalech is that they must constantly seek the feel-good approval of the amei ha’aretz amongst us, how sure can we be about them?

    I’m just asking…

  14. >>>To ‘pure yiddishkeit”, I certainly hope that when your child is in a church or temple, you won’t hesitate to enter it to try to save her

    He won’t need to. He’ll just call up the local shliach to do the “dirty work” for him.

  15. @isaacbalbin,
    I think you have misunderstood me.
    I did not ‘besmirch’ anyone, i was just saying that going into a temple has no heter, BUT it was not even clear if they did,
    sure the story is very warming don’t get me wrong.

  16. @Rebbitzen Goldenpickanicerscreenname,
    you sound like a schizophrenic (I am not ch”v saying you are I said you are ACTING like one), as if you look at many other stories about Chabadniks, nowhere will you find me “foaming” or whatever other garbage you blabber about. quite the opposite.

    @Menachem Shmei, and to all the idiotic people who love to curse any Jew that doesn’t think their way,
    it sounds utterly retarded and downright stupid to make such silly statements.
    Where did anyone see in my words critic of Chabad AS A CHASSIDUT or the work they do?? I MERRELY QUESTIONED THE WAY THEY DID WHAT THEY DID.
    I RETAIN THE RIGHT TO QUESTION something i don’t understand or agree with, Judaism is built on asking questions and answering, not being bullied by ignorant YWN posts into believing their stinking garbage hashkafos,

  17. Give it time, I’m sure in ten years we’ll see a story about two litvaks doing the same thing and it will be stunning and revolutionary.

  18. Frumwhere, a brief halacha lesson: To save his own life he is allowed to enter a house of idolatry as stated in Shulchan Aruch Y. D. s. 157,3 This halacha follows the Rosh and Ran, as opposed to Rashba that forbids it.
    הרשב”א דאפי’ היכא דאיכא פיקוח נפש אסור ליכנס לחצר עכו”ם הרא”ש והר”ן חולקים על הרשב”א ומתירין והכי
    נקטינן להקל בסכנת נפשות
    To save a life includes saving a spiritual life:
    שולחן ערוך הרב אורח חיים סימן שו סעיף כט
    מי שנודע לו בשבת שהוציאו נכרים את בתו מביתו להוציאה מכלל ישראל, מצוה לשום לדרך פעמיו להשתדל להצלתה ויצא אפילו חוץ לי”ב מיל ואפילו אם יצטרך לעשות מלאכה גמורה להצלתה. ואפילו אם הוא ספק אם יצילנה, מפני שענין זה הוא כפיקוח נפש שמחללין השבת, אפילו בספק הצלה. שאין לך פיקוח נפש יותר מזה שלא תצא מכלל ישראל ותחלל שבתות כל ימיה. ומוטב לחלל עליה שבת אחת משתחלל היא שבתות הרבה. שמטעם זה ג”כ מחללין שבת בשביל פיקוח נפש, שאמרה תורה: חלל עליו שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה. (ולפיכך אף אם הבת היא קטנה שאינה מחוייבת עדיין במצות, יחלל עליה להצילה שלא תחלל שבתות הרבה כשתגדיל, שמטעם זה מחללין שבת לפיקוח נפש הקטנים).
    “ואם אינו רוצה להשתדל בהצלתה בחילול שבת, כופין אותו. והוא הדין אם אינה בתו אלא בת או בן איש אחר, אע”פ שאינו קרובו ויש יכולת בידו להשתדל במצוה זו, אע”פ שהוא ספק אם יציל כופין אותו להשתדל בכל מה שאפשר, אפילו בעשיית מלאכות גמורות אם יצטרך להן”.
    The rational behind it:
    ביאור הלכה סימן שכט סעיף ד
    אלא לפי שעה – ואע”ג דלא שייך הכא הטעם חלל שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה, משום דלאו דוקא שבת, הוא הדין שאר מצות, כמו שכתב המאירי ביומא וזה לשונו: “ואעפ”י שנתברר שאי אפשר לו לחיות אפילו שעה אחת, שבאותה שעה ישוב בלבו ויתודה”. אמנם, באמת נראה דכל זה הוא לטעמא בעלמא, אבל לדינא לא תלוי כלל במצות. דאין הטעם דדחינן מצוה אחת בשביל הרבה מצות, אלא דחינן כל המצות בשביל חיים של ישראל וכדיליף לה שמואל מ”וחי בהם”.

  19. I love Chabad. And I am not Chabad.

    This is to all the above writers and delegation of haters. Those who are comfortable.
    Like the Rabitzon said
    I say let’s wait until you or your children fall off Derech or need spiritual assistance and see who is going to come calling to help.
    There is no question that the Holy Rebbe has passed and those who say that he hasn’t together who those instigate hatred will be in the same hot summer in democratic run Gehenam.

  20. Hey Rebbitzen, I’m sorry if i offended you by intimating that you’re throwing psakim around in a clueless fashion. Where I come from, questions of such a nature (ie rarely occurs, many deios about it, etc) are not decided by looking it up in the poskim, they are decided by serious consultation with poskim mumchim. And they certainly should not be decided by studying a shluchim instruction booklet or what-have-you. And you and I both don’t know anything about the circumstances of this particular incident, nor about the actors therein, nor about any plans for a real hatzalas nefesh (like beyond putting on tefillin), so thanks for making my point once again about the comments being off the mark.

  21. Rebbitzen, your second מראה מקום has no bearing to this situation.
    Obviously you are mechalel shabbos in certain cases, but not when it comes to a”z g”a or s”d.
    They being said, I’m not saying anything about this situation, it could be there are heterim, they didn’t walk in, etc. just pointing out the flaw in that argument.

  22. 741 – the point of the second מראה מקום is to illustrate that even a momentary possibility that the person does teshuva, justifies וחי בהם, as the Mishne Brura quotes the Me’iri: שבאותה שעה ישוב בלבו ויתודה. Therefore, certainly, when they put on tefillin there is a real possibility that at that moment they contemplate teshuva.

    FrumWhere – you assume that the shluchim handbook is composed by the whims of a group of children without any consultation with expert poskim in these complex areas?! How silly!

  23. To clarify – I am not Chabad and I am not even chassidish. My husband and I are a mix of yeskkish and Teinnani mesorah.

    But I am a lover of ALL Yodden, and I will stand up ferociously against critics of Chabad, Breslov (Uman), Satmar (medina), Dati Leumi (yishuv haaretz and mekomos hakedoshim), BMG (local politicians and development of malls), YU (Hagaon Harav Schechter), Dirshu (self-aggrandizing propaganda), Sefardim (hanhogos and psokim) etc.

    I love all Yidden and kulam ahuvim, kulam brurim, kulam kedoshim, even if your mesora differs vastly from mine. Remember we are k’ish echad b’lev echad, because Av echad l’kulanu.

    Is that too difficult for so-called frum yidden to accept???

  24. Hakatan – “You missed mentioning the one about hiskashrus to a dead rebbe…”, that is a Judaic precept accepted by all Jews that adhere to our traditions, as we announce at Kiddush Levana our connection to a “dead” sovereign who we believe is alive, דָּוִד מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי וְקַיָּם. Although this isn’t from the Scriptures, rather it is from the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 25a), even secular Jews adopted this in a popular song. But you HaKatan obviously take issue with basic Jewish beliefs and find opportunities to mock them.

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