People Who Make a Difference in Our Community
BJL: My understanding is that you have spearheaded the distribution of the weekly Mesilot Parsha pamphlets that we see in shuls throughout the community. Can you tell us about these pamphlets?
Michael Kandchorov: These pamphlets are called “Mesilot EL Hanefesh'' or “Pathway to the Soul.” It’s written by Rabbi Yisrael Abargel shlita and it consists of the teachings of his father Rabbi Yoram Abargel ztz”l, the big Mekubel who was based in Netivot, Israel. Rabbi Yisrael Abargel was instructed by his father to spread the latter’s teachings throughout Am Yisrael. The teachings are based on Chassidut, Kabbala, Gemorah, Halachot- it’s a mix of everything that encompasses Torah.
BJL: How did you get involved with Mesilot?
MK: My family has been connected to the family for over 30 years, so when Rabbi Yoram Abargel passed away, I got closer to Rabbi Yisrael, and I took it upon myself to start distributing the pamphlets here in America, starting in NY.
BJL: When did you start distributing it?
MK: May 20, 2021 was when I officially said that I was going to undertake this project of distributing the pamphlets in NY. I set my mind on distributing them to as many shuls as possible. I knew this was going to be an enormous project because once you learn from Rabbi Yisrael Abargel’s teachings, it’s very hard to put down. You want more and more. I started with 50 pamphlets a week. I did it on my own. And then a friend tagged along, and then another and this is how it grew and blew up.
BJL: How many shuls are receiving these pamphlets?
MK: In NY alone, I would say at least 150 shuls are getting these pamphlets. BJL: How many people are involved currently with the distribution of these pamphlets? MK: I would say there are about 200 distributors.
BJL: Which were the first shuls to receive these pamphlets?
MK: I started distribution in shuls in Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Garden Hills, Fresh Meadows, and Jamaica Estates. I took off from work on Fridays and dedicated that day for mass distribution.
BJL: What kinds of feedback have you been getting about the pamphlets?
MK: People were inquiring about who this rabbi was and how it was hard to put down once they began reading it. It got so popular that when there was a week or two when these pamphlets were not distributed due to technicalities, people would approach me and ask me about the missing pamphlets, which would create a little awkward situation for me. But ultimately, I saw this as a testament to the pamphlet’s appeal and mission.
BJL: What is the mission?
MK: Rabbi Yisrael Abargel recounts that the Baal Shem Tov- the father of Chassidut- once asked Mashiach when he was going to arrive and redeem the Jewish people. Mashiach answered that he will arrive whenever the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings are going to spread throughout the world. That is the mission: to spread Chassidut to Am Yisrael. There are actually 60 countries that are receiving these pamphlets.
BJL: Were there any setbacks along the way and how did you manage to overcome them?
MK: In the beginning, I was paying for these pamphlets on my own, paying $200 for just 50 copies, which is a lot of money for a small number of pamphlets. I didn’t want to give it up because I knew it was only going to grow. Soon after, my friends tagged along and donated to the cause. There was another setback when copies of the previous week’s pamphlets were printed so we didn’t have the right pamphlets to distribute. But we persevered and didn’t let that get us down. Another setback that we experienced was we simply didn’t have enough people to distribute to faraway neighborhoods, like 5 Towns, Great Neck, and Brooklyn, which
caused us to have misgivings about distributing in those locations. But Hashem somehow, in what I felt was Hashgacha Pratit, sent people our way who offered to give of their time and to distribute in these locations.
BJL: What advice would you give readers about how they can get started in being proactive in their community?
MK: I would say start small. A small thing can go a long way. They can even start with Mesilot. For example, if they see that their shul is not getting enough copies of the pamphlets or that there are Hebrew speaking congregants who might benefit from a Hebrew version of the pamphlet, they could reach out to us and we will deliver the copies to them, free of charge, and they can distribute the copies themselves. You do a little thing like that, and it will open up doors. A person should try to be involved in the needs of the public, even though you don’t really have to, as we all lead very busy lives. But, as my Rabbi explained, when you do things that you don’t really have to do, Hashem reciprocates by doing things that He doesn’t really have to do to you.
By: Shalom Meirov
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