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Selfless Brain
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

Numerous receptors on the body transmit sensations of pain to the brain. These receptors, called nociceptors, form synapses in the spinal cord to send a message of the painful stimulus to the brain. There are special locations within the brain that interpret these stimuli and then react in an appropriate fashion.

Unlike the special senses of vision, smell, taste and hearing, nociceptors are not localized in any one specific area or organ of the body. Nociceptors are found in the skin and mucus membranes, in muscles, bones, and joints, and the body's visceral organs.

One notable exception is the brain itself. The brain, the center for receiving stimuli and sensation from all parts of the body, has no pain receptors itself. The brain is so insensitive to pain that brain surgery is commonly performed on patients who are fully conscious and aware! The brain can be cut with a scalpel, seared with a laser, and it will not react at all. However, this same brain is exquisitely sensitive to even the slightest injury to a little finger.


The brain's extraordinary insensitivity to pain has a parallel in Jewish life. The Jewish nation is compared to a complete organism. The "brain" of this organism is the leader of the generation, who transmits G-dly energy to every individual. Moses was the first to play this role. Every generation since then has been blessed with a "Moses," a teacher and leader of his caliber, whose soul is an extension of the soul of Moses. The Moses, or Rebbe, of each generation, serves as the head of the Jewish People. The word "Rebbe," in fact, is a Hebrew acronym for Rosh Benei Yisrael - the head of the Jewish People.

A Rebbe is not an ordinary individual. He has no ego, no self-interest. His life is completely dedicated to the welfare of his people. A prime example is the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Moses of our generation. The Rebbe took no vacations, rarely took breaks. He slept only a few hours per night. He devoted every moment of his time to the benefit of the Jewish people, with no selfish considerations. For hours, the Rebbe would stand on his feet to distribute blessings and dollars for charity. The Rebbe expected no personal remuneration; his "pay" was an increase in our mitzvah observance or Torah study.

A leader like the Rebbe is a gift from G-d. No political leader can even come close to the selflessness and dedication that the Rebbe displays for the Jewish People. In our generation, we are sorely lacking in leadership and direction. Repeatedly, we have been betrayed by leaders who put their self-interest ahead of the needs of the people they were serving. It is time for us to call out to G-d and beseech Him: How much longer? Send us a true leader who will put our needs first. Send us our righteous Moshiach, immediately.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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