Biological warfare is an old American phobia, which gets renewed now and then courtesy of one terrorist group or another. The horrors that could be unleashed by unconventional warfare, and biological warfare in particular, have stimulated the best minds in biotechnology to prepare an antidote for any possible scenario. Since nobody has any idea which ampule of deadly virus or bacteria will one day be dropped into a municipal water supply, G-d forbid, the antidote needs to be non-specific and effective against a wide range of pathogens, to block their entry into the bloodstream.
Aethlon Medical, a biotechnology company based in San Diego, is busily working on one major development. Their antidote is a blood purifier approximately the size of a pencil, which can be injected into an artery and filters all the affected blood. This device also injects antibodies which bind to the viruses, isolating and neutralizing them before they can do any harm. Within twelve minutes, a person’s entire blood supply can be filtered through this device. The process must be repeated a number of times to ensure that all the blood was cleansed and the danger has passed.
In spiritual terms, we are also at times in need of emergency “purification” from the ills that afflict us. And chassidim have already come up with the remedy: it is called “farbrengen,” or gathering. It’s a long-standing Chassidic custom to hold regular informal gatherings where the participants share their inner struggles and seek to bolster and strengthen each other. This process cleanses the soul of whatever troubles it faces: the virus of ego, the bug of jealousy. This process is repeated over and over on a variety of occasions: Every Shabbat; on one’s birthday; during holidays, etc. We meet, we farbreng. Through caring and compassion, dignity and love – we support one another in our personal battles, to overcome negative personality traits and accomplish our purpose in this world.
One leaves a farbrengen feeling refreshed, stronger and better, filled with renewed energy to apply to one’s mission. At a farbrengen, the focus is on finding the root of one’s struggles, and highlighting the solution. A farbrengen among friends, the Chassidic saying goes, can accomplish what the angel Michael cannot. As the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Schneur Zalmen of Liadi, explained, a farbrengen draws down blessings for success in material and spiritual matters to an unfathomable degree.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe strongly encouraged farbrengens, not only the ones that he personally led with his chassidim, but the informal ones among friends as well. All of us need the inner cleansing and strengthening we get from our good friends, to accomplish our purpose of bringing Moshiach. There are many obstacles, from within an without, and a farbrengen can help us see the way out of the maze, to a bright and healthy future.