A LIFE OF MESIRUS NEFESH
February 14, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1057, Rebbetzin Chaya Muska, Tzivos Hashem

Presented to mark 22 Shvat, when Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka passed away.

By Nechama Bar

5693/1933

A new party, the cursed Nazi party, began to rise in Germany. Many joined this party and its influence continuously grew until it was elected into power.

The Nazis hated Jews and mercilessly persecuted and killed them. They wanted to destroy every last Jew, heaven forbid.

The Rebbe and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, who lived in Germany at the time, realized how dangerous it was for them and decided to escape. They packed their few belongings and moved to France.

They arrived in Paris and lived in a one-room apartment. There they lived, simply and modestly. Every day the Rebbe went out to daven in the nearby shuls and he gave shiurim to men and boys. They all regarded him respectfully and the Rebbe served as their spiritual leader.

The Rebbe was very particular about kashrus and the Rebbetzin helped him a lot by spending many hours ensuring the kashrus of their food. Before Pesach, she herself selected the kernels of wheat to be ground into flour for the matzos. When she was asked why she was doing this work herself and not buying matzos and food in a kosher store, she said, “My husband does not eat anything outside our home on Pesach; just what I prepare at home.”

The Rebbe would buy bread in a well-known Jewish owned bakery after carefully checking the kashrus and seeing that it was up to his standards. One day, when he was in the store, someone went over to him and asked in surprise, “What? A G-d fearing Jew like you shops here?”

The man asked the question not because there was a problem with the kashrus in that bakery, but because he wanted the Rebbe to buy bread in a different bakery. The Rebbe did not respond to his question but from then on he stopped buying in that bakery.

When the Rebbe found out that R’ Kalman Hammer’s butcher shop did the entire koshering process (so that people who were not knowledgeable in the laws of kashrus would not eat non-kosher meat), the Rebbetzin went to the shop to supervise how it was done. The Rebbetzin was satisfied with the kashrus and therefore the Rebbe began buying meat there.

Where did they get milk from? For a long time, the Rebbetzin went a long distance herself, every day, in order to be present when the cows were milked so the milk would be chalav Yisroel. With this milk, she prepared dairy dishes for the Rebbe and they were almost the only things he ate.

One day, they heard that the Rebbe’s brother, R’ Yisroel Aryeh Leib, had been able to escape Russia with the help of a forged passport, and had arrived in Germany. Both in Russia and in Germany, he lived in great fear lest he be caught. He wanted to move to Eretz Yisroel but he needed a visa for that.

The Rebbe was not afraid of the danger. He was willing to enter Germany in order to help his brother. But the Rebbetzin said, “Better that I should go because I am fair skinned and have light eyes and won’t be suspected. But if you go, with a beard, the danger is far greater.”

She took the visa and traveled to Germany. When she arrived at the border, they stopped her and asked her questions and had her fill out a form. They were quite surprised that both her maiden name and married name was Schneersohn, and that even the maiden names of her mother and grandmother were Schneersohn.

The Germans thought her passport was forged but she convinced them that it authentic. They finally agreed to allow her to cross the border but they promised that when they entered France and conquered Paris, they would go to the address she had given them and look for her and her husband and interrogate them.

The Rebbetzin carried out her mission successfully and she gave the visa to R’ Yisroel Aryeh Leib. He was able to move to Eretz Yisroel, thanks to her.

The Germans carried out their promise. One of the first things they did when they got to Paris was to look for the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s home. The Germans were very organized and all the information was recorded.

Hashem helped, and when the Germans arrived at their house, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were no longer there. They had left already.

The Rebbetzin said about the war in France that when the German bombed Paris, “We took a small valise and put in the most basic items, manuscripts, tallis and t’fillin. We began heading toward the exit of the city like everyone else, in order to escape as quickly as possible from the Germans.

“The highway leading toward the exit was packed with cars. People loaded them with their important belongings and tried to flee as the bombs fell. German planes flew low and began bombing the cars. People immediately stopped driving and began running in all directions. I noticed an elderly Jewish man walking slowly. His vision seemed impaired and he did not notice what was going on around him. Suddenly, a German plane flew overhead and I knew that if I didn’t do something, he could be hit by a bomb. I grabbed his sleeve and dragged him from the road. He fell on the side of the road and hit his head. He began to cry out, ‘With what nerve you pushed an old man!’

“I did not reply. I knew that I had saved his life but still, I had pushed a Jew and I need to do teshuva for that.”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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