They tell a story of three people who were schmoozing about what type of eulogy they would like to be said at their funeral. The first one said, “I would like the Rabbi giving the eulogy to stand up, look at the coffin and say that the person lying there was known to be a very smart and learned man.” The second person said: “I wish that the Rabbi would get up, look at the coffin and say that the person lying here lived with Mesiras Nefesh for Yiddishkait and the education of his family.” The third one said: “I think it would be great if at my funeral, the Rabbi would get up, look at the coffin and say… ‘He’s moving! He’s alive!’”
There are many special dates throughout the year on which Chassidei Chabad farbreng together, אבל מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מל הלילות? Some dates, for example 19 Kislev, seem superficially to be a celebration of the history and greatness of Chassidus. Other times, such as 12 Tammuz, inspire us when we recall the Mesiras Nefesh of Chassidei Chabad throughout the generations. However tonight is different from all other nights. Tonight the message is different: הוא בחיים ממש!!
Tonight we celebrate the 115th birthday of our father and our Melech, the Rebbe. The number 115 is the Gematria of the word הנני. The opening pasuk of the test of the Akeida, when Hashem requested of Avraham to act with the highest level of Mesiras Nefesh, reads as follows: ויהי אחרי הדברים האלה והאלוקים נסה את אברהם ויאמר הנני. Rashi comments on the word הנני, saying: כך היא ענייתן של חסידים, this is indicative of the humility of Chassidim.
We all know that we are going through a tremendous test now, right before the complete Hisgalus of Moshiach. The Torah teaches us the way Chassidim should answer – הנני! We are all here and together we will definitely overcome the final test.
It is not easy, אבל הרבי לא נשאר בעל חוב. The following personal story will illustrate this point clearly.
It was the night of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz just a few years ago, which was the last night of the z’man. My family was in NY for a simcha and I was home alone. I could not sleep that night; I was so worried. The very next morning, I would have to pay all the money owed for the past as well as for the upcoming summer, and the financial struggles were crushing. I did not know what to do or who to turn to. Finally, I decided to pour out my heart to the Rebbe. I wrote a letter describing all the hardship and all the agmas nefesh I was experiencing. In the letter, I wrote to the Rebbe that people are telling me that one of the reasons that I am not finding supporters is because of our proud and open stand about our emuna in the Rebbe.
I opened the Igros Kodesh (Vol. 3 pg. 282) and read: “It was my assessment that you might possibly think that the challenge would be too great, because who knows what you would lose by fulfilling my suggestion and request. Therefore when I was at the gravesite of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, מ” הכ, I recalled your [name] with a request that you find the power within your soul — or that you be granted the powers — to withstand what appears to you as a challenge and that very soon you will see that there was nothing to it, as explained in Chassidus with regard to the concept of challenges.”
I read the letter, and I understood the message, but I still could not imagine how the situation would resolve.
Well, there is a Yid in Cincinnati (please daven for Shalom ben Rachel for a refua shleima!) who is a Holocaust survivor. He came after the war to America with just 7 dollars and B”H was able to build up a very successful business. He values Jewish education and his name can be seen displayed on almost all Jewish institutions in the city. Ever since I moved to Cincinnati, I had tried meeting him, but I could never get through to him. And now this was about to change.
The next day, I woke up a little late, and by the time I came to Yeshiva, Shacharis had already begun. I walked in and saw two bachurim laughing. They said that a few minutes ago an older man walked in and asked to speak to the Rabbi. Because I had not been there – I was busy being sad – they assumed he was just an ordinary visitor and took him around the Yeshiva; they danced with him and then he went on his way. Before he left, he gave them a paper with his name and personal number. When I saw the paper, I almost fainted. It was this big G’vir who had come looking for me!
I quickly called him and apologized for missing his visit. On the phone, he told me that he was not sure what happened that day. For years he had known that I was trying to connect with him, but he was not interested in meeting me. Yet this morning, he woke up with the feeling that he needed to visit me…
Baruch Hashem, he has been supporting me ever since. ובהקדם יראה בעליל שלא היה ממש בנסיון זה.
Dear Chassidim, especially all those gathered here that answered “Hineini,” we know for sure that if we have full Emuna, then ובהקדם יראה בעליל שלא היה ממש בנסיון זה האחרון.
Yet the world conceals the truth like the ocean conceals the treasures beneath the water. We all desire the splitting of our ocean of העלם והסתר before our eyes and that the truth that we know should be revealed to the entire world.
We are about to celebrate Pesach, the time of Yetzias Mitzrayim and Krias Yam suf. There is only one way that we will see that “בוקע ים לפני משה,” and that is if “מלכותך ראו בניך.”
The Rebbe revolutionized the entire world. There is no place is the world where the light of the Rebbe has not reached and permeated. The sea of Helem Vehester does not exist for the Rebbe. Of course, the Rebbe is a Nasi, Navi, Melech and Tzaddik and therefore nothing is concealed before him. Yet the Rebbe, with his tremendous love for us, shared a special secret that we can learn from, and the secret is very simple. What was on the Rebbe’s mind since the day he was born?
In a famous letter written on 11 Nissan 5716 to Mr. Shazar, the Rebbe makes it very clear: “From the time that I was a child attending cheider, and even earlier than that, there began to take form in my mind a vision of the future redemption—the redemption of Israel from its last exile, redemption such as would explain the suffering, the decrees and the massacres of exile. Part of that special future will be a special person, ‘Nasi Zeh Melech,’ a king for whom the only one above him is Hashem.”
B’hashgacha Pratis, this letter is the letter “מספר דרכו באגרות קודש.” We are all familiar with the Pasuk in Mishlei “חנוך לנער על פי דרכו.” This letter is the key to Hatzlacha in everything in Chinuch. We all must know with certainty that נשיא זה מלך. The Rebbe is not just “Adoneinu” whose directives we follow; the Rebbe is not just “Moreinu” that we ask him advice, and not just “Rabbeinu” that we learn his Torah. He is נשיא זה מלך המשיח! And at any moment the sea of Helem Vehester will split and the Rebbe will be revealed to the whole world. When מלכותך ראו בניך, when we educate our children from the time they are infants that they are connected to the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach and we live this way, then “בוקע ים לפני משה.”
While most of the older generation bemoans the advancement of technology and the seemingly endless ירידת הדורות, we ought to take a moment and look at what is in front of our eyes: Thousands of young boys and girls who have grown up in this great nisayon and are the strongest and most dedicated chassidim, hundreds of people who have been niskarev to the Rebbe and have given up everything for their commitment to the Rebbe. What is their secret? What is the source of their strength? I am sure, if we asked these children, we would all hear these three words:
מלכותך ראו בניך!
It is so important that as we celebrate another year of the Rebbe’s presence in our lives, our commitment ought to get stronger.
I want to share with you another personal story. Ten years ago I spoke with a friend about becoming a partner in the Chinuch of the Yeshiva. He agreed and starting sending me a check every month for the amount of 1050. After Pesach, I noticed that the amount went up to 1060. The next time I spoke with him, I thanked him for the increase. He said, “The increase is because the Rebbe increases.” I assumed he meant that his business was doing better with the brachos of the Rebbe. But then he continued, “Until 11 Nissan, the Rebbe was 105 so I sent 1050, now that the Rebbe is older, and became 106, the Tz’daka needs to increase as well.”
Let us all take on Hachlatos to strengthen ourselves, our families and our communities to get involved in the שליחות היחידה לקבל פני משיח צדקינו. Let us all stand up, say L’chaim and show the world that we have full faith that על ידי הרמטכ”ל הגדול …נתגבר על העולם!
Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com