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Chai Elul In 770

A compilation of pearls from Chai Elul Yomanim (diary entries) by tmimim learning in 770 over the years

Eve of 20 Elul, 5711


A soldier had yechidus and the Rebbe said to him, “What good news is there? When you will be a good soldier and accomplish your shlichus, Hashem will release you.”

The soldier said that sometimes he felt spiritually weak. The Rebbe told him: 1) to speak with other soldiers about Judaism and this would give him strength, and 2) to say Tehillim every day.

After the yechidus, the Rebbe entered the beis medrash and saw about a minyan of people there and he said, “Instead of standing around, it would better to farbreng.”

Shabbos Kodesh, 21 Elul , 5724


The Rebbe came in to farbreng at 1:40. This time he did not make kiddush on wine at the start of the farbrengen. He began with a sicha on a topic in the parasha and mentioned the verse, “and it will be when you enter the land,” and the sicha had to do with matters concerning avodas Hashem.

After the sicha, the Chassid R’ Yitzchok Noach Rivkin said, “L’chaim, may Hashem help so the Jews of Russia will be able to get out.” The Rebbe responded, “Amen” and added, “In all the prayers and requests of the Jewish people, they say, ‘speedily in our days.’ Surely you also have intended that your request be fulfilled speedily, in our time and with expansiveness.”

The Rebbe gave a bracha that the Jews of Russia leave with kindness and mercy with all their possessions, silver and gold, as it mentions in the haftara of this Shabbos, “with their sons and their daughters, with their youth and their elders.”

Suddenly, the Rebbe turned to the Chassid, R’ Asher Sossonkin and said, “R’ Asher, why don’t you say something?” Apparently this was in continuation to the farbrengen of the previous Shabbos when R’ Asher said “l’chaim” to the Rebbe, and he asked on behalf of all Russian Jews and began to cry.

R’ Asher rose and asked for a bracha. He even got up his nerve to suggest that just as every Shabbos Mevorchim they completed the entire book of Tehillim, so too, as a merit for the Jews of Russia, they should say the book of Tehillim every Shabbos.

As R’ Asher spoke, the Rebbe smiled.

Then they sang and the Rebbe made a questioning motion with his hand toward R’ Yosef Perman of Kfar Chabad: Where is your boy? R’ Yosef, who stood near the platform on the steps, ran and got him and had him say l’chaim. The Rebbe looked at the boy who drank and said to his father with a smile, and also made a motion with his hand, that the child could go.

The Rebbe continued saying two more sichos and then a maamar, “Ani Yesheina” (I am asleep), which is based on the maamar of the Alter Rebbe from an old manuscript that seems to have been written in the lifetime of the Alter Rebbe “and recently brought from captivity” (as the Rebbe put it).

In the maamar, the Rebbe mentioned “from the stories of the elder Chassidim” about the segula to avoid falling asleep – to take cups of water and put your feet in them … or to stand, “in order not to have to wake him in all sorts of other ways …”

The Rebbe said another two sichos and at the conclusion of the farbrengen he got up with alacrity.

After the farbrengen, I accompanied my grandfather, R’ Avrohom Pariz on his way to eat with his friend, R’ Yochanan Gordon. As we walked, I told him that in the Rebbe’s sichos I noticed that he, my grandfather, sat riveted like one sated with delight in the upper Gan Eden. I asked him, what great “revelations” did you sense there?

He said: At every farbrengen I sensed two concepts: “Rosh Bnei Yisrael” and “Moshiach.” All the “words” are merely to dress it up in vessels and bring it down below so that “all who dwell on earth will recognize and know that to you will bow …”

(from the diary of R’ Menny Wolf)

Chai Elul, 5734


The Rebbe came from home. The tanks waited, full of tankistin and ready to set out. There were happy niggunim playing on the loudspeakers and when the Rebbe exited the car, he made an encouraging motion twice with his holy hand and continued to his office without turning around. At the Torah reading there were many guests who said the “hagomel” blessing and the Rebbe gazed at them.

At 8:05 he returned from the Ohel and went in for mincha.

After mincha, the secretary R’ Leibel Groner went in to the Rebbe and when he came out, he called for the secretary, R’ Chadakov. R’ Chadakov went in to the Rebbe and when he came out he announced that the farbrengen would begin at 9:00.

At 9:05 the Rebbe came down to the farbrengen and he immediately motioned to R’ Yoel Kahan with his head and they began singing the Niggun Hachana for the maamar. The Rebbe said the maamar, “Ani L’Dodi.”

After the maamar, he said something to R’ Berel Junik and he brought some package and placed it near the Rebbe.

In the third sicha, he said that everything that happens in the world devolves from what happens with a Jew and therefore, by proper behavior and with trust in Hashem, one accomplishes that “I will give your rains in their appointed time,” and “and you will dwell securely in your land,” and not only for Jews but even “no nation will raise a sword against a nation,” for even among goyim there will be no war.

The Rebbe said that the meaning is literal: when a Jew begins to work in Elul with a chayus, then he has a guarantee that he will succeed and this itself gives him the desire afterward to do more and more good things. This is one of the reasons for the farbrengen today, on a weekday, when there is the possibility of giving these instructions in many places via broadcasts and with the intention that the listeners convey it further, and it makes no difference who actually said it, because “hear the truth from the one who says it.”

Then the Rebbe said that the system is that in order for there to be “and choose life,” a Jew is given the opposite possibility and when a Jew sees the opposite, he runs away from it, but that is just at the beginning of the avoda. Afterward, with every material object that he sees, he immediately seeks the holy spark within it. The test of this is when a time of suffering occurs and he is hungry and the physical hunger bothers him, but not because of the pain of the body, but because it is hard for him to concentrate on learning.

In connection with this, he told a story from R’ Shmuel Levitin z”l. (Before the story, he said that today was the end of the shiva and from now on, the Rebbe-the-shver is caring for him in all matters, both those immediately upon the soul leaving the body and all the more so the matters that come after the end of shiva).

R’ Shmuel told the Rebbe about his imprisonment in Siberia (this was in 770 and nobody was present in the room) and said it was so arduous that he found it hard to remember whether in the morning blessings the wording is “ha’nosein la’ya’eif koach” or “la’ayeif.”

This is what he remembered 20 years later, not the physical suffering but anguish that because of the suffering it was hard for him to remember the correct word!

Then there was a sicha about “Mihu Yehudi” and the Rebbe said that Elul is not the time to speak disparagingly about Jews, but in order that they shouldn’t say that “silence is like acknowledgment” he had to negate the matter and speak sharply about religious representatives who, because they wanted to attain another seat [in the Knesset] wanted to postpone the discussion for a year.

He also said, regarding the suggestion to note in their passports when people converted, that telling a convert “remember what you once did” transgresses several prohibitions.

After the sicha about Mihu Yehudi, he spoke about the guests coming for Tishrei, that they need to increase in Mivtza Torah and establish public shiurim at least twice a day and local residents should attend and they will also feel like they are guests in this world. And so that the guests won’t have obstacles, the residents should see to their material needs in food and drink etc., and so that this is done in an organized way, there should be someone in charge as in previous years and he should have some assistants.

The Rebbe mentioned again that the purpose of the farbrengen is to strengthen mivtzaim wherever they are listening and they should convey it to those places where they don’t hear it. Then he spoke about giving tzedaka at night which is seemingly forbidden, and how the Rebbeim would conduct appeals at night and he explained the reason for speaking about this, since the farbrengen is to strengthen mivtzaim, therefore, he wanted to give each person a dollar to be given tomorrow (by day) to tzedaka (without any concern about giving at night). And the giving would be done by the tankistin, “those who are traveling lately and bringing merit to Jews with the five campaigns.” They would be the ones to give it out to the crowd.

He said that everyone should take only one dollar and not take for someone who wasn’t there, who could get another time, but today, it is connected with those participating in this farbrengen.

The Rebbe asked the tankistin to come up and take dollars to distribute. A big commotion and pushing ensued. Tankistin began going up and the Rebbe asked R’ Dovid Raskin whether they were all tankistin and he said yes.

In the middle of the distribution, the Rebbe said everyone was asked to take one, that quantity did not matter here, and the only thing that they would cause if they took two is that someone else wouldn’t get. Someone who took two – this has no connection with Chassidishkeit; he is a Chassid shoteh and we know from the Rebbe Rayatz that a shoteh is not a Chassid; this is from his ego which says, “the Nile river is mine.”

Then he said not to push and everyone would get and only the tankistin, those who actually go out, should come over and take.

He gave dollars to the sons of R’ Shmuel Levitin.

The Rebbe said that it is customary to make an appeal on Chai Elul but so that it shouldn’t be a bother, it was being mentioned now and everyone could send in their pledges tomorrow, and the more you give, the more praiseworthy.

Then he said to sing the niggun Dalet Bavos, Tzom’oh Lecha Nafshi, Nye Zhuritse Chloptzi, and began to sing Nyet Nyet.

Then he said: among the chiddushim prevailing lately – mentioning the bracha acharona and since it’s a bracha mei’ein shalosh, it should be recited while sitting.

As he left, he began the song Uforatzta and he gave tzedaka to a poor man.

Chai Elul, 5739


After davening mincha, he called over R’ Chadakov and told him that there would be a short farbrengen at 9:30. He did not go home in the afternoon. He went in for maariv at 9:20 and at 9:30 entered for the farbrengen.

After the first sicha, he called R’ Yoel Kahan and told him to ask one of those present who stood facing the Rebbe and took pictures whether he learned Tanya today. The photographer stopped photographing.

After a second sicha, the Rebbe called R’ Yoel over again and asked him whether he conveyed it to the photographer and he said yes. The Rebbe told him he should learn Tanya (and in the meantime repeated this to the man) and then R’ Yoel told the Rebbe that he learns Tanya. The Rebbe made a dismissive motion with his hand and took out a booklet of Igeres Ha’Teshuva that was placed at the back of his siddur. He gave it to R’ Yoel to give to the photographer to learn a few lines from it and then give it back and continue taking pictures (the Rebbe even told R’ Kahan apologetically “Surely you aren’t upset that I made use of a kohen …).

He said to sing the Shalosh Tenuos and then to sing the maamar niggun and he said a maamar “Atem Nitzavim Hayom.”

He told several people to say l’chaim on a big cup: R’ Dovid Chanzin, R’ Yosef Nimotin, R’ Zushe Wilyamowsky, R’ Yirmiyahu Branover, and R’ Dovber Chein. Then he looked for R’ Nachum Prager and told him to say l’chaim on a big cup.

He said to sing (again) the Shalosh Tenuos. He clapped during L’Chatchile Ariber (the first part). He said to recite the sheva brachos and when they were delayed he began singing “Essen est zich.” Then they said the sheva brachos.

He began singing Nyet Nyet and said the bracha acharona. Before he left, he began singing Ki B’Simcha Seitzei’u. The farbrengen ended at 11:40.

Thursday, Chai Elul, 5741


The Rebbe went to the Ohel and when he returned, they davened mincha and then he informed his secretary that at 9:30 there would be a brief farbrengen.

At the beginning of seder, at 8:00, R’ Dovid Raskin entered the beis medrash and announced that the Rebbe said to use this seder to learn diligently, so that it would affect the entire year. The Rebbe also said that he would come in for maariv five minutes later so they would add in learning.

At the end of the third sicha, the Rebbe spoke about tzedaka and said they should sing the Shalosh Tenuos and then afterward the subject of tzedaka would be discussed.

After the niggun, the Rebbe spoke about providing the holiday needs for the needy as it says (Nechemia), “Eat fatty foods and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing prepared for him …” The Rebbe emphasized that this should actually be done and therefore it was necessary to explain it again in the manner of komatz aleph uh (and the Rebbe actually said: uh, uh, uh) what should be done in actual practice.

The Rebbe spoke about preparing to say Selichos and repeated the story of the Rebbe Rayatz about how the Chassidim were once farbrenging on Motzoei Shabbos before Selichos (after having heard a maamar from the Rebbe that Shabbos) and then went to Selichos joyfully, staggering (from mashke) as they walked. The Rebbe pointed out that really it was “forbidden” to say this at a farbrengen that was being heard on a “live broadcast,” since there are people who will right away come with complaints, but the truth is that it is an explicit idea in the Gemara which says, “And the rabbanan would laugh.”

It was a very joyful farbrengen. The Rebbe instructed many people to say l’chaim. The Rebbe said they should sing Hup Cossack, and after that he began to sing We Want Moshiach Now and clapped his hands with great joy.

The Rebbe mentioned the appeal and instructed that they give out the pledge notes and envelopes, but then saw that they had not prepared them in advance and R’ Leibel Groner ran to bring the pledge notes.  In response to this, the Rebbe said that this is the order in every matter – that they are not orderly. Therefore, since it is close to midnight and we still need to sing a few more niggunim, they should sing the Niggun Hachana, the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun and Nye Zhuritse. Afterward, he indicated they should sing the niggun of his father, following which he began Nyet Nyet.  After that, he said a brief sicha and concluded, “L’chaim, l’chaim v’livracha.” Upon exiting the farbrengen at 11:40, he began to sing Ki B’simcha Seitzei’u.

Thursday, 16 Elul, 5744


After the Torah reading, a delegation awaited the Rebbe in gan eden hatachton, comprised of the directors of Bris Avrohom and R’ Dovid Mintz and his family, as he had helped publish 101 editions of Tanya in New Jersey over the few months prior.

When the Rebbe entered, R’ Dovid Mintz presented him with edition number 101 and pointed to an attractive box that stood on the table, containing the other 100 editions. The Rebbe blessed him and his family members with a wealth of blessings, then went into his room and came out holding $2020 and told R’ Dovid that since the custom was to give $20 for each printing, here is $20 for each Tanya.

Afterward, the Rebbe asked that they bring the Tanyas into his room and said with a smile, “You didn’t bring them here to show me and then take them back.”

After mincha, when the Rebbe got up to leave the shul, a Sefardic Jew called out to him, “Chazak U’varuch” (be strong and blessed). The Rebbe turned towards him, and answered him with a smile and a luminous face, bending his head and saying, “Gam atem (you also), shana tova u’mesuka.” ■

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