CHANUKA ALIGHT WITH THE REBBE
December 5, 2017
Shneur Zalman Berger in #1096, Chabad History, Chanuka, Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf

The Rebbe looked at the menora from time to time, and when they sang HaNeiros HalaluThe Rebbe said the words one time, but did not repeat the words that are repeated to fit the tune. At times the Rebbes lips were moving and he tapped his feet to the beat, looking back and forth from the menora to the people. At the conclusion of the singing, the Rebbe nodded with his head and they continued singing a bit, until the Rebbe turned around and they stopped immediately. * Fascinating reports and memories from the month of Kislev 5734 with the Rebbe, published for the very first time from the diary of the late RSaadya Maatuf.

MISSION IN VIENNA

Monday, Rosh Chodesh Kislev

The following were supposed to fly today to the Holy Land at 6 p.m.: Moshe Rosenfeld, Moshe Orenstein, Zalman Pariz, Yossele Segal, and Binyomin Zilberstrom [as mentioned previously, the Rebbe had instructed that some of the older bachurim who had stayed on to learn in 770 should return to the Holy Land to learn in Tomchei T’mimim there and strengthen the yeshiva. These travelers were among those sent back]. Last night, we had a farbrengen, partially in honor of Rosh Chodesh Kislev and partially as a farewell gathering for the group of T’mimim. After Mincha, they all stood waiting for the Rebbe in Gan Eden HaTachton (except for Yossele Segal, who had gone to arrange the tickets for the entire group). The Rebbe said to them (loose translation), “Travel in peace, and we should hear good news, and it should be in a manner of ongoing increase.” What actually happened is that they were delayed, and they were informed that the flight had been delayed to 9 p.m., so they had the opportunity to daven Maariv with the Rebbe as well.

After Maariv, R’ Groner called over all of those traveling, and he told them that the Rebbe said that since they would be stopping over in Vienna and attending the wedding of the Tamim Yaakov Weiser, they should speak there for the new immigrants about Judaism, and especially as this could lead to them going to Eretz Yisroel, and then it could have a continuation in Eretz Yisroel. [During that period, Jews were leaving Russia by way of Vienna, and from there some would continue on to Eretz Yisroel, with others moving on to other countries.] The Rebbe emphasized that they should not mix in any politics in their talks.

Those who were traveling went to the airport in a special bus, along with a group of T’mimim to see them off.

[In a diary installment for the next day, the author adds a few more names of those traveling, Yitzchok Gruzman, Kaminetzky, Elozor Gurevitch, and that due to a problem at the airport, the latter returned to 770 and only left the following day – SZB.]

Wednesday, 3 Kislev

Today, a chassan stood waiting in Gan Eden HaTachton, and when the Rebbe came out he gave him the Siddur. This was the son of the shliach of the Rebbe to Argentina, R’ Baumgarten.

At Maariv, R’ Simcha Elberg, the editor of the HaPardes journal was there, and the Rebbe nodded to him as a sign of welcome as he walked in for Maariv. After Maariv, R’ Elberg went in for yechidus.

Motzaei Shabbos, Parshas VaYeitzei

We had thought that there would be a farbrengen on Shabbos, but sadly it didn’t happen. We were hoping that the Rebbe would come out tonight for kiddush levana, but the Rebbe did not come out. Tonight there was a Melaveh Malka of Tzach.

 

HOPING FOR A FARBRENGEN WITH THE REBBE

Tuesday, 9 Kislev

The Rebbe went to the Ohel today, and so Mincha was delayed. They did not say Tachanun, since tomorrow is Yud Kislev, the Chag HaGeula (holiday of redemption) of the Mitteler Rebbe. After Mincha, the Rebbe said the mourner’s Kaddish, and then Mishnayos and another Kaddish. [The Rebbe would say Kaddish on 10 Kislev, the yahrtzait of his uncle, his father’s brother, R’ Shmuel Schneersohn. Apparently, because of the late hour, the Rebbe already said Kaddish after Mincha.]

People thought that tonight there would be a farbrengen with the Rebbe, and that is why the T’mimim from Morristown and Ocean Parkway came to 770, but we ended up being disappointed by the fact that we did not merit to have a farbrengen with the Rebbe. During the night, there were farbrengens held by R’ Shlomo Zarchi in Chovevei Torah and R’ Sholom Morozow in 770. The farbrengens went on until very late into the night.

Wednesday, 10 Kislev

Today again, the Rebbe went to the Ohel in the afternoon, and we were fairly certain that there would be a farbrengen when he returned. However, when he returned from the Ohel, he entered his room and after changing his shoes, came out right away to daven. Upon entering, he said loudly “Rabi Chananya ben Akashya etc.” and said the Rabbanan Kaddish, in order to complete the number of kaddeishim for the day [in place of the Kaddish before Hodu, which the Rebbe did not say]. Immediately after the Kaddish, we said Ashrei, and at the end of the davening the Rebbe again said the kaddeishim.

During Maariv, we thought that perhaps there was still hope for a farbrengen. It is worth noting that some of the students who came last night, from Morristown and Ocean Parkway, remained here in the hope that there would be a farbrengen tonight, but again tonight we were disappointed and the Rebbe went home after Maariv, as usual.

Thursday, 11 Kislev

R’ Yisroel Leibov, chairman of Tzach, said the HaGomel blessing [at the morning Torah reading]. The ranking Jewish Chaplain of the Australian army [R’ Chaim Gutnick] arrived in 770 today, and received the Kohen aliya.

When the Rebbe entered for Maariv, he gave a small smile to the ranking Jewish Chaplain of the Australian army and the boy standing next to him, apparently his son.

Motzaei Shabbos, Parshas VaYishlach

This Shabbos there was also no farbrengen and we were disappointed. This Shabbos was blessed with numerous chassanim, among them Berele Levin [currently the director of the Chabad library]. As a result of the throwing of the candies he sustained a head injury, but they said that he should be fine by the wedding. He left tonight for France, where the wedding will be tomorrow night [the bride is the daughter of R’ Yoel Edelman from Paris].

Sunday, 14 Kislev

The Rebbe went to the Ohel. Tonight is the last night to make the blessing on the new moon, and again it was cloudy [after a number of cloudy nights which precluded making the blessing]. However, when we returned at night from the Turenheim wedding, the moon could be seen intermittently between the clouds. We immediately ran to the room and grabbed Siddurim, and “caught” the moon and made the blessing. It is unclear when the Rebbe blessed the new moon, there are suppositions that he perhaps he did it alone when he was home.

SIMILAR TO TISHREI

Monday, 15 Kislev

R’ Efraim Wolf, the director of Yeshivos Tomchei T’mimim, apparently arrived yesterday, and today made the HaGomel blessing. Today again, the Rebbe went to the Ohel.

Wednesday, 17 Kislev

R’ Yosef Segal, the mashpia of Toras Emes, arrived today. Other guests also arrived today in honor of the Chag HaGeula of Yud-Tes Kislev.

Thursday, 18 Kislev

At the Torah reading during Shacharis there was pushing like during Tishrei, and the room was packed to the rafters. At Maariv, the Rebbe said Kaddish [for the yahrtzait of his aunt Gittel, the wife of R’ Shmuel Schneersohn, his father’s brother]. During the saying of the Kaddish, there was a huge crowd, similar to Tishrei, so I was not able to see the Rebbe.

Already at an early hour, everyone grabbed places for the farbrengen, and as is customary at such a farbrengen, they added more tables. Also, the Rebbe’s place is moved further from the crowd, but fortunately there is a microphone and we can hear the Rebbe.

The Rebbe came down to the farbrengen at 9 p.m., and the main topic of the sichos was about peace and strengthening the spirits of the soldiers [this being right after the Yom Kippur War] by means of spiritual weapons. There was a division of the Shas and I committed to learning Tractate Megilla. It appears that among the guests there were some members of the Israeli Consulate. One of them gave a plaque as a gift to the Rebbe, but it was unclear what was written on it. Another gave the Rebbe a book as a gift. Both of them spoke to the Rebbe, apparently in Hebrew.

The Rebbe signaled to R’ Yoel Khan to sing the niggun from Rostov, and then the Rebbe began saying a maamer. After the maamer, he spoke about a special directive for women. The Rebbe then signaled to R’ Yoel Khan to sing a number of niggunim, among them the “Dalet Bovos,” “Nye Zhuritse Chloptzi,” “Nyet, Nyet,” etc. The Rebbe then stood up and clapped, and we climbed up on the tables in our great joy. The Rebbe indicated to whistle, and anyone who knew how to whistle did so as hard as he could, and I whistled as well until my mouth hurt. When the Rebbe sat back down the singing stopped, and the Rebbe said the after-blessing, and then began singing “U’faratzta.” He took with him the bag of slips for the division of the Shas. Before that, the Rebbe wrote down which tractates he was taking, and it seemed to me that he put his own slip on the side. Also, the Rebbe took the gifts that were brought by the members of the consulate, and left to go to his room.

When the Rebbe left the building to the car, it was raining, but despite that there was a crowd and the Rebbe encouraged the singing. It was obvious that he was very joyous. Everyone stood there in the rain until the car drove off. The farbrengen ended at 2 am.

Friday, 19 Kislev, Chag HaGeula

Today there was nobody to put down a T’hillim for the Rebbe, so I placed a T’hillim for Michoel Abadlehak, who is traveling to the Holy Land on Sunday. At Shacharis and Mincha, the Rebbe again said Kaddish [for his aunt, as mentioned previously].

EATING THE SHABBOS DAY MEAL AT NIGHT

Shabbos, 20 Kislev

At Kabbalas Shabbos, the Rebbe said Kaddish before “K’gavna,” and then did not say the Kaddish anymore. After the davening, he began to sing “Nyet, Nyet,” and walked out. Some people began to dance.

This Shabbos, there was the expected farbrengen, since every time that there is a public weekday farbrengen, there is a farbrengen on the following Shabbos. I wrote down for myself the Rashi sicha and also the content of one of the sichos which contained instructions from the Rebbe: to give every soldier a Chanuka menora, to put a tz’daka box on every army base, to gather all the children and explain to them the miracles of Chanuka, and also to distribute Chanuka gelt to the soldiers. The Rebbe added that if money is lacking, he is prepared to give. In the sichos the Rebbe also spoke about the Geneva Conference [an attempt to negotiate a solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict following the Yom Kippur War]. As usual, the Rebbe spoke about Mihu Yehudi.

At the farbrengen, the Rebbe gave Rashag from his cake. R’ Groner passed the tray of cake from the Rebbe to the Rashag, and when he wanted to return it to the Rebbe, the Rebbe signaled to leave it near Rashag, where it remained until the end of the farbrengen. Afterward, Rashag approached the Rebbe with a bottle of mashke, and the Rebbe gave him some pieces of cake in the napkin that had covered the tray. The Rebbe gave the rest of the cake to R’ Dovid Raskin and told him to make a gathering in order to work on and organize activities to distribute Chanuka menoros to all of the Israelis in America, and to every Jew without distinction as to his station in life, and after that he began to sing “Nyet, Nyet.”

This time, the sichos were longer than usual, such that immediately after the end of the farbrengen we davened Mincha quickly, at about 5 p.m. At the Torah reading, they took out the Torah of Moshiach and the Rebbe received the third aliya. After the davening, he again began to sing “Nyet, Nyet.”

After the davening, we ran outside in order to accompany the Rebbe on his walk home, but it turned out that the Rebbe stayed for Maariv. We then ran downstairs and waited for a while, and then we found out that the Rebbe might be davening upstairs. Once again, we ran upstairs and discovered that the Rebbe was already inside the “small zal” upstairs, so we entered through the second door. After davening, R’ Itche Churgin made Havdala as usual, and we went outside to accompany the Rebbe. When he came outside, they began to sing “Nyet, Nyet,” and the Rebbe motioned with his hand and then entered the car. We crossed to the other side of the parkway, and when the Rebbe passed us in the car, he motioned with his hand in our direction, and then we went “with happiness and gladness of heart” to eat the “Shabbos meal” [which, due to the lengthy farbrengen, was pushed off to Motzaei Shabbos].

As per the instructions of the Rebbe, a gathering of the Lubavitch Youth Organization was held on Motzaei Shabbos, in order to discuss ways to implement the Rebbe’s instructions for Chanuka, and at the gathering they distributed the cake and mashke from the Rebbe.

Sunday, 21 Kislev

At night, when the Rebbe left his room in order to go home, he met the shliach R’ Shlomo Cunin and the Rebbe asked him if he is taking any Chanuka menoros with him. He answered that he is taking 500, and the Rebbe asked him why he didn’t take 1000. He responded that they would be sending him the rest of his order in the mail, and the Rebbe said that was good because it would accomplish “publicizing the miracle” also to the postal workers. This is what I was told by Nochum Mizrachi, because I was not present at that encounter.

This morning, I heard a dialogue between R’ Dovid Raskin and a few bachurim. They said that when the secretary, R’ Groner, went into the Rebbe and asked from where they would purchase so many Chanuka menoros to distribute to everybody, the Rebbe answered simply, “From Japan.” The discussion between R’ Raskin and the bachurim was about how to actually import Chanuka menoros from Japan.

There is a wealthy Lubavitcher who owns a factory, and he dropped all his other work and invested all of his energy into producing menoros, since they are going to need very many Chanuka menoros. The Rebbe gave him a very special blessing for this, which I cannot record in writing at this time.

CHANUKA IN 770

Wednesday, 24 Kislev, Erev Chanuka

 

Most of the American bachurim went out this morning to distribute Chanuka menoros. The Israeli bachurim and those of us on K’vutza remained to learn, because R’ Dovid Raskin did not give permission for them to go. However, one of the Israelis did go, and he reported that there is a need for additional bachurim and also that there is a shortage of menoros [on the following days the Israelis also started to go on mivtzaim].

Mincha was at the regular time, and took place in the “large zal” downstairs. Before “Aleinu,” the Rebbe turned in the direction of the Chanuka menora, and R’ Itche Churgin made the blessings on lighting the candles, and the Rebbe looked at the candles from time to time. When they sang “HaNeiros Halalu,” the Rebbe said the words one time, but did not repeat the words that are repeated to fit the tune. When they sang “bum, bum,” the Rebbe moved his lips and tapped his feet a bit to the beat, looking back and forth from the menora to the crowd. At the conclusion of the singing, the Rebbe nodded with his head and they continued singing a bit, until the Rebbe turned around and they stopped immediately, and we said “Aleinu.” When he exited, he began to sing “Nyet, Nyet,” and he looked at the son of R’ Ezra Shochet who was standing with his father in the front row. The Rebbe motioned with his hand in his direction, and the boy smiled.

When the Rebbe left, the T’mimim began to dance, and the Rebbe went up to his room.

Afterward, we waited outside for the Rebbe to leave for home. It was about 4:30, and at the doorway of 770 on the inside there was somebody standing with his son, and the Rebbe spoke to him. It is not known what they spoke about. When they finished speaking, the Rebbe exited and went home. We then went to light the first Chanuka candle. Meanwhile [while waiting near the candles], we listened to a tape of the Rebbe’s sicha from 19 Kislev.

Thursday, 25 Kislev, First Light of Chanuka

Today, they took out the Torah of Moshiach for the Torah reading [this was the custom all of the days of Chanuka].

Before Mincha, the students of Oholei Torah came along with the small children from the preschools, and R’ Chaim Gutnick of Australia spoke for them. When the Rebbe came down for Mincha, there was complete silence, and the Rebbe went up to the special platform that was set up, as is done for such occasions. One of the students of Oholei Torah lit the Chanuka candles, and after the lighting they sang “HaNeiros Halalu.” During the singing, there were those who snapped pictures of the Rebbe a number of times, until the Rebbe put his hand over his face to indicate that they should stop. R’ Groner then told the picture-takers not to take any more pictures. At the words “al nisecha,” the Rebbe waved his hand and then clapped, and it was very joyous.

After “Aleinu,” the Rebbe asked R’ Groner if they had distributed Chanuka gelt to the students, and he answered that they would do so now. They gave them two dime coins, one for tz’daka and one for Chanuka gelt. We thought that the Rebbe would want to do the distribution himself, but that did not happen. The Rebbe watched the distribution until the end, and meanwhile looked at some of the people who were there without their children, and signaled as if to ask where is the boy. He did that to R’ Chaim Gutnick and also to R’ Ezra Shochet.

Tonight we went to Queens to give out menoros as part of the Chanuka campaign, along with candles and the Rebbe’s letter for Chanuka.

Friday, 26 Kislev

Mincha was moved up to 3 p.m. [from 3:15] because of lighting the Chanuka candles. R’ Itche Churgin lit the candles. Due to the shortness of the day he only said “HaNeiros Halalu,” but did not sing as on all the other days.

Shabbos Chanuka

Maariv of Shabbos was as usual, and when the Rebbe left to go to his room he did not begin a song, but only nodded with his head as he passed, as if to say “Good Shabbos.”

Shabbos was a Shabbos Mevarchim, and therefore there was a farbrengen. The Rebbe repeated and emphasized the matter of enabling Jews to light the Chanuka candles, and also spoke about Mihu Yehudi. After the farbrengen, he began to sing “Nyet, Nyet,” encouraging the singing with his head motions. After that, he descended from the farbrengen platform toward his place of davening and they began Mincha. At the end of the davening, he again began “Nyet, Nyet,” and went up to his room.

We suspected that the Rebbe might daven Maariv upstairs, as he did on the previous Motzaei Shabbos, so we waited upstairs in Gan Eden HaTachton, but they suddenly informed us that the Rebbe would be going downstairs to daven in the “large zal.” We immediately ran down and there was intense pushing. After the davening, before “Aleinu,” they lit the Chanuka candles and sang “HaNeiros Halalu,” with the Rebbe nodding with his head the entire time, until he turned around to his lectern and then they began “Aleinu.” After Havdala, the Rebbe began to sing “Nyet, Nyet,” and went up to his room.

After he went home, we went to light Chanuka candles, and after that to have the Melaveh Malka meal.

Sunday, 28 Kislev

Mincha was at the regular time. When they lit the candles, during the singing of “HaNeiros Halalu,” the Rebbe opened the door of the “small zal,” apparently so that those outside could also see, as part of giving publicity to the miracle.

At night, after the Chassidus study period, they distributed Chanuka gelt to the T’mimim. R’ Dovid Raskin gave each bachur a dollar and R’ Sholom Morosow gave each one a dime for tz’daka.

Monday, 29 Kislev

Today the Rebbe went to the Ohel and returned later than usual. They immediately davened Mincha followed by Maariv. Tonight was “Nittel,” and since it is not permitted to learn, I wanted to do some work for the Vaad L’Hafatzos Sichos [packaging deliveries and the like], but it was closed. So I went to the room of Chaim Tzadok, where they were playing chess. I stayed there until 12 am.

Tuesday, 30 Kislev, First Day Rosh Chodesh

When the Rebbe left to his room after Shacharis, the children of R’ Ezra Shochet [who had then arrived with his family from Eretz Yisroel in order to settle in the U.S.] were standing [outside the exit from the “large zal”]. The Rebbe asked them if they had received Chanuka gelt, but they did not understand Yiddish. He then asked them in Hebrew, but they still did not respond. The Rebbe then said to them “teikef tekablu” [you will get right away], and he went into his room and gave each of them a silver dollar coin.

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