HOW IS HE? WHAT IS HE? HE’S THE REBBE! 
February 13, 2013
Avremele Rainitz in #869, Moshiach & Geula

A few weeks before he passed away, Beis Moshiach interviewed R’ Reuven Dunin a”h about the Besuras HaGeula. * Unfortunately, the interview was not completed, but even from the part presented here, we can learn about R’ Reuven’s approach which was a combination of infinite Ahavas Yisroel and spreading the Besuras HaGeula. * We tried to retain R’ Reuven’s unique style, as heard in the recording.

The Rebbe gave us a job, to spread the Besuras HaGeula. The goal is clear, but there are differences of opinion about how to go about it. How can we do it while retaining achdus among Chassidim?

The Rebbe once began a farbrengen with these words: “It is known that every matter of holiness comes in a manner of inclusiveness.” So matters related to Moshiach also need to come in a way of inclusiveness.

What’s the secret?

Being battul to the Rebbe. When there is bittul, fire and hail can descend together. Note, the fire remained fire and the water remained water. One is chesed and one is g’vura; one is the Angel of Water and one is the Angel of Fire, but when they were battul to the command of Hashem, they came down together and did what had to be done.

Someone who says he is working on inyanei Moshiach because he wants Moshiach, but he is not successful when it comes to Ahavas Yisroel, has a problem. His wanting Moshiach is superficial. It’s not sincerely felt. If he truly wanted Moshiach, he would want our Moshiach, not his. Our Moshiach is the Rebbe and you see that the Rebbe is an Ohev Yisroel. He shows how to draw down G-dliness. You say the foundation of Torah is loving your fellow, so who are you telling that to? What are you doing with it?

There are many Chassidim with genuine Ahavas Yisroel, but the fact that they “live with Moshiach” bothers certain people.

Tell me what you mean by “living with Moshiach.”

You have been in the yeshiva in Ramat Aviv for the past number of years. The members of the hanhala are Chassidim with genuine Ahavas Yisroel and after every t’filla they proclaim “Yechi.” Someone from a Lubavitcher enclave will come in and won’t like it and he will claim that this behavior is divisive. Does he have a point that needs to be reckoned with?

If someone truly and sincerely expresses himself about the Rebbe and Yechi, that’s fine. I myself am amazed by the achievements of the yeshiva in Ramat Aviv. I’m there and I see the people and I’m very impressed by the fact that they proclaim “Yechi” with utter sincerity.

In a farbrengen, when you say, “the Rebbe should be well,” as naturally as you say it, there are people in Chabad who find it annoying.

Listen, in Likkutei Sichos there is a really heavy duty segment, where the Rebbe speaks about the inyan of atzmus u’mehus k’fi sh’hishkin atzmo b’guf (the Essence of G-d as He invested Himself into a physical body). To those who can’t accept this, well, the Rebbe goes on to say, and this is printed, “Let them have what is theirs!” What can you do?

I am willing to sit with anyone, nicely, like brothers, like Chassidim, and to lay it all out on the table. True, you cannot command a feeling, either way, but we must remember that none of us is the Goel aside from the Rebbe.

Regarding the Geula it says, “and you will be gathered one by one, the Jewish people.” Apparently, this doesn’t happen with military precision. It doesn’t go in mass movements. Specifically because we are dealing with absolute truth, it speaks of a process of “one by one.”

Those who need to be extra careful are those at the top. There are officers, generals, administrators, knowledgeable people, talented people, and they have documented successes, but they need to be careful about the sicha of the Rebbe regarding Yochanan Cohen Gadol who served for eighty years and then became a Tzadoki. I remember being surprised when the Rebbe explained that Yochanan Cohen Gadol’s problem was that he became a tzaddik in his own estimation, and the Mishna says that even if the entire world tells you that you are a tzaddik, consider yourself a …

Understand? We need to eradicate ego! This is what is screwing up the entire works. I look at friends from back then, 5718, 5719, and I am shocked to hear them speak about the “opposite of life.” I am flabbergasted. At the same time, when I meet a friend like that, should I not kiss him? Should I not heartily shake his hand?

Maybe, because of the things you say, it is he who won’t want to shake hands?

What can I do? You know what? I can fall upon him and kiss him!

I know one simple thing: the Rebbe says that everything in holiness comes in an inclusive manner. If there is a falling out, it means there is no holiness here. I don’t want there to be a falling out because of me. On any level!

It greatly hurts me that efforts are not being made to unify. How is it possible that there are people among us that can live with this division in our ranks? Not to mention those who put in effort to stab one another.

What should we focus on?

On action. When proclaiming “Yechi,” we need to know this is not enough, that the “Yechi” needs to be expressed with the Shulchan Aruch of Chassidus, by increasing shiurim, learning, davening and mivtzaim. To me, this is the real expression of “Yechi.” That’s how I understand it. If there is a Rebbe, do what he says.

People are inclined to run away from taking action. It is much easier to throw the ball in the Rebbe’s direction by saying: I’ll do what’s easy for me and the Rebbe will take care of the rest.

I also used to think that way. I once had a yechidus, and the very next day there were problems again. I had apparently not yet grasped that we had not yet killed off the Evil Inclination. I went back to the Rebbe and he said to me: What? We just spoke!

I suddenly got it. What did I think – that I could go to the Rebbe every time and that is how I would fix things up? He told me something – why wasn’t I doing it?

The Rebbe is with you and he will help you; but you’ve got to do something! So how are we doing what he wants? When he speaks to us about Ahavas Yisroel and achdus, when he speaks to us about Moshiach, how the earth will be full of knowledge of Hashem like waters cover the sea, everything will be Moshiach – how do you think all this is going to happen – through G-d forbid, not davening, not learning, not farbrenging? I don’t think that is how it’s going to happen.

May Hashem forgive me, for a person doesn’t know what is in his fellow’s heart, but sometimes I see people proclaiming “Yechi,” without thinking about the significance of what they are saying. In their daily lives, there is no kabbalas ol, no self discipline or self restraint. It seems like a joke to me, because if you believe in what you are saying, why aren’t you doing it?

At the same time, obviously we need to proclaim “Yechi,” but it should be done properly.

What does “doing it properly” mean?

Like in davening, to forget everything else because “all that is before Him is considered like nothing,” and to say what you need to say. You see nothing, you close your eyes and say Shma. People went into fire and water with this!

The same is true for “Yechi.” When “Yechi HaRebbe” is obvious to you, you don’t care about anything!

And if someone proclaims “Yechi” and it’s just a slogan?

It is very hard to approach a person like that and set him straight and do it right. After all, that was Moshe Rabbeinu’s request of Hashem that his successor be someone who can relate to every person.

I recall, without mentioning names, someone from among us, serious, intelligent, composed, a man of substance, who went on mivtzaim every day. A role model, who never refused communal work. If he was asked to speak, wherever it might be, he spoke. But he did not tell people what to do. I am talking about decades ago. I once asked him: How do you not care about what is going on? Why don’t you try to straighten things out among us?

I don’t remember what he said, but apparently he was wiser than me and more farsighted and he saw it was a waste of time, so he did his own thing.

If we have reached this point, and they have created a big pile of waste – who ought to deal with it? You have direct instructions from the Rebbe? Work, do, the whole world is waiting for you!

At the same time, it should be clear that someone who is connected to the Rebbe, the Rebbe took him out of galus. I once heard the Rebbe say something shocking at a farbrengen about Rabbi Avner, the talmid of the Ramban. He went off the derech and on Yom Kippur which fell out on Shabbos he sent a troop of soldiers to bring the Ramban to him. He then took a pig, slaughtered, cooked and ate it and began arguing with the Ramban about how many krissos (excisions of the soul) he deserved. The Ramban said four and he said five. Shocking!

At a certain point, the Ramban was so taken aback by his brazenness that he asked him: What caused this?

He replied that in a shiur that the Ramban gave, he said that everything is alluded to in Parshas Haazinu. This made no sense to him and he could not accept it. The Ramban said: It is still true. Ask what you would like to ask.

He asked: Where is my name mentioned in the parsha?

The Rebbe said that the Ramban turned aside to pray and then came back and said: Every third letter in the following verse spells out your name: “אָמַרְתִּי אַפְאֵיהֶם אַשְׁבִּיתָה מֵאֱנוֹשׁ זִכְרָם.”

The moment Avner heard this response, he realized how greatly he had fallen and he said to the Ramban: Rebbi, what is my tikkun?

The moment he said “Rebbi,” his Rebbe made sure he would have a tikkun and he said that he had to do as the verse goes on to say, “I will eradicate their memory from mankind.” He went to the port, took a boat without oars and without a sailor and let the wind take him away.

What do we see from here? That even for someone like this, who reached the nadir of lowliness and arrogance to the point that he could argue with the Ramban on Yom Kippur about how many excisions of the soul he deserved, the Ramban gave him a tikkun so that the Torah itself, in that verse with his name, alludes to him being a “rabbi.”

In recent years, in being mekarev people to Chassidus, they are first told about the Rebbe. Why is that so important?

What are we without the Rebbe? I don’t understand your question.

I meet someone and start talking about the Rebbe? Why shouldn’t I talk to him about the Torah?

It’s very simple. How is it possible without a Rosh B’nei Yisroel? You yourself read in the Torah, “and Hashem said to Moshe saying, speak …” So doesn’t the entire business start with Moshe? What is a Rebbe to you, something you get around to when you have the time, or when you are bored?

After it says so many times in the Torah “and Hashem said to Moshe,” and you can’t skip even one letter of the Torah, not to mention a pasuk – how can you speak about the Torah without first speaking about Moshe? It’s not a matter of Chassidus; it’s a matter of Judaism! “And this is the Torah which Moshe set before the Jewish people!”

But “and Hashem spoke to Moshe” sounds like an introduction.

Why does it say this so many times in the Torah? It wasn’t enough that he went up the mountain and brought the Torah down to the Jewish people? Why is this mentioned so many times?

So when I approach a Jew, the first thing to talk about is the Rebbe?

Of course! What else?

Did you hear this from the Rebbe?

In Haifa, there was the home of a certain Dunin fellow at 3 Borochov Street. The house was full of pictures of the Rebbe. By me, every picture was of the Rebbe. It awakens memories for me. And all the talk at home began and ended with the Rebbe. Over the years, people asked me: What is this, a museum? Where else do you see a house full of pictures of the Rebbe?

One time, I asked the Rebbe whether to change things and he said: Continue as you have been doing until now, as it is being successful and good reports have been coming here.

If you don’t have the Rebbe in your head, you can easily do something foolish, to veer off topic, even with a holy veneer.

Learning the Rebbe’s teachings is not enough; you must actually bond with him. How can you care about what he said if he doesn’t interest you?

We stood for hours, tirelessly, to see him, just to see him. Once, without mentioning names, one of our big people came over to me, someone serious and involved, and he asked: Tell me, why do you constantly look at the Rebbe?

From heaven I was helped and someone cut him off and said: What do you want, that people should constantly look at you?

In what way is a Chassid’s personal connection with the Rebbe expressed after Gimmel Tammuz?

That is a personal matter and someone who wants a personal relationship with the Rebbe needs to work on it. It was that way in the past too – who went to the Rebbe for yechidus? Someone who bought a ticket and went! If you want something, work on it and you’ll have it!

You think everyone who was there had yechidus? I remember being taken aback when I saw those who came to the Rebbe with empty suitcases and shopping lists. Afterward, they explained to me that they had to cover their ticket. So you see that there can be a situation in which you are already by the Rebbe, but you did not have yechidus because you have all sorts of nonsense in your mind.

When the Rebbe began having general yechidusin, you think everyone went? Some didn’t go for it. The first time R’ Leibel Groner went down to the zal and said: It seems there will no longer be private audiences but groups will go in, so we will start according to the aleph-beis, a group went in whose name began with aleph and some did not go in. They did not go for it. It was a situation in which you were able to go in for yechidus but the ego got in the way.

Today too, you can connect to the Rebbe and have a personal relationship. It’s just that you need to get rid of all the nonsense and have bittul in order to accept the ways of the Rebbe.

In yechidus, before my going out to Haifa, I had a big problem with this. It was hard going to Haifa. But the Rebbe told me that he cannot be in several cities simultaneously – and here he mentioned the names of some places, I think he said Kfar Chabad and Haifa – and that is why he sent people. He concluded, “And it is like you are my representative.” I suddenly understood that it was as though the Rebbe was extending his hand and arranging things there and this reassured me somewhat, because at first, I did not want to part from him, but when he said this …

Understand? The Rebbe does not part from his Chassidim!

So at first I thought that he told me I am an extension of him only when he sees positive results. However, he told me that it applies in any case, “Even in improper matters.”

So now it is in our hands, whether to bring him honor or the opposite. To give him nachas, or the opposite. He will not leave us in any case.

I am wary of looking at the situation from a down to earth human perspective, because it is very hard for me. We learned in Basi L’Gani that the Mitteler Rebbe uncovered his arm and said to someone, look how my skin shriveled because of your sins. That means that there are ramifications to our behavior as it affects him. Then when you see frightening things like hospitalizations [following 27 Adar] and even more terrifying things [like the events of 3 Tammuz] do you have the nerve to say [as is the custom when mourning a parent or Torah teacher], “I am your atonement.” Do you have the nerve to say this happened because of me – I am responsible for all this? On the other hand, you know that your proper conduct can add health and life to him!

***

To me, no matter the date, it’s the same Rebbe. One year, after the change in the Rebbe’s health, I was telling someone to go and see the Rebbe and he refused. He said: I don’t want to go now. I want to remember the Rebbe the way I knew him.

I don’t limit the Rebbe in any way. The first time I saw him, I saw a king, vigorous and powerful. I also saw him with a white beard, but to me it’s the same Rebbe. So maybe he will show up with a white beard, but one thing I am certain of is that he can reveal himself just like that, exactly as if he was standing right here, and he can walk into the room right now. All the questions are our own personal challenges. He does what he has to do, so what business is it of mine? I need him, that’s all. How is he? What is he? He’s the Rebbe!

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