August 9, 2017
Shneur Zalman Berger in #1080, Chabad History, Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf, Menachem Av

Menachem Av 5733: Once again we get a glimpse into the events of the month in 770, from the diary of RSaadya Maatuf ah. * We read about the surprise distribution of Kos shel Bracha for children only and the distribution of coins for tzdaka for the children, as well as the fascinating descriptions of Tisha BAv and the yahrtzait of the Rebbes father on 20 Av. * Fascinating reports and memories from Av 5733 with the Rebbe, published for the very first time from the diary of the late RSaadya Maatuf.


Thursday, 4 Menachem Av

Maariv was later than usual, and we began at 9:50. The delay was due to a yechidus of R’ Binyomin Gorodetzky, the personal representative of the Rebbe. Even after Maariv, the Rebbe told R’ Groner once again to send R’ Gorodetzky into his room.

Friday, 5 Menachem Av

The Rebbe went today to the Ohel and returned late, therefore he did not go home as is his custom every Erev Shabbos, and he let R’ Binyomin Klein know that he should inform those in the house that he would not be coming.

We are awaiting and anticipating the farbrengen on Shabbos, as all signs indicate that there will be a farbrengen, and we are in suspense wanting to know what will be tomorrow.

Shabbos Chazon, 6 Menachem Av, Friday Night

On Shabbos night, when the Rebbe came in to daven, he looked at the ceiling to see the renovations [that began on Tuesday, 2 Menachem Av], which are happening these days. They say that the Rebbe sent out a note to the gabbaim of the shul, that if the renovations will not be complete for Rosh HaShana, it will cause a diminution of the “giluyim” (revelations). I don’t recall the exact language the Rebbe used, but that is the gist of what they understood from it [details of how the renovations were carried out in light of the unique instructions of the Rebbe will appear in the next installment].


Shabbos Chazon, 6 Menachem Av

As per the Rebbe’s instructions, they took out for the Torah reading the Torah of Moshiach. The Rebbe received the aliya of Maftir.

Today there was the farbrengen that we had hoped for. Many of the regular participants at the farbrengens were not present, because they are on shlichus or in the summer camps; therefore I stood this time in a better place than usual on the pyramids, and obviously I could see better from there and there wasn’t as much crowding. I also saw before the maamer how the Rebbe ties the handkerchief on his right hand.

During the first sicha, the Rebbe said that all the children present should come up to receive wine of blessing. This is considered an extremely rare and unprecedented event that the Rebbe should personally distribute to all the boys and girls. [During the summer months of 5733, the Rebbe came out with a proclamation of the verse “from the mouths of babes… to stay the enemy and avenger.” When war broke out on Yom Kippur 5734, everyone understood in retrospect that the special activities with children were meant to serve as a spiritual defensive shield before the war. In this diary, we discover that the Rebbe personally held two special distributions for children.] Because not many children were around (since most are in the mountains or in camps), there was not a very long line, but there were many very small children even under the age of two. There were those that the Rebbe taught how to say the bracha, and the Rebbe answered “amen” to the bracha of each boy and girl, and smiled at all of them.

There was one girl who spilled some wine as she was drinking, and the Rebbe took one of the napkins in front of him and gave it to her to wipe it up. This went on between each sicha, children came up with their parents, and there were some who cried and were afraid. There was one small boy who approached the Rebbe with a cup, and the Rebbe spoke with him a few words, in Yiddish obviously, and then poured the wine for him and made the bracha with him.

Throughout the entirety of the farbrengen, between eighty and ninety boys and girls approached the Rebbe.

During the farbrengen, the Rebbe said that they should let it be known in Eretz Yisroel that they should gather all the children of all ages near the Kosel, and to teach each child something that is suitable for him to learn at his age. Once again, the Rebbe spoke strongly against the ministers of the Mafdal [Mizrachi] party, and revealed that he had found out from a very reliable source that the leadership of the Mafdal, along with the younger members, had decided to enter into a coalition [under the leadership of the Left] without any conditions, and how they are willing to give anything away to hold on to their seats.

After the farbrengen, the Rebbe went out to daven Mincha and received the third aliya. After Mincha, he began to sing “Hu Elokeinu,” and as usual we accompanied the Rebbe to his house.

At Havdala, since it is not permitted to drink wine, R’ Itche Churgin made Havdala on beer, and when he made the blessing “SheHakol,” the Rebbe looked at the cup but did not say anything.

After Maariv, we met an Israeli young man who for some reason does not readily appear to be Israeli, and he told us that he came here as part of a student exchange program, and while here, he discovered to his shock that the Rebbe is somewhat related to him (a relative of his married the Rebbe’s niece) [Mrs. Dalia Rothman, daughter of R’ Yisroel Aryeh Leib], and he became very excited. He was also extremely impressed by the farbrengen, even though he did not understand a word of Yiddish.


Tisha B’Av Night

The Rebbe davened Maariv in the large Zal (downstairs). Before Maariv, the Rebbe looked upward. They did not understand what he had in mind, until R’ Meir Harlig approached and the Rebbe told him that they should put out the lights, and the Rebbe did not begin until the lights were shut.

The Rebbe sat on a special box, and as customary they removed the paroches of the Aron HaKodesh, and also the cloth covering the Rebbe’s lectern (once they were not sure what to do and they only spread it out part way, and when the Rebbe came in he removed it and placed it inside). R’ Chadakov was the chazan, because he has yahrtzait, and after the Kaddish before Aleinu the Rebbe sat down on the box, and Eicha was read by the Baal Korei of Shabbos [R’ Mordechai Shusterman]. After Eicha, Kinus and Aleinu, they made an announcement regarding Mivtza T’fillin and that people should go to shuls to speak about the law of “Who is a Jew.” The Rebbe said to the one making the announcement that they should also speak about “Tziyon will be redeemed with justice” – this refers to Torah study, “and her captives with tz’daka” – to give tz’daka.

Tisha B’Av Day

At Shacharis, the Rebbe studied some pamphlet; it seems to me it was “Maamer Eicha.” The Rebbe instructed that they take out the Torah of Moshiach, and he was given the third aliya, and also by Mincha was called to Maftir. After Mincha, they announced what time they will be setting out to speak in the shuls and about Mivtza T’fillin. The Rebbe interrupted the one making the announcement and asked where the pushkas were [perhaps for taking along on mivtzaim].

The Rebbe came out for Maariv at 8:30, and after Maariv went into his room for a brief moment and came out for Kiddush Levana. The Rebbe walked towards the traffic island and from there looked for the moon. After that, he crossed back towards 770 and gazed at the moon, and then stood facing east and said Kiddush Levana.

Wednesday, 10 Menachem Av

Today, they began to take down the room dividers in the shul from the side away from Kingston, and they took down the steps leading to the office of the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos [to facilitate the renovations meant to expand the large zal downstairs]. As of now, they have not broken through the wall of the shul.

Friday, 12 Menachem Av

On Friday, the secretary R’ Binyomin Klein purchased a new car. He was particular not to drive it on his own until the Rebbe has also driven in it first.

Wednesday, 17 Menachem Av

As part of the work helping out in the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos, since they need to expand the shul downstairs and also to make changes in the rooms of the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos, we had work carrying out boxes and other things. The workers were Chaim, Tzadok, Ezra, and I [other students in K’vutza].


Thursday, 18 Menachem Av

Something very interesting occurred at Mincha. About three hundred boys and some girls came, students in [the day camps of] Oholei Torah and also Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Ocean Parkway [and Beis Rivka], and they seated them in the large Zal downstairs. They set up the platform for the Torah reading on the east wall, and placed the Rebbe’s lectern and chair on the platform, so that the Rebbe davened on the platform. The children had posters saying “Tziyon B’Mishpat Tipadeh” and “Syog L’Chochma Shetika” and other such messages. When the Rebbe came in, they all stood up and began davening in a special tune-chant.

Before the repetition of the chazan, the Rebbe looked at the signs that were hung on the window. On one sign it said, “The battle of the Rebbe shlita is emes (truth), and Hashem’s seal is emes, and purify our hearts to serve You with emes.” The Rebbe looked particularly at this sign.

After the final Kaddish, the Rebbe signaled to R’ Chadakov to approach. R’ Chadakov went over and the Rebbe said a few words to him. R’ Chadakov descended from the platform, and the Rebbe called him a second time and spoke to him again. All of this took only a few minutes. R’ Chadakov went over to the one in charge of the day camps and told him what the Rebbe had said. He in turn announced to the children in English that the Rebbe would give each child a quarter, and is appointing each child to be his emissary to give the coin to tz’daka. This was a surprise, because never before had the Rebbe personally distributed coins to children at such gatherings.

The Rebbe descended from the platform and stood near the lectern of the chazan, and each child approached the Rebbe, and the Rebbe gave out the coins and smiled to the children. There were children who put out their left hand, and the Rebbe signaled to take with the right hand. The line went by with only a little pushing, and eventually all of the boys passed by. Then the girls approached, and there were not that many of them. At the conclusion of the distribution to the children, he instructed that they sing “U’faratzta,” and the Rebbe said to R’ Groner that the counselors should also come up to get a coin, and that is what happened. The counselors who were there each got a coin, and they also called the counselors who had already gone outside and the Rebbe smiled at them.

Then it came the turn of the girl counselors, and before they passed by, R’ Dovid Raskin told all of the bachurim standing near the Aron HaKodesh to move to the other side. After some pushing, they all moved to another spot. The girl counselors approached, and the Rebbe said something to the first few. Apparently, the Rebbe told them that he is appointing them as his messengers to give the coin to tz’daka.

The distribution ended and the Rebbe wanted to leave, when suddenly more boy and girl counselors came, and the Rebbe gave all of them. During this time, they had set up the boys on the pyramids and they began to sing “U’faratzta.” At the beginning of the distribution, the Rebbe had put down two pennies and a dime on the side of the lectern, and when he finished and began to leave, R’ Groner brought the coins to the Rebbe. It seems one of the counselors had been hesitant to approach, and when the Rebbe passed him on his way out, the Rebbe handed him a coin.

The Rebbe exited and encouraged the singing with his hand motions and it was very joyous.


Shabbos Night, 20 Av

[Due to the yahrtzait of R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn, the Rebbe’s father, the Rebbe served as the chazan at all of the t’fillos.] When he approached the lectern for Maariv, they set up a special order, because many guests came, and most of the T’mimim who had gone away on shlichus also returned, and all are hoping that there will be “revelations” tomorrow at the farbrengen. We grabbed places to stand while it was still day, but the pushing was still terrible. To my good fortune, I was standing on a small platform that had been specially set up, and from there I could see without any obstructions.

The pushing was so terrible, to the point that we wondered how the Rebbe would possibly manage to make his way to the platform. In fact, they did have to push the platform back somewhat, and when the Rebbe arrived, everyone squeezed into their places and the Rebbe walked between the columns until he was standing in front of the lectern. What a special pleasure it is to hear the Rebbe’s voice; the Rebbe is very particular in his enunciation. The Rebbe said the “mourner’s Kaddish,” and only afterward was it said by all the others who were obligated to do so.

Shabbos, 20 Av

We woke up earlier than usual and hurried to 770, but there were those who had already gotten there first and grabbed places. I returned to the same place that I had yesterday, and saw everything with practically no pushing. The baked goods that are eaten before davening were brought out a half hour earlier than usual, in order for people to finish and grab their spots.

When the Rebbe came out, everybody was already standing in their places with all of the terrible pushing. During the taking out of the Torah, the Rebbe passed with the Torah literally between the cracks in the crowd, placed it on the bima, and then walked back to stand next to the lectern of the chazan, where he stood for the entire reading. Before the reading of Maftir, he approached and went up to the bima and said the Kaddish, and only then did they call him up for Maftir.

The farbrengen began at about 1:30. The Rebbe spoke about the kollel, very harsh words. He mentioned only briefly the subject of “Who is a Jew.” Regarding the kollel, the Rebbe added that they should take twenty exceptional bachurim, well versed and sharp in Nigleh and Chassidus, to sit and learn there, and they should be paid triple the amount currently being paid.

After the farbrengen, they began to sing the well-known niggun of the Rebbe’s father, R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn. After Mincha, the Rebbe began the song “Nyet Nyet,” and as usual we accompanied the Rebbe to the point where we are allowed to go.


Shabbos, Parshas R’ei, 27 Menachem Av

The Rebbe farbrenged on Shabbos and spoke about chinuch and “Who is a Jew.” At the end of the farbrengen, he began to sing “U’faratzta,” and first waved both hands around and afterward did so only with one hand. The Rebbe called over the “Russians” [five T’mimim who had recently left Russia and were returning to Eretz Yisroel after having spent some time in 770 – SZB], and gave each one of them L’chaim. The last one to pass (Shlomo Galperin) was given two bottles of mashke, and he told them to hold farbrengens, and it would be good if they could all farbreng together in the same place.

After the farbrengen there was Mincha, and the Rebbe set out towards home. As usual, we followed the Rebbe from behind until the turn onto President Street, where we stop and watch the Rebbe until he goes into his house. This time, there were two black fellows sitting on a fence near the sidewalk, and when the Rebbe passed near them they screamed at him, “Jew.” We immediately began heading towards them and they ran away. R’ Leibel Bistritzky accompanied the Rebbe to opposite the door of his house, and on his way back spoke to some black men who were outside working on their cars, and he must have spoken with them about what happened.

Sunday, 28 Menachem Av

After Mincha, the Russian bachurim stood outside of Gan Eden HaTachton (the hallway outside the Rebbe’s room) in farewell, and the Rebbe told them to farbreng every place in Eretz Yisroel where there are Russian immigrant Chassidim – Kfar Chabad, Lud, and Nachlas Har Chabad.

This evening, the Rebbe received people for yechidus, and therefore Maariv was at 1:30 AM. Among those who went in were Yosef Meir Cohen, Yehonatan Burgan, Tziyon Chimi, and Yehoshua Sharf. There was also someone by the name of Bergman, one of the leaders of Mizrachi in the United States. He had spoken in Eretz Yisroel about instituting the law of “Who is a Jew,” and R’ Goren then attacked him and others. The Rebbe actually spoke about him in recent farbrengens. He was in yechidus for more than half an hour.

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