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Tuesday
Sep192017

MOMENTS OF ETERNITY

The yearning to go to the Rebbe for the first time, the concern the Rebbe showed, and the moments that, till this day, arouse in him tremendous longing. * Rabbi Nachum Kaplan experienced the month of holidays with the Rebbe starting in 5722/1961. * With Chassidic fervor he declares, “Tishrei by the Rebbe, even today, is a must for every Chassid.”

Rabbi Nachum Kaplan
Mashpia, K
hillas Chabad Lud

The attempt to describe the occurrences that I merited to experience by the Rebbe strikes the heart with thrills and chills, which makes it even harder to describe. The first year I spent with the Rebbe for Tishrei was in my Kvutza year, Tishrei 5722.

Whoever came back from 770 would tell us what he saw and experienced by the Rebbe, and this intensified the longing which, with time, became stronger and more constant. When would we merit to meet the Rebbe face to face? This is what we constantly yearned for, until we were able to realize the dream and were given permits to join the new K’vutza. This made us very happy and excited – we were going to our Rebbe!

WELCOME

The preparations were going full strength. And yet, as always, more could have been done, but the time came when we suddenly found ourselves on the plane on the way to the king. We arrived at Beis Chayeinu; who would have believed it! We had to rub our eyes to understand the power of the moment; the Rebbe came out the front door of 770 to welcome us! We felt that the Rebbe was personally looking out for us like a father who welcomes his children.

This display of fatherly concern only grew with time. The Rebbe made sure that the bachurim who came from Eretz Yisroel were dressed well, would eat enough, and sleep well. When it became chilly and someone from the hanhala would make a comment to a bachur who went outside without a coat, we knew that this concern came from the Rebbe himself.

As you can understand, the Rebbe’s concern for each of us was very detailed. An example of this is something that happened at the end of K’vutza. It was the day before we were leaving for Eretz Yisroel and we had yechidus at 2:15 in the morning. That day we fasted, as Chassidim do. At the end of the yechidus the Rebbe asked Rabbi Chadakov to announce that surely the bachurim would be conducting a review of the yechidus, but first they should break their fast. This was the infinite concern of a genuine shepherd for his flock.

ROSH HASHANA

Tishrei brings a certain longing feeling and the memories begin to rise up and flood of their own accord. An entire Tishrei with the Rebbe, hearing the shofar from the king himself!

R-O-S-H H—A—S-H-A-N-A - a large crowd filled the beis midrash and one could already anticipate the crowding. I went to shul with a new suit. The crowding was worse than usual, and worse than that, the air conditioning wasn’t working. We were all shoved around, crushed, all bodily feelings ceased. There was a great desire to be as close as possible, to hear, and perhaps to see the Rebbe’s t’kios from up close.

There was a hush in 770 and the Rebbe went up to the platform, with the secretaries bringing sacks of panim. The Rebbe covered himself with his tallis together with the pidyonos of all the Chassidim. Those who stood nearby could hear the Rebbe’s sobbing. This was enough of a sight to arouse one to teshuva.

The large congregation, despite the crowding, stood silent. Intense moments of spiritual uplift. We felt that we were in another world entirely. After the t’kios, the new suit I bought for Yom Tov was torn and soaked with sweat, but nobody thought about these trivialities.

YOM KIPPUR

Four years after the first trip, on Erev Yom Kippur 5726, I had the opportunity of a personal and warm attentiveness from the Rebbe. Since I won the raffle, I was invited to eat with the Rebbe. It was a feeling of joy, excitement, awe and dread. I sat at the table on the same side as the Rebbe and trembled. I washed but did not dare to eat. How could I put something in my mouth in the Rebbe’s presence?

The exalted day of Yom Kippur arrived. The only thing which gave my soul the strength to stand and daven throughout the fast, without thinking about personal comforts, was the Rebbe. Every glance or move of the Rebbe, every signal, renewed my strength for another few hours of standing. How wonderful it was to daven on this holy day with the Rebbe. It was felt that the Rebbe lifted us up to another world where we did not feel hunger or weakness; we just yearned to watch his holy service.

At the end of N’ila, we heard the shofar that signaled the end of the fast and the crowd began to sing “Napoleon’s March,” a victory song. We watched the sight of the king in his glory, wave his holy hands and energetically encourage the singing of the Chassidim. Sometimes his face was partially covered by his tallis. The Rebbe stood there for minutes that will never be forgotten by any who bore witness. The intensity reached the highest peaks.

SUKKOS

On Chol HaMoed Sukkos 5726, I had a special experience. The Rebbe held a farbrengen in the sukka for the T’mimim. During the farbrengen, the Rebbe asked, “Where is the one who won the raffle? He should come over to receive l’chaim.” It is hard to describe the quiver that passed through me as I approached the Rebbe and the Rebbe said my name.

I remember that during the farbrengen, the Rebbe used an interesting, atypical, expression. Since it was a farbrengen for the T’mimim who are the inyan of dates [having taste but no smell, alluding to Torah study], they should start shaking like a lulav (date palm).

At the farbrengen that took place on one of the days of Chol HaMoed Sukkos, I saw something that is engraved in my mind about how the Rebbe senses everything that is going on with us and lifts us up at the right time.

Near me stood a bachur who held a cup of l’chaim. He waited for the Rebbe to say l’chaim to him. He stood like that for at least fifteen minutes. As the minutes passed it looked as though, if the Rebbe did not acknowledge him, that he would faint. At the last minute, the Rebbe turned his gaze on him and said l’chaim to him with a smile. It was amazing and moving to see how the Rebbe turned his attention to him at just the right moment. 

At Mincha on Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos 5738, something unusual happened. Some Chassidim went to bring joy to congregants of other shuls. Since I had come just a few days earlier, I decided to stay in 770. When they took out the Torah, the Rebbe began to suddenly encourage the singing of “Ana Avda.” It was an unusual degree of encouragement which lasted ten long minutes. Everyone jumped up and down simultaneously and the joy reached the heavens. It seemed as though the Rebbe had decided to bring on Simchas Torah early. A few days later, when the Rebbe had a heart attack, everyone felt there was a connection between the two events.

SIMCHAS TORAH

The most joyous days with the Rebbe in the month of Tishrei are, without a doubt, Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. Throughout the entire period, his holy countenance beamed pure joy, and the excitement and the stormy dancing went on and on, nearly to the point of expiry. Whoever was there is simply unable to describe what we experienced and what we saw.

On my first Simchas Torah (5722), there was a unique farbrengen. This was at the second farbrengen [at the conclusion of Yom Tov]. They washed hands for bread at 6:30, before sunset, and the farbrengen went on for ten straight hours! At midnight, the Rebbe began to talk about the Mitteler Rebbe. I don’t remember the exact order of what was said, but the talk focused on the mesirus nefesh of the Jewish soldiers of that era.

Suddenly, the Rebbe’s tone of voice changed, and the Rebbe began to speak in pain about the fact that there are many Jews trapped behind the “Iron Curtain” who are suffering, and since there are a number of quorums present in the crowd, and it is known the power of a ruling of a Beis Din in the lower world, they should issue a ruling that this must stop. The Rebbe cried terrible cries. We saw the pain that the Rebbe feels for suffering Jews. It was a heartrending sight. Such terrible cries in middle of a Simchas Torah farbrengen, we understood that something was afoot.

The next day, when the gentile janitor came to clean 770, he said that he heard on the news in the middle of the night that many Jews were arrested by the Russian government.

The memories float up to the surface. Those were days of heavenly revelations. But the truth needs to be said. In the past, the Chassidim needed much more closeness in order to accomplish things, but today we see a generation of bachurim and young marrieds who are accomplishing no less than what was done in the past. Even today, it is essential for every Chassid, whose situation allows, to travel to be by the Rebbe for the month of Tishrei, in order to strengthen hiskashrus and to recharge his batteries.

Because the Rebbe is with us today, just as he was then!

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