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Tuesday
Jan122016

MY MOMENT WITH THE REBBE

By Nosson Avrohom, Chaim Bruk, Menachem Ziegelboim, and Shneur Chaviv

It would seem that there is not a single Chassid who does not carry inside him, in a hidden corner of his soul, a pure and precious diamond that he treasures above all else.  This diamond is his special and unique moment with the Rebbe, whether the moment that his eyes met the Rebbe’s eyes, the moment of some pivotal event in his life, or a moment of impact that changed the course of his life.  It is this moment that he recalls when he needs to recharge his batteries, it is what he draws strength from when he is in need of salvation and pictures to himself the Rebbe’s holy visage, it is the moment that he will tell his children and grandchildren about throughout the years. * The Beis Moshiach staff approached a number of Chassidim, of different geographical and family backgrounds, to share their special moment with our readers. * Presented in honor of Yud Shvat, sixty five years after the Rebbe officially accepted the nesius.

RELIVING THE MOMENT – LIVING WITH THE REBBE

If you ask a Chassid, “Do you remember a special moment with the Rebbe that is always with you?” he won’t necessarily have an immediate answer for you.  He will probably think a bit and you will see a certain look on his face, a gravity that is appropriate for this very personal subject.

He will weigh every word carefully, and you will sense the power of the moment in his life.  This was his personal moment with the Rebbe, which infuses all the senses with the awareness that the Rebbe is always with a Chassid, senses him, thinks of him, endows him with strength, and believes in his ability to execute his shlichus. 

Then he will think about his first yechidus with the Rebbe, about the fatherly smile, about the special instruction, and so on.  Suddenly his face becomes calm and the gravity will turn into a big smile and his eyes will be fixed on some distant point and it will be apparent that he is reliving the moment.

How fitting is the amazing description of the Rebbe Rayatz in his sicha of Shavuos 5694/1934: “One of the things that Anash and the T’mimim need to accustom themselves to is to picture … whoever was in Lubavitch, heard a maamer, was in yechidus, visited the holy burial sites … to picture in his mind in accordance with what he remembers, the holy sights that he saw and experienced when in Lubavitch …

When any one of the Chassidim and the T’mimim who were in Lubavitch during a farbrengen or a yechidus goes over in his thoughts in detail what he said and asked at the time, remembering the answer and the wording of the blessing he received – this sight arouses him from his slumber of foolishness and he becomes filled with renewed chayus. 

There are no words with which to express how many consolations and hopes a memory like this inspires; such a memory makes material life easier, brings light into mundane life, and leads to fortitude of the heart in the animated avoda of his future life…  (Likkutei Dibburim)

And when the Chassid will accede to your pleading, his heart will open and he will tell you about his personal moment with the Rebbe.  The feeling of yearning will be contagious and for a moment you will be swept up with a feeling of hiskashrus that will come to the fore in the telling of the story accompanied by a feeling of Chassidic joy.  This will instantly be followed with bitachon, warmth, and enthusiasm that are revealed in the heart of a Chassid when he thinks about – practically reliving – the scene again.

And the Rebbe’s words echo in his ears as though he heard them just now, injecting him with chayus, breathing Chassidic life into him, urging him to action, “What are we waiting for? It delays the Geula, it is already Erev Shabbos after midday,” don’t slacken off in your shlichus to bring about the hisgalus in the world.

Chaim Bruk

BE A MASHPIA

R’ Michoel Mishulovin

R’ Michoel Mishulovin, “the mashpia of Nachla,” is an integral part of life in Nachalat Har Chabad.  At his farbrengens suffused with the rich authentic Chassidic flavor of yore, he demands from the listeners, with his trademark warmth, to live with the words of the Rebbe and dedicate themselves as Chassidim to his directives.  The living model that he offers is itself enough to inspire one to renewed enthusiasm for the ways of Chassidim and Chassidus.

R’ Michoel merited to leave the USSR and move to Eretz Yisroel in 1969.  He managed to settle briefly in Nachalat Har Chabad, and then set out for Tishrei with Rebbe.  He speaks movingly of those first moments that he experienced in the presence of the Rebbe:

***

I saw the Rebbe for the first time when he was on his way to enter 770.  I stood off on the side and the Rebbe walked straight towards the building, but turned his head in my direction and looked straight at me until he got inside.  Those were intensely moving moments that completely drained away all the feelings of the years of waiting to leave Russia and merit to meet the Rebbe.

It was on the third day of Slichos, Elul 5729, and that night there was a farbrengen.  The Rebbe spoke for a while, and at some point he asked, “Is there anyone present at the farbrengen from Nachlas Har Chabad?”  There were two of us present, a Jew from Georgia and myself.  I stood directly across from the Rebbe but at a distance and did not approach.  It was true that I lived in Nachlat Har Chabad, but I had doubts at the time if I should stay there since my wife’s parents lived in B’nei Brak, and my brother who had got out before me lived in Kfar Chabad.  That is why I was doubtful as to remaining in Nachla, and I leaned towards moving to Kfar Chabad.

The Rebbe asked again; those around me started to stare at me, and seeing that I was a new face started telling me to approach the Rebbe.  I had no choice and started walking towards the Rebbe.  As I was moving forward, before I reached the Rebbe’s place, the Rebbe pointed at me with his finger and asked, “From Nachalat Har Chabad?” and I nodded in the affirmative. The Rebbe then asked, “With a hisyashvus (i.e. permanence)?”  Obviously, that question resolved all my doubts and I nodded my head again in the affirmative.

I approached the Rebbe’s table.  The Rebbe poured me l’chaim and said that according to the law one is required to first make a blessing on mezonos, and indicated to me to take from the plate that was near him.  I said l’chaim, and the Rebbe answered, “L’chaim v’livracha.”  After that the Rebbe poured for me again, then gave me the bottle of mashke and said I should distribute it among those present and added, “To be a mashpia in Nachalat Har Chabad.”  I started to ask the Rebbe for a blessing for my brother who was not feeling well, but the Rebbe responded immediately, “We are discussing general matters, not personal matters.”

In Nachla there lived an older Jew who had come from Leningrad, where he had worked in the production of sweet beverages.  When he left Russia and arrived in Nachla, he wanted to continue working in that field and had offered me to be his partner.  I had told him that I would ask the Rebbe.  When I entered for my first yechidus during that Tishrei, I wrote about this on the note that I gave the Rebbe and inquired as to whether I should accept the offer.  The Rebbe answered me (not exact wording), “For him it is good, but not for you.  It is not appropriate for a mashpia to stand in a store and sell sweet drinks… Sh’chita is a possibility, mila, learning with another Jew, and from this will be parnasa.”

I remember that I thought then naively, “Why is the Rebbe telling me to be a mashpia?  Surely, those who came before me must have told him that I used to teach students over there…”  Incidentally, during that month of Tishrei, the Rebbe instructed that all those who had left Russia that year should stand next to him the entire time, at the t’fillos etc.

When I returned to Nachla, they appointed me as the mashpia for Anash.  When R’ Dovid Shkolnik a”h was by the Rebbe, the Rebbe gave him a copy of the Kuntres Ahavas Yisroel with his holy signature for him to serve as an emissary to deliver it to the mashpia of Nachla.  The truth is that in Nachla at the time there was the mashpia R’ Shalom Eliyahu Vilenkin, who was much older than me, but for some reason when he came to Nachla he gave me the pamphlet.  That is how I merited receiving the Kuntres from the Rebbe with his holy signature.

Undoubtedly, that moment when I received my first direct instruction from the Rebbe after I arrived is something I can never forget.  And it accompanies me every moment of my shlichus in Nachla, after the Rebbe established that I should become a mashpia in Nachalat Har Chabad and with a “hisyashvus,” until the complete revelation of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, immediately now.

THE REBBE SPOKE TO MY THOUGHTS

R’ Yitzchok Lifsh

R’ Yitzchok Lifsh is the director of Tzach in Tzfas.  His net is spread far beyond the city limits of Tzfas, reaching the army bases all across Northern Israel and the Golan.  He is one of the Chabad activists who work to gather signatures of rabbis and public figures accepting the kingship of the Rebbe.  He has many special moments with the Rebbe and carefully chooses to share the following two stories.

***

In 5739/1978, I merited to spend Tishrei in the presence of the Rebbe.  The emotions ran high since this was the first Tishrei following the heart incident the previous year.

Throughout that month, I chose to grab a spot on the bleachers and not push into the standing crowds (which everybody referred to as the “washing machine”).  I managed to sweat a little less, but I was not always able to hear the sichos clearly.  At one of the farbrengens towards the end of the month, a feeling of having lost out on an opportunity began to gnaw at me, as here the month was almost over and I wasn’t taking anything with me.

As the thought came to me, I heard the Rebbe saying that every person who is present for Tishrei takes away something from here, the question is what and how much.

Another amazing instance of open divine sight occurred with me three years later in 5742.  That was my k’vutza year.  At one of the farbrengens on Shabbos, I suddenly felt extremely tired and I almost dozed off.  Naturally, all of the pushing and crowding and heat can cause even an alert person to become exhausted, and when I realized that I was beginning to doze off I felt terrible.  I thought to myself, “Why is this happening to me?  I slept well enough earlier.”

As these thoughts came over me, I heard the Rebbe say in middle of the farbrengen, “When one reads Shnayim Mikra V’Echad Targum (the Torah portion twice and the Targum once), this is a segula against tiredness.”  The Rebbe added that the numerical value of “Targum” is the same as that of “tardema” (deep sleep).  I immediately jolted awake and on the spot I resolved that it would never again come to a situation when the time for the Rebbe’s farbrengen on Shabbos would come and I would not have already completed Shnayim Mikra V’Echad Targum.

THE REBBE GAVE ME THE KEY TO SUCCESS

R’ Yisroel Mifi

R’ Yisroel Mifi of Shikun Chabad in Lud is a man of action.  For twenty-seven years now, he has been working as a teacher in the Chabad School in Nachalat Har Chabad, as a couples and family counselor, and in his free time he is also a sofer.  He also finds time for mivtzaim at the airport.

***

The most moving moment for me was in 5748.  I got married on 21 Sivan of that year.  Our financial situation was not good and when I tried to arrange things, the situation did not improve.  So I wrote a long letter to the Rebbe and asked for a bracha for parnasa.

My wife, whose birthday is 19 Tammuz, wrote to the Rebbe in the margin of that letter that she had made three good resolutions for her birthday which she noted.

On Tisha B’Av I received a phone call from R’ Lipa Kurtzweil.

“Are you Yisroel Mifi?” he asked in his direct way.

“Yes.”

“You wrote a letter to the Rebbe?”

“Yes.”

“So take a pen and write down: to follow the customs for a birthday – as for him to daven all the t’fillos, I will mention it at the tziyun.”

“Are you sure that’s the answer?” I asked.  “I did not write about a birthday.”

“You are Yisroel Mifi?” he asked again.

“Yes.”

“Then that is the answer you got.”

I must confess that at first I thought there was a mistake, but then I consulted with my mashpia, R’ Avrohom (Bumi) Friedland and I figured it out.  I had always considered myself a rational person.  I thought things through.  And here, the Rebbe wrote me this – you want a bracha for parnasa or for anything else? Make a good resolution and pray. 

Since then, with any problem I experience, I pray and I see salvation.  I have a number of stories to illustrate this.  For example, I have a daughter who for four years did not have children.  At a certain point, we went to the gravesite of Rashbi and we prayed and within a few weeks there was good news.  The same with my son, when he had questions in various situations, we also went to the gravesite of Rashbi where we prayed and everything worked out wonderfully.

I feel that in that answer the Rebbe gave me the key to life – if you have a problem, whether financial or otherwise, simply pray.

MILITARY TRIAL
IN THE YECHIDUS ROOM

R’ Refael Heruti

R’ Refael Heruti of Nachalat Har Chabad is known for the books he wrote on the topics of Geula and Moshiach.  He was one of the pioneers in this area.  He tells about a moment when he experienced that “a word of the Rebbe does not return empty-handed,” following an instruction from the Rebbe which he received in his first yechidus.

***

I went to the Rebbe for the first time for Tishrei 5734.  It was upon the urging of R’ Meir Blizinsky a”h who, after I was niskarev, learned with me for an entire year.  When he saw that I was fully committed he urged me to go to the Rebbe for Tishrei.

During that Tishrei I had yechidus.  I was in the middle of my army service at the time, but since it was my last year in the army, I told the Rebbe that when I finished my army duty I wanted to learn in yeshiva in Kfar Chabad.  The Rebbe told me, “Keep the s’darim of yeshiva in your free time.”  By this the Rebbe meant that I should join the yeshiva even before I finished my army service, during my free time.  Every day, from four in the afternoon, I would become a yeshiva bachur until the next morning.

On the base where I served, they would have an evening where they brought all kinds of entertainers, hypnotists etc., which I wasn’t interested in at all.  This took place in the evening and I would leave, as the Rebbe told me to do, and travel to the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad.  I noticed that others were being cited for not showing up and participating, but nobody bothered me.  I could see that by carrying out what the Rebbe told me to do he was running things so there wouldn’t be any complaints, disciplinary hearings or other problems.

One day, toward the end of Adar, the Major from whom I took orders called me and said, “You have a disciplinary hearing.”  He told me that until that day he had covered for me with all kinds of excuses, because he felt somewhat close to me since I put on t’fillin with him.  But that day he had used up all his excuses and he had no choice but to agree to put me on trial.

I was sentenced to being grounded at the base for seven days.  I had to sign in every hour until ten at night and then I could go to sleep in the “detention room.”  What actually happened was every night at ten after my last signing in I would hitch a ride and go to yeshiva.  At the yeshiva I had a chavrusa who waited for me, as we had arranged, and we learned for about an hour of Nigleh and an hour of Chassidus until one in the morning.

On Thursday of that week of being grounded, I went as usual but there were no rides to hitch.  At eleven I had no choice but to return to the base.  I went to the shul and met the Chaplain. I learned a sicha of the Rebbe with him at the end of which he asked me, “Where are you sleeping?”

I told him, “In the detention room.” 

“If you want, I have an empty bed in my room.”

It was late and I was happy to accept his offer.

The next day was Erev Shabbos Mevarchim Nissan and I just could not remain stuck on the base.  I went to the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad.  I was there the entire Shabbos which was amazing.  Usually, the mashpia R’ Mendel Futerfas a”h finished davening at three and then he would farbreng until Mincha.  That Shabbos they davened Mincha at five and then farbrenged nonstop until the middle of the night.  It was such an elevated atmosphere and there was such joy that it was impossible to leave.

When I returned to the base, the Major surprised me and said, “Why do you have another trial?”

I said, “I did not spend Shabbos here grounded.” I was sure that was the reason.

He said, “Are you out of your mind? They’ll put you in jail for seventy days!”

I was frightened by this because I assumed he knew what would happen.  I called R’ Binyamin Zilberstrom and asked him, “Do me a favor, call the Rebbe and ask for a bracha.  What will I do about Pesach if I’m in jail?”

I don’t remember whether R’ Binyamin was able to contact the Rebbe’s secretary, but he gave me advice and said two things: “Write a letter to the Rebbe and put it in the weekly Likkutei Sichos as the Rebbe said to do in a letter about Yud Shvat.  And when you go for the trial, think of it as going to the Rebbe for yechidus.”

I was standing at the hearing and thought to myself, now I am going to the Rebbe for yechidus.  The officer was standing and reading the accusations, “The accused is charged that on Thursday, after signing in with the Duty Officer to certify his presence, he was seen walking toward his house.”

I immediately said, “What?! I learned in the shul with the Chaplain. I was on base.”

The officers sent someone to find the Chaplain but they did not find him.  In the end, the officer declared, “I don’t care about that.  Even if you were here, since you did not sleep in the detention room, it is as though you were not on base, which is why you are being given the conditional sentence of fourteen days incarceration.”  Meaning, I would be punished only if I did it again and from the get-go they spoke to me only about Thursday and not a word about Shabbos!

The truth is that at ten at night I left R’ Mendel’s farbrengen, davened Maariv, and left for the base because I was nervous, after all.  When I arrived at the base, I went to the Duty Officer and asked him, “Do me a favor, and don’t tell anyone that I wasn’t here for Shabbos.  I am very particular about Pesach and I’m afraid I will have to sit in jail.”  He did not answer that he would give me a break but it seems that, miraculously, he did not tell.  And my Major did not want me to stand trial to begin with.

As I said, I thought of that trial as though I was having yechidus and I interpreted it as though the Rebbe was demanding of me, ‘Why weren’t you in yeshiva on Thursday as I told you’ and I had given up on finding a ride.  I knew that I could have responded that I would end up coming late and missing the learning so should I have gone just to sleep in the yeshiva?! But the sentence at the hearing was, “If you didn’t sleep there, you weren’t there,” or as I interpreted it, if you did not sleep in yeshiva, then you were not actually in the yeshiva.  (Years later, I opened to a letter of the Rebbe in which he says that even sleeping in yeshiva is a big thing).

I saw that I did not lose out by carrying out the Rebbe’s instruction; on the contrary, what the Rebbe said established what would be with me and not the Major or the Command Officer.  It was a special moment which deeply instilled in me that “what the Rebbe says is not for naught!”

TWO MOMENTS OF PARTING

R’ Yigal Pizem

R’ Yigal Pizem has been the Chabad rav in Kiryat Shmuel for decades and one of those leading the Chabad revolution in Krayot.  R’ Pizem merited many moving and special moments over the years and he shares one such moment that is always with him, both in his personal and communal life.

***

In my mind I have etched two special moments of parting that I had with the Rebbe.  It was after a visit to 770 for Lag B’Omer 5734.  I planned on returning to Eretz Yisroel but had not yet received a bracha from the Rebbe for the trip.  In those days, whoever returned to Eretz Yisroel did not do so before receiving the Rebbe’s bracha.  I did not know what to do – should I go without a bracha or stay until I received a bracha?

At the time, R’ Yisroel Glitzenstein was staying in 770 and he suggested that I run over and wait near the entrance to the Rebbe’s room to ask him for a bracha to leave.  That’s what I did.  When the Rebbe appeared, everyone in the corridor quickly disappeared and only I remained standing there.  The Rebbe took out the keys to open the door to his office and then I boldly spoke up, in Yiddish.  “Rebbe, I am leaving soon.”  The Rebbe looked at me and I could see that he was deep in thought and it was like he had to tear himself away from something in order to relate to my question.

The Rebbe blessed me with a successful trip and that I should relate good news.  That moment near the Rebbe and his penetrating gaze are etched in my mind till today.  Since then, whenever I can, I tell the Rebbe good news.

Another special moment of parting took place in 5745. I had acquiesced to the suggestion of my friend R’ Dovid Kratz a”h to go to the Rebbe in the summer, thus eliminating the entire complicated procedure needed to ask the Education Ministry for permission to fly as well as the time limit they always gave us.

I flew to the Rebbe and spent all of Tammuz there and a few days in Av.  That was the longest period of time that I stayed in 770.

In the middle of Tammuz is when the s’farim episode came to light and we could see how anguished the Rebbe was. It was apparent that it was taking a lot out of the Rebbe to the point that it was hard to ask the Rebbe for a bracha at that time.

Before I returned home, the Rebbe came out for Mincha in the small zal and I stood behind the Rebbe.  I grabbed every moment that I could to see the Rebbe before I left for home.  I thought, “Who knows when I will be able to see the Rebbe again?”

As I had this thought, the Rebbe suddenly turned all the way around and looked into my eyes.  I froze in place and obviously, I could not hold his gaze for more than a few seconds before lowering my eyes.  It was too great a light for me.  That scene is etched in my mind and accompanies me all my life.  I remember it as though it happened this morning.

THE NASI HA’DOR TELLS YOU, “DON’T DESPAIR, I AM HERE.”

R’ Dovber Gurewitz

R’ Dovber Gurewitz of Kiryat Malachi spreads the wellsprings by putting together videos of the Rebbe.  He was the first to initiate the practice of showing a video of the Rebbe at chuppa ceremonies.

***

It was at the unusual farbrengen that took place on the first day of Rosh HaShana 5750.  I think it was the only time that the Rebbe farbrenged on this date.  For the Rebbeim, the first day of Rosh HaShana was a tense day of silence and saying a lot of T’hillim.  None of the Rebbeim farbrenged on this day.

It was almost three in the afternoon, about half an hour after the davening was over, when the Rebbe suddenly walked in for a farbrengen.  In the first sicha, he explained the reason for this sudden farbrengen, connecting it to the fact that the first day of Rosh HaShana fell out on Shabbos, based on what Chazal say on the verse, “and Moshe gathered,” “so that future generations will learn from you to make gatherings every Shabbos.”

That Tishrei I was still a bachur and it was my second time at the Rebbe.  I wasn’t experienced enough to know to grab a good spot quickly (in addition to which, people had their set places) but since the farbrengen was a surprise, I managed to get a spot behind the backs of the senior Chassidim who sat on the farbrengen platform, near the windows of the women’s section.  I was able to hang suspended about three meters above the farbrengen platform and I held on to a strap, between heaven and earth.  It took a lot out of me.

Still, I was pleased that I was finally able to see the farbrengen properly.  Of course, I saw the Rebbe from behind.

Between the first and second sicha, I asked for someone to bring me a cup of wine and I lifted it up, waiting for the Rebbe to say l’chaim to me, as is customary.  I waited patiently for a long time while the Rebbe went from person to person and wished each of them l’chaim with a nod of his head.  Once or twice the Rebbe turned around and also said l’chaim to the senior Chassidim who sat beneath me, while I still waited for the Rebbe to look up and discover me and say l’chaim.  But it didn’t happen.

After the second sicha I waited again with my cup but the Rebbe did not look up so high, where I was.  Since I was a young kid and inexperienced, I had already despaired of the Rebbe noticing me and I began to look around curiously at the large crowd that filled the shul.  I was no longer looking expectantly at the Rebbe but at the people.

Suddenly, someone pushed me.  A friend standing near me was shaking me.  “The Rebbe is looking at you!” he said in a loud whisper.  At first, I didn’t understand what was happening.  I looked toward the Rebbe and saw the Rebbe gazing at me.  Afterward, they told me that the Rebbe looked at me and I hadn’t noticed and he simply waited for me.  The Rebbe had to not only raise his gaze but actually lift his head back to the great height where I was.  I quickly raised my cup that was in my free hand and then the Rebbe nodded and said l’chaim.

That split second taught me that you can never give up hope, but if for some reason you do, the Rebbe is there for you. Till today, when one of my children says something like, “Abba, I won’t succeed,” I tell them this story and add, “Don’t despair, because the Rebbe the Nasi Ha’dor is already holding you and telling you, ‘Don’t give up.  I am here.’”

THE REBBE CAME
STRAIGHT OVER TO ME

R’ Uri Holtzman

R’ Uri Holtzman is a member of the city council in Beitar Ilit and Chairman of the Forum of Chabad Elected Officials in Eretz Yisroel.  He used to be a shliach in Geneva, Switzerland.  In recent years he has been very involved in public service.  He is the son of R’ Yaakov Tzvi Holtzman, known to have a close relationship with the Rebbe’s family.

***

A special moment engraved in my mind is from the time I was with my father R’ Yaakov Tzvi by the Rebbe for Shavuos 5736.  I was a boy about half a year before my bar mitzva.

After Yom Tov, we went to the airport to fly back home to Belgium, but we missed the flight.  Having no choice, we returned to 770.  There was no natural way for the Rebbe to know that we had returned because we hadn’t told anyone, but just went directly back to 770.  My father, who was in the year of mourning, went over to daven Mincha for the amud in the big zal while the Rebbe was davening Mincha at that same time in the small zal on the first floor. 

While my father was davening the chazaras ha’shatz, the secretary, R’ Leibel Groner suddenly walked in and whispered to me, “When you finish Mincha, tell your father to go up with you and wait together in Gan Eden HaTachton (the hallway outside the Rebbe’s room).”  I whispered this to my father and he quickly finished the davening so as to get to Gan Eden HaTachton before the Rebbe.

When we arrived at the first floor we took the elevator to the apartment of the Rebbe Rayatz, and from there we went down the internal stairs to Gan Eden HaTachton and waited for the Rebbe.

The door suddenly opened.  It was the Rebbe returning from Mincha.  He was holding a small Tanya (afterward, the bachurim told me that the Rebbe glanced into this Tanya during the chazaras ha’shatz).  As a young boy I stood next to my father, and when the Rebbe came in I took a step back for I assumed the Rebbe wanted to talk to my father and I did not want to be in the way.  But the Rebbe came right over to me so that I retreated even further until I felt the wall behind me.

Then the Rebbe held out the Tanya and said to me, “Learn in this Tanya until your bar mitzva, at least once a week.”  Then the Rebbe gave me a Belgian hundred franc bill for me to give it to tz’daka for chinuch.

Then the Rebbe gave my father a thousand Belgian francs for activities throughout Belgium and brought another hundred francs and said, “Give it to your balabusta for the women’s mivtzaim.”

This scene, which was completely unexpected, with the Rebbe coming right over to me with quick steps and penetrating eyes, is etched into my mind until today.  It was the first time I had a face to face encounter with the Rebbe.

As I said, we were supposed to be on the plane and the Rebbe had no natural way of knowing that we had returned to Crown Heights.  When the Rebbe came right over to us after the davening he was already prepared with the Tanya and Belgian bills and it was most astounding.

HAVDALA NEAR THE REBBE

R’ Yosef Yitzchok Lipsker

R’ Y. Y. Lipsker has been on shlichus for many years in Natzrat Ilit.  Among other things, he runs a Tiferes Z’keinim kollel and helps the needy.  He tells of a special moment with the Rebbe which is always with him in his shlichus.

***

I remember a special moment from when I was learning on K’vutza by the Rebbe in 5729-5730.  For Havdala after the davening in the small zal upstairs, there was generally the same person who recited it in the Rebbe’s presence.  It was R’ Blesovsky or someone else, but it sometimes happened that the regular person wasn’t there and they would have someone else do it.

One time, on such an occasion, I suddenly felt myself being pushed and there I was, standing next to the Rebbe.  I had no choice but to recite Havdala.  I cannot forget those moments.  The Rebbe stood and looked at me during Havdala and I felt that the Rebbe was scanning my entire being.  I felt that the Rebbe saw every thought, word and action of mine without anything to block it.  I trembled.  It is hard to describe moments like that.  On the one hand, I was thrilled to have this privilege, but I also felt real terror.  The Rebbe stood and looked at me … and it was under those circumstances where I was making Havdala and the Rebbe was listening to me.  I could not have imagined such a scene but there I was.

That is a moment that goes with me all the time, an unforgettable moment.  When I feel the need to fill up on chayus and strength to do the Rebbe’s shlichus, I think of that moment.  I cannot say that every Motzaei Shabbos during Havdala I think of it, but on special occasions it surfaces.

A moment like that, which happened out of the blue, without my having prepared for it, without my knowing about it ahead of time, instills the awareness that we need to be prepared for the moment, very soon, when we will welcome the Rebbe with his hisgalus and the Rebbe will look at us.  We need to try to be deserving of this.

THE REBBE WANTS ME TO BE IN GOOD SPIRITS

R’ Tuvia Bolton

R’ Tuvia Bolton was rosh yeshiva of Ohr HaT’mimim in Kfar Chabad for many years.  He is one of the pioneers who were mekarev many people to Judaism through Chassidic music.  Today too, he works in counseling students along with his musical spreading of the wellsprings.

***

I remember two moments of a special smile that I received from the Rebbe, and both are engraved in my neshama.  It was in Tishrei 5744.  One Shabbos I was standing next to the table where they read the Torah.  It was terribly crowded as it is in Tishrei.  For Maftir, the baal koreh called up the Rebbe.  The pushing was terrible and I did not understand how the Rebbe would be able to pass through to the bima.

Suddenly, like a miracle, everything opened up.  Until today, I don’t know how it happened but a pathway opened up to the width of two people for the Rebbe.  Then I saw the Rebbe coming toward me and the Rebbe looking at me with a very big smile.  I did not want to take my eyes off the Rebbe and I gazed back at him as though hypnotized.  Only after ten seconds which seemed like an eternity did I move my gaze because my eyes hurt.  The Rebbe continued on his way to the bima.

In 5735, before I left the US for Eretz Yisroel, I asked the secretary, R’ Groner, to arrange a yechidus for me.

When I walked in, I told the Rebbe that I had various shidduch suggestions, but I felt I wasn’t ready yet for marriage because I wasn’t immersed enough in Chassidus, etc. The Rebbe told me, “There is a saying, don’t postpone for two days from now when you can postpone for tomorrow.”

At the end of the yechidus, the Rebbe gave me three coins and said: One coin give to tz’daka in Eretz Yisroel, another coin give to tz’daka in yeshiva, and give the third coin wherever you want.

I took the first coin and put it in one pocket and the second coin in another pocket because I didn’t want to mix them up.  The Rebbe suddenly smiled broadly and said, “You don’t have to give it in that order and not even these particular coins.  You can replace them and give that to tz’daka.”

I innocently told the Rebbe that I thought that if I give the coins to tz’daka in the wrong order, then … (I think I used the exaggerated term like the moon might fall down) and the Rebbe smiled and laughed.

These special looks, the simcha, the smile and laughter – all this gave me lots of strength and are etched in my heart until today.  From that I understood that the Rebbe simply wants us to be in good spirits.

A MOMENT OF BEAMING LIGHT

Rabbi Dr. Tal Nir

One of the special personalities in Nachla is Rabbi Dr. Tal Nir, the “rofeh yedid” of Nachalat Har Chabad.  He relates graciously to everyone and his beloved songs accompany every special event in the history of Nachla.  He has a special “koch” in the letter in a Torah campaign.  He takes every opportunity to register more and more children for the Torah scroll for children.  He shares two special moments he experienced with the Rebbe: 

***

First moment: I went to the Rebbe for the first time on Erev Shavuos 5746/1986.  I submitted a note through the secretary R’ Binyamin Klein a”h and announced my arrival.  It was a number of years after I had become involved with Chabad in 5742.  I would write letters to the Rebbe, but this was the first time I was there to see the Rebbe in 770.   I expected the Rebbe to give me shalom aleichem … 

On Shavuos there was a farbrengen in 770 with the Rebbe and I stood on the pyramid among the Chassidim.  The Rebbe said a sicha in Yiddish of course, a language I did not understand.  During the niggunim, between sichos, the Rebbe responded with “l’chaim v’livracha” to the Chassidim.  Then, during one of the niggunim, the Rebbe suddenly began to urge the crowd on by clapping his hands and then, he even got up and began to dance in place, raising up the entire congregation of Chassidim to the heights. 

The moment the Rebbe rose, everyone wanted to see the Rebbe well.  Those on the pyramid also jumped, as a result of which, the crowding which until then had held everyone up loosened, and the entire pyramid collapsed.  I fell but I thought, who cares, so I fell, but I want to see the Rebbe dance.  I tried focus my gaze but could only see the back of the person in front of me.  Then a space opened up through which I could see the Rebbe dancing in place with great joy.  I was looking at the Rebbe and suddenly the Rebbe gave me such a smile that was simply a bundle of warmth, of light, of love, that passed through the space straight to me!

At first I thought maybe the Rebbe is looking at someone else but then I realized that nobody but me saw this.  I understood the smile to be a hearty shalom aleichem.  This moment is always with me.  I also went for Shavuos 5748 and 5749 but did not get a smile like I got the first time.

Over the years, I have come to realize that the Rebbe had actually given me a lesson for life, to beam light to every Jew.  I cannot forget this moment with the Rebbe, and if for a moment I do not smile, the patients in the clinic immediately remind me about my moment with the Rebbe.  “Dr. Tal, why aren’t you smiling?” And I catch myself, for this is a horaa from the Rebbe!

Second moment: The wife of the first mayor of Kiryat Malachi, David Aboudi, was a patient in my clinic.  One day, she mentioned that she was planning on visiting the United States.  I asked her, “Will you be going to New York?” When she said yes, I suggested that she pass by the Rebbe for dollars on Sunday.  “Ask for a bracha for you and your husband,” I told her.  She liked the idea.

More than three months later, I found myself in a dilemma.  I was offered the opportunity to continue my education to specialize as a family doctor.  Pursuing this specialty meant being practically cut off from the family, Shabbos, and holidays; it meant doing rotations etc. for four and a half years.  Everyone urged me go for it.  R’ Yaroslavsky told me this is what the Rebbe wants and friends pushed me.  It was a Friday and I was in such a state, not knowing what to do, whether to sign that I was going to pursue this specialty or not.

I was in the middle of shopping for Shabbos when Mrs Aboudi came over to me and said, “Dr. Tal, do you know that I have something for you?”

I said, “No.”

She took out her wallet and removed a dollar.  On the dollar it said, “For Dr. Tal, from the Rebbe.”

“What’s this?” I asked her.

She told me, “I went to the Rebbe with my husband as you told me to do.  They told the Rebbe that this is the first mayor of Kiryat Malachi and the Rebbe said he remembers him from the letters.  The Rebbe gave him a dollar to continue helping Chabad and gave me a dollar for helping my husband.  We continued walking and they told us the Rebbe was calling us back.  We went back and the Rebbe asked, ‘Who sent you here?’ We said, ‘Our doctor, Dr. Tal Nir.’  Then the Rebbe gave us another dollar and said, ‘Give this to the doctor who sent you.’”

Mrs. Aboudi finished her story and handed me the dollar.  From the time she returned from Eretz Yisroel, for three months, the dollar was in her wallet.  She had visited the clinic several times and could have given me the dollar.  But, by Divine Providence, she gave me the only dollar that I received from the Rebbe in my role as doctor, three months later, on the day I was going to make a fateful decision.  I considered this a clear answer from the Rebbe and I signed up for the specialty.  The dollar goes everywhere with me with the words written on it, “For Dr. Tal, from the Rebbe.”

SPECIAL APPROVAL FROM THE REBBE

R’ Moshe Dickstein

R’ Moshe Dickstein is a shliach in Beer Sheva.  For many years he worked for the Chabad Mobile Mitzva Tanks.  He is a prominent person in the Chabad community in Beer Sheva as well as in the volunteer activities in the community.

***

It was a Monday, the 20th of Cheshvan 5736.  I was learning in the yeshiva in Morristown.  I would go with my fellow bachurim to 770 every now and then, mainly for the Rebbe’s farbrengens.

That day, I left yeshiva alone and went to Crown Heights because my glasses had broken.  The rosh yeshiva, R’ Mordechai Mentlick, had an arrangement with the optician on Kingston Avenue for the bachurim who needed it, to provide free glasses.

Since it was a Monday, the Rebbe came out for the Torah reading.  In the meantime, for the Rebbe’s minyan, I wore R’ Yitzchok Blizinsky’s glasses and I guess they looked funny on me.  At the end of the davening, the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Binyamin Klein a”h, came over to me and asked, “What are you doing here?”

I didn’t know what he wanted from me and I asked him why he cared.  Then he had to disclose to me that it wasn’t he who was asking the question.  I instantly realized that it was the Rebbe himself who was asking. I told him that my glasses would be ready at one in the afternoon and when I got them, I would return to Morristown.

Afterward it occurred to me that if the Rebbe was asking about me, it was very likely that there would be a farbrengen that day, and so why was I hurrying to leave? I brought a note to R’ Klein in which I asked the Rebbe whether there would be a farbrengen, and if yes, could I stay and not return to yeshiva.  R’ Binyamin dismissed what I wrote and said the Rebbe is going to the Ohel and there probably won’t be a farbrengen.  I said, “What do you care – can you give this note to the Rebbe anyway?”

An hour later, R’ Klein called me and asked me to go to R’ Chadakov’s office where he told me, “The Rebbe said you should stay but nobody should see you, because if you stay, everyone will realize that there is a farbrengen tonight and the bachurim from all the yeshivos in the area will come here.”

I went to my room in an apartment on 520 Crown Street which was an apartment for bachurim.  I was there all day until evening and I waited, as I was told.  After sunset, the Rebbe returned from the Ohel and there was Mincha and then Maariv.  Then the Rebbe announced a farbrengen.

I was the only one from the yeshiva in Morristown who attended that farbrengen with the direct instruction of the Rebbe.  I felt how much the Rebbe cared about me and looked out for me, giving me a personal, special instruction to stay for the farbrengen.

THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO LEARN TORAH!

R’ Sholom Dovber Garelik

Since he made aliya in 5731, R’ Sholom Dovber Garelik of Nachalat Har Chabad, along with his learning in kollel, works with Russian immigrants around the country under the auspices of Shamir.  The work intensified particularly from 5750, under the auspices of the Chamah organization, with the great wave of immigration.  Countless brissin and chuppos were arranged by him during those years.

What follows is his recounting of his first yechidus with the Rebbe, the defining moment for a Chassid:

In Russia, I studied construction engineering (in the evenings, after helping my father, R’ Menachem Mendel Garelik a”h, in the businesses in which he employed many Shabbos observant Jews).  Since I was a student, I was exempt from army duty (for a Jew, the army was a huge disaster), but after four years of study, before I received my diploma, I was expelled because I had submitted a request to emigrate.

When I arrived in Eretz Yisroel on 14 Elul 5731 with my wife and three children, friends gave me ideas about how to make a living.  Some of them advised me to finish my engineering studies and some of them advised me to go into business.

On Yud-Tes Kislev 5732, I went to the Rebbe for the first time with my father-in-law, R’ Sholom Eliyahu Vilenkin a”h.  I wrote everything in a note and handed it to the Rebbe when I had yechidus.  The Rebbe read it rapidly, folding over each line after reading it.

The thought occurred to me, why am I bothering the Rebbe with these material queries.  My mouth opened and, literally from the inner depths of my soul, a question emerged, “Perhaps I can learn in kollel?” I went on to say in Yiddish that in Russia I had not had the opportunity to learn in a yeshiva, since there were no active yeshivos in my area and I had only learned with my father and grandfather, with my father-in-law, and with the rav of Samarkand, R’ Eliyahu Levin.

I will never forget that moment.  The Rebbe stood up, while still holding the note in both hands, and said, “Certainly, yes, and this should be an example for the other young men who come from Russia.  The first thing to do is to sit and learn Torah and it should be done with the wife’s consent.”

When I told my wife (who had remained in Eretz Yisroel and first went to the Rebbe on Yud Shvat of that year) what the Rebbe said, I immediately received her consent.  She said, “If the Rebbe said so, surely it will be good that way, despite our financial situation.”  I returned to Eretz Yisroel and went to R’ Avrohom Zaltzman who was in charge of the kollel.  He sent me to R’ Efraim Wolf in Lud, who at first tried to push me off (for how would I support a wife and three children on 500 liras a month?) But after receiving the affirmation from the secretariat that this is what the Rebbe told me, he accepted me in the kollel.

I learned in kollel for two years.  Then I studied sh’chita with R’ Avrohom Zaltzman for half a year and was a shochet for fifteen years along with R’ Avrohom Levin, R’ Nosson Kanelsky, and R’ Avrohom Hagar, with whom I had previously learned together in kollel.  Later on, my wife told me that with the 500 liras a month I got from the kollel there was a special bracha and the money sufficed and went only for good things.

It is known that an instruction from the Rebbe at the first yechidus affects a Chassid’s entire life, and in recent years we merited to host the kollel in Nachalat Har Chabad headed by R’ Shmuel Cohen, and the kollel Tiferes Z’keinim Levi Yitzchok headed by R’ Shmuel Yechezkel Cohen in the shuls that I manage in the Chamah building in Nachla.  The circle has closed as my friends, with whom I learned in kollel and who I worked alongside in sh’chita, are learning in the kollel Tiferes Z’keinim.  Of course, I try to join them in the shiurim in the kollel as the Rebbe told me in my first yechidus.

GUT SHABBOS, GUT YOM TOV!

R’ Nechemia Schmerling

For decades now, R’ Nechemia Schmerling has been working on shlichus in Kfar Yona.  In his pleasant manner he succeeds in making the Name of Heaven beloved to all.  He is also one of the shluchim who stands out when it comes to spreading the Besuras Ha’Geula and the Goel.

***

It was in Elul 5742.  I went to the Rebbe for my first Tishrei.  When I arrived at 770 for the first time, the Rebbe was at the Ohel.  They said that he would be back soon and daven Mincha and Maariv and I would be able to see him.

Since I had already visited many other Chassidic courts, I thought this would be similar. I stood in a good spot in the small zal and waited for the Rebbe to return.  Then the Rebbe walked in and I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

During the chazaras ha’shatz, I suddenly noticed that the Rebbe was looking up from his siddur at me.  I was a kid and in my foolishness and chutzpa I stared back.  The Rebbe continued to look at me until he lowered his eyes back to the siddur.

At the farbrengen on 13 Tishrei 5743, the Rebbe spoke at length about the Chassidim looking at him during the davening.  He devoted an entire sicha to this and said that from his part, he would daven alone in his room, but he wants to daven with the congregation and there is nothing to be gained from looking at him etc.

I think that was the only sicha that I understood properly throughout that month of Tishrei.  That is when I found myself in a tremendous state of confusion over what had transpired previously.

On Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos, I was sitting in the sukka for guests between the building of the library and 770. It was the afternoon and only a few bachurim were sitting there.  Suddenly there was a hush.  The Rebbe had left the library building for 770.  The Rebbe walked on the path and I and another two bachurim stood near the steps and waited for him.  The Rebbe came closer and wished each of us separately, “Gut Shabbos, Gut Yom Tov!”  In that moment I saw, once again, the same clear depth in the Rebbe’s holy eyes in how he looked at me during that chazaras ha’shatz.

It was a split second and the Rebbe went to his room.  The feeling that filled our hearts was enormous and with a burst of emotion that we had merited to have the Rebbe personally bless us, we began to dance.  I felt it was the Rebbe’s “shalom aleichem” to me.

HISKASHRUS AT FIRST SIGHT

R’ Boruch Mamou

R’ Boruch, who lives in Yerushalayim, relates:

I began becoming interested in Judaism in the 60’s when I was in my early twenties.  We lived in a suburb of Paris and were a very honorable, traditional, Tunisian family, but I looked for more.  I visited all the rabbis then in Paris.  I was connected to all the Torah personalities, to the chief rabbis of Paris and France and to rabbis of large communities.  I presented all my tough questions to them.  They all tried answering me, but I felt it wasn’t enough for me.

One day, I went to a famous rosh yeshiva in Paris in those days, by the name of Rabbi Toledano.  I began asking him all my questions.  I told him that I had been to see all the rabbis and none of them had satisfied me.  He listened and said, “I think you belong to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

That is how I went to New York.  I met a bachur from France there by the name of Itche Nemanov, today the dean of Tomchei T’mimim in Brunoy.  We immediately hit if off; I told him that I have questions in Judaism and I came to ask the Rebbe.  He explained how to arrange an appointment, but I said that before I formally met the Rebbe I wanted to see him.  Itche told me to wait in the small zal and I would see the Rebbe when he came out for Mincha.

I stood in the small zal, not knowing how things worked there.  When the Rebbe came out I was far off and couldn’t see him.  I was disappointed but suddenly there was terrible pushing and I don’t know how, but suddenly I was standing the closest to the Rebbe.

The Rebbe suddenly turned around and looked at me.  I don’t know how long that took, maybe a few seconds but for me it was an eternity.  The Rebbe focused his gaze on me and then turned back around and began to daven.

I wasn’t a Chassid, and I had never seen the Rebbe before that, but I felt like I had been electrified. Throughout the t’filla I stood behind the Rebbe with my entire body shaking.  At that moment I realized that he wasn’t just another rabbi as I had met before, and I knew that it made no difference what he would or wouldn’t answer, because I wanted to bond with him and receive his guidance for my life.

That was my most special moment with the Rebbe; hiskashrus at first sight.

After that first experience, I submitted a letter to the Rebbe in which I wrote everything on my mind.  An answer quickly emerged in which the Rebbe told me to say T’hillim every day and to check my t’fillin.

I did the first instruction, but as far as checking the t’fillin, I thought it was unnecessary since I had bought them two weeks earlier from the father of R’ Mulle Azimov.

When I met my friend Itche again he asked about the Rebbe’s response.  I told him that I said T’hillim but I did not think there was any reason to check the t’fillin.  Itche really gave it to me over the head, “If the Rebbe said so, then you check them!” and he took my t’fillin to be checked.

Two days later he was looking for me in 770.  When he found me he said, “Boruch, you have to change all the parshiyos.”  I was in shock.  I gave him all my spending money for my trip to New York and he bought me new parshiyos.

A few days later I had yechidus.  I had one foot in the door and the Rebbe addressed me in French and asked me, “Did you do what I told you?” 

A SICHA FOR THREE BACHURIM

R’ Chaim Yosef Ginsburgh

R’ Yossi Ginsburgh is rav of the Chabad community in Ramat Aviv and rosh yeshiva of the mosdos there.  Over the years, hundreds of men and women have passed through the yeshiva Tomchei T’mimim and the seminary Pnimiyut, with many of them going on to serve as shluchim.  The Chabad community in Ramat Aviv is a community where shlichus is constantly being encouraged.

***

It is hard to describe the most special moment with the Rebbe.  Every moment with the Rebbe is special.  And as a student from Eretz Yisroel who learned in Oholei Torah in Crown Heights, we had quite a few.  But one of the most special and significant moments for me occurred in the following manner.

It was in 5749 and I was learning in Oholei Torah.  Every free minute from yeshiva we tried to be in 770, especially when special things were going on.

On 20 Adar, there was a yechidus for friends of Lubavitch. The shluchim brought their wealthy supporters for a special meeting with the Rebbe which was closed to the general public.  The Rebbe addressed them, advised them, and blessed them.  At the end of the yechidus we knew that the Rebbe would deliver a separate sicha in Gan Eden HaTachton for a group of shluchim who came with their mekuravim.  We three bachurim went upstairs to wait for the Rebbe near the elevator.

The Rebbe came upstairs.  The shluchim waited for the Rebbe in Gan Eden HaTachton while we stood outside of Gan Eden HaTachton, more or less near the elevator.  The door opened and the unexpected happened.  The Rebbe turned directly toward us, the three bachurim, and began saying in the tune of a sicha, “Shliach oseh shliach, biz Meia shluchim” (One shliach makes another shliach, up to a hundred shluchim).

It took a few seconds and the secretary R’ Leibel Groner immediately said to the Rebbe, “These are talmidim,” and motioned toward the waiting shluchim.  The Rebbe made a sign of surprise with his hand and turned around toward the group of shluchim and began saying the sicha again.

We were in shock.  We stood there like gawkers.  We hadn’t thought the Rebbe would turn toward us.  The entire event was a heavenly experience since we were 16-17 year old bachurim and opposite us was a respectable group of shluchim and you couldn’t mix us up.

For us it was a sort of yechidus with a clear instruction.  This is what accompanies me till today – a shliach makes a shliach, up to a hundred shluchim.

THE BILLION DOLLAR DEAL THAT FELL THROUGH

R’ Yirmiyahu Kalifa

R’ Yirmiyahu Kalifa is the dean of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Beer Sheva.  He was a successful businessman who lived in New York for many years.

***

Right after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, a representative from the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf approached me through a mutual friend. They were quite nervous that they would be the Iraqi dictator’s next destination and they knew he felt no compunction about using unconventional and cruel means of warfare.

Fear throughout the region of chemical and biological warfare created a huge demand for gas masks.  Warehouses emptied out and factories that made the masks operated around the clock to meet the demand.  The representative told me that the biggest gas mask factory in the world was in Germany but they were working on a large order for Saudi Arabia and could not supply masks for the UAE, which is why he wanted my help.

At that time, doing business with China was still in its infancy, but I had good connections there, which I used to find a factory that would manufacture gas masks of a standard not lower than the German factory.  We showed the mask to the sheik who gave his approval and we began to close the deal.

The deal was worked out down to the last details, the lawyers went over and over the contracts, and we came to agreements on every minor detail.  The deal was very worthwhile for us.  The rich Gulf states were deathly afraid and were willing to pay anything for the masks which were unobtainable anywhere else in the world with the quality and in the quantity and in the time frame they wanted.  At the time, I was working with my partner, a Jew from Florida, and we were expecting to earn nearly a billion dollars for the two of us in a deal that had no risks and which was already hermetically sealed.

We were supposed to sign on it early in the morning and right after that were supposed to send the first bank transfer for a large part of the money.

I did not want to bother the Rebbe with matters that were up in the air and waited until the last minute to ask for his bracha for the deal.  That morning I went to the secretaries and before the Rebbe came out for davening I submitted a letter with R’ Leibel Groner.  I laid out the entire deal, the expected profit, and wrote all the good resolutions I was taking on so that there would be a bracha and the deal would work out properly.

A few minutes after the Rebbe came back up from davening, they told me that R’ Groner was looking for me.  I went upstairs and R’ Groner told me the Rebbe’s response was, “This is not for you at all.”

I called my partner and told him I was out.  He asked me, did you lose your mind? I told him that the Rebbe did not give his approval.  He thought I had really gone crazy.  What did a Rebbe know about business? I repeated my position and said that if he wanted to continue he was welcome to do so and I would connect him with the factory in China, but I had no plans of earning even a single dollar from this deal.  If he wanted, he could donate from his profits to the Chabad mosdos in Beer Sheva.

All my friends in the business world thought I had lost it, but I went back to work and stopped thinking about it.  A week later, my former partner called me in tears and told me that at the last minute the Germans said they could supply the equipment to the UAE and the entire deal fell through.

That partner, who over many years of friendship refused to put mezuzos on his house and office, called me after he recovered and asked me to send someone to put up mezuzos.  He then committed to making Kiddush on Shabbos and began putting t’fillin on every day.  After a while he went to 770 for the first time and saw the Rebbe.

THE REBBE PULLED ME OUT OF RETIREMENT

R’ Gershon Ber Schiff

R’ Gershon Ber Schiff, who founded and ran the Yeshivas HaBucharim, Ohr Simcha in Kfar Chabad for decades, relates the following:

In the early years of the mosad we did not have any buildings.  We started with a few dozen kids and after a few years we had over a hundred, but we still did not have a single building that could serve as a dormitory.  The children were dispersed in private homes with families.  Each family had two or three boys.  Every morning we had to go around and pick up the children and bring them to school and then bring them back again.

The situation was impossible, as far as I was concerned.  In many cases the children were very young or had problematic behavior issues and I felt I was losing control over them.  I tried to find some solutions but each time it did not work out for one reason or another, and the situation got worse until it was no longer possible to go on that way.

At that time, Beis Rivka was based in the entire area where today there is the Talmud Torah in Kfar Chabad and the Yeshivas HaBucharim.  They were about to finish building the campus in Kfar Chabad Beis and I was promised that the minute they moved to their new location, I would get the buildings for a dorm and a dining room for our mosad.

This promise gave me hope and I continued to fight with strength I did not have so that the school should hang on until the buildings were emptied.

The long-awaited day arrived and I went in the morning to bring the children in and I found children from Kfar Chabad there.  Apparently, despite the promises, the buildings had been given to another mosad.  I broke.  I had no dining room, I had no classrooms, I had no dormitory; it was just impossible and unrealistic to continue to maintain an institution for children under these conditions.

I decided that I could no longer continue working like this and went to R’ Mendel Futerfas who had been consistently involved in the development of the school and was constantly demanding that I take in more and more children, and together we went to R’ Simcha Gorodetzky.  I told them that I cannot maintain a mosad like this and said that I quit.

They discussed it and then told me, “The Rebbe asked you to start this mosad, you accepted the children, and now if you throw them out they will go to irreligious schools.  Both R’ Mendel and I are too old to run it, so if the Rebbe asked you, then write to the Rebbe that you resign.”

I wrote a long letter to the Rebbe in which I detailed all the problems and ended with my not being able to continue under these conditions and that I wanted to leave.  I sent the letter with a friend who was going to the Rebbe that day.

A few days later, I went to sleep and there I was, in 770 in the big zal.  The Rebbe came in for davening, the path opened and I was standing in the front row.  I waited and saw the Rebbe looking in my direction.  I turned my head and said to myself, okay, now the Rebbe is going to approach and ask me: What happened to you? Why did you resign? I lowered my head and tried to avoid the Rebbe’s gaze but the Rebbe came right over to me.

I began to sweat and felt my heart pounding.  I was afraid that the Rebbe would censure me in front of everyone and ask me how was it that in Russia you had a secret underground mikva in your home, a shul, and a class of eight students which you managed with mesirus nefesh while here you have fewer difficulties and you want to leave?!

In the meantime, while I was thinking of how ashamed I would feel in front of everyone, the Rebbe came over and took my right hand and drew me after him to the bima.  The Rebbe placed me in the row closest to the bima, let go of my hand, and went to the steps.

The moment the Rebbe dropped my hand I woke up.

The first thing I asked myself was what happened here.  I still felt the warmth of the Rebbe’s grip on my right hand. It was palpable.  I told myself that it could not have been a dream.  I felt that the Rebbe had tossed me an atom bomb of energy.

Early in the morning I traveled to the Kfar.  I called together R’ Simcha, R’ Mendel and R’ Shloimke Maidanchek and told them that I was taking back my resignation and was going to invest all my energy into building buildings for the yeshiva.

That day I wrote the Rebbe another long letter in which I let him know I was staying, and I wrote that I wanted to build a building for the yeshiva and R’ Shloimke said I needed to build two buildings.

The Rebbe made a line under the name Shlomo and an arrow to the words “two buildings.”

From that moment, things began to move quickly.  A short time later, a contractor appeared who told me, “I’m ready to build for you and you’ll pay me when you can.”  Construction went into high gear.  We built one building and then a huge dining room and then a second building as the Rebbe said, and then even a third building.

ONE AMONG THOUSANDS

R’ Yosef Karaskik

R’ Karasik is the rav of Bat Chefer and the yishuvim of Emek Chefer.  In this role, he impacts positively on an entire region.  He is the author of HaShabbos B’Kabbala u’b’Chassidus and G’vura Yehudis b’Malchus HaResha.  He is a columnist for Beis Moshiach for many years now.

***

The sweetest moments that are engraved in my heart forever are the Rebbe’s farbrengens which I had the privilege of attending, hearing, understanding, and even remembering.

I had no personal, private moments with the Rebbe; even the yechiduyos which I had were not personal but were general brachos, when I was a bachur and young married man.  In general, I have in me a tremendous fear of his holy countenance; an awe and fear mixed with love with which I was raised.  This is the reason why I never turned to or addressed the Rebbe.

Even those exalted moments on Erev Pesach after chatzos (noontime) when my friends Yoske Meizlich and Chuna Perman and I would place the package of matzos mitzva we bachurim had baked for the Rebbe in the holy of holies (the Rebbe’s room), I would go in with trepidation before the king who sat in his royal chamber, immersed in Rambam, hovering in the higher realms and not this lowly world.

One of the things which accompany me throughout life and which had the greatest impact on shaping who I am was the farbrengens.  It is hard to describe the lofty delight, the inner flow of energy that I had at farbrengens.  I concentrated, I listened, and I felt an indescribable lofty elevation.  To me, a farbrengen of the Rebbe is the highest level of Gan Eden.  It was at the farbrengens that took place with hundreds and thousands of people that I felt an absolute connection to the Rebbe (the yechida of my neshama).

The heavy crowding, the pushing, and the physical pressure that were sometimes hard to bear vanished and were not felt from the moment the Rebbe walked in to the farbrengen. During those hours it was like I hovered up above.

I once heard from one of the great Chassidim a categorization of a farbrengen of the Rebbe that was on the mark.  He said, “Although farbrengens are held in front of numerous people, the Rebbe pierces and looks into the depths of the neshama of each of the Chassidim and he energizes us through our neshamos.”  I felt that myself.

During the years that I learned in 770, my days revolved around farbrengens, preparing for farbrengens, the reviews afterward, and so on.  I was a minor participant in the review on Motzaei Shabbos of the Shabbos farbrengens, which I remembered not because I am gifted with a special memory but because I so enjoyed it and thirstily took in what the Rebbe said.  To me, every word was a sparkling diamond so they were engraved in my mind and soul.

I always yearned for and looked forward to farbrengens.  I lived from farbrengen to farbrengen. A weekday when there was a farbrengen was a yom tov for me.  A sudden announcement about a farbrengen got my adrenaline racing.   Similarly, the disappointment was tremendous on the occasions when I did not manage to hear and understand what the Rebbe said.

Every farbrengen and sicha was an entire world.  There is no such thing as an ordinary farbrengen, an ordinary sicha. All the Rebbe’s holy words are eternal ideas, a message and chizuk for life, a construct for the soul.  From one verse and statement of the Sages the Rebbe taught a message that extends to every area of life.  Every small line in Rashi turned, with the Rebbe’s teachings, into a foundation in the service of G-d.  There is no happenstance; everything is intentional and precise from Heaven in Divine Providence.  Also, when the Rebbe explained a broader issue or a specific topic in Torah, ultimately it boiled down to, “I was not created except to serve my Maker,” a lesson in avodas Hashem.

My Rebbe is not only the Rosh B’nei Yisroel, Moshiach Hashem, but also my personal teacher.  The farbrengens, the mode of speech, the style, the turns of phrase, the approach to Torah and the world, are my guiding lights in life.  They are my personal guides.  Everything I have today in my work in rabbanus and shlichus as well as family life is from those elevated, holy moments with the Rebbe at farbrengens.

After 3 Tammuz, my love and longing for the Rebbe have grown.  While I was in 770, the motif of love was hidden beneath the awe and fear in honor of the king.

If from heaven they brought us down to this generation, then we must get busy and spread the light of the Rebbe’s teachings, the light of Judaism in the world, in order to bring the Sh’china down to earth and lead all of existence to the true and complete Geula.

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