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Tuesday
Mar312015

My Pesach WITH THE REBBE

The unforgettable Pesach night with the Rebbe began one day in Nissan of 5724/1964 when RMoshe Leib Rodstein, the secretary of the Rebbe Rayatz and later the Rebbes secretary, asked me, “Are you interested in working upstairs?”

R’ Shlomo Reinitz in 770I did not understand the significance of his question but when a distinguished person asked for help, I was happy to say yes without knowing that at that moment I was “binding” myself to Beis Rebbi and was even giving my consent to set the table for the Pesach meals and to be with the Rebbe throughout all those meals along with the senior Chassidim.

I later learned what my job consisted of – helping the cook, setting the table in the Rebbe Rayatz’s apartment on the second floor of 770 where Rebbetzin Nechama Dina lived and where the family and the guests ate the meals, and serving during the meals and then cleaning off the table.

The first Yom Tov meal I spent in the Rebbe’s presence was the seder. A few days before Pesach I began working in the kitchen in Rebbetzin Nechama Dina’s home. I opened eggs, checked and dried lettuce, and grated maror. Rebbetzin Nechama Dina was in the kitchen and she said, “You need to watch out and be careful. You did not know the Bubbe Rivka (the wife of the Rebbe Maharash). She was very particular and I want everything here to be done as it was in her house.”

Erev Pesach afternoon, everyone, including me, passed by the Rebbe and received matzos or pieces of matza for the seder. Pesach night it was customary that the helpers receive matzos after Maariv from the Rebbe. Since I had already received matza from the Rebbe in the afternoon, I did not go down to take more matza.

That night, after eating the fish, I sat at the other end of the table. The Rebbe suddenly asked me, “Why didn’t you come down to get matzos?”

Rashag repeated the question. “My brother-in-law is asking why you did not go down to take matza.”

I did not dare answer the Rebbe and I indirectly told Rashag that I had already received matza in the afternoon.

The Rebbe called me over and took a piece of matza from his ke’ara and gave it to me. It was a very unusual display of affection because the Rebbe hardly ever gave anyone from his matzos. I noticed that the Rebbe took the leftovers with him.

I saw that the Rebbe ate only with his right hand and never used a knife. If it was necessary to cut something, he used a fork. He also used a lot of salt on the fish until they lost their taste. At one meal, one of the people asked him about this and the Rebbe said that there were things that were not meant as instructions for the public and he did so because his father did so.

The Rebbe ate a k’zayis of horseradish for maror but before that he squeezed the maror to get out the moisture.

At some point they would open the door and only distinguished guests were allowed to enter. By Shfoch Chamas’cha and Hallel everyone was allowed to enter.

The Rebbe said the Hagada silently. At the last stage of the Hagada, the Rebbe would start saying it out loud with a tune and with great concentration. Everyone crowded in to hear the Rebbe.

For many years, R’ Yaakov Katz of Chicago would read and sing the Hagada. Once, when he went down to take matza before the seder I heard the Rebbe ask him, “Do you remember how the shver (the Rebbe Rayatz) said the Hagada?”

He said he thought the Rebbe sang it the way he [R’ Katz] did.

The Rebbe said that wasn’t correct.

R’ Katz asked, how then?

The Rebbe said, I don’t remember how, but I know that it wasn’t the way you read it.

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