MY VERY FIRST YECHIDUS
January 10, 2019
Beis Moshiach in #1149, Chabad History, Diary, Profile

To whom did the Rebbetzin say at six in the morning: At this very moment, the Rebbe just went to rest. * Why did the Rebbe say that, “I still owe Mrs. Schneersohn for the kugel and the cholent that I did not eat on Shabbos?” * What transpired in Gan Eden HaElyon during the first yechidus of the author of this diary? * Letters home, written by R’ Tuvia Zilberstrom during his k’vutza year, describing some of the events of the month of Shevat 5735 in 770, with the Rebbe.

By Rabbi Tuvia Zilberstrom
Rav of the Chabad community, Shikkun Chabad Yerushalayim   

DIVINE SIGHT IN THE REBBE’S ROOM

Erev Shabbos Kodesh VaEira, Shabbos Mevarchim Shevat 5735

Peace and blessing to all my dear ones, for length of days and good years,

We are all waiting with great longing for the farbrengen of this Shabbos, after almost a month-long break without a farbrengen, which never happened since I have been here. Even the month of Cheshvan, in which this was usually the case, there was a farbrengen this year on Chaf Cheshvan. Even during Kislev, there were no other farbrengens except for Yud-Tes Kislev. Although there was a farbrengen on Rosh Chodesh and on “Zos Chanuka,” the time that has passed since then is quite long. Obviously, we were given so much time in between in order to work on those matters that were discussed in the farbrengens till this point.

Boruch Hashem, everything here is in order. The learning continues as usual and with greater measure and strength, especially now as a preparation for Yud Shevat.

In the newsletter that was put out by Tzach (maybe also in Eretz Yisroel), there is a call for strengthening the five campaigns and in multiples of twenty-five, corresponding to the years of the leadership of the Rebbe, the exalted leader of the Jewish people. Here, the main increase is by adding the study of twenty-five maamarei Chassidus and in the Shulchan Aruch of the Alter Rebbe. Of course, each person adds according to his abilities.

It is worthwhile to contemplate a bit the massive empire of the Rebbe shlita, from the time that he rose to the nesius until today, which continues to expand to all corners of the world and accommodates the “spirit of each and every individual.” This is especially apparent when Jews, upon exiting yechidus, each one with his “peckel” [“baggage”], repeatedly say: Ah, if only there were a few more like that. This is not only one person talking, but each person regarding his area of interest, whether it be Nigleh or Kabbalah, or worldly wisdom etc.

This week, Wertheimer from Yerushalayim, who works in publishing old manuscripts and textual variations, went in for yechidus, and he was amazed. In tremendous shock, he recounted the extent to which the Rebbe is interested and versed in the field, and even brought a few sources and points to his attention. He could not believe that there was somebody who is so well versed in his works, and he said that he could readily quote the sayings of the Sages. “If only there were a few more.” Yesterday, among those who went in for yechidus were: the director of the El Al office in New York, the delegation from Eretz Yisroel to America in charge of shipping weapons systems from the United States to Eretz Yisroel, and others. We see how ultimately each one, all of the streams, flow into the sea.

Last week, someone named Zwiebel from Yerushalayim went in for yechidus. He is a “kollel Jew,” and the Rebbe began his response to him by saying that as far as a certain matter, the answer is such-and-such. He stood there completely dumbfounded, as he had not written to the Rebbe anything regarding that topic, but (as he told R’ Leibel Groner later, outside) he had thought of writing about it to the Rebbe and decided in the end to leave it out entirely. However, when going into the Rebbe, the Rebbe answered him as if it was all written right there in front of him. R’ Leibel Groner “calmed him down” with a few similar stories, including the following:

Not long ago, somebody went in and handed the Rebbe (by mistake) a blank paper without a single word written on it. The Rebbe turned it over back and forth, and in the end said to him, “Since I can only read it with difficulty, I will also answer him with difficulty,” and then answered all of his questions. When he exited the yechidus, he told me that he did not understand what the Rebbe meant with the word “b’dochak,” since he had written and rewritten the note a few times until it was clear and organized. To his surprise, he discovered that the correct paper had remained in his pocket…

The Rebbe continued to talk with this Zwiebel fellow, that Boruch Hashem there are kollelim in Yerushalayim and people are learning etc. However, there is a need to make a tumult that they should begin to learn more about the halacha-ruling process and the like, and not to make do, as is the custom, with the study of pilpul etc., since who will rule on halachic questions in the next generation if there will not be any Rabbanim? Although it is not possible to change the Roshei Yeshivos, but a tumult should be made.

One can always see new faces here in 770, and it is interesting to see how Jews of all types and from all the corners of the world gather here in these “four cubits.”

It seems that this Shabbos I will again have the privilege of accompanying the Rebbe from his home to 770 on Shabbos morning before the recital of T’hillim. Of course, that is in addition to after the farbrengen, as is the custom.

Wishing you all good, and to hear from each other,

Tuvia

LESSONS FROM COMPUTERS

Thursday, 4 Shevat 5735

Dear Family, for long and good days and years, many greetings!

Another week has passed. Each one pushes the other to write a letter, but as our Sages say, “The plate of partners is neither hot nor cold.” Sometimes, when there is someone traveling to Eretz Yisroel and we know about it in advance, we prepare a letter. However, in any case, it requires a great deal of attention.

We enjoyed receiving the letters from Yossi and from the house, and of course from Savta.

Boruch Hashem, everything here is in order, and we are progressing rapidly toward the great day of Yud Shevat, celebrating the completion of twenty-five years of the Rebbe’s nesius, and which the Rebbe already discussed on the previous Shabbos, at the Shabbos Mevarchim farbrengen. He cited the fact that there does not seem to be any source [to signify the number 25], as opposed to the ages of 10, 13, 15, 20, 30, and so on, as explained in the Mishna in Avos.

Despite all of that, one should look in Likkutei Torah Parshas Nitzavim where he explains the significance of that number (koi – [kof-hei] – lechoi) in s’firos and according to Kabbalah and that this is the reason why the world was created on the 25th of Elul. The Rebbe connected that with the fact that it is twenty-five years since the histalkus (of the Previous Rebbe), and he will surely talk more about it in a short time.

Of course, those who “calculate the endpoints” have already added that although the word “koi” = kof-hei = 25, if you add the numerical value of the word “lechoi,” it equals 75, which is the current age of the Rebbe, and the connection is obvious. The Rebbe mentioned in the farbrengen that there are those that want to send mazel tov wishes and place notices etc. Therefore, he is announcing in advance that it is all superfluous and a waste of money, and the greatest mazel tov will be that they will add a boost to the mivtzaim campaigns, including what is referred to in Eretz Yisroel as “Neshek” [acronym play on the Hebrew word meaning weaponry], the acronym for Neiros Shabbos Kodesh. As far as the money for the notices of blessings, they should give it to tz’daka for these mivtzaim.

These talks followed a discussion on the glosses on Zohar from Likkutei Levi Yitzchok, as is customary, and the Rebbe spoke about what he says there on the verse, “Va’amartem koi lechoi… ata shalom…” At the conclusion of the sicha, he said that there is someone here (Chacham Refoel Chudaitov) that has a niggun on these words. At that, the person in question, Chacham Refoel, began the song “Atem Shalom.”

It was interesting to watch how a Sefardic Jew, sincere and pure, sings this song with such feeling etc., and as is their practice to wave their hands as they sing etc. When he got to the words that translate as “Crown of Torah, beautiful and clear,” he pointed with his hand toward the Rebbe.

In the sichos, Parshas VaEira was also discussed and its connection to Shabbos Mevarchim Shevat, and its central point of Yud Shevat…

Let us hope that we will all hear the broadcast, and maybe starting from the 25th year the entire family will go to attend the broadcast. And if it is difficult to be there for the beginning hours [the weeknight broadcasts from 770 in those years began at 4:30 am in Eretz Yisroel], it is possible to be there for the later part.

I enjoyed hearing in regard to mivtza Neiros Shabbos Kodesh in Eretz Yisroel that Rav Soloveitchik also made public what the Rebbe wanted [that it was the custom in their family for single girls to also light Shabbos candles], and surely others will continue to do so as well. Maybe it is also possible to enlist Yaakovson [a prominent educator in Eretz Yisroel] to this mivtza, since it has already become known, openly and clearly, that this was the custom in Volozhin, Brisk, many towns and cities in Lithuania, besides for all of the Chassidic towns and cities.

Last week, someone from Argentina went in for yechidus. This person works in computers, and the Rebbe told him during the yechidus that according to the teachings of the Baal Shem, one should learn a lesson from everything in the world. We see in the matter of the computer that it does in a short time a task that would normally require many people to accomplish, and yet it does it all at once. Another point that the Rebbe said regarding the computer is that it always comes up with the correct result, although it is not gifted with intellect. This is not only in simple calculations like 2x2, but also in numbers with hundreds and even thousands of numerals, and yet it produces all of the solutions without the ability to understand or think.

Similarly, a Jew needs to know that, 1) It is incumbent upon him to fulfill all of the 613 mitzvos, and he can’t claim that he is busy with one and therefore cannot do the other. Since they were given to him, he is obligated to do them himself and not divide the work between a number of people. 2) Every ruling cited by the Shulchan Aruch – which is Hashem’s computer – even if we don’t understand the connection etc., we must fulfill. The Rebbe added with a smile: There was a mistake made by a computer that was discovered in such-and-such a year, but in the computer of Hashem there are no mistakes to be found.

To the wife, who is a lecturer and teacher of the French language in a university in Argentina, the Rebbe said: The idea of studying a language is that when a person goes from one country to another, he is unable to talk, communicate and connect, with people there; therefore, people learn the language in order to develop connections between one person and the next. Similarly, when the soul descends into a body, it is unable to communicate with the body. That is why there is a language – the Torah – in order to make the connection between the soul and the body.

That Jew later recounted, that he had once asked the Rebbe in a yechidus: Hashem looked into the Torah and based on that created the world, so where then, is his line of work, computers, alluded to in the Torah? The Rebbe explained to him the idea of tefillin which is compared to the entire Torah and how that corresponds to the computer that calculates based on all of the data that is input into it.

Currently present in 770 is Rabbi Kroll, the son-in-law of Rav Landau of B’nei Brak, and he went in for yechidus last week. The Rebbe asked him why they don’t study the Rogatchover in the yeshivas. He answered that they learn other sources like, Reb Chaim, the Ohr Sameiach, Reb Elchonon, and others, and the Rebbe said to him, “Even so, how does that compare…”

Meanwhile, more and more guests are arriving for Yud Shevat, and they are preparing for a huge crowd, from sea to sea, who will be coming to the farbrengen. And that is in addition to the broadcast heard by tens of thousands around the world, including on the radio in New York.

To see and hear from each other,

Tuvia

WAITING IMPATIENTLY FOR YUD SHEVAT

Shevat 5735

This week was warmer outside, but snowflakes just began to fall to the street, like a white tablecloth spread over the neighborhood. Despite that, the soldiers [yeshiva students] are out working with mesirus nefesh, on the front lines and the rear guard, and in every location, as per the request of the Rebbe to intensify the mivtzaim in the days leading up to Yud Shevat etc.

Once again, we had eight “tanks” at our disposal, but this time, due to the winter, the tanks are “armored” inside and out, with central heating and so on, so that a Jew can come inside from a world that is cold materially and spiritually, and warm himself up materially and spiritually.

Today, Monday, the Rebbe arrived as customary at 10:00 for the Torah reading. Everybody was ready outside of 770, standing outside the tanks, and singing a victory march as they awaited the arrival of the commander-in-chief, our Nasi the Rebbe shlita, in order to receive the final order before going out to conquer New York and its environs.

When the time came, despite the snowstorm, the Rebbe exited his car and raised his hand toward the tanks which began to pull out, one after another, to their missions. He then continued to walk until the entrance of 770, then turned around again toward the tanks, and again made an encouraging motion with his hand, twice.

So, with joy and festivity, we headed out to conquer New York, as per the well-known sicha of the Rebbe Rayatz, that when a soldier goes out to combat, he does so with a cheerful tune and with hope to be victorious, which is already a part of the ultimate victory. And so did we, in fact, return to 770, with each person coming back with plunder in hand, such-and-such a number of Jews put on tefillin, such-and-such a number promised to light Neiros Shabbos Kodesh, and much more.

It is also interesting to see and to become aware of [the Rebbe’s involvement] in personal lives, aside from the general campaigns directed to the entire Jewish nation, with bachurim receiving encouraging and joy-inducing responses from the Rebbe. For example, one of the bachurim organizes a class once a week in his home which is far from here, and he teaches the class himself. Obviously, he was thrilled to inform his father, meaning the Rebbe, and he merited a response to this: And may it be the Will that it be fulfilled, he who has one hundred wants two hundred etc.

Another bachur succeeded in turning over his whole house, he kashered the kitchen, got them to observe kosher laws, to undertake the laws of kosher family life etc. He also received, as above, an answer from the Rebbe: Accolades of grace and warm thanks for the good news, and he should see fruits that are good toward heaven and good toward people. There are many such similar responses.

Here we get to see the efforts in the activities carried out by each and every student of the yeshivos of Lubavitch. In every place and in every corner where he may show up or find himself – of course in addition to the general mivtzaim – he becomes a central force in that place. He is active and gets others to be active, with everything being done quietly and calmly and without being written up in the newspapers. And that is how we prepare the world for Moshiach, to make “a dwelling in the lower realms.” Obviously, all of this penetrates to each and every person sheltering under this roof (770).

We are all anticipating already hearing the t’fillos by the Rebbe throughout the day of Yud Shevat [when the Rebbe leads the services]. [To hear him say] “Hodu l’Ado… kire’u b’shmo…,” as before the beginning of the actual tefilla he concludes the section of korbanos, “She’yiboneh Beis HaMikdash b’meheira b’yameinu.” And later in the davening, “V’yimalei chevodo es kol ha’aretz…,” “V’Haya Hashem l’Melech al kol ha’aretz…” In every letter and word that issues forth from his mouth, it is possible to sense and to understand (to the degree that we are capable) the meaning therein, and how it expresses the content. Each slight utterance that leaves his holy mouth, enters into the arteries of the soul and has its effect.

Meanwhile, I will conclude until the upcoming farbrengen, and to the fulfillment of (as per the conclusion to the sichos of the Rebbe) that he will lead us upright to our land with the true and complete Redemption.

Tuvia

P.S. Again we are encountering here students and friends of Abba [the late Reb Aharon Mordechai Zilberstrom] from France. This week, Abba’s student Silber was here. Among other things, he recounted that when he went into the Rebbe for the first time, he mentioned that the Rebbe spoke with him in France [28 years prior, when he was a young boy]. The Rebbe asked him in response. “And what did I test you on?”

It is always interesting to hear from the people here things about the Rebbe. For example, someone wrote to the Rebbe that perhaps someone could be found to translate the sichos into Farsi, and the Rebbe wrote back, “Accolades of grace in advance and immediately,” so that Farsi speakers can also benefit from the sichos.

POLITICAL LEADERS AT THE YUD SHEVAT FARBRENGEN

Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas B’Shalach, 5735

To all of you, my dear ones, for length of days and good years,

At this time, the morale and the mood will be raised a great deal, when they will finally realize the dream that everyone has been thinking of for so long. Once again, in the home on Avigdori [the author’s parents lived then on Avigdori Street in Yerushalayim], the family will gather in actual physical proximity. Surely they will discuss the experiences, and especially the recent ones in Beis Chayeinu from the farbrengen of Yud Shevat and the following Shabbos.

How many of the leaders of the American government were present at the farbrengen, leaders of the city government, and a personal emissary of the American President! Each one presented the Rebbe with a letter or a key etc. One person promised the Rebbe half a million dollars for mivtzaim, another person who went in for yechidus on Thursday gave thirty-five thousand dollars, and many more like them. We see in actuality the fulfillment of the promise, “And he shall rule from sea to sea.”

The sicha on Yud Shevat directed to America and its leaders, will apparently be translated into English and sent to all of those leaders who attended.

On the other hand, it is possible to see the great distress of the Rebbe, when it is specifically that “your destroyers will go forth from among you,” as we heard in the last sicha of Yud Shevat and at the conclusion of the farbrengen on Shabbos. The farbrengen [on Shabbos] ended close to the time for Maariv, and therefore people did not eat the Shabbos meal. At this farbrengen, the Rebbe said that the fact that so-and-so wants to make war with Lubavitch, will in any event not succeed, since the “hand of Lubavitch is on the ascendancy.” “I am the baal ha’bayis of Lubavitch,” whether he wants or not. When I speak, I do not require his approval, and boruch Hashem that he does not hold of me. It would be a disgrace for me if that individual were to hold of me, and people should not stand inside of his four cubits etc.

The content of the other sichos are written on the other side of this page. It was interesting to see at the farbrengen how the Rebbe asked one of the elder Chassidim, approximately eighty years old or more (Rav Dubov of England) to sing a Chassidic niggun. It was interesting to see something that today is a rarity, how a Chassidishe “paragon” sings a niggun of d’veikus with a bittul and d’veikus to the Rebbe and the Ribbono shel Olam. Also, the Rebbe distributed mashke to a number of the guests, among them some who came from England, and the mashke was also intended for N’shei Chabad. The Rebbe added that when it is given out to the women, they should add water so that it not be too sharp.

Meanwhile, all good and to see each other,

Tuvia

P.S. The lekach that I sent you is from the farbrengen of Yud Shevat. Surely you heard about the distribution of dollars, with every person receiving two-dollar bills. The “Tankistin” were once again the ones who gave them out, and each one of them approached [the Rebbe] twice, to get the dollars and to give them out.

“I STILL OWE MRS. SCHNEERSON”

Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Yisro, 5735

To all of you, my dear ones, many greetings,

Today again, there was a Chassidic “goodbye” farbrengen. One of the young married men is setting off on shlichus to France, to a city which does not yet have anybody, and everybody participated and rejoiced with the fulfillment of his shlichus. As the Rebbe wished him today in yechidus, “with much and outstanding success.”

Once again, guests from every corner and end of the world stand near the door of the Rebbe’s room [as they wait for yechidus]. Last week, the renowned R’ Zalman Jaffe from England went in, and among other things asked the Rebbe to farbreng on Tu B’Shvat. The Rebbe answered him, “I still owe Mrs. Schneersohn for the kugel and cholent that I did not eat on Shabbos; despite that, I will do what is best.” In fact, there was a farbrengen, and surely you succeeded in hearing it.

We saw once again, how the Rebbe emphasized that he goes with each and every person that goes out on his shlichus, and obviously how much this adds enthusiasm, energy and strength, in all of the mivtzaim to greet Melech HaMoshiach very soon.

To hear from each other,

Tuvia

POWERFUL FEELINGS AFTER YECHIDUS

Monday, Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar, the month of increased joy, 5735

To all of you, my dear ones, for length of days and good years,

Many Greetings!

A number of hours have already passed, in fact a number of days, since I went in for yechidus (see box). Yet, this thing is (like all things in 770) above the concept of time. Not only does it feel like that it was only a few seconds ago that I stepped out from there, even more so it is possible to sense all the time that one is presently standing at this lofty and sublime occurrence, to picture to myself that I am now standing facing his holy countenance. This is something that will never be forgotten. Even for somebody who by nature is not endowed with a good memory, and even someone who is inclined to forgetfulness, this occasion is simply impossible to forget.

The obvious reason for this being the fact that the entirety of the life of a person on this earth depends on [what is said during] this encounter. There will always remain a nostalgic longing for this time. “…because my soul longs for You; my soul craved to be in the shadow of Your hands.” It seems to me that this song (An’im Z’miros) which expresses such intense longing, is especially apt to this subject.

6AM: THE REBBE JUST WENT TO REST

The following is an entry in the diary of the author dated Yud Shevat 5741:

A young married man by the name of YH; his wife was about to give birth and the doctors said that she needed to have an operation, but he did not know what to do. He called the secretary R’ Binyomin Klein, but he answered that now it is six in the morning and there is nothing that I can do. However, since your brother-in-law is CB Halberstam and he has a connection with the Rebbe’s home, try through him.

The young man contacted his brother-in-law, and he indeed called the Rebbetzin. The Rebbetzin answered that just this very moment the Rebbe went in to rest, but she will still go and see if it is possible to ask. The Rebbe answered that it will be good, and I will mention it at the tziyun.

Shortly after that, the child was born healthy and whole without an operation.

MY VERY FIRST YECHIDUS

Finally, the day for which my soul has yearned and pined for has arrived; the day that I will be able to enter for yechidus into the holy of holies, the higher Gan Eden upon the earth.

Already half a year ago, it seemed to me that I was ready to go “within and within,” but providence willed otherwise. For days and weeks, I pleaded with R’ Groner to assign me a turn for yechidus, and he, doing his job devotedly, pushed me off, back and forth, to the point of outright refusal.

All of this caused a state of “nullification like dust” to my body and soul, to the point that I broke into bitter tears and had to go to my room near 770 for a long time to get back to myself. Perhaps that contributed to some degree in that I worked up the courage during the season of compassion and forgiveness to try my fortune again. And in fact, this time R’ Groner was benevolent and gave me an appointment for yechidus, after the pressure of the guests for Tishrei will subside, in the month of Cheshvan, close to my birthday.

Finally, the long-awaited day drew close, except that the Rebbe’s sicha said only ten days previously landed like a thunderbolt. [In that sicha] the Rebbe announced that the old system of going in for yechidus every year for one’s birthday will stop.

I was completely at a loss as to whether these words apply to me as well; on the one hand the yechidus was set in proximity to my birthday, however, on the other hand, this is my first yechidus and I had never gone in for yechidus in my life. After much vacillation, and also upon the advice of my mashpia, I came to the decision to continue my preparations and to go in as planned.

Once again, the following Shabbos, two days before the hoped-for time, there was an even sharper sicha… People are fooling the secretaries, telling them that it is an urgent yechidus, and when they come into my room, the topic is birthday. The Rebbe then screamed, are my announcements not sufficient?! Are they interested in me discontinuing yechidus entirely?!

This time I was really at a loss, and even the mashpia was uncertain, since after such a sicha, who would dare challenge the decision of the king, however, “my life in my petition” and my soul is yearning, and so I decided to continue the regular preparations, and then to present all of my doubts before the Rebbe himself, and his command my soul abides, and I will not enter with mara sh’chora [lit. black bile, i.e., a depressive outlook] as the Rebbe mentioned in his sicha, but “my soul thirsts for you.”

On the appointed day, as is the practice of the T’mimim, I fasted, added in prayer and Torah study, and I sent into the inner sanctum all of the questions and requests that were destined to be brought up that night in yechidus. In an addendum to the letter, I requested that the Rebbe be the one to decide if my entering for yechidus should be postponed.

Already before Mincha, the Rebbe answered my letter. On a portion of the letter he noted, “as per the advice of the administration of the yeshiva,” on another portion, “as per the advice of the mashpia,” and the part with the personal details he tore off and kept for himself so that no other eye should see it. He added in a note to me, that my not entering for yechidus and “acceptance of the judgment,” should be in a way of visible and revealed good.

I waited for Mincha to encounter the Rebbe through eye contact, a special holy language of communication that on many occasions (when needed) I would employ (including the saying of “l’chaim” at farbrengens). Ah, how the Rebbe entered for Mincha, and even before Mincha turned his head in every direction and found me between the heads of two T’mimim, wondering and pleading, and with that he restored my soul.

After the aforementioned handwritten responses, and after the eye to eye personal encounter, I decided to continue the fast until the evening as if it were a day that I went in for yechidus, but only “as if,” because I was truly awaiting the great day when I would actually be able to go in.

And so, on the day that was assigned for my friends, members of the k’vutza year, I decided without any doubts that, “if not now, when?” I was aware that the yechidus was designated for the students of k’vutza who would be returning to the Holy Land, whereas I would be staying in 770. When I was asked about this detail, I answered that I was a member of this k’vutza and my turn should not be lost, even though I would be staying in 770 (with the permission of the administration of the yeshiva).

On the aforementioned designated day – 25 Shevat 5735 – the 25th year of the Rebbe’s nesius, on Thursday Parshas Mishpatim; after a day of preparations, additions in Torah study and prayer, an additional immersion in the mikva toward evening, and of course the “diminution of my fat and blood” on a day of fasting and divine will, I entered for yechidus into the inner sanctum.

We were instructed [on the proper protocol upon entering]; three knocks on the door, kiss the mezuza, be wearing a gartel, and make the blessing of SheHechiyanu in a loud voice to which the Rebbe answers “amein.”

At close to 10 pm, I walked from Gan Eden HaTachton to Gan Eden HaElyon, into the inner sanctum for yechidus, “he and the king alone, a different world… lofty, wondrous, luminous, aglow…”

The king sits upon his throne, and as I enter and say the blessing, suddenly his holy voice reverberates, “boruch hu u’varuch shmo,” which came as a shock to me as I was not told to expect this in advance, and I already felt it slice through my “kidneys and heart.” After I handed the pidyon nefesh into his holy hand, the Rebbe lifted his holy eyes and turned to my direction, conveying the feeling that there was nothing else in his world except the one standing before him. He opened with a question, whether I was a Yiddish speaker or Lashon HaKodesh/Ivrit speaker, and I answered, “Yiddish.”

He then began to bless me:

“Hashem Yisborach should fulfill all of the requests of your heart for good, and with much and outstanding success in all the matters mentioned. First and foremost, in the study of Torah, both in Nigleh and Chassidus, and add from strength to strength in the study of Torah and in the performance of mitzvos with beautification and in avodas ha’t’filla. And to hear good tidings from all of those mentioned, and to serve as a living role model for the rest of the students, and that all matters of ‘U’poratzta’ (said with a hard pei) not interfere with all that was mentioned; on the contrary, they should increase with an ongoing increase and light, and to be a Chassid, yerei Shamayim and lamdan, and there should always be good news all the days.”

I stepped backward in awe, banging into the book cabinet until I found the door. When I had exited, still enveloped in the intense feelings, R’ Binyomin Klein saw me somewhat “floating” and wished me “mazel tov.” In his characteristic mischievousness, he asked me when I am returning to Eretz Yisroel…

The first question that the Rebbe asked me was not for naught, even as I had written part of my letter in Yiddish, he still asked me about my spoken language, and it seems to me the point was as follows:

When I began to learn in Tomchei T’mimim in Kfar Chabad three years ago, I was asked to partner in study with students that don’t speak Yiddish. A Yerushalmi boy like me, ever since he is weaned, learns all his days in Yiddish, Chumash, Mishna and Gemara, and I had never explained words of Gemara in the Ivrit language, and I nearly declined [to get involved with] such a chavrusa.

When I was sent by the yeshiva to teach Tanya in various and distant yeshivas, which sometimes required six or more hours of travel, I was plagued by doubts, since I was unsure to what extent is devotion demanded to matters of “U’faratzta,” in order that they not interfere with learning and avodas ha’t’filla.

Before I wrote the pidyon nefesh, with awe and trembling, I sifted and strained every word. I debated as to whether to ask for a bracha for avodas ha’t’filla or perhaps it would be hubris on my part, and in the end I decided to only mention learning Nigleh and Chassidus. However, one cannot “flee before the master,” and so he first responded to what I wrote in the letter, and then added his own blessing regarding avodas ha’t’filla.

The personal matter that I asked about in connection with the yechidus that was supposed to take place in Cheshvan, I did not have the nerve to write again this time. However, at a later point in the year, there was a special sicha devoted to this topic, and when the Rebbe spoke at the farbrengen with a “koch,” his eyes were turned to me, and I lowered my gaze. When I raised them again, the Rebbe’s enflamed face was still facing towards me. Tears streamed from my eyes throughout the entire sicha.

After the conclusion of the sicha, I raised my hand with a cup for l’chaim, and with a shining face and the look of a father who is compassionate, magnanimous, good and bestowing of good, he answered me: “L’chaim v’livracha.

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