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Thursday
Apr252013

MY YECHIDUS 
WITH THE REBBE

I was amazed when I saw the Rebbe. There was no platform. He stood next to the Aron Kodesh throughout the davening, as though he was like anyone else, but we saw a king! * Mrs. Sarah Greenberg, who was the principal of Beis Rivka in Kfar Chabad for many years, tells us of her yechidus with the Rebbe.

By Racheli Green

Mrs. Sarah Greenberg of Kfar Chabad was not thrilled with my request. I asked her to tell us about her yechidus with the Rebbe, and she sounded astonished by the idea. “You know what,” she said, “I’ll think about it. If I decide to do it, I’ll call you back.”

I hung up the phone and began looking for someone else to interview. Usually “I’ll get back to you” means “Don’t hold your breath waiting.”

I hadn’t made too many calls when I noticed Mrs. Greenberg’s name on the Caller ID. Wow! She was actually calling back!

“I thought about how the topics the Rebbe spoke to me about are messages for people in general. I asked the Rebbe in the Igros Kodesh and the answer is to publicize it. So I’m willing to do it.”

RAFFLE WINNER

I went to the Rebbe in 5731 thanks to the women of Kfar Chabad. Back then, a ticket cost several months’ salary, which is why traveling to the Rebbe was a rarity. In Kfar Chabad, they decided to pool their resources. Mrs. Leah Hellman initiated the idea of a raffle. Each person gave a certain amount of money and then they held the raffle.

My mother won that raffle, but she had made her participation conditional – if she won, I would go instead of her. This was because her health wasn’t good and she couldn’t make a trip. I was really excited, as I had never gone to the Rebbe before.

I had a job in the Midrasha at the time. The Midrasha was a school for girls in Kfar Chabad. Today, they go to high school and then to seminary, but back then they spent five years in Midrasha and got a teaching certificate.

R’ Mordechai Levin, the principal of the Midrasha, heard about my trip. He requested of me to ask R’ Chadakov some chinuch questions. R’ Chadakov was the Rebbe’s head secretary and you couldn’t just go over to him and ask him questions. You had to arrange it, but I didn’t know that.

I arrived in Crown Heights, met with R’ Chadakov, and asked him R’ Levin’s questions. The main things R’ Levin wanted to know about were tznius and what books to use. R’ Chadakov said to see what Beis Yaakov was doing, and do what they did.

Today, that answer is well-known. I heard later that R’ Tuvia Blau, principal of a high school in Yerushalayim, and Rebbetzin Sima Ralbag, principal of the elementary school in Yerushalayim, had received the same answer.

On that trip, I had yechidus with the Rebbe. Those were years when there were still private audiences. My husband, who joined me for the trip, had yechidus with me.

LIVING WITH THE REBBE

Before I tell you about the yechidus itself, I want to emphasize the significance of “first time at the Rebbe.” There were no faxes coming to Eretz Yisroel at that time. In later years there were broadcasts and messages and whatever happened on Shabbos reached Eretz Yisroel on Sunday, but in 5731, it didn’t work that way. Perhaps the thing I will say next only applied to me, but in those days we didn’t hear or know much about what was going on in Beis Chayeinu. When I stayed with a family in Crown Heights and saw how the door opened and a son or daughter of the family came in and said, “The Rebbe said …” that was a tremendous novelty for me.

Just so that you’ll understand – that year, only two other women went from Eretz Yisroel to Crown Heights. It’s not that the Ezras Nashim was empty; there were many American girls who stood six and seven hours to reserve a place, but there wasn’t much of a presence from Eretz Yisroel.

There were a few women who had gone to the Rebbe in the years preceding 5731. Some of them won tickets and some of them had relatives abroad. The way it worked was, when they returned, each of them arranged a gathering at which she told what she experienced at the Rebbe. However, when I myself went, I felt that I hadn’t heard anything previously. Hearing about the shvil (pathway made for the Rebbe) and seeing it, were vastly different things.

Still, despite not having known or heard, the feeling of hiskashrus to the Rebbe was very strong. We did not consider doing anything without asking the Rebbe, whether it was a shidduch, a job, anything. And we had to wait three weeks for an answer! That was considered reasonable and even quick. We had patience, knowing the answer would arrive. It wouldn’t necessarily be positive, but we knew that regardless, we would follow the answer.

So hiskashrus to the Rebbe was strong, even without constantly seeing and hearing him. But the addition of seeing and hearing was so special. Whatever I saw, I was seeing for the first time and it was extraordinary.

I was amazed when I saw the Rebbe. There was no platform. He stood next to the Aron Kodesh throughout the davening, as though he was like anyone else, but we saw a king! All eyes focused on one person, the Rebbe. I kept thinking, Hashem, why didn’t they tell me about all this glory? And then, it was our turn for yechidus.

THE FIRST YECHIDUS

Before the yechidus, my husband and I made our preparations and said T’hillim, of course. I felt nervous, uncertain about what would happen, but when I walked in I felt that the Rebbe was sitting there just for me, as though nothing else existed. The Rebbe welcomed us with a smile. I felt it was because my husband worked in chinuch. He was in the administration of the boys’ elementary school in the Kfar and some of his questions had to do with the school.

There was a comfortable atmosphere in the room, which gave me the courage to open my mouth. It was an unusual feeling. I don’t know what words to use to describe the feeling I had when I was there.

The Rebbe looked at the papers we had submitted and referred to all sorts of personal matters which I won’t go into now. He answered us in detail. He showered us with so many brachos that I couldn’t remember them all afterward.

Then the Rebbe suddenly said, “When you return, ask the menahel to assemble the girls so that you can address them about tznius.” The Rebbe spoke in Yiddish and since I did not immediately write it down, I don’t have the precise words but that was the gist of what he said.

That was very surprising to me, because I wasn’t a regular teacher in the school. I was just a substitute, but it was important to the Rebbe that I convey regards in the form of a talk about tznius. When I returned to Eretz Yisroel, we held an assembly and I spoke to the girls about tznius. I said that I was speaking as per the Rebbe’s request of me in yechidus. I think that perhaps one of the results of this yechidus was a dress code that is familiar today to every Lubavitcher girl and woman. In later years, I had a job in the seminary, and tznius was always in the forefront for us. Together with Mrs. Tzippora Vishedsky and Mrs. Raizy Halperin, we formulated a dress code for tznius.

Back to the yechidus, there was another message that pertains to all of us. I knew the yechidus was coming to an end, but I wanted to request something for the women of the Kfar. After all, it was thanks to them that I had come to the Rebbe.

I was embarrassed to ask but felt that I had to. The Rebbe saw that I wanted to say something and leaned forward a bit. The movement made it possible for me to say an additional sentence. I heard myself asking for mashke for the women of the Kfar. Why did I ask for mashke? I saw from the Ezras Nashim how the Rebbe gave out bottles of mashke to people who arranged farbrengens in the places they came from, and I thought I could ask for the same, for the women of Kfar Chabad, as their representative.

The Rebbe answered in surprise, “Mashke for women?!”

I kept quiet.

After a few seconds of silence, the Rebbe said, “Go to the secretaries tomorrow. They will give you wine. Cook it and wrap it so that the wine is completely wrapped. The wine is for the women of Kfar Chabad.”

When I went to the office the next day, they told me the wine was already cooked and I only had to wrap the bottle.

BE A ROLE MODEL!

My feeling is that this yechidus wasn’t just mine and that is why I am telling you about it. The Rebbe spoke through it and through me to all girls and women. The Rebbe is a visionary and sees things we can’t see. Today, when you called, I wrote to the Rebbe and the answer I opened to was in Yiddish, in volume 5, p. 229-230. It’s a letter for “Agudas Nashim Tze’iros Lubavitch,” and I think it has a lesson for every Chassidic woman, a lesson that could be a continuation of the yechidus of 5731. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“ … It is also self-understood that your role is not merely, as you write in your letter, to raise funds for Lubavitcher mosdos, for as great as that is, it alone is not enough. And being such, that upon each of you depends to a great extent the influence in your homes and the influence on an appropriate environment, you need to be a role model of how a Lubavitcher woman needs to conduct herself, how she needs to establish her home, and what influence she has on her entire environment, so you can proudly say – see who I have raised. This is a true Chassidishe woman from whom people can learn.”

So a genuine Chassidishe woman, aside from the fact that she is modest, as per the standards of Beis Yaakov, and doesn’t drink mashke, is also the woman who establishes her home, who needs to be a role model and one who influences her environment. Thus, she hastens the hisgalus of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, may it be immediately.

 

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