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Wednesday
Sep052018

SOUND THE GREAT SHOFAR

The Rebbe shlita arranges his shofaros in a special order and afterward spreads his tallis over all of the pidyonos placed in front of him. A quiet sobbing voice can be heard coming from under the tallis. The leader of the Jewish people and its faithful shepherd stands on the day of the birth of the world, his pleading voice requesting a good and sweet year for each and every Jew. * Letters home, written by R’ Tuvia Zilberstrom during his k’vutza year, describing some of the events of Rosh HaShana 5735 in 770, with the Rebbe. * Plus some choice pearls from the recollections of R’ Dovid Offen from that same period.

By R’ Tuvia Zilberstrom          

Rabbi Tuvia Zilberstrom receiving kos shel bracha from the RebbeSOUND THE GREAT SHOFAR

The Rebbe shlita arranges his shofaros in a special order and afterward spreads his tallis over all of the pidyonos placed in front of him. A quiet sobbing voice can be heard coming from under the tallis. The leader of the Jewish people and its faithful shepherd stands on the day of the birth of the world, his pleading voice requesting a good and sweet year for each and every Jew. * Letters home, written by RTuvia Zilberstrom during his kvutza year, describing some of the events of Rosh HaShana 5735 in 770, with the Rebbe. * Plus some choice pearls from the recollections of RDovid Offen from that same period.

By RTuvia Zilberstrom

LAST MINUTE WORK
ON BUILDING THE
ROYAL PLATFORM

29 Elul 5734, Erev Rosh HaShana

Davening and Hataras Nedarim (nullification of vows) was with our king at our head, crowned with tallis and t’fillin. (The custom of the Rebbe [in those years] is to appear in shul already wearing his t’fillin only on the yahrtzait days of his father on 20 Av, or of his mother on 6 Tishrei, and of course Yud Shevat. The exceptions to the rule are also Erev Rosh HaShana, Erev Yom Kippur, and Mincha of Tisha B’Av.) Obviously, this was the time for me to observe his sacred practice up close, the t’fillin and the winding of the straps, the kisses during Krias Shma and other parts of the t’filla, to see the exactitude and grandeur in every little move.

After the davening, by divine providence, the son of the gabbai R’ Yaakov Lipsker – who was together with Abba in France, in the presence of the Rebbe, and even served the Rebbe his food in Paris – asked me to help him put together the platform that the Rebbe stands on during Tishrei, as had begun to be the custom the year prior.

The entire job entailed my helping move three heavy tables which were up against the farbrengen platform, and that would now be the platform for the Rebbe’s davening.

I could not restrain myself and argued, “These are tables, which are not a respectable platform for the Rebbe.” His answer to me was, “That is what there is.” I got up the nerve to ask, “Do I have permission to make it nicer, in a way that is fitting for the Rebbe?” He agreed to that.

I got right to work. I took wood and I sawed, until I built a frame around all of the tables, and they took on a nice and respectable appearance. I saw that the rug that the Rebbe stands on was less than a quarter of the size of the platform. Hashem placed wisdom in my heart, and I walked over to Kingston Avenue, where not long before a rug and carpet store had been opened by one of the Chassidim. I went to his store and boldly asked him for a large rug that would cover the entire platform.

After I chose a royal color and he asked me in the way of all sellers, “Who is paying for it?” I answered, “You are!!” He was shocked by the “audacity of holiness” of the customer, and began to think about it. However, I continued to play on his conscience about how it would bring blessing to his business. In the end, he told me that he has to consider the matter and that I should return in an hour.

When I returned, I was happy to hear a positive answer from his mouth, and he even added to the splendor by giving me a bonus of gilded corners, for the honor and glory of our father our king, our beloved Nasi.

Here the difficult work began, to saw to measure not only thin boards but pieces of metal, and the work was exhausting. I got neither help nor assistance from the many T’mimim, who could not understand what business I had in doing heavy labor on Erev Rosh HaShana. Every last one of them was excitedly busy with preparing comfortable spots for themselves for the Yomim Nora’im, to gaze upon the sweetness of Hashem, the holy service of the Rebbe during the davening and t’kios, at Maftir and so on. In my heart I had resolved to forgo a place for myself, which I really did not have, but the Rebbe would have a place of honor and glory.

The work was so exhausting that it nearly came screeching to a halt at some point. Suddenly, one single bachur approached me, a mekurav who did not know Yiddish or Hebrew, and begged me to please let him have the hammer. I was happy that finally there was one other person who would help me, but then he said, “I am not a professional like you, but give me the merit to at least knock in one nail in the bima of the Rebbe.”

What can I say, that brief statement infused me with new and fresh energy, and by ten minutes before Yom Tov there was standing a handsome platform with a regal carpet, upon which the Rebbe stood on Rosh HaShana.

GRABBING PLACES FOR T’KIOS THE NIGHT BEFORE

Tzom Gedalya, may it soon be transformed, 5735

Dear Family, for long days and good years,

Many Greetings!

I was just now reminded of what is written in the Akdamus, “If all the seas and bodies of water were ink, and all the inhabitants of earth, scribes and writers;” or as translated into our regular prayers, “Were our mouths full of song as the sea, and our tongues full of praises as its roaring waves, and our lips filled with acclaim as the wide expanses of the firmament…” we would still be unable to recount even one experience from the month of Tishrei, the month of holidays. Obviously, this holds true already from the very first days, the days of Rosh HaShana. Therefore, if I would go on at length about each thing, such a small paper could not contain it all, so I will attempt to record at least a brief synopsis of the goings on in Beis Chayeinu, here in 770.

It began already on Erev Rosh HaShana, davening Shacharis with the Rebbe. After the davening, Hataras Nedarim was held facing ten of the elder Chassidim, with the Rebbe saying to them at the end, “Yeyasher ko’ach, k’siva va’chasima tova, L’shana tova u’mesuka.” After that, everybody rushed his davening in order to be on time to give the pidyon nefesh to the Rebbe Shlita, who stands at the doorway to his room and receives each one into his hand, and wishes a “k’siva va’chasima tova, L’shana tova u’mesuka.” Obviously, there is time only to receive that blessing from the Rebbe, and yet who would not come for that from near and far.

Afterward, everybody goes to the Ohel and Tziyun of the Rebbe Rayatz. The crowding there was great, but everybody feels that this is his obligation on Erev Rosh HaShana, and only through this is it possible to approach this lofty holiday in the unification of “all of them into one, as one.” The Rebbe also comes to the Ohel in the afternoon hours, and does his regular avoda without even glancing at what is going on all around, and as if nobody else was there.

On Erev Rosh HaShana, about an hour before sunset, the large and expanded shul was already filled with people from wall to wall. Everybody grabs his spot, so that on the morrow, the morning of Rosh HaShana, he should be able to both stand for the davening and also see the t’kios etc. I got an excellent spot on the raised platform (on the side of 770), so that I was able to see the Rebbe throughout the entire davening, including the Haftora and the t’kios.

This year also, like last year, the Rebbe stood on a special wooden platform near the eastern wall, in order to allow everyone to see that which his heart loves and yearns for. When the announcement was heard that the Rebbe is coming, silence fell and all eyes turned to the direction from where the Rebbe will enter. In one second, the Rebbe entered and made straight for his place. He sat for a bit in his place to say T’hillim. After this brief time, on the night that Yom Tov begins, the Rebbe turned his head and the crowd immediately began singing “Avinu Malkeinu” three times, with the Rebbe moving his hand to the beat of the niggun. The sublime feeling of holiness gracing the faces of the singers is beyond description. The love and brotherhood, the joy and happiness, is beyond measure. All together are rejoicing and celebrating with peace and friendship, for all of the great kindness that Hashem has bestowed upon us in granting us the privilege to be in the “holy-of-holies,” to see and hear the Rebbe shlita.

THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERD PLEADS FOR HIS FLOCK

On the morn of the holiday, the same scene repeats itself. Although the davening begins first at 10 a.m., a large portion of the crowd, mostly bachurim, are already grabbing suitable places at 7 a.m., in order to be able to see and hear the t’kios of the Rebbe. And so at 10 a.m., among all of the pushing and tumult etc., a tremor passes through the crowd. The Rebbe is coming, the Rebbe is coming. In the middle of the crowd, a narrow path breaks open with some difficulty, and the Rebbe passes calmly to his set place in the southeast corner.

When it is time for t’kios, it is already impossible to insert even a finger into the crowd clustering near the bima, which stands in the center of the shul. It is on there that the Rebbe will stand and blow the t’kios. With difficulty he opens a path and passes through, and with him are three shofaros. This begins already from the reading of the Maftir, followed by the Haftora of Chana.

Within the absolute silence that reigns in the hall, all are listening attentively to every sound that emerges from the mouth of the Rebbe. All eyes are focused on one central point, all ears strain to hear and listen, so as not to miss out on any movement or sound. That is besides during the davening itself, as from time to time all of the congregants turn their glance to the Rebbe shlita and watch every slight move that he makes in his davening, which in turn brings to heightened excitement and passion in their own davening.

The Haftora of Chana was accompanied by restrained sobs on the part of the Rebbe, including the blessings of the Haftora. The time for the blowing of the shofar arrives [after the gabbai announces in a booming voice that they should not disturb, and should stand without making a tumult. And as he reminds people in his closing words: the holiness of the place and the holiness of the day, it is a time to know where we are standing and in front of whom we are standing].

The Rebbe shlita arranges the shofaros in a special order, and afterward spreads the tallis over all of the pidyonos that have been placed in front of him, and the sound of quiet sobbing can be heard from under the tallis. The leader of the Jewish people and its faithful shepherd stands on the day of the birth of the world, his pleading voice requesting a good and sweet year for each and every Jew. After a few minutes, he lifts his tallis which remains covering half of his face, and the voice is heard, “LaM’natzeiach l’vnei Korach,” indicating the preparation for the t’kios.

The t’kios on the first day had to break through many things, and in the end came out like those who are victorious in judgment. The second day of Rosh HaShana the t’kios came out more orderly, and also there was no crying heard during the Haftora.

On the first day of Rosh HaShana the Rebbe goes to Tashlich in the courtyard of 770. To witness each time a new event, is once again a whole new experience.

On the second day of Rosh HaShana there is a farbrengen as usual, and afterward kos shel bracha. As usual, the farbrengen was short, about two hours. The Rebbe spoke about the addition that was made by our Rebbeim, of adding a minute from the weekdays to the days of Rosh HaShana, literally one minute in time, and the reason for it. Also that this minute is small in quantity but great in quality, in which is granted the power and ability for each and every person to extend Rosh HaShana into all of the days of the year.

Another sicha was about how Rosh HaShana falls out on Tuesday, the third day of the week, about which it says twice that “it was good,” and that affects the flow that is channeled from Rosh HaShana. There was a short sicha directed to the bachurim who will be traveling to conquer the world through Torah, which is the commandment to Adam HaRishon, “and fill the world and conquer it,” in that the conquest of the world is accomplished by “dwellers in the tent” and yeshiva students through Torah study. The Rebbe also instructed all of those traveling on this shlichus to say l’chaim.

He continued to address the topic of candle-lighting [even by young girls], which was spoken about in recent times, and asked that they complete this project by the sixth day of the Ten Days of Repentance [6th of Tishrei – the yahrtzait of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana], which is especially appropriate since this is the time to rectify all that was not done on all of the “sixth days” [i.e., Fridays] of the entire year, including the sixth day of the Ten Days of Repentance of 5734.

The Rebbe added that there will certainly be arguments against this, but there would still be occasion to discuss this (apparently on the 6th of Tishrei). However, he did speak briefly about what will certainly be discussed in the schools for religious girls: how can it be that nobody knew about this custom and now they are trying to institute a new custom etc.?

In response to this, he said, “On the contrary, the very fact that they themselves are learning in a school for girls is a new custom of only a few years. This is because before that, a girl would learn in her home from her mother and grandmother everything that she needed to know, and not in school, for any number of reasons. Until a Jewish woman rose up in Poland and saw that there is a timely need for schools for girls, and she helped establish with this hundreds of Jewish homes etc., because she saw the danger that was present if it would not happen. And that is how it became accepted by many G’dolei Yisroel (great leaders of the Jewish people). Even though in the beginning there was opposition, since the girls would have to go out in the streets, and it was not done in a way in which the teacher would come to the house etc. And that was back in Poland, how much more so in our generation which is a lot lowlier.”

He also cited what is written in Aruch HaShulchan that this (custom of young girls lighting Shabbos candles) was the custom in many cities in Lithuania, and he does not bring any dissenting opinions (and how much more so when this is the custom in “Beis Rebbi” - the family of our Rebbeim).

After Havdala, he instructed that they publicize through all of the suitable media [which is why he left this sicha for after Havdala], that all who undertake to do so will receive two coins from the Rebbe [it must certainly have already been publicized in Eretz Yisroel]. And it is an obligation upon anyone who has a relative or friend etc., to see to it that she lights Shabbos candles, in order to increase in light until the fulfillment of the promise of “and Hashem will be the light of the world.”

THE REBBE STOOD WAITING FOR… ME

This was followed by kos shel bracha. To my mazel, or perhaps the opposite, the Rebbe began distributing to one side and when he turned to the other side nobody had yet lined up there. By divine providence, I was standing next to the table and the Rebbe shlita is looking at me, and I have no idea what to do… and he continues to look until I finally ran up to take kos shel bracha. I looked for a cup but there was nothing around, since those in charge had not yet begun to distribute them, and meanwhile the Rebbe is standing with his becher on a tilt, ready to pour, and he keeps looking at me.

In short, he poured for me in his own cup that was standing on the table [from which they poured the wine for Havdala into the becher, and from which the Rebbe drank seltzer at the farbrengen], and he poured l’chaim. When I wanted to take it, the Rebbe again tilted his hand and poured another time into the cup, so I ended up with the Rebbe’s cup, which was poured by the Rebbe and which he poured into an additional two times. I still have no grasp if this is a merit or an obligation etc. However, in hindsight…

Meanwhile, all things good, and to see and hear from each other,

G’mar Chasima Tova,

Tuvia

Snippets from the memoirs of R’ Dovid Offen, Tishrei 5735

ONE FEELS HOW THE REBBE
IS AROUSING DIVINE MERCY

Erev Rosh HaShana, 5735

On Erev Rosh HaShana, Slichos took place at 7 a.m. The chazzan, as usual, was R’ Yossel Wineberg. After Slichos, the Rebbe went to the mikva, because on Erev Rosh HaShana he goes to the Ohel after the davening and the receiving of the panim.

They are anticipating that the Rebbe will daven with the minyan, since he generally does not daven Shacharis with the congregation on weekdays, except for Erev Rosh HaShana, Erev Yom Kippur, and Purim. [It was only after the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka that the Rebbe began to daven the t’fillos with the public, even weekday Shacharis.]

At 9:30, he came in for davening in the downstairs zal, and after the davening they brought a bench on which ten elders sat, in order for the Rebbe to say Hataras Nedarim. Afterward, he blessed them with a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually.

After the davening, there began the process of the receiving of panim. The Rebbe stood in the doorway of his room wearing his silk sirtuk tied with a gartel, and received the pidyon nefesh from each one. For me, this was the first time approaching the Rebbe and giving him a p”n into his hand. I was very agitated, even though I had already approached the Rebbe a number of times to receive matzo or kos shel bracha, but then the Rebbe was doing the giving, and now I have to give to the Rebbe. Am I giving it the proper way that it should be given? When I gave the p”n, the Rebbe looked at me with a very luminous and serious face and said, “L’shana tova u’mesuka.” You can really feel how the Rebbe is arousing divine mercies with great love for each one individually.

Afterward, they read the “general pidyon nefesh,” and I recall that the Rebbe said in his blessing in response, that it should be fulfilled what they wrote and requested here, and also what they should have written and requested should also be fulfilled, and of course that this also applies to the individual panim of each one.

AT THE OHEL WITH THE REBBE

We went to the Ohel, and they told me that when the Rebbe comes to the Ohel on Erev Rosh HaShana, everyone stays to daven and say the Maaneh Lashon along with the Rebbe (since throughout the year, when the Rebbe is in the Ohel, nobody else is allowed to be there).

Suddenly, I saw the Rebbe arrive with a large bundle of panim. After a few minutes of saying the Maaneh Lashon, he lit a candle and immediately began his avoda with the panim. He stands wearing glasses, and reads every p”n and then tears it; some he places on the Ohel and some he returns to the large bag. I thought about how the Rebbe thinks about and arouses mercy literally on each person individually. After seeing all of the above, I felt that I could not stand in proximity of the Rebbe, and right away I left the Ohel and returned to 770 to prepare a bit for my first Rosh HaShana with the Rebbe.

The Rebbe returned right before candle lighting time and they davened Mincha.

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