THE CHASSIDIC REVOLUTION THAT IS THE REBBE
February 10, 2015
Yisroel Lapidot in #961, Interview

He spent time in various Chassidic courts and developed close relationships with Admurim and tzaddikim, but it was his encounters with baalei avoda and haskala who learned in Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch that led him to become an ardent follower of the Rebbe. * About what is the main goal of comprehension and understanding in the study of Chassidus, about the special chein that there is in Chabad as opposed to other branches of Chassidus, and also, who, out of the thousands of Chassidim, had a private yechidus in the Rebbe’s room in Tishrei 5744? * An interview with Rabbi Menachem Bentzion Grossman, mashpia and admired figure throughout the Chassidic world.

R’ Grossman possesses a treasure trove of very rare sfarim and manuscripts. Over the years he submitted many manuscripts of the Rebbeim to the Rebbe which gave the Rebbe much nachas.

He had yechidus a number of times. Even when private audiences in the Rebbe’s room stopped, R’ Grossman was one of the few who had yechidus. During one of these audiences the Rebbe said to him: If they ask you outside what we spoke about, don’t tell them.

HAVANA AND HASAGA VERSUS EMUNA

Why do you think Jews of all backgrounds and Chassidim of all groups are drawn to learn Chabad Chassidus?

For over fifty years, I got to know many Chassidic groups like Karlin, Breslov, Lelov, Belz, etc. What did I find in Chabad?

What made a tremendous impression on me was when I saw Chassidim of stature who in the larger world out there could have been Admurim themselves, such as R’ Nissan Nemanov and R’ Saadia Liberow (I got to know fifty-two Chassidim who learned in Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch, although it is now over a decade that we no longer have such Chassidim), and I discovered that although they were tremendous baalei haskala and baalei avoda, they were utterly subservient to the Rebbe. That captivated me!

This is also the secret to the power of Chabad all over the world, even now. It’s the fervor of utter subservience to the Rebbe. This is what attracts people to Chabad; without it we would not have succeeded in generating such explosive progress.

What about the uniqueness which is Chabad – havana and hasaga?

The bottom line of Chabad Chassidus is not havana and hasaga, but emuna. When the Rebbe took over the nesius, he did not start with matters of the intellect which represents primarily the inner work of Chabad Chassidim throughout the generations. Rather, the Rebbe addressed his letters to all sons and daughters of the Jewish people. The Rebbe of the 7th generation is everyone’s Rebbe and includes all kinds of people from leaders on downward.

This is the Rebbe’s message for our generation: even the simplest person can connect to and become a Chassid of the Rebbe. 

R’ Mulle Azimov recently passed away. We were friendly for about forty-five years and I could see that the revolution that he wrought in France and his main power to transform the most intellectual people, doctors, professors, and the like came down to one thing, Rebbe! At every farbrengen and every occasion he spoke only about the Rebbe. This is how he was able to break the biggest atheists. He did not approach them with deep explanations. He addressed the neshama directly. He spoke only about emuna and about hiskashrus to the Rebbe.

We see the results.

Doesn’t simply learning Chassidus have the power to change a person?

One of the main qualities of learning Chassidus is that it is another facet and path in our hiskashrus to the Rebbe.

I once had a very special conversation with R’ Nissan Nemanov who told me as follows: Today, we must invest primarily in hiskashrus to the Rebbe. To be mekushar is what can save us more than anything else. There’s proof in the chapters of Jewish history. Throughout all the parshiyos in the Torah we see how everything comes through Moshe Rabbeinu: “These are the laws you are to set before them,” “And you shall command the Jewish people,” “Command the Jewish people,” etc. Hashem wants the Torah to go through and be given by Moshe Rabbeinu.

EVERYONE CAN LOVE THE REBBE

I will tell you a story that happened thirty years ago which taught me an important lesson in life. A couple, each of whom had lost an entire family with children in the Holocaust, immigrated to Eretz Yisroel after the war. They married and lived in Kiryat Tivon. They had a son and gave him a traditional education and when he was old enough, he attended the Technion in Haifa.

One day he came home and happily told his parents that he had found his beloved. His parents discovered she was a German gentile volunteer on a kibbutz and family members of hers had a part in the Holocaust. They were devastated. Their son did not understand what was so terrible. They were so distraught that they decided to take their lives. The story got around Tivon and they were advised to speak to my brother, R’ Yitzchok Dovid, the rav of Migdal HaEmek. 

Despondent, they went to him with their son. He met with the young man and realized there was no way he could change his mind. 

My brother was very close with R’ Moshe Mordechai of Lelov and he spoke to him. The Lelover Rebbe asked him to convince the boy to meet with him.

After a short conversation with the boy, he agreed to meet with the Lelover Rebbe. Although the Lelover Rebbe was usually removed from matters of this world, when the boy came he went downstairs and sat with him in the yard of a restaurant. He offered him cigarettes and spoke with him in a friendly way about this and that, matters of interest to the young man, what he was studying in university and so on. He did not mention a word about Judaism.

After an hour, the Lelover Rebbe said to him, “You are a wonderful guest. Whenever you’re in the area I’d be happy to see you.” He held out his hand and blessed him and they parted ways.

Upon returning home, the young man surprised his parents when he said, “If I had any doubts about marrying her, now I am sure I will marry her. You took me to an Admur so he would convince me not to do it. He is such a nice man and did not say one word against it. Even he realizes I am right, so what do you want from me?”

His shocked and angry parents ordered a cab and went straight to my brother’s home to yell at him. Not only hadn’t he fixed the problem, he had made it worse! After meeting with the Lelover Rebbe, their son was even more likely to marry her!

My brother had no choice so he called the Lelover to ask him what happened. The Admur said, I would never tell him not to marry her. I just accomplished one thing— that he likes me. And if he likes me, then he cannot like her.

Needless to say this is exactly what happened. The young man is frum today and has a beautiful Jewish family.

What did you learn from this?

That the only thing which can stop us from all bad things going on in our generation in the outside world is connecting to the Rebbe. When we think about the tremendous love the Rebbe has for us, then “as waters reflect a face,” great love is aroused toward the Rebbe and this opens the way for love for Hashem. One who is tied with thick ropes of love to the Rebbe does not fall.

“YECHI” – THE STRONGEST THING THE REBBE ENCOURAGED

What can one get from learning Chassidus without hiskashrus to the Rebbe?

Learning Chassidus without hiskashrus to the Rebbe can cause a person to think of himself as a separate entity, G-d forbid, to the extent that in certain cases he is not afraid of expressing a view that is different or even the opposite of what the Rebbe says and teaches us. 

I’ll give you an example. The strongest thing the Rebbe encouraged with supernatural strength for a year and a half, thousands of times, was the singing of Yechi. The truth is that for Chassidim, if the Rebbe gives his approval even one time, it is enough. 

Being that this is so, as long as the Rebbe does not change anything, we have no right to make any changes in this, because the Rebbe is the only one make this decision.

What does the avoda of hafatza consist of in our generation?

The main point in spreading the wellsprings is to connect people to the Rebbe. That’s all. After all the generations, a special light shone forth in our generation and we merited the ultimate expression of Moshe Rabbeinu, the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach.

Since Creation, there has been no one from whom one could learn so much as from the Rebbe. There are hundreds of s’farim and an ocean of miracles and wonders that we see happening constantly.

In earlier generations there were great tzaddikim and the “extension of Moshe.” But since Creation, Hashem saw what would take place in our generation, “and the spirit of G-d hovered over the waters” – “this is the spirit of Moshiach.”

OBEYING THE REBBE

I’ll end with a frightening story. I have a minhag that I speak about the Rebbe with every Jew I meet. I once traveled from Williamsburg to the airport with a Chassidishe driver from Williamsburg. Before I began talking about the Rebbe, he asked me a question. Do I know R’ Asher Yona Weinberger. I said I did. We were neighbors. He was a Vizhnitzer Chassid and if you wanted to see a Jew from the previous generation, full of simcha and Ahavas Yisroel, he was the man to see. He had a small beis midrash in his house and I often davened there.

I asked the driver what his connection was with him. He said, “My name is Bentzion Weinberger and he is my father.” We got into an interesting conversation in the course of which I asked him whether he had been to see the Rebbe. There was a sudden silence and after a while he sat up straighter and told me his story.

“In 1948, our family left Romania after having survived the Holocaust and arrived in America. My father looked for a Chassidishe yeshiva and sent me to learn in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Crown Heights. I was 17 and I learned there for a little while during the nesius of the Rebbe Rayatz. I became attached to his son-in-law, Ramash. At every opportunity I would sit near him or opposite him. When Ramash sat to farbreng, I was the first one near him. At davening I would always find a corner from where I could watch him daven.

“In 5710 it was clear to me who the Rebbe Rayatz’s successor would be. After I married I had all kinds of questions and dilemmas and I had yechidus with the Rebbe to consult with him about family matters.

“At the end of the yechidus the Rebbe said to me: Learn the laws of sh’chita, including the practical application, so you can get a certificate for sh’chita.”

The driver looked at me and said, “The last thing I thought of doing in life was becoming a shochet, and since I wasn’t drawn to it, I pushed it off and delayed until I forgot about it.

“Some years later, I had yechidus again and the Rebbe asked me: ‘We spoke about sh’chita the previous time. Was there any progress in this?’ Since there wasn’t any, I remained quiet.

“More time passed and I had yechidus a third time. I had some questions and the Rebbe answered them.”

At this point, the driver became choked up and he could barely continue talking. Then he said, “The Rebbe looked at me and said, ‘We spoke about sh’chita a number of times. If people don’t listen to what I say, then why come to me?’”

He was embarrassed and felt that the Rebbe was saying to him, enough is enough. You cannot come to me as long as you don’t do what I asked. The driver finished by saying that although he felt embarrassed to go to the Rebbe, he tried to find ways to attend farbrengens and to be in a spot so that he could see and (as it were) the Rebbe could not see him.

In conclusion:

We need to be completely mekusharim to the Rebbe. If we want to make progress in learning Chassidus, to learn sichos and maamarim of the Rebbe and do the Rebbe’s mivtzaim, we must believe and carry out with emuna shleima even today what the Rebbe said explicitly: to publicize to the world that we merited that we have a prophet whose words come true, until the main prophecy, of L’Alter l’Geula and immediately, “hinei zeh (Moshiach) ba.”

If you really want to be mekushar to the Rebbe, you need to be mevatel yourself completely, to believe in the Rebbe and do what he tells you to do. 

“Because if people don’t listen to what I say, then why come to me?”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.