THE FIRST YECHIDUS
January 31, 2018
Shneur Zalman Berger in #1104, Diary, Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf

In this installment of his diary, the late RSaadya Maatuf shares very openly about his first yechidus, and about the preparations that he made over a period of a few weeks leading up to that momentous occasion. * Fascinating reports and memories from the month of Shvat 5734 with the Rebbe, published for the very first time from the diary of the late RSaadya Maatuf.

The first yechidus of a Chassid is an important milestone and cornerstone in the life of a Chassid, and every Chassid would look forward with great anticipation to that event.

R’ Saadya Maatuf had his first yechidus as a student during his “k’vutza” year, which took place on 25 Shvat 5734. In this diary, he describes in detail, not only the yechidus itself and the feelings that followed, but also his personal practical and spiritual preparations, which he began on the first of the month. These notes can be seen as an authentic view into the life of a Chassid, written in truly candid fashion.

NEW CLOTHES FOR YECHIDUS

Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Shvat 5734

Today, a number of the members of k’vutza are preparing to go into yechidus, including: Y. Offen, S. Horowitz, Y. Zalmanov, and some others who I do not recall just now. Maybe tomorrow I will find out who else is on the schedule. Meanwhile, I myself am also preparing to go in, but I still have some time, albeit not very long, after Yud Shvat.

Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Bo, 3 Shvat

This Shabbos, there was no farbrengen, as had been expected.

Last week, I received from R’ Mentlick a coupon to purchase shoes [apparently, he needed new shoes], and I hope to save them for the yechidus [as per the custom of some Chassidim to go into yechidus with new clothes].

Monday, 5 Shvat

Today I placed a Chumash Shmos and a T’hillim on the lectern of the Rebbe, and the Rebbe read chapter 72 [the Rebbe’s kapitel of that year] from the T’hillim.

Today I went to the optician to change my glasses [to new ones for the yechidus].

Tuesday, 6 Shvat

Today I went to Manhattan with Chaim Mesharki to buy a new suit [for the yechidus] and, boruch Hashem, I bought a suit for 75 dollars, and managed to get back in middle of Mincha with the Rebbe.

ALMOST LIKE TISHREI

Wednesday, 7 Shvat

A large group of Anash from England arrived today for Yud Shvat.

Thursday, 8 Shvat

After Mincha, we were offered the opportunity to go to the Ohel with Chaim Ber Stambler, and we grabbed the chance instead of waiting for tomorrow [Erev Yud Shvat] when we would have concerns finding someone to go with. So, we were able to go for the regular price of $1.50 each. There was no crowd at the Ohel, so we were able to daven with no obstacles or disturbances.

A number of guests arrived from Eretz Yisroel before Maariv, R’ Yosef Blau, R’ Berke Wolf, R’ Meir Friedman, R’ Moshe Yaroslavsky, and others. There were also Chassidim who arrived from England and France. The small zal was packed, almost like Tishrei.

Friday, 9 Shvat

Today, I got my new glasses from the optician. People are hoping for special “revelations” this Shabbos. We are expecting a farbrengen this Shabbos in honor of Yud Shvat.

Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas B’Shalach, Yud (10) Shvat

I already grabbed a place to stand on the pyramids on Friday [in order to hear the Rebbe leading the davening], as I came early enough so that we were able to build the pyramid that we stood on. I grabbed the first spot, and after that, whoever grabbed a place wrote his name on his place [and then went to complete his Shabbos preparations].

Immediately after Mincha, I went downstairs to the large zal, and everybody was already standing in their places. It was not easy getting to my place on the pyramid. Down below, there was terrible pushing which could be felt by us, although on the pyramid itself it was not especially crowded. The Rebbe came down for Kabbalas Shabbos, and the crowd literally shrunk into itself in order to make a path for the Rebbe to approach. The Rebbe went over to the amud, and everybody davened with the Rebbe.

On Shabbos morning, we all stood in our set places from yesterday, and relative to last night there was no pushing, although there were some spots with severe pushing. Before the davening, minyanim for Torah readings were arranged, as is the custom on Shabbos of Yud Shvat. Afterward, everybody went back to his set place.

For the [main] Torah reading, they took the “Moshiach” Torah scroll, the Rebbe said Kaddish after Shvii, and obviously was called to Maftir. During Musaf, the Rebbe encouraged the singing of “Hu Elokeinu.”

At the farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke about the situation in Eretz Yisroel, albeit only through allusion. At the end, he gave out three bottles of mashke for the guests from Anash. After the farbrengen, he went to lead the davening of Mincha and was called up for shlishi. He then immediately went down to the amud and began the Kaddish. Before the word “l’eila,” he waited until the Torah scroll made its way to the Aron Kodesh, and then completed the Kaddish.

After the davening, the Rebbe waited for them to make an announcement, but the gabbai did not know what to announce. The Rebbe told R’ Dovid Raskin that they should announce the gathering of the Agudas HaRabbanim of the USA and Canada to take place in Boro Park, and that everybody should participate. The gabbai made the announcement, and only then did the Rebbe make his exit and began to sing, “Nyet, Nyet,” and signaled with his hand toward one of the people present. He remained in his room for a short time, and then left immediately for home. As usual, we accompanied the Rebbe until President Street. On the way it began to snow.

THE REBBE LAUNCHES THE MEZUZA CAMPAIGN

Maariv was at the regular time, and then the Rebbe went to his house. Later, he returned for the large farbrengen that was broadcast directly to a number of locations. The farbrengen started as usual at 9:30, and there were many guests from New York who came to the farbrengen. The Rebbe said that in every home they should keep a siddur or T’hillim or Tanach on the table during meals, and that it should be in a visible place, in order to be able to look into it and explain something that is written there. Again, the Rebbe spoke about the importance of a pushka in every home, since this has an important effect on the chinuch of children, who see that money is being put inside and they ask about it, and that leads to explaining to them about the giving of tz’daka.

The Rebbe also spoke about something new, to start a mezuza campaign (mivtza mezuza). [The campaign should undertake that] anyone who wants to put up a mezuza, should be provided with one. If the person wants to give money for it, they can give even a token sum in order to allow them to have a share in the mitzva, but whoever cannot pay, should be given one at no cost. The Rebbe also spoke at length to explain the topic.

THE REBBE CRIED

In the last sichos of the farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke about the three periods of the Previous Rebbe, with each period extending for ten years [during the thirty years from when he was appointed to the nesius, 5680-5710 (1920-1950)]. The Rebbe spoke about how in the middle period [when he was based in Poland] there was an element of “and his brothers were jealous of him” [alluding to the tensions with other Chassidic leaders], and at this point the Rebbe broke down crying and could not continue. This happened a few times during this talk, and it is impossible to describe how much it pains the heart to witness this.

Among the participants was the journalist [from the Holy Land], Levi Yitzchok HaYerushalmi, and as I could see, now and again he wrote some notes in his notebook, apparently in order to write about it in the papers. [In fact, after he returned home, he published a glowing article about the Rebbe and 770 in the Maariv newspaper.]

At the conclusion of the farbrengen, the Rebbe held an appeal, and asked the Russians to sing, “Slozhba Nasha.” Following the after-blessing, he left to go to his room. The farbrengen ended at about 2:20 am.

Sunday, 11 Shvat

I went with Chaim Mesharki to pick up the suit from Manhattan. After that, we went over to the East Side, where I bought 27 dollars’ worth of cassettes [in order to record the Rebbe speaking during weekday farbrengens]. While we were away, two buses went to the gathering of the Agudas HaRabbanim of the USA and Canada [as the Rebbe had requested that they announce].

Tonight the Rebbe took for yechidus the guests who arrived in honor of Yud Shvat. So far, I did not hear any special reports from the yechidus.

Monday, 12 Shvat

I bought a tape recorder for 37 dollars [in order to tape the farbrengens of the Rebbe].

Tuesday, 13 Shvat

Today the Rebbe came from his house earlier than usual, and then went to the mikva, since he will go to the Ohel in honor of the yahrtzait of Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah. That is also the reason that Rashag said Kaddish for her last night, and will most likely do the same today.

The Rebbe returned from the Ohel, and we davened Mincha and Maariv, and after that he went home.

Wednesday, 14 Shvat

Today Mincha was delayed by fifteen minutes, since R’ Yaakov Yehuda Hecht was in the Rebbe’s room. After Mincha, the Rebbe again signaled to R’ Hecht to enter his room.

THE REBBE GAVE THE KEY AS A GIFT

Thursday, 15 Shvat, Rosh Hashana for trees

The Rebbe went to the Ohel as usual for the midpoint of the month. There was speculation that there would be a farbrengen, but there was uncertainty since last year, and the year before, there was no farbrengen for 15 Shvat. In truth, we really did not expect a farbrengen. What happened was that the Rebbe came back from the Ohel, and came out from his room for davening wearing the sirtuk of Shabbos, which is the sign for a farbrengen. It is impossible to describe the joy that suffused everyone during the davening. After the davening, he signaled to R’ Chadakov to come into his room, and we waited for R’ Chadakov to come out and we would find out what time the farbrengen would take place. R’ Chadakov came out and said, “Immediately after Maariv.”

I ran to my room to bring the new tape recorder to record the farbrengen. For added security, I took along three cassettes. Meanwhile, due to the sudden announcement, there were lines for the payphones in 770, as well as the ones on Kingston and in the dining room [of the yeshiva]. There were those who went to people’s homes in order to spread the word to others.

The Rebbe came out for Maariv [in the small zal] at 7:45, and immediately after the davening we went downstairs [to the large zal] for the farbrengen. The hall was already full, but it was still a relatively small farbrengen, since there were many who did not manage to come.

A few minutes after the davening, the Rebbe came down for the farbrengen and immediately began talking about mivtza mezuza, and also about placing a siddur, T’hillim, and pushka, in every Jewish home. The Rebbe also spoke at length about Mihu Yehudi, and revealed that they [the religious politicians] want to concede on passing the law, and instead they invented a new reason – in order to protect [religious] chinuch. He also mentioned again the mistakes that were made during the war [the Yom Kippur War], which caused many casualties. The Rebbe said that in place of this [perhaps referring to correcting the mistakes that were made], they are fighting over which party will win [the elections].

The Rebbe then went on to say a maamer and three sichos straight, without breaking for the singing of niggunim, and at the end, signaled to R’ Yoel Kahn to sing the “Dalet Bavos” followed by “Nye Zhuritse Chloptzi.” As usual, the Rebbe said the after-blessing after the farbrengen ended, and left towards his room. We waited outside until the Rebbe came out to drive home. When he exited, we sang “Nye Zhuritse Chloptzi,” and the Rebbe made a sign with his hand and entered the car. Seated next to the Rebbe was R’ Chadakov, and this time there was something out of the ordinary, as R’ Groner and R’ Yaakov Yehuda Hecht also drove in the car with the Rebbe. The driver was R’ Krinsky.

As always, we crossed the street to the other side in order to see the Rebbe pass by, but the car never came. It turns out that the Rebbe drove straight to Albany Avenue, and turned in from there to President Street, where he went into the new building of Machon Chana, where the baalos t’shuva students would learn. The school is administered by R’ Yaakov Yehuda Hecht.

Afterward, we found out that before the Rebbe left 770, R’ Hecht went into the Rebbe’s room, and the Rebbe searched for the key to Machon Chana but could not find it [apparently the administration had given a key earlier], and R’ Hecht gave the Rebbe his own key. The Rebbe told him to give it as a gift and that is what R’ Hecht did, at which point the Rebbe gave him the key back [symbolically indicating that it was fully his]. Before the Rebbe went out, he told R’ Hecht to put on a coat because it is cold outside.

During the visit, the Rebbe placed inside the building a siddur, a Kesser Shem Tov and a Maggid Devarav L’Yaakov, and a tz’daka pushka.

Meanwhile, we proceeded to our dorm room to listen to the tape of the farbrengen, and boruch Hashem it was a good recording.

PREPARATIONS FOR YECHIDUS

Friday, 16 Shvat

I spoke today with R’ Groner about the possibility of going in for yechidus, and he wrote down that on Sunday, 25 Shvat, I would go in for yechidus. I hope that there will be no changes in the date.

Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Yisro, 17 Shvat

This Shabbos we were disappointed after expecting that there would be a farbrengen. We had thought that as always, after there is a large farbrengen like Yud Shvat or Yud-Tes Kislev, there is a farbrengen on the following Shabbos, but apparently the Rebbe made do with the 15 Shvat farbrengen.

Sunday, 18 Shvat

Before Mincha today, R’ Avrohom Sofer [a well-known scholar who published many Torah works and would come to the Rebbe not during the regular yechidus time] arrived and went inside for yechidus, and he remained there a long time. When he exited at 3:45 pm, he immediately asked loudly, “Where is [Nesanel] Dreyfus?” Dreyfus stepped forward from the group of T’mimim, and R’ Sofer said that he had discussed him with the Rebbe, and he said that the Rebbe was pleased with him.

After Mincha, R’ Sofer followed the Rebbe out, and the Rebbe spoke to him in Gan Eden HaTachton (the hallway outside the Rebbe’s room). When they ended the discussion, the Rebbe wanted to go into his room but R’ Sofer requested to go in again. R’ Groner walked into Gan Eden HaTachton, and when he saw the Rebbe talking to R’ Sofer, he left. The Rebbe continued to talk to him in the doorway of his room. Only at the conclusion of the conversation, when R’ Sofer opened the door of Gan Eden HaTachton in order to leave, the Rebbe entered his room followed by R’ Groner, then R’ Sofer again entered Gan Eden HaElyon (the yechidus room) and was in yechidus again.

Friday, 23 Shvat

Today, I sat down to word the note for the yechidus, because I will be going in for yechidus on Sunday and wanted to send in the note requesting brachos and the report [of my activities] in advance, in order to avoid problems with R’ Groner [who would insist that people go in only with short notes]. It was very hard for me to word it properly, but I tried to keep it as brief as possible. Despite that I wrote out six sides of paper, and still did not finish.

Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Mishpatim, Shabbos Mevarchim Adar, 24 Shvat

Today there was a farbrengen, and it was very joyous. The Rebbe nodded his head to the pace of the singing, and spoke in the first sicha about Mihu Yehudi. Here again, he mentioned the fault of the leadership of Mafdal [the Mizrachi party]. In the second sicha, he spoke about the Old City of Yerushalayim, which they want governed by three [i.e. Jews, and l’havdil Moslems and Christians], and the Rebbe said that every gentile who wants to, can live in the Old City of Yerushalayim and only a Jew cannot. And when a Jew comes and pays money to an Arab to leave the Old City, they send him to jail. The Rebbe was apparently referring to R’ Meir Kahane.

After that, he said that the administration of the free loan fund should announce the Melaveh Malka that will take place on Motzaei Shabbos, and added that there should be more [donations] than ever. Two members of the administration of the fund approached the Rebbe, who gave them a bottle of mashke. One of them is the director [R’ Shimon Goldman], and the Rebbe told him to make the announcement while wearing a shtraimel. They looked for a shtraimel and didn’t find any, and meanwhile the Rebbe poured mashke for some of the elders sitting behind him.

Again, the Rebbe mentioned, “Where is the shtraimel?” However, no shtraimel was found, and then the Rebbe took the cloth cover that covered the cake and said that he should put that on his head. Everyone laughed. The director made the announcement about the Melaveh Malka, and the Rebbe told him to announce something else, but it was unclear to me what. Afterward, the Rebbe gave him the plate of cake and the mashke.

This Shabbos, there was a plethora of chassanim, about ten of them. Mincha immediately followed the farbrengen, and after the davening, the Rebbe began to sing “Nyet, Nyet.” As usual, we accompanied the Rebbe until President Street on his walk home.

After Maariv and Havdala, I went to write the continuation of the note to the Rebbe, and I hope to finish the rest tomorrow. I plan to send in the note with the request for brachos for the family etc. in the morning, and I hope to take my personal note in with me to the yechidus.

THE FIRST YECHIDUS

Sunday, 25 Shvat

On the day before my birthday in the physical sense, and the day of my spiritual birthday [the day a Chassid enters yechidus for the first time], I went in a good and auspicious time into the holy of holies, the holy room of the Rebbe shlita, for yechidus. This was after I had fasted throughout the day, and stayed in my room to say T’hillim and to finish writing the note. After I finished writing, it went for about four pages besides the six pages that I wrote Friday and yesterday, altogether eleven pages. I did not know what to do and I asked Shabtai [a friend], and he told me that I could send it in already during the day, which would save the Rebbe’s time, since it is very long.

After Shacharis, I went to R’ Groner with the notes, and he asked me how much time I planned on spending in yechidus. R’ Groner told me that the envelope is very thick, but I told him that it was only a list of requests for brachos [and not questions]. After I finished writing my own note, I went to R’ Binyomin Klein, and he wrote on it “going in for yechidus,” as I figured that this way R’ Groner would not know that I had sent in two thick notes.

During the day I said T’hillim, and I read about the significance of yechidus in the work Ohr HaChassidus. I should point out that the fast did not affect me at all, because I was so tense to the point of forgetting about food altogether.

At 8:30 in the evening I went to the mikva, and after that I put on new clothes and walked toward 770. I waited for a bit more than an hour, and meanwhile said T’hillim. I do not know the exact time that I entered into the holy of holies, but it was around 10:30-11:00. Before I entered, R’ Groner gave me the note from the yeshiva [containing a report about the state and conduct of his learning in yeshiva], and he said to me, “You sent in two notes,” and he laughed a bit. I also laughed, because I had thought that he did not know. I told him that it was only for brachos, and he told me that my yechidus was for ten minutes. That is how I went in, with a note in which I wrote that I had sent in two notes today, along with the note from the yeshiva.

When the person before me exited, he did not close the door, and that is why I did not follow the custom of knocking on the door, but I just kissed the mezuza and entered.

I immediately encountered the Rebbe’s gaze, and that immediately broke my gaze. I entered with my head down, and I handed over the notes with both hands and made the blessing of SheHechiyanu and, thank Hashem, I did not become discombobulated. I stood at the side of the desk, and the Rebbe took my note and drew on it a vertical line. The Rebbe did not put on glasses. The note from the yeshiva came in an envelope, and the Rebbe took out the note, put aside the envelope, and began reading. Then he reached his hand into the mound of letters and took out the notes that I had sent in and immediately began answering. I succeeded in concentrating and listening attentively to everything the Rebbe said, and generally I remember everything, although not specifically every word. There were many questions that the Rebbe did not respond to at all, and one could say that the Rebbe did not answer most of them.

Regarding one question, the Rebbe asked me something, but I did not know if I should answer or not, and the Rebbe remained silent waiting for an answer. Since he saw that I was silent, he raised up his holy eyes and looked at me, and then I felt compelled to offer a one-word reply. The Rebbe gave a bracha and I answered “amen” in a low voice, and then I exited while walking backwards to the door.

According to my assessment, I was in yechidus for a short time, three minutes, and the feeling was so amazing that it could not be described in words. I went out very much in a tizzy, and I immediately ran to write down what he said to me, and happily I remembered all of the answers in general fashion.

After yechidus, there is no desire to eat, you forget entirely about things like that, because you feel connected to something more spiritual. I will not deny that after the yechidus, I feel more of an inner fear or awe that I will be unable to stand exposed before the Rebbe, and I have great regrets that I did not go in already at the beginning of the year, perhaps I would have changed more already back then.

After I went in for yechidus, Lieberman also went in, as well as a soldier wounded in the war [Yom Kippur War]. He was blinded in both eyes, and one eye had received dozens of bits of shrapnel which had yet to be removed. On the other eye, he had undergone surgery in the United States, and he can now see some shadows. He had come to America for medical treatment together with his brother, at the expense of the Israeli government. The Rebbe told him that just as this surgery had passed successfully, so would everything else, and he would get married and have many children.

The Rebbe added: The merit that you protected two and a half million Jews will protect you. He left the Rebbe feeling very encouraged.

Today, a messenger from R’ Soloveitchik went in for yechidus, and apparently discussed the current breakdown in the government [R’ Soloveitchik played a role then in the decision making of the Mizrachi party].

Monday, 26 Shvat

The aforementioned wounded soldier came for Mincha today to daven with the Rebbe, and when the Rebbe entered, the wounded soldier stood up and the Rebbe looked at him.

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