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Tuesday
Sep172013

THE POWER OF A TRIP TO THE REBBE

Come prepared or come as you arethe main thing is to be there!

Most of the bachurim are here already. Most of the girls are here too, and many of Anash have arrived home, to 770, Beis Chayeinu, Beis Moshiach, Beis HaMikdash, the place from which light goes forth to the entire world. The Chassid, RShmuel Dovid Raichik ah, would say the Tfillas HaDerech every day (without a bracha) wherever he was, including at home, since his true home was only with the Rebbe. Anywhere else, he was only on the way.

Left on the way, in their place of shlichus, are the shluchim who cannot leave their place of shlichus. They must utilize the month of Tishrei when more people show up at shul, to be mekarev people to their Father in heaven. They forgo their own spiritual enhancement for the benefit of others.

However, perhaps there remain some others who don’t have to be somewhere else, but they don’t strongly feel the necessity to go to the Rebbe. Some of them couch it in holy terms, such as, they did not make enough preparations and then the trip to the Rebbe would be worthless. The following story is for them, for it shows how powerful a trip to the Rebbe is, even for someone who did not make all the preparations.

AT THE LAST MINUTE

R’ Shmuel Gurewitz, shliach in Lyon, France, related the following story. One of his mekuravim, a young fellow who often visited the Chabad house and attended shiurim and farbrengens, told him he gets a mazal tov. He had gotten engaged. “When I asked who the girl was, he said she was not Jewish but had a very nice character and personality. They liked one another and planned to marry. Needless to say, I was mortified.

“I tried to explain to him that what he was about to do was a major affront to the Jewish people and the Torah. A Jew cannot marry a non-Jew! Even Jews who are not religious consider such a step a betrayal of the Jewish people. His children would not be Jewish and the marriage would be detrimental to both him and her.

“All this fell on deaf ears. He was not willing to listen. ‘I don’t believe the Torah interferes with a person’s private life and prevents him from being happy,’ he said. ‘I found a woman I like and we want to live happily together. Who is going to get between us and ruin our joy?’

“When I saw that nothing I said made an impact on him, I came up with an idea. ‘You know, the time before one’s wedding is very precious. It is a time when you need G-d’s blessings in extra doses. We Chabad Chassidim have the practice that the groom goes to the Rebbe before the wedding in order to spend time in his presence and to receive his blessing for his new life. Maybe you should also go to the Rebbe and receive his blessing before the wedding.’

“He liked the idea and since he came from a wealthy family and money wasn’t a problem, he agreed to go with me to the Rebbe. This was the period when the Rebbe was no longer receiving people for private yechidus and the famous Sunday dollars for tz’daka had not yet started. So there was hardly any opportunity to meet with the Rebbe personally. You saw him only at davening and farbrengens.

“Not many traveled to the Rebbe at that time, so when people heard that someone was going, it was cause for celebration in the community. People came to say goodbye to him and to wish him a good trip. They gave him letters for the Rebbe and asked him to bring back the Rebbe’s answers.

“When we arrived at 770, we went to the office and gave the letters we had brought. When he heard that you could not personally meet with the Rebbe, he insisted that he be allowed to. He said he would go over to the Rebbe as the Rebbe went in or out for davening and he would personally give him his letter.

“The secretaries tried to dissuade him and even tried to tell me to convince him not to, but he was unwilling to listen to me and I didn’t try to persuade him. If I could not convince him not to marry a gentile, would I be the one to convince him not to go over to the Rebbe? Anyway, maybe this is what he needed to cancel his unfortunate plans.

“One of the times the Rebbe left the davening, the man went over to the Rebbe and said he wanted to personally give him his letter. The Rebbe smiled and put the letter in his coat pocket.

“In his letter, the man had written that he wanted to marry a woman who was not Jewish. He wrote that ‘although R’ Gurewitz told me that according to the Torah I cannot do this, I don’t believe that the Torah would interfere with my personal life and happiness.’ Therefore, he planned on marrying her and he wanted the Rebbe’s blessing.

“At the end of the letter he added that some Jews of the community had sent letters for the Rebbe along with him and he asked that even if the Rebbe thought as R’ Gurewitz did, that such a marriage was untenable, he asked that this not affect the requests for blessings that others made.

“The Rebbe’s response was that he had no need to worry regarding the others, and certainly nobody could withhold blessings from Jews who needed it and deserved it. As for his request, if he truly loved the non-Jewish woman, for her sake, he should not do something that would harm her, for the marriage of a Jew and a non-Jew cannot work out well.

“The man received this response and was very impressed by the Rebbe’s ‘gentlemanliness,’ but he did not change his mind.

“We returned to France and the preparations for the wedding went into high gear. The woman was also from a wealthy family and they planned to celebrate their nuptials in high style in one of the most magnificent halls in the area.

“The way it’s done here is they have a number of church ceremonies before the wedding, and then the couple goes before a judge who asks whether she wants to marry him and whether he wants to marry her. When they both say yes, the judge stamps the document and they are considered legally married.

“The Jew went to their church and participated in the ceremonies without any apparent pangs of conscience. Then came the moment when they stood before the judge. The judge asked the girl whether she wanted to marry him and she said yes. The judge then turned to him and asked whether he wanted to marry her. He paused for a moment and then yelled, ‘No!’

“The judge was stunned. They were in the middle of a marriage ceremony! What was going on here? He tried again. ‘No doubt you did not understand me. You are about to marry. Do you want to marry her?’

“Once again, the prospective groom paused and then shouted, ‘No!’

“A commotion ensued. The bride’s family was furious that he was rejecting the entire family and disgracing them and the guests, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars they had spent on the wedding.

“During the chaos the groom managed to flee. He was afraid of what the bride’s family would do and he did not return home. Indeed, afterward he found out that his apprehension was justified. The bride’s family went to his house and when nobody answered the door, they broke it down and trashed the house. The story was the talk of the day in France and he knew he could not remain there. He hid for a few days and then fled France for a few years until the story died down.

“Some years went by and one day, I met him on the street. I was happy to see him again and we hugged and kissed. I asked him what had happened all of a sudden for him to jilt his bride when it seemed as though nothing would change his mind?

“He said, ‘As far as I was concerned, nothing changed. I was ready and willing to get married to her. But at the last minute, as I stood before the judge, I saw the image of the Rebbe before me. This instilled me with such a fear that I felt I could not take this step. The rest of the story you know.’”

***

R’ Gurewitz told this story at a farbrengen in Lyon. He concluded by saying, “This man is, boruch Hashem, now married to a Jewish woman and his children attend Chabad schools in our city. He is here now, and if he would like, he can get up and introduce himself and tell the story himself.”

For a few minutes there was a tense silence; nobody got up. R’ Gurewitz realized he had done the wrong thing. The man did not want to expose himself to all.

At his first opportunity after the event, he went over to the man and apologized. The man said, “You don’t have to apologize. You did not offend me and I am happy the story was publicized.”

“Then why didn’t you get up?” asked R’ Gurewitz.

The man said, “It was so traumatic for me to see the Rebbe there, that I absolutely could not go back and re-experience that moment.”

INFLUENCING SOMEONE TO GO TO THE REBBE

I heard this story from a Chassid who was unsure whether he would be going to the Rebbe at that time or not, who “happened” to hear this story. “I realized,” said this Chassid, “what an impact going to the Rebbe has, even on someone who made no preparations and who was not willing to listen to the Rebbe; someone who was planning on marrying a gentile woman. I understood that the Rebbe had sent me a message that I need to go. I went, and I saw that the trip helped a lot, materially and spiritually. After all, the Rebbe said (in the famous letter to R’ Yaakov Katz) that a trip to the Rebbe even helps for parnasa.”

This definitely doesn’t mean that preparations are unnecessary. The opposite is true. But as necessary as the preparations are, you have to actually go. A trip should not be postponed until a person is ready, because who knows when he will be ready?

Once, at a farbrengen with R’ Mendel Futerfas, someone tried to explain that it pays to push off a trip until one is ready. The Chassid referred to the two goats that were in the Rebbe Rashab’s yard. Whenever the Rebbe went in and out, they stood on their back feet and watched him. They did this for years but still remained goats because they came as goats from the outset.

R’ Mendel responded, “Better to be a goat and be by the Rebbe.”

Going to the Rebbe doesn’t begin and end with procuring a passport, taking care of a visa and buying a ticket. Obviously, all that is necessary, but don’t forget that going to the Rebbe entails getting these items not only from the government and requisite offices but also from the Rebbe himself. You can’t hide; he knows the truth about each of us. You need to show up and present yourself, even with the dirt on your face, but with the desire to change and improve.

APPROACHING THE KING

They tell about a student of the Maggid of Mezritch that he did not go to the mikva before going to the Maggid. His friends were shocked and they asked why he did not purify himself first. The Chassid said, “I want the Rebbe to see me as I am, with all the dirt, not the way I am after the mikva, pure and holy. That is the only way I have a chance of the Rebbe getting me out of the mud.”

We certainly go to the mikva first. Chassidim are particular about not going to 770 before mikva (except in unusual circumstances), but we can learn from this story not to run and hide from the Rebbe and not to try and hide the dirt on us. We approach the king with everything on us, with the desire and request and repeated attempts on our part to make amends.

However, just as in the parable with the king in the field, the point is to use the month of Elul to divest ourselves of our “field clothes,” and enter into the palace in the month of Tishrei where we call upon the entire world to proclaim “Hashem the G-d of Yisroel is King and His Kingship holds dominion over all,” and “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed.”



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