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Wednesday
Aug012018

The Rebbetzin gently promised the bachur: “I WILL SPEAK WITH MY HUSBAND”

With great awe and respect, he stepped back a bit towards the stairs. He was very confused. In the meantime, the elevator came and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka opened the door and asked him: “Bachur, you want to go down?” He nodded his head, swallowed hard, and entered the elevator… A unique and moving miracle story about the righteous activities of the Rebbetzin on behalf of the T’mimim.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

 “I haven’t been willing to tell this story publicly for many years, as every time I recall the story, I become quite emotional,” says Rabbi Moshe Meir Gluckowsky of Crown Heights.

While Rabbi Moshe Meir Gluckowsky is not a public figure, thousands of avreichim know him from their time learning in the Central Lubavitcher Yeshiva “770,” when he was the yeshiva’s secretary in charge of organizing the routine documents for registering the yeshiva students. There’s virtually no bachur who learned in 770 that didn’t pass his way.

“My wife is the only person with whom I shared this story in detail immediately after it happened,” he adds. “We’re talking about a very moving anecdote with the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory. This story merely intensifies what we all know about her tremendous sensitivity and concern towards everyone.”

When Rabbi Gluckowsky tells his story, he gets into every detail, and you can see how it continues to live with him.

THE CHOSEN FEW FOR SHLICHUS

“Before actually beginning this story, I must give some general background,” says Rabbi Gluckowsky at the outset.

“Over the years, Chabad yeshivos were established throughout the world by various shluchim for young men from their communities who had come close to Yiddishkait through their activities. Needless to say, these yeshivos were in need of strengthening and reinforcement from T’mimim that had been raised in the fires of Tomchei T’mimim and lived nigleh, Chassidus, and the inner avoda of t’filla. They would serve as role models for these youngsters for how a Chassidic bachur should appear.

“This phenomenon began at the yeshiva g’dola established in faraway Melbourne, Australia in 5727. At the Rebbe’s instructions, six students from the central yeshiva in Crown Heights were chosen to travel down under and strengthen the yeshiva there with their Chassidic conduct. These bachurim had been raised in the warm and friendly environment of 770 and they were instructed to set a proper living example for the local students. The Rebbe showed special affection for these bachurim (known as Talmidim HaShluchim, after their joint roles), even calling them on rare occasions “b’nei bayis” (members of the household).

“The job of choosing the T’mimim-shluchim was done by the yeshiva administration, headed by Rabbi Mordechai Mentlik and Rabbi Dovid Raskin. The yeshiva administration would select the T’mimim with great care, and after they were chosen, their names were submitted to the Rebbe for his approval. This process repeated itself every two years.

“It’s safe to say that these T’mimim had some marvelous achievements, as their mere presence contributed a great deal towards illuminating the yeshiva with the light of Yiddishkait and Chassidus.

“In 5733, the yeshiva g’dola in Miami, Florida was opened, and another group of bachurim was organized to go out on shlichus there with the Rebbe’s bracha. Three years later, another yeshiva opened near the local university in Seattle, Washington. The Rebbe gave his consent for the yeshiva’s establishment, and he even instructed that it should be opened specifically in the university area where the local shliach operates, as opposed to the area of the ultra-Orthodox community on the other side of town.

“In 5737, two more yeshivos were opened, one in Caracas, Venezuela and one in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“As I mentioned earlier, the T’mimim shluchim would go out only after the Rebbe would approve the list submitted to him by the yeshiva administration.”

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING WITH THE REBBETZIN

“One of the bachurim who learned in the yeshiva in Morristown, New Jersey was HaTamim Dov Hillel Klein. After two years of intense Torah study, he wanted to go out on shlichus to the new yeshiva established in Seattle, Washington.

“It was 5742, when he asked that his name be added to the list of those going out on shlichus. He was quite dispirited when he learned that the new group of T’mimim-shluchim had been chosen, but he was not among them. While he was very upset by these developments, he was determined not to give up and he tried to get himself into the next group.

“During that period, he was supposed to continue his studies in the central yeshiva at 770. However, since he wanted so much to go on shlichus to the Seattle yeshiva, he chose to remain an additional year in Morristown and try again to secure a place on the list for the following year, 5743.

“Later that year, rumors began to circulate that the yeshiva in Seattle would apparently not re-open. These rumors were soon confirmed, and in Cheshvan 5743, the decision was made to keep the yeshiva closed.

“As I mentioned earlier, Dov Hillel Klein was supposed to go to learn in 770. In my role as the yeshiva’s secretary, I spent several weeks chasing after him to come to the office and fill out the student registration forms, but he kept pushing me off. In his heart, he still hoped that the yeshiva in Seattle would open, and therefore, there would be no need to go through the registration process. Thus, I found myself constantly trying to convince him to register with the central yeshiva, and in the event that the yeshiva in Seattle did re-open, his registration with 770 could be cancelled quite easily. However, he was stubborn. For a full year, he had emotionally prepared himself for shlichus and he was having a hard time accepting anything less.

“It was only at the end of Cheshvan 5743, when he finally realized that the yeshiva was not going to open, when he came up to see me in the office on the third floor of 770 to register as a bachur with the central yeshiva.

“He was very sad. I remember his appearance back then and the undisguised disappointment on his face.

“When he completed the formal registration documents, he left the office and went over to the elevator to go down to the main level.

“Suddenly, the door to the Rashag’s apartment near the yeshiva offices opened, and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka came out to wait for the elevator as well. The Rebbetzin had apparently been visiting her sister and was on her way downstairs.

“Needless to say, he was a bit panicky and nervous. With great awe and respect, he stepped back a bit towards the stairs. He was very confused. In the meantime, the elevator came and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka opened the door and asked him: ‘Bachur, you want to go down?’

“He nodded his head, swallowed hard, and entered the elevator together with the Rebbetzin…

“The Rebbetzin noticed the bachur’s frightened look and asked his name.

“‘Where do you learn?’ she continued to inquire. At that moment, Dov Hillel Klein wanted the ground underneath him to open and swallow him up, and he began to stammer that he doesn’t know yet.

“‘What do you mean “you don’t know?”’ the Rebbetzin asked further.

“In a voice shaking with emotion, Klein said that he wanted very much to go on shlichus to the yeshiva in Seattle, but since it apparently would not open that year, he would have to stay and learn in 770. He was very distraught, and in an open state of frustration, he told the Rebbetzin about his longing for shlichus since the beginning of the previous year, when for unknown reasons his request had not been approved, and now the yeshiva was closed. 

“In the meantime, the elevator reached the second floor, and the Rebbetzin held the door so it wouldn’t close, while she attentively listened until he finished.

“When Dov Hillel Klein finished speaking, the Rebbetzin again asked for his name and then said just before leaving, ‘I’ll speak with my husband.’

“Klein continued down in the elevator to the ground floor as he tried to catch his breath after what he had just experienced.

“The following morning, he heard that the secretary, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, was looking for him. Dov Hillel went into the mazkirus and Rabbi Klein asked him if he would agree to go on shlichus to Seattle.

“He stood in place positively thunderstruck, unable to utter a word. It was only with some difficulty that he managed to nod his head. He then realized what had happened: the decision had been made to open the yeshiva for another year. It was quite clear to him who had a hand in this matter…”

“AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS”

Rabbi Moshe Meir Gluckowsky concludes his story in a voice filled with emotion: “When this bachur told me the story, we were both moved by the Rebbetzin’s amazing sensitivity. I could only imagine in my mind’s eye the conversation that the Rebbetzin had with the Rebbe about the bachur that evening when the Rebbe came home. The bachur’s pain had touched her heart, and she decided to get involved by going straight to the top.

“The bachur eventually became an avreich and opened a Chabad House in a suburb of Chicago. During one of the visits I made there, we recalled the memory of this story and he told me, ‘Just know, if I’m on shlichus today, it’s only in the merit of the Rebbetzin. She uplifted my spirits. Her concern made me more sensitive and caring towards others.”

THE REBBETZIN SHTERNA SARA SPEAKS TO HER HUSBAND,
THE REBBE RASHAB, ON THE BACHUR’S BEHALF

The story of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s efforts before her husband, the Rebbe, on this bachur’s behalf brings a similar story to mind that took place in Lubavitch, where Rebbetzin Shterna Sara also made efforts before her husband, the Rebbe Rashab, on behalf of one of the bachurim. Here is the story as it appears in the seifer “Samarkand:”

Due to his young age and distance from home, Avraham Zaltzman had difficulties concentrating on his studies. He had problems learning with the proper diligence and assiduousness in the central yeshiva in Lubavitch, and periodically he participated in childish mischief. One of these pranks took place on Purim. After he and some other bachurim consumed a fair share of mashke, reaching the point of “Ad D’lo Yada,” they took a goat that was roaming around the Rebbe’s courtyard and gave it a bottle of mashke to imbibe. The goat became drunk and started to dance giddily…

At a certain point, the yeshiva’s mashgiach, Rabbi Yechezkel (Chatche) Himmelstein, decided to expel Avraham together with another friend. The mashgiach wrote a note about Avraham Zaltzman that “the boy needs his mother.”

Avraham and his friend went several times to the mashgiach and pleaded with him to let them return to the yeshiva, but to no avail. He didn’t want to answer them; he simply sat and remained silent. They tried their luck in various ways, but they couldn’t manage to change the decree.

When they consulted with friends on what to do, they were advised that since the yeshiva’s director, the Rebbe Rayatz, had agreed to their removal from the yeshiva, nothing would help them. Only the Rebbe Rashab could alter the ruling. However, how could young children go in for a private conversation with the Rebbe, especially when entering the Rebbe Rashab’s room required going past R’ Nachman, the strict servant?

Then, Avraham had a novel idea: He decided to take advantage of a momentary break when the Rebbe Rashab would eat dinner and the servant would leave to go bring the food. He would use those moments to go in quickly to the dining room, where the Rebbe sits, and plead with him. He had no other alternative.

At the appropriate moment, he trembled as he gingerly walked towards the dining room and went inside. With his legs failing him, he went over to the Rebbe Rashab sitting near the table alongside Rebbetzin Shterna Sara and Rabbi Shlomo Leib Eliezerov. Avraham began to cry bitterly and he was so frightened that he couldn’t talk.

Vohs veinstu, yingele – Why are you crying, boy?” the Rebbe asked Zaltzman in a soft voice.

In a voice shaking with sobs, he replied that the mashgiach had told him to go home.

“And why did he tell you this?” the Rebbe asked.

“I don’t know why!” Zaltzman answered.

The Rebbe laughed loudly and said, “Nu, so go learn at the yeshiva in Radin.”

Avraham Zaltzman’s sobbing grew more intense, and he said in a voice choked with tears, “No! I want to learn in Lubavitch.”

The Rebbe continued to laugh and said jovially, “Perhaps go learn in Slabodka, in the Mir yeshiva…” The Rebbe continued to name other yeshivos in the Torah world during those years, but Avraham continued to cry and said again and again in a voice cracking from the depths of his heart: “I want to learn only in Lubavitch!”

Rebbetzin Shterna Sara, who was sitting near the table, suddenly got involved on the boy’s behalf and said to the Rebbe: “What do you want from the boy? Make him a promise!”

She then turned to Avraham Zaltzman and said: “Gei, yingele – Go, child. I’ll speak with my husband.”

As it turned out, Zaltzman and his friend were called in shortly thereafter and they were informed that they had been re-accepted to the yeshiva in Lubavitch to learn with the melamed Mendel Ladier.

A HANDWRITTEN NOTE FROM THE REBBE:
“I HAVE BROKEN WITH USUAL CUSTOM”

When this amazing story was brought to the magazine’s attention, we recalled the holy answer that we originally publicized in “Beis Moshiach” and later came to light in the seifer “M’Otzar HaMelech” (Vol. 2, pg. 100). At the time, we knew nothing about the background to this story, and now it seems that it’s all quite clear.

After further clarification with the source for the Rebbe’s handwritten reply, we were able to confirm that it had been issued in connection with closing the yeshiva in Seattle during the period when our story took place. Even Rabbi Gluckowsky, who had been shown the Rebbe’s answer, said that to the best of his recollection, the reply had been received in the yeshiva’s offices during this time.

The Rebbe’s unique answer appears as follows:

Although it is totally not my usual custom to get involved in their matters, as has been publicized, for the aforementioned to be completely unusual, I have broken with the aforementioned usual custom and ask the following questions:

Notification has just come to me that the branch of Tomchei T’mimim in … has been closed for the next academic year, may it come for the good.

And the questions:

a. Are you aware of this matter?

b. Responsibility for the branches is upon Merkaz, according to Shulchan Aruch. Are you aware of this matter?

My intention quite simply is not to deliberate, rather only to clarify: [?]

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