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Thursday
Sep262019

Tishrei in Beis Chayeinu

 – 1 –

The atmosphere of Rosh Hashana was felt from the first tekia on Rosh Chodesh Elul. During the first week of Elul, the elder Chabad Chassidim who came from various cities began to make their appearance. They would come for three months or more and devote themselves to avodas Hashem during these auspicious days; tasting from the “tree of life” (the inner teachings of the Torah) and breathing the atmosphere of Beis Chayeinu to fuel them for an entire year.

There were guests who came just for Rosh Hashana and sufficed with two days before Rosh Hashana, the days of Yom Tov, and two days afterward.

There were also the “machine Chassidim,” those Chassidim who came by train. They entered for yechidus and asked for the Rebbe’s bracha whether for material or spiritual things, and then immediately returned home.

The atmosphere was very serious. In the Rebbe’s court and yeshiva you could even “feel” that the awesome day was approaching. Serious expressions could be seen on every face.

With the advent of Selichos, the first “Selicha” was said on motzoei Shabbos after midnight. The shadar, R’ Yechiel Halperin was the chazan. He was also the chazan during all the Yamim Noraim. (He once said that the Rebbe himself taught him the intonations of Kol Nidrei and “V’Ha’Kohanim,” as well as those of Neila). He began with Ashrei and his voice trembled and was heartbreaking. He was immediately followed with a powerful roar laced with awe and fear from the entire crowd who numbered hundreds of Jews and Chassidim. All opened their mouths in fear, praying and beseeching before their Father in heaven that He accept their prayers.

The few Chassidim who stood in the Rebbe’s proximity managed to hear how he uttered every word like a son pleading before his father; a sigh, tears. Even after the crowd finished saying Selichos, the Rebbe had not finished and he continued to pour out his soul in prayer while tears flowed unceasingly. All stood in the heavy silence, listening with reverence and stormy emotions to the prayers of a tzaddik pleading before our Father in heaven.

This pattern of the reciting of Selichos continued throughout the days of Selichos.

 – 2 –

The Selichos of Erev Rosh Hashana began early in the morning. This was completed by seven o’clock. Those who hadn’t immersed yet hurried to the mikva to immerse. Right afterward, still before the davening, they all would run to the holy gravesites where the Tzemach Tzedek and Rebbe Maharash are buried.

The entrance to the Ohel was via the shul where a ner tamid stood inside a glass lamp with two openings and with a wick coming out of each of them. The Chassidim would wear rubber boots and take the Maaneh Lashon and hurry to enter the holy tziyun.

An atmosphere of extreme holiness was readily perceptible at the Ohel, and inside there was a stand that indicated the point until where the Kohanim could go. Each of the Chassidim would approach and pour out his soul before Hashem, beseeching for inspiration for complete teshuva and for a kesiva v’chasima tova, materially and spiritually.

In the morning, the Rebbe accepted pidyonos and in the afternon he went to the Ohel to daven and arouse mercy on behalf of the entire Jewish people at the gravesite of his saintly forbears.  When the Rebbe arrived, all the Chassidim left and the Rebbe remained alone. This was the case in Rostov too, when the Rebbe Rayatz went to his father’s gravesite. Nobody was allowed to be there at the time.

Right after shacharis, the Chassidim approached the Rebbe who stood in the doorway of his room and each gave him a pidyon nefesh, for himself and his family members.

Between all of the activities of the day, the crowd would sit throughout the day and recite Tehillim with an outpouring of heart and soul. In honor of Yom Tov, the tefillos took place in the large hall, from erev Rosh Hashana until after Yom Kippur since the small hall was not large enough for everyone.

 – 3 –

The night of Rosh Hashana arrives and the holiday begins.

At maariv, there is a tremendous inspiration in the air.  Each of the Chassidim tries to find a place where he can daven with proper kavana according to his ability. Even the youngsters who did not yet learn to daven with Chassidic contemplation, stand in their places and daven with much concentration and inspiration.

Men of high spiritual stature next to workers and laborers; old Chassidim alongside bachurim who have experienced a taste of true Chassidic prayer, all are immersed in their prayers, sobbing like children to their father. In the background one can hear the stirring Chabad tunes that arouse the intent of the heart and soul.

The Rebbe Rashab is in his place, in the southeast corner, sometimes standing and sometimes sitting. Around his place they cleared a wide area which is secured with a wall made of tables. In front of the wall is the special place where the Rebbe’s son stands and a few of the elder Chassidim and the chazan with four choir members.

Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik a’h, describes it in his memoirs:

“The davening of the Rebbe Rashab on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – my pen is too impoverished to describe the tefilla of the tzaddik and his avoda during these days. The heart-drawing niggunim that he sang during the tefilla and the tears that touched the innermost heart-strings, the words of prayer that went forth from his holy mouth, how a holy man and tzaddik cleaves to and becomes one with Hashem and stands before His holy throne and asks for mercy on his His people, the Jewish nation. All of the above cause an awakening to repentance within each and every person, to correct his deeds and to go on the proper path throughout the entire year.”

This is how one of the tmimim described the prayers of the Rebbe Rashab the night of Rosh Hashana 5660/1900:

“I approached the Rebbe’s place to hear the tefilla of the tzaddik. I had only just gotten close when terrible cries and deep groans reached my ears. The Rebbe davens and cries. Not one single word does the Rebbe issue forth from his holy mouth that is not immersed in a stream of tears. I was very shaken and pulled back. But really what is so amazing? Many people cry during these days. However, I never heard such a soul cry in my life. This is not crying at all. This is an outpouring of the soul in the fullest and most literal sense. The soul of the tzaddik pours itself forth into the embrace of her Father in Heaven.

“The congregation already finished the service, but no single person moves from his place to go home. Rather, all stand together as one, crowded and standing around the Rebbe’s place, listening with all of their senses to the tefilla of the tzaddik.

“The Rebbe is still standing in the middle of his davening and davening tunefully with a Chabad niggun – one of the ten niggunim established by the Alter Rebbe, this one especially for the Yamim Noraim davening – with notes of ecstatic bonding rising and falling, demanding and requesting, and from the heart of the Rebbe bursts forth a tremendous cry that shatters the entire body and decimates the entire soul.

“There are many types of cries. Cries of pain, crying that comes due to something lacking, crying as a result of yearning, crying of joy and hope. This crying that you hear in the davening of the Rebbe is not, seemingly, any of the above, or perhaps it incorporates all of them. You find yourself incapable of determining its cause, nor are you able to define its ultimate purpose. The Rebbe stands in middle of a large congregation and cries, davens and dissolves into sobbing… and may You, Hashem Elokim, rule alone over all of Your creations… and everything that was made will know that You made it…

“I look upon the faces of the Chassidim standing all around. In the absolute silence that pervades the hall, they listen attentively to every utterance that issues from the mouth of their Rebbe. By many, and I mean many, of them I saw tears streaming from their eyes. They stand there packed in, without any movement, and cry. Their eyes are all focused on one central point, their ears like receivers attuned to hear and listen without missing a single beat or the slightest sound, and in a state of tremendous inspiration and emotional upheaval, they swallow their tears and stand silent. A silent repentance, a repentance from the innermost depths of the heart, experiencing regret over the past and taking on good resolutions for the future.

“I said to myself – if the davening of the tzaddik did not set out to accomplish anything other than this, to arouse thousands of Jewish hearts to a feeling of regret and repentance, it would be more than well worthwhile.”

The Rebbe’s davening continues for about another two hours after the official end of the davening.

 – 4 –

The tefillos of Rosh Hashana day would begin at eight in the morning and end at four in the afternoon. The Rebbe himself, although he began davening with the congregation, would complete his davening afterward.

At the Torah reading, the Rebbe sat facing the table of the Torah reading. The Rebbe had an aliya for maftir and many of the Chassidim pushed toward the place of the reading to hear maftir from the Rebbe. The tremendous crowding does not disturb the silence. Strong yeshiva bachurim grasp the arms of one another like a chain and fence to prevent the pushing from getting too close. Only a few elder Chassidim and the makree (the one who points to which sound to blow) who is also the baal korei are in the inner circle, near the Rebbe.

After saying the maftir, the Rebbe would cover his face with a tallis and lean on the Torah reading table. He would remain like this for a long time until they could hear him say the word “Lamenatzeiach.”

When the crowd had already finished saying it seven times and the Rebbe was still not finished, one could hear the Rebbe saying the last verse quietly with a special tune. When he finished and began the chapter again, he would start in a whisper and when he got to those words again he would say it again with the same tune and sometimes a third time.

The verses before the tekios and afterward were said with a certain tune.  On one occasion, when saying the verse “Arov avdecha l’tov,” he concluded with, “Ay, gevald, al yaashkuni zeidim.”

During the tekios. R’ Zalman Druker, known as R’ Zalman Sofer, would stand near him.

Except for the first years, throughout the years, the Rebbe himself would blow the tekios. “After the tremendous service of the Rebbe in his davening, the tekios were amazing.”

On the second day of Rosh Hashana, the Rebbe Rashab would cover the shofars with a new silk handkerchief, and after the davening, he would wear it on his neck on his way home (due to the Shehechiyanu blessing).

In his silent rendition of Mussaf, the Rebbe would stand for a long time, at times until the chazan reached “Kesser” and at other times until he reached “Aleinu” (in chazaras ha’shatz).

 – 5 –

In the late afternoon, everyone would go to say Tashlich at the edge of the river that wound around the town of Lubavitch. The Rebbe would go to the river via Shileva Street until Zeretchi Street, the place where the local flour mill stood.

As he walked, the taller bachurim would block the face of the Rebbe, since there were many people who tried to take his picture. Photographers from Vitebsk would come especially for that purpose with their bulky cameras, which they would set up on the rooftops in advance in order to get a shot of the Rebbe as he walked to Tashlich, so the tall bachurim made sure to block his holy visage from view.

R’ Refoel Kahn recounted: “One time, before the Rebbe went out for Tashlich, the Rebbe allowed me to take the siddur and his glasses, since the Rebbe had a stringency not to carry on Rosh Hashana in public.  When the Rebbe arrived at the river, I wanted to deliver them directly to his holy hand, but the bachurim surrounding the Rebbe tried to take the objects from my hand so that they could bring them to the Rebbe themselves. However, I did not concede and pushed my way in and handed them to him myself.”

The Rebbe’s conduct on the second day of Rosh Hashana was almost identical to the first day, except that in the afternoon, between mincha and maariv, the Rebbe would say a lengthy Chassidic discourse that extended beyond the end of the holiday.

At the conclusion of the maamar, the Chassidim would sing a “Nigun Simcha,” and the entire congregation, young and old, would dance in a circle.

This was the Chassidic atmosphere in which the Chassidim in Lubavitch would begin the new year.

5718, I had to urgently consult with the Rebbe about matters concerning the educational network of Chabad in Eretz Yisrael. It was shortly before we received the Rebbe’s order, “uforatzta yama va’keidma v’tzafona va’negba” (and you shall break forth west and east and north and south). The Rebbe firmly demanded that we expand the network of Chabad schools and open schools even in the most distant settlement towns.  The Rebbe even conveyed a direct order to some young married men with families and single young men to drop everything and immediately go out and start schools throughout the Negev and Jezreel Valley, thus actively fulfilling “Uforatzta.”

Of course, those the Rebbe specified by name did not hesitate. They immediately took their families, took unpaid vacation at work and moved from big cities to villages and distant immigrant settlements where they began teaching Torah to boys and girls.

Since the matter I wanted the Rebbe’s opinion on was urgent, I placed an order for a long-distance phone call to Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch where the Rebbe was every day. I placed the order for the call to Brooklyn from Petach Tikva, however, a few hours before they made the connection, they told me I had to conduct the conversation from Tel Aviv and I went to the home of one of Anash in Tel Aviv. [In those days, a trans-Atlantic call was done by prior appointment through an operator].

I spoke on the phone for about ten minutes. The conversation was held with Rabbi Chadakov, the director of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. He promised to convey what we discussed to the Rebbe. While speaking directly to Brooklyn, I suddenly felt tremendous feelings of yearning to visit the Rebbe. I had already thought of traveling to the Rebbe but had postponed it for various reasons. Now I felt a strong pull to see the Rebbe and at the end of the conversation I expressed my wish to be with the Rebbe for Tishrei. R’ Chadakov said he would ask the Rebbe. I thanked him and waited for an answer.

A week later, I received an affidavit at my house, i.e. a legal request to come to America to visit, which was sent the day after my conversation. It was clear that the Rebbe had answered my request in the positive. Until that point, I had no passport nor anything else needed for a trip.

I went to the offices in Petach Tikva and Ramle and wherever I went I was received graciously and they rushed to accede to my requests. I felt that I was being helped from heaven for this trip. Just two days passed since I started taking care of things and I already had all the paperwork. Upon the recommendation of Rabbi Yitzchok Elimelech Wohlgelernter, the head secretary of Israel’s chief rabbinate, I went to the American consulate in Tel Aviv where I was immediately given a visa. I must also mention the written recommendation of Rabbi Reuven Katz, chief rabbi of Petach Tikva, which helped me a lot.

REVIEWING CHASSIDUS OVER THE ATLANTIC

I left for Lud with some of Anash coming to say goodbye at the airport. We flew to Rome and from there to Paris. When the plane landed in Paris, I noticed the Chassid, Rabbi Nissan Nemenov, rosh yeshiva of the Lubavitcher yeshiva in that city. I soon found out that he was also flying to the Rebbe on the same plane. We arranged to sit together and when the plane took off from Paris and began crossing the Atlantic, we were deeply involved in a lively Chassidishe conversation.

I was happy to hear from R’ Nissan about the life of Anash in Paris. He also told me that a Lubavitch yeshiva had just been founded in Denmark. I told him about our brethren in Eretz Yisrael and what was happening in the yeshivos and schools.

The encounter with R’ Nissan was very helpful to me for, while it was my first time traveling to the Rebbe, it was his third. He told many details about Beis Rebbi and throughout the flight we spoke divrei Torah, and had a productive friendly conversation.

Our plane landed in New York on Friday, erev Shabbos Nitzavim, around noon. As soon as I left the plane, I noticed a group of men from Tzeirei Agudas Chabad who came to welcome us. We soon found ourselves sitting in the car of one of them and we drove to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

They arranged hospitality for me with the Gansbourg family who live opposite 770. From there, I called Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and heard that the Rebbe left for the Ohel. The Rebbe spent a long time at the gravesite of the Rebbe Rayatz and returned close to Shabbos.

I found out that this was his second visit this week to the Ohel. The first was on the first day of Selichos.

FIRST ENCOUNTER

Overcome with emotion and excitement, I entered the beis medrash on erev Shabbos at twilight. The room was full. Near the tables sat elder Chassidim and yeshiva bachurim who were listening to a maamar Chassidus reviewed by the young genius R’ Yoel Kahan. He was reviewing a maamar from 12 Tammuz, “Uforatzta.”

There are doors on the eastern wall through which the Rebbe enters the beis medrash (upstairs in what is now known as “the small zal”), but his entrance on Shabbos in unlike his entrance on a weekday. On Shabbos, the Rebbe enters the door on the southern end of the room (the door further from his office). A tremor went through my entire body when the door opened and the visage of the Rebbe appeared. I was both cold and hot.

I gazed at the Rebbe and concentrated so as not to miss a single one of his movements. I saw the Rebbe briskly pass to his usual seat. It is the place that became his permanent spot back in 5701/1941 upon his arrival in America. The Rebbe sat near a long table and there was a shtender in front of him.  When he gets up for Shmone Esrei, they move the table a little bit to the side.

I watched carefully as I stood silently and marveled at the wondrous sight. The Rebbe’s face has a unique expression of transcendent joy and tremendous simplicity at the same time. A combination of awe/love with joy and gladness of heart. In my lifetime, I saw some great men and tzaddikim but I never saw a countenance like this before. It was all without any projection or movement. He sits motionless, his gaze focused on the siddur before him and he davens with a deveikus that lifts up all who see it. He davens with the tzibbur and among the tzibbur, and yet one can discern how lofty and sanctified he is in his davening, without any external signs or movements on his part. 

NIGHTS OF YECHIDUS

One of the most amazing things is the Rebbe’s schedule. It is hard to understand how he divides his time.  What we see is that every moment is exceedingly precious to him and he fills his hours and minutes with his matters, with fabulous order and precision.

Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights are for yechidus and this is without limits.  On these nights, a list is submitted to the Rebbe with about fifty to sixty names of petitioners for yechidus and he sees them all that night. There are nights that the Rebbe begins receiving people for yechidus at eight in the evening and goes till eight in the morning. For twelve straight hours people go in and out and each one stays to converse, some longer and some shorter. That is the way it is throughout the Aseres Yimei Teshuva when there are numerous people for yechidus, both from America and Canada as well as those who made a special trip from across the sea.

I was in yechidus for two hours, from 2:45 in the morning until 4:45. A significant amount of time was spent on the Reshet of Chabad schools. The Rebbe knows the problems of each school and inquired about the most minor details. In speaking of the Reshet, the Rebbe often says, “Attach yourselves to the Reshet,” meaning, that it wasn’t we who carried the Reshet but the Reshet that carried us, like the aron which bore its bearers.

To get an idea of how calculated the Rebbe’s time was, I will tell you what I heard from Anash. On Chai Elul there was an unexpected farbrengen that lasted three hours. Close to Succos, the Rebbe offhandedly said, “I still did not pay back those three hours.”

From this, we can understand how far it goes and what time means to the Rebbe. The world compares time to money and here, time is a matter of life and soul.  Sacks of letters arrive every day for the Rebbe. There are letters that pertain to the Jewish people and letters that pertain to individuals. The Rebbe reads every letter and writes answers to each letter. This itself takes many hours.

OBSERVING THE CONDUCT OF THE REBBE

On Shabbos parashas Netzavim, I saw the Rebbe saying Tehillim. He left his office for the beis medrash and said Tehillim with everyone. There was a very large crowd. The Rebbe says Tehillim from a volume published with the commentary Yahel Ohr of the Tzemach Tzedek. The recitation of Tehillim is with very great emotion. The Rebbe’s lips move but his body does not move. Just the color of his face changes and reveals his emotions. We see how he turns the pages of the Tehillim and this betrays his intense emotion.

After the davening, the crowd does not disperse. All try to grab places close to the Rebbe to be able to see every move he makes during the farbrengen. The Rebbe goes back to his room and returns only afterward for the farbrengen. He sits at the table and behind him sit the elder Chassidim and rabbanim. The Rebbe’s place is a bit higher than the other places.

I was able to stand nearby and noticed that while saying the maamar, the Rebbe grasped a handkerchief and wrapped it around his hand, as previous Nesiei Chabad did. He grasps the handkerchief under the table and one who stands a bit away does not notice it.

I don’t have the ability to describe the Rebbe’s appearance while he says the maamar.  Didn’t I just see the Rebbe while davening? But this is altogether different and it is simply hard to describe in human terms. The color of the Rebbe’s face, the way he sits, his voice, his movements, are all so intense that it is impossible to describe them in words. The Rebbe opens his eyes and penetratingly scans the entire crowd.

Everyone feels as though the Rebbe is looking just at him and his gaze pierces through to the innermost part of the soul. Then the Rebbe closes his eyes in a way that I never saw before in my life. His eyebrows seem to raise up without any furrowing of the brow, and the impression of his eyes closed is no less than the impression made when he looks with open eyes.

The Rebbe has an aliya to the Torah for maftir. He reads the haftorah while sobbing. Since I had the aliya for shevii, I stood next to the Rebbe when he had his aliya. The pushing was tremendous. The crowd was pushed toward the bima, and I had to hold on with all my might to the table so as not to be moved from my place. One can hear the Rebbe trying to refrain from crying. One sees how he does all he can to control it but the tears burst forth.

After mincha the crowd remains. Although most people only managed to make kiddush and have a little something, nobody moves. They sit and review the Rebbe’s maamar that was said at the farbrengen.

ROSH HASHANA

Spiritual elevation could be felt throughout Rosh Hashana. This heightened state began on erev Rosh Hashana, when the Rebbe received pidyonei nefesh. Hundreds of people passed by him and gave him a pidyon. Then the “pidyon klali” was given.

After receiving the pidyon, the Rebbe went to the Ohel and read the names of the people from a list.

On maariv, the first night of Rosh Hashana, people in the beis medrash noticed that the Rebbe was sitting lost in his thoughts, and it was readily apparent that he was levitating in his thoughts in the higher worlds. After the davening, the Rebbe blessed the crowd with “l’shana tova tikaseiv v’seichaseim” (for a good year, may you be written and sealed). Someone in the crowd called out, “Gam atem” (to you too).

After the davening, many people did not leave the beis medrash but remained standing near the bima so they would be able to be near the Rebbe, the next day, for the tekios.

Before the tekios, they brought packages and more packages of tzettelach (notes of requests) which were placed on the bima. When the Rebbe went up for the tekios, he covered the bundles of notes with his tallis and his voice could be heard crying. “Lamenatzeiach” and the verses said before the tekios were also said with copious tears. During the tekios he was serene, and from the verses before the tekios to the actual tekios a great change was apparent; he suddenly switched from tremendous emotion to calm.

For Tashlich, the large crowd went in a long, orderly line. At the head of the line walked the Rebbe with R’ Chadakov next to him. Then followed the tinokos shel beis rabban and then yeshiva bachurim who were followed by the Chassidim. The entire time, there and back, traffic was stopped and on both sides of the street people stood and watched us.

THE MUTE GIRL

On the second day of Rosh Hashana there was a farbrengen in the large shed set up outside.  It began about twenty minutes before sunset. The Rebbe said the bracha on two challos and cut one and gave the other one for the bachurim in the yeshiva in Paris.

During the meal I noticed a simple man, not of Anash, who entered with firm steps and stood on the platform. The Rebbe noticed him and looked him over. The man held a little girl. The Rebbe cut a slice of challa and gave it to the man. The man fed it to the girl. About half an hour later, a rav approached to say l’chaim. The Rebbe cut a slice of challa and gave it to him.

This was all surprising to me and I wondered what it signified. In the meantime, I noticed how the Rebbe scanned the packed crowd and answered l’chaim to each one. Nobody was hidden from his piercing gaze.

It was only after Yom Tov that I found out that this man who came with the girl, had come to America with her to have an operation done when it was discovered that she was mute. The operation was done but a few days later her life was in danger. The doctors despaired. Someone suggested to the father that he go to the Rebbe.

The father brokenheartedly went to the Rebbe and poured out his heart. The Rebbe told him to turn to a different doctor from among his friends. The man did so and the child was saved. Just a few days went by from when that doctor began to treat her and the girl said, “Abba.”

On Rosh Hashana, the man came to the Rebbe with his daughter and that is when the Rebbe honored him with a slice of challa.

When the Rebbe gave the challa to the child, a crumb fell. The rav saw this and quickly picked it up but the Rebbe motioned to him to give it to the child. It was only when he got up to say l’chaim that the Rebbe also gave him a slice of challa.

After havdala, the Rebbe distributed kos shel bracha. One by one, people passed before him and received a little wine from the Rebbe’s cup. Gallons were poured since hundreds of people passed by the Rebbe, among them many who came especially for this reason, not necessarily Lubavitcher Chassidim.

THE HOLY DAY

Erev Yom Kippur, the Rebbe gave out lekach. Numerous people came for lekach. Jews I did not see on Rosh Hashana or Shabbos, came. The Rebbe distributed a piece of cake to rank and file Lubavitchers and to shluchim who are actually doing the work of “Uforatzta” and have gone out to teach boys and girls on the Rebbe’s shlichus.

In the afternoon, many crowded near the door to the Rebbe’s room. The Rebbe came to the door and blessed the crowd with the priestly blessing. He said spoke special words of blessing to the yeshiva bachurim and blessed them that the “Uforatzta” for them would find expression in the learning of Torah, Nigleh and Nistar.

Shortly thereafter, the Rebbe appeared in the beis medrash wearing his kittel and stood in his usual place. During chazaras ha’shatz he motioned with his finger that they should sing “Darkecha” and “Ki Anu Amecha” with the usual niggunim.

After Neila, the Rebbe turned to face the crown as they all began singing “Napoleon’s March.” The Rebbe conducted with his hands and the crowd sang enthusiastically, as ones who entered (into judgment) in peace and exited in peace.

***

These are the impressions and scenes that Rabbi Chanzin repeated upon his return to Eretz Yisrael after his first visit to the Rebbe.

 

THE REBBE EXPRESSED ENJOYMENT

Aside from the inspiring accounts that Rabbi Dovid Chanzin chose to share with his audience from that first Tishrei of his with the Rebbe, one can learn many additional lessons from the efforts that he expended, even in his old age, to go to the Rebbe every year to slake his thirsty soul. Each time, he arrived in 770 for Chai Elul and returned only after parashas Lech Lecha. There, he imbibed in large measure from the holy atmosphere. He considered his traveling to the Rebbe as an inseparable part of his life as a Chassid.

He didn’t have much money but nevertheless, as a Chassid attached to his Rebbe, he felt it his obligation and need to travel to the Rebbe. Even if he did not have money for the trip, he would borrow it, even though he did not borrow money for other daily needs. When relatives asked him and his children why he went when he didn’t have the money, he said, “I yearn to be with the most real Jew of the generation on Rosh Hashana.”

Rabbi Y.Y. Yaroslavsky, rav of the Chabad community in Nachalat Har Chabad, related that one year, when R’ Chanzin went to the Rebbe, the Rebbe said to a Chassid that he greatly enjoyed R’ Chanzin’s coming but it was forbidden for him to know this so he wouldn’t travel more often.

One year, when the price of tickets was especially high, word got out that airlines had lowered the price for the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. His son, R’ Menachem, suggested that his father travel after Rosh Hashana, thereby saving a significant sum of money. R’ Chanzin, although not blessed with any extra money said, “It is very important to be with the Rosh Bnei Yisrael on Rosh Hashana.”

“AND DOVID’S PLACE WAS VACANT”

Every year, in Tishrei, Rabbi Dovid Chanzin a’h was absent from his usual place on the east wall of the Chabad shul, Tzemach Tzedek, in Petach Tikva.  Every other month of the year, his warm and pleasant presence lit the shul, but in Tishrei, everyone knew that R’ Chanzin was at the Rebbe. “Rabbi Chanzin’s empty place during Tishrei, was a clear sign to me that the place of a Chassid in the month of Tishrei is with the Rebbe,” said one of Anash in Petach Tikva. “That is how I saw a model of hiskashrus not only with his presence but with his absence.”

The first time he went to the Rebbe for Tishrei was in 5719 and after that, he went dozens of times.

As was customary in those days, every Chassid who came back from the Rebbe farbrenged with the Chassidim, and Rabbi Chanzin did that too. He farbrenged with Chassidim in Yerushalayim, in Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv, Rishon L’Tziyon, Kfar Chabad and Lud. In each location, he related what he saw and felt and taught the niggun “Shamil” which the Rebbe taught on Simchas Torah of that year. These farbrengens lasted till dawn.

At the farbrengen which took place in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in Lud, present were the mashpia, Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman a’h and the journalist, Mr. Shmuel Avidor who wrote up what he said.

TRUE JOY

His host, R’ Gurewitz, said:

“I saw his great love for the Rebbe on Simchas Torah 5739. It was a year after the Rebbe’s heart attack. During the hakafos, R’ Chanzin danced alone facing the Rebbe with tremendous exertion and his entire being radiated genuine joy. He was simply happy to see the Rebbe rejoice with the crowd as in years gone by, and his happiness knew no bounds.”

Ever year, when he returned home, he would farbreng and tell what he saw, heard and experienced at the Rebbe.

Someone who was not a Chassid said that he saw R’ Chanzin shortly after he returned from the Rebbe and “It was possible to tangibly see his glowing eyes and face shining with joy.”

THE REBBE INQUIRED ABOUT HIS HEALTH

During the time that he would spend in 770, those who knew him sensed that he was operating with the feeling of a servant before his master; utter bittul. He did not agree to farbreng, he spoke no divrei Torah during the meal at his hosts, and he was immersed more than usual in learning the Rebbe’s sichos. Rabbi Michoel Halperin, a Chabad rav in Eretz Yisrael, said that on several occasions, when he went to visit him at his host, he found him sitting and learning the Rebbe’s sichos. Near him were open several volumes of Likutei Sichos; he was comparing sources.

Regarding his bittul when he was at the Rebbe, his host, Rabbi Yitzchok Gurewitz, related:

“Rabbi Chanzin suffered from a roiz (cellulitis) in his leg. One year, he suffered a flare-up while at the Rebbe for Tishrei. He suffered great pain but that did not bother him as much as his concern about whether he would be able to attend the farbrengen a few days later. They called Dr. Moshe Feldman, a neighborhood doctor, to examine him. After a thorough exam, the doctor expressed his hope that things would improve over the next few days.

“Before the farbrengen, the Rebbe personally asked Dr. Feldman how Rabbi Chanzin was and whether he would attend the farbrengen. R’ Chanzin was thrilled when his condition improved and he was able to attend the farbrengen.”

R’ Dovid Meir Drukman, rav of Kiryat Mochkin, related:

“At one of the Rebbe’s farbrengens, R’ Chanzin was late and saw that all the spots had been taken. He looked around and soon found a place among the children who sat on the floor surrounding the Rebbe. At the end of the sicha, the Rebbe saw him on the floor with the children and smiled broadly.”

During Tishrei, R’ Chanzin was particular about participating in the review that took place after the farbrengen. While many others went home for the Shabbos meal, the bachurim and young men would stay for chazara. R’ Chanzin would push in among them and listen closely. He did not consider this undignified. It was important to him to absorb as much as possible and get the Rebbe’s words down exactly.

His phenomenal memory was evident, along with his humility, when he would occasionally point something out or make a correction. Then it was apparent that he remembered it all.

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