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Wednesday
Feb152017

“WHEN I RESOLVED TO LEARN RAMBAM EACH DAY, THE REBBE TURNED TO ME…”

R’ Menachem Mendel Hartman recalls an expression of unique affection from the Rebbe that he was privileged to receive during the Yud-Beis Tammuz 5746 farbrengen, when he resolved in his heart to learn Rambam each day.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry 

For more than thirty years, R’ Menachem Mendel Hartman from B’nei Brak has preserved the memory of a revealed display of ruach ha’kodesh by the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach on the 13th of Tammuz 5746, when he was visiting Beis Chayeinu – ‘770’ for the first time in his life, together with his parents, Rabbi Refael Tzvi and Mrs. Rivka Tova Hartman.

Anyone acquainted with R’ Mendy Hartman knows that he is a tremendously energetic chassid who ‘lives to give life to others,’ with a fervent hiskashrus to the Rebbe surging through every fiber of his body and soul. He serves as a gabbai for one of the Chabad shuls in the city of Torah and Chassidus, also volunteering his time in outreach activities for the Chabad Mobile Centers in Eretz HaKodesh.

“Over the years, I have told my story on numerous occasions, mainly before yeshiva students, in order to strengthen them in fulfilling the Rebbe’s instruction to learn the daily Rambam study. However, I never considered it appropriate to publicize the story on a wide scale,” Rabbi Hartman said. The many years that have passed have not lessened the intense excitement from that experience. “I think that this story can be a source of illumination for awakening people to the fact that there is a leader in our generation: the Rebbe who knows and provides guidance, a king whose sovereignty we must accept.”

THE REBBE – “LIKE IN THE VIDEO”

“It was during Tammuz 5746 when I boarded a flight with my parents to visit Beis Chayeinu –770. I was fourteen years old at the time, and I was learning in a class at the Chabad school in Lod called ‘k’vutza k’tana,’ designed to prepare students for yeshiva.

“Back in those days, my father worked in the field of education and ran the continuing study program at Beis Rivka, while my mother was a homemaker. This was the first time in many years that they had the opportunity to travel to the Rebbe and thank him for the bracha they had received during a private audience, resulting in my birth and the birth of my four siblings after my parents had been married for ten years. As the eldest child, I joined my parents for this trip.

“Naturally, I was very happy; this was the first time in my life that I had come ‘to see and be seen.’

“Among other things, I remember from those days that there was a lottery held for the privilege to place a Chumash and T’hillim on the Rebbe’s shtender before he entered the small upstairs ‘zal’ for the Torah reading. When the Rebbe would return to his room, he would leave the s’farim on the shtender, and the lucky person who placed them there would get to take them. One day, I was privileged to leave the Chumash on the Rebbe’s shtender, and the Rebbe looked in it during the Torah reading.

“During the first days of our visit to Beis Chayeinu, I didn’t quite understand the Rebbe’s conduct. It was all in a mode of majesty and splendor – literal kingship. This stood in contradiction to the impression that I had from seeing the video clips that the photographer R’ Levi Yitzchak Freidin showed all over the country after coming back from Tishrei. In these video clips, I always saw the Rebbe in a state of great joy: encouraging, smiling, and forcefully gesturing with his hand.

“A few days after our arrival in 770, there was a big farbrengen in honor of Yud-Beis Tammuz. Chassidim in Eretz Yisroel were also celebrating the upcoming dedication of the 770 replica in Kfar Chabad. It was a major topic of discussion, including in Crown Heights.

“The farbrengen began after the Rebbe returned from the Ohel. I then saw the Rebbe for the first time as he displayed a tremendously joyous reaction – just as I had seen in the Tishrei videos, fervently encouraging the singing of ‘Nye Zoritche Chlaptze.’ Although 770 was filled with Chassidim, it wasn’t packed to capacity, as many people were in the mountains on vacation. During the farbrengen, the Rebbe delivered several sichos, and Chassidim sang niggunim during the intervals. As was customary during those intermissions, the Chassidim would take the opportunity to say ‘L’chaim’ and wait for the Rebbe to nod his head in response.

I was standing on the pyramid along the western side of the shul. Above me was standing Rabbi Zirkind, who was translating the sichos for those unfamiliar with the Yiddish language.”

THE REBBE WAITED FOR A GOOD RESOLUTION

“At a certain point between sichos, the Rebbe turned to R’ Zirkind and nodded ‘L’chaim.’ Similarly, he continued to recognize those above and below me, while I remained holding my cup as the Rebbe moved on without giving me a bracha. This gave me a feeling that is impossible to explain to someone who has never been there. Even though you’re standing among hundreds and thousands of people, and the Rebbe is looking at you from a distance, every chassid can clearly feel if the Rebbe is directing his gaze towards him or moving on to someone else. As for me, I definitely felt that the Rebbe was passing me by, time after time. I was a young boy, and I felt very uncomfortable, rejected. Why didn’t the Rebbe notice me? What did I do wrong? The Rebbe constantly looked to my right and to my left; everyone around me was privileged to get a ‘L’chaim’ while I got no response. I’ll never forgot that feeling of loneliness as my hand was left raised and unacknowledged.

“The truth is that no one had appropriately prepared me for the trip. However, I felt deep inside that if I wanted the Rebbe to look at me and give me a bracha, I would have to accept upon myself some ‘good resolution.’ I don’t know how it entered my mind, but the Rebbe has his ways to teach us what to do and what he expects from us…

“Since our Sages, of righteous memory, have established that ‘a person knows and recognizes himself,’ I knew that the hardest thing for me would be to dedicate myself to the daily Rambam study. Unlike today, Rambam s’farim were less ‘user friendly’ to younger students: smaller print, crowded letters. Naturally, this was before the existence of the weekly ‘D’var Malchus’ booklets. Often, there was no seifer available. Thus, in order to learn Rambam on a regular basis, I had to make a firm decision. I determined that it would be a good decision for me to enter the daily Rambam cycle, and I again raised my cup to the Rebbe. What happened next was simply amazing and thrilling.

“At that moment, the Rebbe was looking at people in the other direction. Then suddenly, he turned sharply to the corner where I was standing and looked straight into my eyes. There was no doubt about it. He then nodded his head decisively as he said ‘L’chaim v’livracha’…

“I stood on the pyramid deeply moved, trembling from the intensity of this unique recognition from the Rebbe and his revealed ruach ha’kodesh. Later, I told my father what had transpired, and everyone was very impressed.

“As our visit was approaching its conclusion, my father spoke to the secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, and informed him that we were preparing to leave. The secretary told this to the Rebbe, and he received three bills of Israeli currency – two of ten shekels and a third bill for me.

“And what did I receive? Incredibly, it was a one-thousand-shekel bill bearing a picture of the Rambam. I looked at it and I immediately understood that the Rebbe was sending me yet another message to keep the daily Rambam study as I had resolved to do. I was simply overjoyed, and I felt that the Rebbe had given me provisions for the journey: You promised to maintain the daily Rambam cycle? I’ll give you a reminder with this bill to dispel any feeling of weakness in this matter.

On the very day of the flight, Sunday, we passed by the Rebbe for dollars distribution. The Rebbe gave each of us a dollar, with the bracha: “In a good and auspicious hour. Good news.”

THE DOLLAR FOUND AFTER THIRTY YEARS

As a footnote to this story, Rabbi Hartman shared another amazing and thrilling story with us from last year – Shnas Hakhel – one that he deems a continuation of the previous one.

“By the Grace of G-d, our whole family was privileged to travel to the Rebbe’s court for Shnas Hakhel. Naturally, this meant incurring some sizable expenses, and there was a deep concern over how we would be able to cover this financially. However, every time we wrote to the Rebbe via Igros we were privileged to receive clear answers. In one response, the Rebbe wrote, ‘His trip has been arranged with the El Al Company,’ and in another letter, ‘And similarly, they have informed us of expenses and they will receive a reimbursement from the secretariat.’ We felt that the Rebbe wanted us to come to him and we have nothing to worry about.

“As Tishrei approached and during the entire month we spent in the Rebbe’s court, we spared no expenses, conducting ourselves like royalty, and everything miraculously worked out in the best possible way. When we returned to Eretz Yisroel after this intense experience that had overwhelmed the entire family, we received notification of a large deposit in our bank account, totally unexpected both in terms of timing and the sum. I went around with a feeling of ‘I was a wonder to many’ – the Rebbe promised, and the Rebbe fulfilled.

“A few days earlier, my brother arrived for summer vacation from his shlichus in Odessa. He had organized the closets and boxes in our parents’ house, and to everyone’s great surprise, he found a misplaced package from thirty years ago, containing the dollars we had been privileged to receive from the Rebbe. Back in those days, my parents were living in B’nei Brak, later moving to Beit Shemesh. While there, they eventually moved to another apartment, leaving many of their crated belongings unopened. Every once in a while, we wondered what had happened to all the dollars we had received from the Rebbe during that visit in Tammuz 5746. However, no one ever found the time to rummage through the boxes. My brother did this for us, fulfilling the principle of ‘Toil and you will find.’

“He gave each person the dollars belonging to him. I received three – one from Gimmel Tammuz, one from the 15th of Tammuz, and another that the Rebbe gave me on the 20th of Tammuz. I thought about saving the dollars for my children as a segula and a bracha. However, I never would have believed how great the Divine Providence would be. Our daughter was born on the twentieth of Tammuz.

“Imagine the feeling of exhilaration of that moment. Just a few days before, my brother decided after thirty years to organize the document drawer in our parents’ house, and he found a dollar from the Rebbe that I received on the same date – the 20th of Tammuz. I felt that the Rebbe was honoring me with another expression of closeness and affection…

“‘Fortunate are we, how good is our portion, how pleasant is our lot, and how beautiful is our heritage…’”


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