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Overview

Stories, Not Eulogies

The Shepherd Will Not Forsake His Flock

The Rebbe in Heaven Will Bring Mashiach

What Do the Links of Hiskashrus Consist Of?

Togetherness

The Gashmiyus of a Rebbe

The Histalkus of a Rebbe

Beis Nissan: From Strength to Strength

The King in the Thick of Battle

Pesach: Opening the Door for Eliyahu HaNavi

The Presence of a Rebbe

Reason and Beyond

Beis Iyar: Rebbe and Chassid

Pesach Sheni: Still Time to Connect

A Letter for Lag BaOmer

Lag BaOmer: Sharing the Inner Core of the Torah

The Prohibition of Interest & the Challenge of Shelichus

The Rebbe's House is Home for Everyone

Shavuos: How to Receive the Torah

Shavuos: Connecting To & Through the Rebbe

Awareness Awake and Asleep

Founders of Chassidism & Leaders of Chabad-Lubavitch

Glossary and Biographical Index

Proceeding Together Volume 1
Talks by the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
After the Passing of the Previous Rebbe,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn
on Yud Shvat 5710 [1950]


Stories, Not Eulogies

Translated from Toras Menachem by Uri Kaploun

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  OverviewThe Shepherd Will Not Forsake His Flock  

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[After Shacharis on the fourth day[12] after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe said:]

The law assigns[13] "three days for mourning, seven days for eulogizing."

Someone recently wrote me that though chassidim do not deliver eulogies, one does tell stories about the departed -- and that is their eulogy.

In fact, the writer himself had a story to tell -- that the Rebbe [Rayatz] once wrote him: "I do not scatter honorific titles. If in a letter I address someone as 'my soul-friend' or 'my staunch friend,'[14] those are the facts."

Though from the perspective of the recipient this is perhaps not yet the case, it will ultimately be so.

At any rate, since I feel impelled by the "seven days for eulogizing," I shall tell stories[15] about the Rebbe [Rayatz].[16]

1. In Good Hands.

When the Rebbe Rashab was very ill in the year 5657 [1897], the medical specialists in Moscow told him that he had only a few months to live. Hearing this, he told his wife, the saintly Rebbitzin Shterna Sarah, that he had decided to travel to Eretz Yisrael.

The Rebbitzin asked him, "And what will you do with your chassidim and with Chassidus?"

Replied the Rebbe Rashab, referring to his son, the Rebbe [Rayatz]: "Why, I'm leaving him!"[17]

And the Rebbe [Rayatz] was then seventeen years old!

2. A Chassidic Kiss.

In the year 5644 [1884], when the Rebbe [Rayatz] was a child [of four], his father the Rebbe Rashab lived in an apartment of two rooms. One room served as the bedroom, and in the other, he was once studying together with the eminent chassid, R. Yaakov Mordechai Bespalov. In this room stood the cot of the Rebbe [Rayatz]. He was a beautiful child, and his face was luminous. Late that night, as they were studying, R. Yaakov Mordechai caught sight of him as he lay asleep, and told the Rebbe Rashab that the child's radiant appearance indicated a purity of thought. The Rebbe Rashab was strongly moved to give his son a kiss. At that moment, however, it occurred to him that in the Beis HaMikdash people brought not only animal offerings, but also silver and gold for the upkeep of the House. He thereupon decided to exchange the kiss for a maamar of Chassidus, and wrote the maamar which begins with the words, Mah Rabu Maasecha.

In the year 5652 [1892] he gave the manuscript to his son as a gift, and said, "This is a chassidic kiss; one day I'll tell you about it."

Four years later he told him the whole story.

3. Obedience.

When the Rebbe [Rayatz] was about six years old, his father the Rebbe Rashab called him and told him to recite the blessing over the tzitzis. When he said that he had already said the berachah that morning, his father said, "Say it anyway!" -- but his son refused.

The Rebbe Rashab smacked him lightly (this was the only time he ever smacked him), and said, "When I tell you to do something, you have to obey."

His son burst into tears and said, "If one has to make a berachah before G-d, then I've already done that; but if one has to make a berachah because you said that I have to...."

Replied the Rebbe Rashab: "A berachah has to be made because G-d said so, but every father watches over his children, and they have to obey him."

4. Not So Terrible.

In the early years, whenever the Rebbe Rashab traveled anywhere, he did not give his son the key to the cabinets in which he kept his manuscripts; only in later years did he do so.

On one such occasion the Rebbe [Rayatz] entered the room where his father's papers were kept, and came upon a number of sheets of paper written by [his father's father,] the Rebbe Maharash. Having earlier accustomed himself to copy his handwriting, he took up a goose quill, as his grandfather had often done, and on one of those sheets he composed an explanation of a philosophical concept in Chassidus.[18] Then, since he was deeply engrossed in his further perusal of his grandfather's manuscripts, his own composition was left among them when he left the room.

His father, the Rebbe Rashab, returned from abroad, lighted upon this sheet, and told his son: "This is a happy day for me; I've discovered a maamar of my father's that I hadn't known about!"

The Rebbe [Rayatz] said nothing in reply. A few weeks later, when his father mentioned it again, he thought over ways of remedying the situation, and decided to raise the subject at yechidus with his father.

Entering his father's study, he was so agonized over the whole matter that he burst into tears and could not utter a word. Then, in response to his father's question, he explained that he had done something and did not know how he could possibly find atonement for it -- and told him the whole story.

"Not so terrible," replied his father.

5. Example.

There were times when the Rebbe Rashab instructed his son to enter his room and to observe his conduct.

6. Hand in Glove.

It once happened that the Rebbe Rashab was faced with the time-consuming task of writing long, handwritten letters to a large number of rabbis. He therefore asked his son to practice copying his handwriting, and when he had transcribed the letters, the Rebbe Rashab would sign them.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] agreed to the proposal, provided that his father would give him an additional regular session in their study of Chassidus. The Rebbe Rashab accepted the condition, his son mastered his handwriting in a short time, and the letters were dispatched according to plan.

7. Intercom.

Once a telephone connection had been set up between the rooms of the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe [Rayatz], it would often happen the Rebbe Rashab would call his son and say, "You can come in: I'd like to smoke."

When his son had lit a cigarette for him, the Rebbe Rashab would either discuss the subject he was then studying, or he would ask, "What do you have to tell me?"

After some time the Rebbe [Rayatz] had an idea -- to keep the speaker of his father's telephone open by putting a match under it, and in that way to hear his father praying in his room.

8. The Altneuschul.

The Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe [Rayatz] once visited the shul of the Maharal in Prague [in 1908]. The Rebbe [Rayatz] wanted to go up to the attic in which the golem is to be found, bribed the shammes, took a ladder, and climbed up.

(When the Rebbe [Rayatz] recounted this episode I asked him what he saw up there; there was no reply.)

When the Rebbe Rashab heard about this he reprimanded his son severely, and after some time told him, "I had months of work!" (-- Evidently, to forestall any possible ill effects.)

9. A Few Lines of Tanya.

During the year of mourning after the passing of his mother,[19] when the Rebbe [Rayatz] had concluded the daily reading of Mishnayos after each of the prayer services with "R. Chananyah ben Akashyah...,"[20] before proceeding with Kaddish DeRabbanan he would lean his forehead on his hand and say something in a whisper.

Eventually the Rebbe [Rayatz] explained that at that time he repeated a few lines of Tanya.

10. Tachanun.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] once said that in the prayer services during which Tachanun is not said, one does not beat one's chest when saying Slach lanu in Shemoneh Esreh.

11. Relativity.

On one of his visits abroad, the Rebbe Rashab met numerous gute Yidn.[21] Returning home, he presented his son with a silver-capped wooden cane,[22] on which he had spent whatever little money he had left.

When the Rebbitzin asked him whether this was what he had to spend his last few rubles on, he replied that now he realized just who their son was.[23]

12. Four Pairs of Tefillin.

In order to put on four pairs of tefillin,[24] one's body has to be exceptionally pure. For with regard to duties obligated by the Torah, such as the tefillin of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam,[25] since "The Torah was not given to the ministering angels,"[26] the Torah takes the responsibility upon itself, so to speak. By contrast, with regard to things observed by very few people (the Torah not having obliged everyone to observe them), the individual responsibility is greater. Besides, the very nature of the tefillin of Shimusha Rabba and Raavad requires that the body be exceptionally pure.[27]

I once read in print[28] that the esteemed chassid, R. Hillel of Paritch,[29] used to put on four pairs of tefillin, and that the author heard evidence that the sons of the Tzemach Tzedek did likewise. This was the practice of certain chassidim in our generation, too, such as R. Yitzchak ("Reb Itche") the Masmid, R. Zvi Hirsch Gourary, and others. As for me, I was apprehensive, until the Rebbe [Rayatz] told me to do so. So I began, for the Rebbe [Rayatz] had shouldered the responsibility for it.

The Rebbe told me at the time that he would order the tefillin himself, so that the matter should remain discreet.

When HaYom Yom was being prepared for publication,[30] the Rebbe [Rayatz] agreed to make public the order in which these four pairs of tefillin are used.[31]

There is a verse,[32] "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." In the Holy Tongue, the words of this verse allude[33] to [three of] the above four pairs of tefillin. The tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam are hinted at by the word tam; the tefillin of Rashi are alluded to by [the identical letters of] the word yashar; the tefillin of the author of Shimusha Rabba, who was called Rav Sar-Shalom, are hinted at by the word shalom.[34]

The tefillin of Shimusha Rabba and, even more so, the tefillin of Raavad, relate to a higher level of Divinity than those of Rashi or of Rabbeinu Tam. For this reason, none of the authorities hold that one should recite a berachah over them.[35] For the tefillin of Rashi relate to the level of Divinity known as Mochin deImma, and the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam relate to the level known as Mochin deAbba, whereas the tefillin of Shimusha Rabba and of Raavad relate to the transcendent level of Divinity known as Keser.[36] Accordingly, [the spiritual energy they generate] cannot be elicited and drawn down by a berachah.

13. Machine-made Tzitzis.

When a number of the [Russian] chassidic brotherhood found themselves in Germany [after World War II], they asked whether it was permissible to produce tzitzis by machine. I put the question to the Rebbe [Rayatz], for on this question R. Chayim of Zanz rules negatively.[37] The Rebbe [Rayatz] told me that when the refugees arrived in Russia in 5675 [1915], they did not have talleisim or tzitzis. The question was put to the Rebbe Rashab. He sent an emissary to Gansburg's factory, where tzitzis were made by machine, and later stated that a berachah could be pronounced over them.[38]

14. Silent Reverence.

I did not observe that the Rebbe [Rayatz] made a point of adding the epithet hakadosh ("the holy") when referring to the author of Or HaChayim or to the author of the Shelah [i.e., the common acronym for Shnei Luchos HaBris]. For example, when the Rebbe [Rayatz] said[39] that the Alter Rebbe was "a Shelah-Jew," who prayed from the Siddur compiled by the Shelah, with the mystical kavannos of the Shelah, he did not add the word hakadosh.

15. Dreams.

The Rebbe [Rayatz] once related that when R. Yitzchak of Ruzhin was a little boy and learned Chumash, he would always anticipate and ask his teacher all the problematic queries which Rashi pinpoints.

One day he reached the verse,[40] "And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached heaven, and behold angels of G-d ascending and descending upon it."

His teacher asked him, "Nu, why don't you ask?" -- and told him of the query raised by Rashi: Surely the verse should have said "descending and ascending," in reverse order.

Replied the young Ruzhiner, "You don't ask logical queries about a dream."

16. When You Grow Up.

When the Rebbe [Rayatz] cried at the time of his circumcision, as infants do, his grandfather the Rebbe Maharash said: "Why are you crying? When you grow up you'll be a ..., and you'll teach Chassidus articulately."

This is how the incident is recorded in the Rebbe [Rayatz]'s account of his imprisonment, with a blank space in the middle of the sentence.

I heard from chassidim that the Rebbe Maharash had said, "You'll be a Rebbe."

And that explains the blank space.[41]

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Wednesday, 14 Shvat, 5710 [1950]. The following series of sixteen episodes appears -- not necessarily in the order in which they were recounted -- in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, p. 138ff.; Vol. II, p. 504ff.

  2. (Back to text) Moed Katan 27b; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 394:1.

  3. (Back to text) In the original, yedid nafshi and yedidi oz, respectively.

  4. (Back to text) "I recall that after three days had elapsed from the passing of the mother of the Rebbe [Rayatz], the saintly Rebbitzin Shterna Sarah (on 13 Shvat, 5702 [1942]), the Rebbe [Rayatz] eulogized her by recounting sayings and episodes concerning her."

    [The above note is taken from the unauthenticated record which a private individual made of a statement by the Rebbe.]

  5. (Back to text) The Rebbe continued this practice throughout the remaining days of the Shivah, after Shacharis.

  6. (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1324.

  7. (Back to text) It was an appendix to the maamar entitled, VaYeilech Ish MiBeis Levi. [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  8. (Back to text) The saintly Rebbitzin Shterna Sarah, who passed away on 13 Shvat, 5702 [1942].

  9. (Back to text) See Sefer HaMinhagim: The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs (Kehot, N.Y., 1991), p. 36.

  10. (Back to text) Lit., "good Jews"; Yiddish idiom current in Poland for Rebbeim.

  11. (Back to text) According to the custom of gute Yidn in those parts.

  12. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1326, for further elaboration.

  13. (Back to text) For an extensive treatment of this subject, see: the Responsa of R. Menachem Azariah of Fano, sec. 107; (the above source also details the order in which they are to be used [which is set out in English in Sefer HaMinhagim: The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs, p. 14];) Matzas Shimurim; Chasan Sofer (on Orach Chayim, Shaar HaTotafos, sec. 30); Mishmeres Shalom, sec. 4; Os Chayim 34:1. [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  14. (Back to text) See Shaar HaKollel 11:39. Tikkunei Zohar Chadash writes: "And because those of the latter generations are not certain, they put on two pairs of tefillin." This implies that the doubt that exists in the latter generations obliges them [in order to be certain to discharge their obligation] to put on two pairs of tefillin.

    (The comment of Mor U'Ketziah on this statement has been refuted in: the Responsa entitled Chayim Shaal (at the beginning); Machazik Berachah (on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 34); and Os Chayim (loc. cit). See also: Zohar II, end of Parshas Bo; and the Responsa entitled Shaalos U'Teshuvos Min HaShamayim.)

    There was a statement in Baer Heitev HaYeshanim (cited in the final recension of Mishmeres Shalom, sec. 4), that a person who does not put on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam falls into the category of "a head that has not put on tefillin." However, the wording used by the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur is: "Every man whose heart has been touched by the fear of G-d should put on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam." This implies an obligation that is not comparable to the tefillin of Rashi. Nevertheless, it is somewhat puzzling why the custom has spread -- and this includes Anash -- to begin putting on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam quite some time after bar-mitzvah, generally after marriage. This has been commented on by R. Avraham Chayim Naeh in Piskei HaSiddur. Likewise, the author of Os Chayim (34:10) seeks a satisfactory explanation for this delay, though his own view is that one should begin at bar-mitzvah. [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

    [In the course of a sichah delivered on Purim, 5736 [1976], the Rebbe gave an explicit directive that the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam should be put on from the time of bar-mitzvah. See also Sefer HaMinhagim: The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs, pp. 37-38, and footnotes there.]

  15. (Back to text) I.e., the Torah was given to imperfect mortals. See Berachos 25b, and references cited there.

  16. (Back to text) See Igros HaRamaz, sec. 5: "The tefillin of Shimusha Rabba... require an untainted body, and pure and clean thoughts." R. Menachem Azariah of Fano writes in his Responsa that "these tefillin plumb such deep mysteries that permission was barely granted to use them." Accordingly, as Os Chayim (sec. 34) writes at length, most people do not put them on. The author of Emek HaMelech writes (in Shaar Kiryas Arba, sec. 68): "There is no one who can put on those tefillin, which relate to [the transcendent level of Divinity known as] Arich, and which are arranged according to the teachings of the author of Shimusha Rabba;... no man can put them on." See also the opening passages of Eser Kedushos. (The above discussion will suffice for the moment.) [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  17. (Back to text) In the final recension of Mishmeres Shalom, sec. 4, which cites "a work now reprinted." [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  18. (Back to text) I.e., R. Hillel the son of R. Meir HaLevi Malisov, head of the beis din of Bobruisk (5555 [1795] -- 11 Menachem Av, 5624 [1864]). See Biographical Note in Pelech HaRimon on Bereishis, p. iv.

  19. (Back to text) In 1942.

  20. (Back to text) See the entry for 19 Menachem Av (and so, too, in its English version, entitled From Day to Day).

  21. (Back to text) Tehillim 37:37.

  22. (Back to text) Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar HaTefillin, sec. 10.

  23. (Back to text) See Chasan Sofer, loc. cit.

  24. (Back to text) The author of Atzei Eden (on Menachos, ch. 4) writes that a berachah should be pronounced over the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam when they are being used alone, and the author of Matzas Shimurim holds that the same applies to the tefillin of Shimusha Rabba. See also Torah Or, Shmos 52b. [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  25. (Back to text) Emek HaMelech, loc. cit. It could be suggested that these two kinds of tefillin relate to [the two levels that comprise Keser, viz.,] Atik and Arich. Note the Kabbalistic kavannos of these tefillin which are set out in Matzas Shimurim (but which do not appear in the writings of the AriZal). [-- Note by the Rebbe.]

  26. (Back to text) The Responsa entitled Divrei Chayim (Cheilek Orach Chayim, Vol. II, sec. 1).

  27. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 458.

  28. (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5704 [1944], p. 131; Sefer HaMaamarim 5708 [1948], p. 1990.

  29. (Back to text) Bereishis 28:12.

  30. (Back to text) See Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 618a.


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