Today, I feel the great oversight I committed during the many years when (through G-d's kindness) I had the privilege of knowing my grandmother, the famous tzidkanis, the Rebbetzin. She possessed man-like strength in the attributes of mercy, kindness; outstanding wisdom; a refined heart, incomparable in her pleasant qualities and her unfathomable humility - Rivkah, bas Rav Aharon (whose soul is in Gan Eden), wife of my saintly grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash.
[This neglect went on] for a period of twenty years, almost continuously (for we were nearly always together), since my master and tutor Reb Shmuel Betzalel ben Shalom Shabsi Sheftel (a descendant of the author of Shaloh), known among chassidim by the abbreviated name Rashbatz, first came to me. He was the first to open my eyes and heart to take note of the ways and deeds of this refined soul. He told me a wealth of stories about her from the old days, when he had first arrived in Lubavitch in the year 5609, and the situation that caused her qualities to become known to the public. He told of the great esteem in which her father-in-law the Tzemach Tzedek held her, and he knew much inside information about her.
Beyond all this, [Rashbatz] possessed outstanding wisdom; he knew what he was seeing, and he had the clear and deep perception to understand what needed to be seen. It was he who instilled in me the pure spirit of striving to understand what my eyes saw.
Man makes many plans. I had intended to make a written record of everything that I heard from my saintly grandmother the Rebbetzin. But for various reasons, I kept on postponing it. It was only on rare and unusual occasions that I would record something, and these are undoubtedly to be found somewhere among my writings and notes. But they are now scattered, and I do not know where they might be. This causes me great distress.
Who else in this world would do as I have done? I had available to me an enormous treasury of flowers and blossoms - stories and events of our family - rich and wondrous in content. [But I squandered it all, and] I remain poor in my memory of these things, for I failed to write them down correctly (or with the necessary care), exactly as I heard them from her.
During the life of her father-in-law the Rebbe [the Tzemach Tzedek], she saw much with her own eyes and heard much from her mother-in-law, the Mitteler Rebbe's daughter; from her grandmother, the Mitteler Rebbe's wife; and from the elders of our family, who had known the Alter Rebbe. They knew everything that was known by tradition among chassidim, and also things that were not commonly known, except to certain special individuals.
- (Back to text) [acronym for Sh'nei Luchos HaBris, lit., "Two Tablets of the Covenant"; sefer on Kabbalah by R. Yeshayah Horowitz, c. 1560-1630, who is often named after the title of his famous work.]
- (Back to text) [acronym for Reb Shmuel Betzalel: famous chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, and the Rebbe Rashab; tutor of the Rebbe Rayatz; a detailed biography appeared in Links in the Chassidic Legacy, pp. 1-35.]