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The Great Chassidic Mega-Tour
By Boruch Merkur

I was musing with an idea. It was inspired by quite an unlikely source: a headline about a concert, a rave review of the opening night heading off a massive world tour. A huge spectacle. Larger-than-life. A massive display of lights, props, and gimmicks to animate and to compensate for the otherwise all-too-humanly-sized entertainers.

So I was thinking: what would it be like if the personalities of 770 - that is, the dignitaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbeís court, at 770 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, location of the Lubavitch World Headquarters, the heart of light in the heart of darkness - what would happen if these larger-than-life personalities head out on a mega-tour of their own?

"Doing what?!" youíre probably wondering.

It is true that some of them can actually sing. In fact, chassidim are known for their enchanting melodies, called niggunim. But Iím talking about more than just music. Iím talking about a full-scale tour of chassidim doing what chassidim do best. Iím talking about chassidim in their own environment, in their own domain - only, out on the road, on tour, appearing at the largest venues.

And what exactly is their domain? A chassidishe farbrengen, of course.

***

My trusty Yiddish-English pocket-dictionary translates farbrengen as, "To spend time enjoying oneself."

(As a neophyte I always thought that the word "farbrengen" simply means the way it sounds in English: far bringing, bringing others from afar, bringing everyone together - even those who might seem to be a little distant - to sit together at a tish (table), and to say "líchaim" over nasty-tasting, Russian, alcoholic beverages, and to eat mostly pickled, salty foods, like schmaltz-herring. Well, live and learn: to officially be considered a farbrengen, you must enjoy yourself, as well.)

But itís more than just that. A farbrengen is a gathering of people who care about each other enough to strengthen each other and to straighten each other out. And the medicine is older than chicken soup: a sharp dose of stories about the early chassidim and their Rebbeim, words of Torah and its most treasured secrets - all blended in a montage of song and spontaneity, and all for the purpose of connecting to the Rebbe.

***

Of course, the ultimate farbrengen must be with the Rebbe himself.

The Rebbe would customarily farbreng for several hours straight. So people, much younger than the Rebbe, would fill up on coffee in attempt to keep up with the Rebbeís extraordinary pace and stamina.

(The only problem is that it is difficult for us ordinary people to sit in one place for so long after consuming so many cups of coffee. And you certainly would not want to have to leave in the middle of a farbrengen - you just might lose your seat, or, more likely, your standing area. So, some inventive people, as I have heard it told - though perhaps they were just jesting - would actually eat coffee. Pretty clever, huh? The Rebbe himself, "a man of G-d," would take no recesses.)

There is no doubt that the next time the Rebbe farbrengs - in a way that we can all see him - even the greatest arenas wonít be able to hold the droves and masses.

But thatís not the kind of farbrengen Iím talking about right now. (Weíll have to save that for another time, G-d willing.) Iím talking about chassidim going on tour - Lubavitch dignitaries, of whom Iíve heard it said that had they been a part of a different group of chassidim (in other words, if they were not Lubavitchers) they would have been rebbes in their own right.

Let me tell you about two of these larger-than-life chassidim.

(Please keep in mind: chassidim are very modest and humble. If they knew that Iím writing about any one of them in particular, Iím liable to get tarred-and-feathered, Heaven forefend! So I darenít use their actual names.)

Two chassidim. Both slightly older, respected in the community.

The one chassid - letís call him Reb Izzy - is just a little disheveled in appearance. His features are pronounced and framed by a somewhat ragged, salt-and-pepper beard. His voice is strong, but hoarse, and he is no stranger to smoking. Yet he is a man of the heart, dedicated and soulful - a real chassid.

The other chassid - letís call him Reb Yankel - sports immaculate, newly-pressed clothes and a snow-white beard. His eyes are sharp and alert. He is soft-spoken, analytical, and deliberate - a true teacher and a worthy role-model.

We take you now to a particularly famous 1991 address of the Rebbe, a speech that was duly attended by our two chassidim, Reb Izzy and Reb Yankel:

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MOSHIACH HAS NOT YET COME?! It is something that is entirely not understood! And it is an additional wonder that when Jews gather together, they do not generate a sufficient tumult to effect the immediate coming of Moshiach! And also when they scream "ad masai?!" (how much longer?!), this is only because they were instructed to do so. Surely if their aim and their request and their uproar would be sincere, it is absolutely certain that Moshiach would have already come! What more can I possibly do in order that all the Jewish people will clamor and scream in sincerity to effect the coming of our righteous Moshiach.

The single thing that remains for me to do is to give the matter over to you: DO ALL THAT YOU POSSIBLY CAN - in a way that uses unbridled enthusiasm (oros díTohu), but at the same time, in a way that finds expression within the context of order (keilim díTikkun) - TO ACTUALLY BRING OUR RIGHTEOUS MOSHIACH RIGHT NOW!

(Seifer HaSichos, 28th of Nissan, 5751)

By this point, upon feeling the immediacy and urgency of the Rebbeís words, Reb Izzy had become worked up in a fervor of excitement. But his friend, Reb Yankel was quick to try to level him off with a sharp reminder: "Nu, Reb Izzy - where are your keilim díTikkun?"

"Nu, Reb Yankel," came the lightning response, "where are your oros díTohu?!"

***

The truth is - as the Rebbe has taught us - in order to bring Moshiach, we need to utilize both approaches. The campaign to bring Moshiach must incorporate both the excitement and urgency of unbridled enthusiasm and the calculating efficiency of order. Whatever it takes - even if it means organizing mega-farbrengens the likes of which the world is yet to see.

May we merit to farbreng with the Rebbe in celebration of the advent of the Messianic Era.

PS. If anyone took me seriously about the Chassidishe Farbrengen Mega-Tour, Iím all ears to your suggestions of how to make it a reality! After all, the Rebbe did say, "the world is ready!"

   

There is no doubt that the next time the Rebbe farbrengs Ė in a way that we can all see him Ė even the greatest arenas wonít be able to hold the droves and masses.

 

 

By this point Reb Izzy had become worked up in a fervor of excitement. But his friend, Reb Yankel was quick to try to level him off with a sharp reminder: "Nu, Reb Izzy Ė where are your keilim díTikkun?"


YECHI ADONEINU MOREINU V'RABBEINU MELECH HA'MOSHIACH L'OLAM VA'ED!

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