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“And The King’s Voice Was Heard In Jerusalem”
Adapted by Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan and A. Avrohom

The Rebbe Rayatz’s account of his visit to the Holy Land chronicling his first three days in Jerusalem. * The highlight of the trip: a maamer delivered from the roof of the Amdursky Hotel before a crowd of thousands. * The Rebbe’s visit to the Kosel “left an impression that can never be erased.” * The Rebbe Rayatz describes his emotions standing before the place of the Beis HaMikdash.  

B”H Beis Menachem Av, 5689 [Aug. 2, 1929]


Yesterday, the 1st of Av, we left Alexandria at 3:00 p.m. Bey Fitzata [Senator Yosef Di-Figoto Bey], HaRav HaChacham HaGaon Nadler and a few others came with us to the train station. By 5:30 we had reached the Bena station, where we waited an hour before changing trains.

As the train pulled in, a special delegation arrived from the Cairo Ashkenazi community (a shochet and three baalei battim) to extend its blessing and an invitation to visit. There was a huge crowd waiting for us at the station, bli ayin hara, as they had known in advance that we were coming.

Around 9:30 p.m., we reached the border station of Kantara on the English Canal [the Suez Canal]. An officer and two soldiers asked to see Rabbi Schneersohn. The officer saluted, relaying an order from the government to personally greet the great rabbi and ferry him across the canal separately from the other passengers. He also asked for our luggage (which would not be opened), and promised that it would be transferred to our train compartment. The train would be leaving in two hours. We could board immediately if we wished, but everyone else would have to wait another hour and a half. The officer then ordered a sailor to transfer all our things by boat and load them onto the train.

The fact that a special governmental order had been issued to transport our group made a great impression on everyone. Mr. Mendel Schneersohn (from Warsaw), who was with us on the boat to Alexandria, accompanied us this time, too. He said he was very happy.

At 12:00 a.m., we left Kantara for Jerusalem, and at 5:00 a.m. we had a stopover in Lod. [As will be described later, the Rebbe actually arrived in Rechovot at 5:00, and slightly later in Lod.]

At 4:00 a.m., I woke up to daven. By 5:00 we could faintly hear the rumblings of a large crowd; I assumed they had come to welcome us, but I remained in my compartment.

At 5:30, I opened the door and was told that a special delegation of about 100 people representing several cities had arrived: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, Tzefat, and some moshavim. Others were waiting at the train stations along the route, and in Lod itself several hundred more had gathered. In Lod we would change trains and continue traveling in a first-class compartment.

At 6:10 we arrived in Lod, but I wasn’t permitted to debark until a semblance of order was imposed. It was extremely noisy. The train platform was completely filled with people, bli ayin hara. I waited 15 minutes to step off the train, whereupon a ring of people and Jewish soldiers surrounded me. It took about six minutes to walk from the first train to the second; the second was much nicer, with first-class accommodations.

That train left Lod at 6:20 and arrived in Jerusalem at 8:30. For the first half-hour I sat alone in my compartment, then I met with the various representatives who had come to see me. This filled an hour and five minutes. At around 8:00 we pulled into a station that was only about a half-hour from Jerusalem [Betar], where a delegation representing several rabbanim was waiting. I was presented with letters from HaRav Kook, Rabbi Sonnenfeld, and Rabbi Yaakov Meir (who sent me his “honor guard” consisting of his mazkir and two uniformed aides, complete with weapons and silver batons). It was a great honor. Nonetheless, for someone who is unaccustomed to such a spectacle, it produces a feeling of discomfort. This honor guard would later accompany us to the hotel, perched on the car’s running boards. In the meantime, they waited outside my door.

The train was absolutely packed, as my visit is the day’s top news item. May HaKadosh Boruch Hu make it successful in every way.

At 8:30, I changed into a different sirtuk. I was about to see Jerusalem, and would have to tear kriya. I wore my silk sirtuk.

Amidst all the confusion, a piece of luggage was lost. All things considered, it was a miracle that only one was misplaced. As soon as we realized it, we sent off a telegram, and we hope the package will be recovered.

At 8:30, we arrived at the Jerusalem station. Bli ayin hara, such a large crowd was waiting! So many different types of people: old men dressed in silk with velvet hats, younger ones in white suits and hats, with yarmulkes and caps, red hats and hatless. Apologetically, they asked me to remain on board until I got the all-clear. Someone opened a window, and I was asked to bentch the crowd. When I looked out the window I saw a wall of British policemen, some on horseback. (This was on the train platform.) Bli ayin hara, it was such varied assemblage of men, women, and children.

Thunderous applause and wild cheering erupted when I appeared at the window. It was so fervent that it hurt my heart. This lasted for about two minutes, then all was quiet. I said from the window, “Shalom aleichem,” and an earsplitting shout of “Aleichem shalom” and “Baruch ha’ba” rose up in response. Again there was rustling for a few minutes until the noise settled. Then the silence was pierced by the cry of, “Boruch Ata...she’hechenayu v’kiymanu, etc.”

I returned to my train compartment. A few minutes later the station director and the chief of police came to extend their official greetings.

At 8:45, I stepped off the train. As soon as I appeared at the door there was more cheering and cries of “hooray.” After I delivered a few words of blessing, the police led me over to a prearranged area to meet with dignitaries. This took ten minutes. Then, still under police guard, I walked to the front of the station where a car was waiting with my son-in-law, R’ Shmaryahu. The two men with their batons were positioned on the running boards. A huge crowd walked along with us on foot. It seemed as if the whole city was in an uproar.

The whole way to the hotel, the streets were lined with groups of well-wishers shouting “Shalom aleichem.”

So many security precautions had been taken at the Amdursky Hotel that it was not easy for us to get inside. Within a half-hour of our arrival some 500-600 people (maybe more) were milling about, requesting that I come out onto the balcony. I sent word that I would do so in a few minutes. By then, the crowd had doubled in size. When I stepped outside, the air immediately filled with the echoes of “Boruch ha’ba,” “Shalom aleichem” and “She’hecheyanu,” then all was quiet. I said a few words — that I accepted each greeting of “Shalom aleichem” and answered each person “Aleichem shalom” individually, and apologized for not being able to stay out longer because I was simply too tired. A roar of “Toda u’vracha” rose up from the throng, accompanied by applause. I could still hear it when I got back to my room.

At 11:00, the elderly Rabbi Sonnenfeld came to visit. His personal visit was a great honor, as he had already sent a representative. He sat with me for a few minutes and then left.

Word came that HaRav Kook and Rabbi Yaakov Meir were going to arrive together at 2:00 p.m., but this was only unofficial.

Those who are familiar with the Jerusalem mentality say that this is the first time they have ever witnessed such a heartfelt reception.

All of the newspapers representing all of the different political parties —even Labor — have printed greetings, as have many mosdos and institutions.

I rested until 2:00, then received prominent visitors between 2:00 and 4:00.

At 4:00, we went to daven Mincha at the Kosel Maaravi. One can travel only up until a certain point, after which it is necessary to continue by foot. Despite the fact that no one knew our plans in advance, there were several hundred people accompanying us, under police guard.

The visit to the Kosel made a very deep impression on me. The Mincha service warmed me as if it were Erev Yom Kippur; truly a great impression. As it turned out, a warmhearted Chassidic Jew led the davening with a sincere and heartfelt voice. He davened word for word, with a melody that perfectly matched the vicissitudes of the soul. The entire square was filled with people davening Mincha. They estimated a crowd of at least 1,500, not counting the hundreds who stood on the roofs of nearby houses. The mighty sound of so many prayers pouring forth touched me deeply, till I went out of the realm of keilim (literally, vessels; i.e., rational experience). An enormous wail rose upward, bathing the heart in hot tears. Hundreds of people were weeping aloud. It was as if everyone had been transported to a higher realm.

After Mincha I recited Tehillim. They brought me chair to sit on, as by then I did not have the strength to stand. My torn silken sirtuk, rachmana litzlan, together with the spiritual elevation of the crowd, created a truly awesome atmosphere. Everyone was saying Tehillim.

In the short time I was at the Kosel, word of my arrival had spread. More people came running over, only to be stopped by mounted police who blocked their way. Some people had already been injured in the terrible crush, and their cries were audible. No one could remember there ever being such a crowd at the Kosel Maaravi, bli ayin hara.

We were there until 6:30 p.m., after which I paid a reciprocal visit to Rabbi Sonnenfeld, who welcomed me with a large retinue. I sat with him for ten minutes, then went back to the hotel.

On Friday, at 2:00 p.m., I visited HaRav Kook for 15 minutes. Then I visited Rabbi Yaakov Meir for ten minutes. At 2:45 I returned to the hotel. Telegrams were arriving from all over Eretz Yisroel, each conveying blessings and an invitation to visit that particular part of the country.

At 4:00, I went to the mikva. Wherever I go, huge crowds greet me. I am told that my visit has created much joy among all types of Jews.

The suitcase from Alexandria is missing, so we are without Shabbos clothes. I had to buy a new streimel and have my old Shabbos clothing altered...

The hotel is very big. I have a room, a balcony, a small sitting room to receive guests, a large parlor, and a waiting room. The large parlor was completely filled for Kabalas Shabbos; they had to open the door to the smaller sitting room (where I davened) to accommodate everyone.

Kabalas Shabbos lasted an hour and quarter. Boruch Hashem, it appears as if many people are drawing nearer. For Shabbos, approximately 70 minyanim arrived from the surrounding neighborhoods.

They daven very early here, on Shabbos at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, but I indicated that they should start at 8:30. The roof of the hotel was prepared for my saying Chassidus. There is a very wide area on the rooftops, where people can stroll about; I’ve been told that it can accommodate 2,000 people.

The [Friday night] Shabbos seuda was eaten at 9:00 p.m., with my son-in-law and our friend, Reb Alter Simchavitch. The wine was made by one of our own, and it was very good. The meal lasted about an hour.

I thought I might say some Chassidus I brought from home, but when I saw the huge crowd awaiting me (bli ayin hara) I realized that I would have to change my plans. Starting after nightfall, I worked on preparing the maamer until 12:00 a.m. Then I lay down to rest, and slept until 4:00 a.m.

At 4:00, it was back to working on the maamer. By 9:30, I had completed about three-fourths of it.

At 9:00, a small minyan assembled to daven. The large parlor was filled to bursting, bli ayin hara. I was told that there were hundreds of people. They finished davening around 12:00 p.m.

I davened in my room and finished the Chassidus by 3:00 p.m. Then I went to make Kiddush and eat the Shabbos seuda. The seuda took about an hour and a quarter, after which I went back to review the maamer.

At 5:30, they davened Mincha, and at 6:10 I was ready to say Chassidus. I was informed that the roof was filled with people, bli ayin hara, and that it was very crowded. Even the surrounding roofs were packed; I should speak in a loud voice so that everyone could hear me. For a moment I could rejoice in the Chassidus that HaKadosh Boruch Hu has granted me; may He give me the strength to deliver it properly, that it have the desired effect and leave the right impression.

For the first few minutes it was difficult to maintain order, but eventually the pushing and talking aloud stopped. I began to speak, with everyone listening attentively and with great interest, Boruch Hashem.

I spoke for an hour and three-quarters, after which we sang “Dem Emes’n Niggun.” There was happiness in the streets. People wanted to dance but there wasn’t enough room.

Eight-thirty was Maariv, after which I made Havdala by myself.



From the Rebbe Rayatz’s Letters

Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Eikev, the evening of 18 Menachem Av. I have been paid very great honor, not merited by many in Eretz Yisroel and in Jerusalem in particular, by all political parties without exception. For this I thank G-d. But in my innermost being, I am broken into pieces.

My first Mincha at the Kosel Maaravi cost me much in terms of health. I kept in mind a vision of myself standing in the Beis HaMikdash. At such a moment, standing at the wall of the Beis HaMikdash, everything becomes different. A person is completely changed. He experiences a certain spiritual elevation, a broken-heart, a sense of self-nullification. It is as if the whole fleshly “I,” the ego, has disappeared. Everything becomes elevated and subsumed in the spiritual, in the realm of the soul, in a layer of rachmanus, an outpouring of the soul in pure prayer and devotion to Above.

That first Mincha afforded me a certain amount of spiritual strength. May HaKadosh Boruch Hu accept all our prayers and requests with everything good.

10 Elul. ...There were some very serious moments; against one’s will, one is transported to a different life entirely, spiritual and celestial.

That first Mincha was on Thursday, 2 Menachem Av, immediately upon my arrival in Jerusalem. I was still under the impression of the sights and sounds that had greeted us previously: the hundreds of delegations, the thousands of people, the tearing of kriya, rachmana litzlan, the cheering in the Jerusalem train station, the crowd at the hotel, my standing on the balcony wearing my old silk sirtuk with the ripped lapel, the noise of the throng, the echoes of “She’hecheyanu.”

Then there was the second kriya upon seeing the place of the Beis HaMikdash, the massive crowd, the hundreds of people standing on the rooftops as we passed by.

It was a very serious Mincha. I forgot everything. All I could remember was our family, each member separately. I asked for mercy for each one, I cried for each one, and for our brethren who are in dark, bitter Russia. I kept all the pidyonos next to me, then placed them on the holy stones.

In general, I mentioned all the Chassidim and their families; I perceived it as my obligation. I was broken, like a true Schneersohn “going out of the realm of keilim.”

With this sense of geshmak I kissed the stones and recited Tehillim. Everyone was saying Tehillim; there was so much crying and yelling. People were saying Tehillim individually, but it was as if we had only one voice and a single kavana. At that moment I imagined that our brethren still at home could feel this, and it lightened my heart a little.

Those hours of davening Mincha and saying Tehillim left a genuine impression. Such moments would be repeated several times in the course of my visit, but in different forms.



"Thunderous applause and wild cheering erupted when I appeared at the window."

1929: Waiting for the Rebbe Rayatz’s arrival at the Betar Train Station in Jerusalem


The visit to the Kosel made a very deep impression on me. The Mincha service warmed me as if it were Erev Yom Kippur.  





An enormous wail rose upward, bathing the heart in hot tears. Hundreds of people were weeping aloud. It was as if everyone had been transported to a higher realm.




They daven very early here, on Shabbos at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, but I indicated that they should start at 8:30.



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