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On the Rebbeís Shoulders
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

I heard the following story from Rí Mendel Futerfas and from Rí Berke Chein:

The gaon and famous Chassid, Rí Peretz Chein, was sent by the Mitteler Rebbe to be the rav in Beshenkowitz. This was prior to his position in Chernigov, where the Tzemach Tzedek later sent him (as was described in this column in issue #256).

Rí Peretz was very uneasy about taking on the position in Beshenkowitz, because a man named Rí Aharon, known as Arke, had caused grief to all the previous rabbanim of the town. Arke was a great scholar, a genius, and quite a Misnaged. He used his many talents to confound the rabbanim and ultimately to get rid of them. He would present difficult questions to the rabbanim who would arrive in Beshenkowitz. And after the rav would render his decision, Arke and his friends would present a strong case for the other position. A rav who conceded that he had erred obviously no longer had the right to serve as rav and would leave town in disgrace.

Therefore, when the Mitteler Rebbe assigned Rí Peretz to this town, it was no wonder that the latter was nervous. He told the Rebbe his concerns, saying that under the circumstances he did not think he could go there. The Rebbe told him that "they had approved of this in Heaven," but Rí Peretz was still apprehensive. The Rebbe finally told him to go there, "oif meina pleitzes" (on my shoulders). Hearing this, Rí Peretz rejoiced and said, "Rebbe, Iím going! If itís on the Rebbeís shoulders, I have nothing to fear."

(When his grandson, Rí Berke Chein, told this story he would interject that one should not think that Rí Peretz initially considered not listening to the Rebbe. Raising his objections was his way of getting the Rebbe to take on the responsibility.)

Rí Peretz arrived at Beshenkowitz and began leading the town as its rav. Arke of course began sending all sorts of questions his way through his various emissaries, but Rí Peretz always managed to prove the validity of his halachic decisions.

Arke once sent him a particularly complicated question. Rí Peretz scrutinized the item in question and pronounced it kosher. Arke immediately galvanized his friends into action. They attacked the ravís decision with strong, convincing proofs. Rí Peretz worked arduously to justify his position.

At the height of the debate, the antagonists repeatedly demanded, "Whatís your source? From where did you derive your decision?" Rí Peretz pointed towards a packed bookcase and said, "From there."

Rí Peretz meant that, in general, his decision was based on the sfarim in the bookcase, but evidently one of his opponents understood him to be referring to a particular book. So he took the book out and opening it up to see what it said.

Lo and behold, this was a book of halachic responsa, and by an incredible instance of Divine providence, the place he opened to was precisely the topic they were discussing! There the author referred to the sources the antagonists were quoting in attempt to disprove Rí Peretz, and it went on to explain how each point was taken out of context, and sided instead with the opinion also derived by Rí Peretz.

When they saw the proof in black and white, they meekly left the house and persecuted him no longer.

"Thatís when I saw," said Rí Peretz afterwards, "that I was here on the Rebbeís shoulders."

(This is how Rí Mendel told the story. Rí Berke Chein would say it slightly differently. His version of the story was that after stating the psak, Rí Peretz went over to the bookcase, removed a Talmud Yerushalmi, and opened it to a proof of what he had said. Afterwards, when Arke came with his complaints about the psak, Rí Peretz said, "Itís an explicit Yerushalmi!" When Rí Peretz was proven right, Arke realized that he was an outstanding rav and left him alone).

* * *

The original celebration of Hei Teives took place for seven whole days, "the seven days of the cycle." After such an intense celebration, we must realize the lesson of the day and internalize it.

The sichos repeatedly emphasize the importance of studying sfarim, filling our house with them, making a bayis malei sfarim. One caution, however, is that we must not have the attitude that studying the sfarim permits us to rely on our own intellect and understanding. We must always remember that we are on the Rebbeís shoulders.

A simple Jew has no problem with this. It is obvious to him that without the Rebbe he has nothing, for he knows how insignificant he is. He does not imagine that he should base his actions and attitudes on his own understanding. The Rebbe commanded us to increase our knowledge and understanding in order to make a dwelling place in this world. However, the more one grows in knowledge and understanding, the more likely it is to entertain the vilde machshava (wild thought) that we are worth something on our own, since we can delve into the Torah of the Rebbeim. We must repeatedly clarify to ourselves, as well as to others, that without being on the Rebbeís shoulders we might end up being self-centered and arrogant.

* * *

Rí Mendel would often tell about the mashpia in Lubavitch, the Chassid and oveid (as the Rebbe Rayatz called him), Rí Chanoch Hendel Kugel. When Tomchei Tmimim was first founded and the first group of students was sent to the town of Zembin with the mashpia, the Chassid, and maskil, Rí Shmuel Grunem Esterman, the Rebbe Rashab sent Rí Hendel to observe the quality of learning there.

Rí Hendel reported back, complaining, "They engage in pilpul [intellectual debate] in Chassidus, Ďmípilpult zich un mípilpult zich,í but they are liable to forget the One Who gives the Torah!"

The Rebbe stressed our obligation to buy and study holy books, to give them as bar mitzva gifts and to fill our homes with them. And he instructed us to fill our minds and hearts with their content. We must remember that the Rebbeim gave us the opportunity and ability to connect to them through their sfarim. When we acknowledge that, we avoid the pitfalls.

In order to properly focus on what is necessary in our times, the stress should be on repeatedly studying the Dvar Malchus, the most recent sichos we heard from the Rebbe MH"M shlita. When we learn the Rebbeís writings, we should remember that we must be utterly nullified to "the one who gives the Torah." We must put aside our desires and our preferences and devote ourselves completely to the Rebbe. All of our learning must have this as its basis.

We must constantly study the Dvar Malchus. They are the final sichos we have to date. The Rebbe was aware of what would happen in the future, investing into these sichos everything we would need during this time that we cannot see and hear the Rebbe directly.

In 5710, after the Rebbe Rayatzís histalkus, in reference to his maamarim and sichos, the Rebbe MH"M said, "Der Rebbe hut altz bavorent" (the Rebbe anticipated everything). He maintained that all answers to all questions were found in these writings, "if only Anash, and especially the Tmimim, examined the maamarim and sichos of the previous year and earlier."

The mashpia Rí Nissan Nemenov asked the Rebbe MH"M, in the first month after the histalkus of the Rebbe Rayatz, if his daughterís wedding, previously scheduled for that month, should be postponed. The Rebbe told him that there were statements in the maamarim of the Rebbe Maharash addressed to private individuals in such a way that whoever did not have a connection to them simply did not hear them. (At one point, the Rebbe Rashab asked his father to be able to hear that which was designated for individuals.) The fact that the subject of weddings was mentioned in the final maamer of the Rebbe Rayatz, even though it was not directly relevant to the subject under discussion, is an indication that "hut der Rebbe em gemeint" (that the Rebbe had him in mind); he should not push off the wedding.

For eleven months, between Chaf-Ches Nissan, 5751, and Chaf-Zayin Adar I, 5752, the Rebbe continually spoke about learning inyanei Moshiach víGeula. In Parshas Balak 5751, the Rebbe said we learn about Moshiach so that we can "live with Moshiach" and be aware that we are currently at the threshold of Redemption.

Let us not allow a week to go by without learning the entire Dvar Malchus in depth, for then we will see how the Rebbe really informed us about everything in advance. Everyone, including women and children, should learn the Dvar Malchus, even if at first it is not understood. For some, the first step to becoming baalei teshuva was reading the Dvar Malchus without understanding it.

The Geula is inexplicably taking time; we must do what we can, particularly when the Rebbe said this is the most direct and easiest way to achieve the Geula. There can be no better way to prepare for the great day of Yud Shvat, marking 50 years of the Rebbeís leadership, than to increase our commitment to learning the Dvar Malchus. May the resolution to do so bring about the Rebbe MH"Mís immediate revelation.



We must not have the attitude that studying the sfarim permits us to rely on our own intellect and understanding. We must always remember that we are on the Rebbeís shoulders.





By an incredible instance of Divine providence, the place he opened to was precisely the topic they were discussing!


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