the Rebbeís Shoulders
Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
heard the following story from Rí Mendel Futerfas and from Rí
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).
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.
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."
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.)
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
they saw the proof in black and white, they meekly left the house
and persecuted him no longer.
when I saw," said Rí Peretz afterwards, "that I was
here on the Rebbeís shoulders."
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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
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.