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How to Love the Rebbe
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

 In a reshima written at the beginning of Kislev 5693 (1933), the Rebbe Rayatz writes the following (printed in his Igros Kodesh, Vol. 2, p. 477):

At a gathering with Anash, I related that it is a holy obligation for every Chassid to act on behalf of Chassidus. The truth is that every Chassid, even those who only stem from Chassidic lineage, is able to act on behalf of Chassidus.

There is a story of a Chassid who was mekushar (connected) with great love to his Rebbe. Living not far from his Rebbe, he would visit his Rebbe a few times a year. He did this for a number of years. He would come often, would not enter for yechidus, and occasionally would not even hear divrei Torah, for he came just for a day or two in the middle of the week. He would slake his thirst for his connection and love by merely seeing his Rebbe.

In return, his Rebbe    knowing how great was his Chassid’s hiskashrus, and how great was his love for the ways of Chassidus within his heart, aside from his inner and essential love for a Chassid    had an extra measure of fondness in his holy heart for this Chassid. This was above and beyond the general love implanted in the hearts of G-d’s servants for all Jewry and for their flock.

On one of this Chassid’s visits to his Rebbe, when he was getting ready to leave, his Rebbe called him into his room, and said, “Listen, it is true that you are beloved and loyal to me, and your hiskashrus to me is very great, which is why I have a great request to make of you, affecting me to my very soul. You can do me this great favor. And in turn, for all eternity, in this world and the next, I will remember that you did me this favor — for it comes from my soul.”

Hearing this from his Rebbe, the Chassid was shaken and he said, “I am ready with all my money, body, and soul, to follow your command, with actual mesirus nefesh. Just tell me what to do, and with G-d’s help it will be done in a flash with no delay.”

The Rebbe continued, “I do not need you to sacrifice your money or your body. Keep what you have and may Hashem bless you with more. But the sacrifice of your nefesh, that is, your will and desire, is what I want. That is how you can do this great favor for me, touching me to my very soul.”

“I am asking you to make me Chassidim,” said the Rebbe.

“Who, me?” wondered the Chassid. “Can I make Chassidim? How can one make Chassidim?”

“You,” answered the Rebbe, “you can make Chassidim, and you must make Chassidim. Your question, ‘how is it possible to make Chassidim?’ is quite simple. If, in everything you do, you conduct yourself with fine character traits, according to the ways of Chassidus…” (in those days there was no need to talk about the fulfillment of mitzvos with fear of Heaven, because fulfilling mitzvos in a beautiful manner and learning Torah with fear of Heaven were a given. Most of the encouragement concerned meditation for the Divine service of refining the character traits.) “…you will surely make new Chassidim, for everyone knows you are my Chassid.”

Indeed, every Chassid has the ability to act on behalf of Chassidus and every Chassid is obligated to act on behalf of Chassidus. The expression “it is the obligation of every Chassid to act on behalf of Chassidus,” and “all who stem from Chassidic stock have the ability to act on behalf of Chassidus,” have become bywords among Anash...

I return now to the obligation of every Chassid to act on behalf of Chassidus, and the ability of all who come from Chassidic stock to act on behalf of Chassidus.

When I said, “the obligation of every Chassid — chovas kol Chassid” or the “holy obligation” — chov kadosh,” I meant two things by this, for the word “chov” consists of two distinct concepts. “Chov” means shuld [debt, duty, or obligation]: 1) When someone takes something, until he returns it he is chayav [indebted]. 2) The object he took is being held b’chubo [on his lap; meaning in his possession].

Chassidim, in general, and the children of (Chassidic) families in particular, owe a debt to Toras ha’Chassidus, and, as we said, chov has two meanings: 1) he took something, and 2) the thing remains in his possession.

Chassidim have taken a lot. They, the Chassidim, took not only fine character traits, but even the revelation of the soul-powers, with which Chassidim differ from those who are not Chassidim. All the more so Chassidei Chabad, who merited [the fulfillment of the verse] “wisdom shall be heralded in the outside.”

Experience will testify that what a young Chassid understands as a given, a worldly maskil would need a number of prefaces to present the information and a number of intellectual theorems. In the end, the worldly maskil merely understands it, but the essence of the matter eludes him. That is to say, he and the understanding are two separate things, whereas the Chassid feels it.

The essential quality of a hergesh [feeling or sense of something] is more elevated than that of understanding. Understanding is always subject to contradiction. For a more clever person could always come along and disprove the first position. Indeed, the realm of the intellect in general is subject to change and objection, unlike hergesh (gefil in Yiddish), which can never be contradicted, for all the understanding and explanations will not move the person who feels something. Understanding and comprehension are derived from the intellect, which is founded in chochma (haskala) and bina (havana). Hergesh has its source in the light of the nefesh, which is above intellect, and its foundation is daas (hakara and hiskashrus). The very material of which hergesh consists is far more spiritual at its essence than the material of the essence of haskala. Furthermore, haskala requires introductions and theorems, which come with effort, without which it cannot exist, and it is not inherited. Hergesh does not require introductions and theorems. It comes without effort, and is given as an inheritance.

Hergesh surpasses intellect and ratzon (will) in that not only does it contain the advantages of intellect and ratzon, but in addition, the disadvantages of intellect and ratzon are transformed into integral advantages. To sum up, hergesh 1) is strong and active, 2) explains and educates, 3) suits the conditions of time and place, and 4) elevates the one being educated to a lofty level.

Hergesh, which comes as an inheritance from father to son, is by nature hidden deep within the mind and heart, affects both of them equally, and works as mentioned above.

And that is what I meant by “the obligation of every Chassid,” and “holy obligation.” For among those who stem of Chassidic stock in general, even if sometimes it is hidden and covered over with the dust of “the noise of mundane life,” it can be revealed and shine, through hisorerus [spiritual arousal].

Therefore, this is our job, each according to his strength and ability. We must explain the truth of the content of Toras ha’Chassidus in terms of actual avoda and proper behavior with good character traits, and to arouse the spark of the integral “light source” contained within each individual. The means to arouse it, although tailored to each individual in his own way, all lead towards the truth that the main thing is a good deed. Then we will fulfill our obligation, our mission, [to lead] a life of light, as our fathers, the holy Rebbeim, so desire.


In the sicha of Shabbos Mevarchim Elul 5710 (edited), the Rebbe MH”M says:

According to halacha, one may not rely solely on signs to identify a kosher bird, for there must also be a mesora (tradition). One could ask, why do you need mesora when a person can look at the required signs and determine for himself if it is kosher?

The point is that a person cannot rely on his own judgment. A person can study Shulchan Aruch and [even] go beyond the letter of the law, and simultaneously, he can be sunk deep in the lowest abyss. There must be mesora, from the root meaning mesira [devotion] and hiskashrus, connection to a teacher, a teacher who is a “trapper,” who is involved in saving Jewish souls from the yetzer hara and is expert in this.

In the sicha of 9 Nissan 5700 (Seifer HaSichos 5700, p. 32) the Rebbe Rayatz says:

In 5667 (1907) we were in Wurtzberg by Ehren with my parents. At the Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen, my father spoke about Chassidus and what it means to be a Chassid. In his holy sicha, my father related that in the year 5636 (1876), when grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, said the famous maamer, “Mayim Rabbim,” he — my father — sat with Rabbi Yaakov Mordechai Bespalov and they spoke about avoda, when the question arose as to what is a Chassid. Rabbi Y.M. said that a Chassid is one who is devoted to a Rebbe.

“I think,” said Father, “that one who is mekushar to the Rebbe with the greatest hiskashrus is still a weak Chassid. A Chassid is something else entirely. After delving into the matter I have concluded that hiskashrus alone is not what makes a Chassid, but a Chassid must be devoted to his Rebbe’s activities [peulas].”

I explained this matter to myself with an analogy of the body and the soul. The body is connected to the soul with an essential connection, but the connection of body to soul is not merely the connection to the body. The connection of body and soul is the dedication the body has to the activities of the soul.

The Rebbe MH”M explains the above (sicha Parshas VaYeishev 5721) as follows:

Obviously, the Rebbe is not telling us that a Chassid must do what his Rebbe tells him, because we are not dealing with fools. It is a positive command of the Torah to fulfill the words of one’s teacher. He is not telling us that we must do those activities of the Rebbe that cannot be done by anyone else, because this is also an explicit halacha: mitzvos that cannot be done by others defer Torah study. Although regarding Torah study, it says that all one’s desires cannot compare to it, mitzvos that cannot be done by others take precedent over Torah study. Since the Rebbe’s activities all involve strengthening and disseminating Yiddishkeit, if they are activities that cannot be done by others, they are in the category of mitzvos that cannot be done by others, and one must do them, as the halacha states.

What the Rebbe meant when he said, “to be devoted to the Rebbe’s activities,” is to do even those things that can be done without him, and even if the Rebbe did not speak to him or write to him about them. These activities are matters the Rebbe is occupied with, matters to which he is devoted and puts before all his personal matters. And the Chassid of whom we speak is one who is mekushar to the Rebbe, one of whom the Rebbe himself says is mekushar to him. And naturally, the Chassid’s personal concerns are only regarding Torah or avoda or gmilus chasadim. But since they are his personal concerns, he puts them aside and devotes himself to the Rebbe’s peulos (activities).

The precise word is peulos, not [the Rebbe’s] Torah, thoughts, or speech. A peula is something separate, below maaseh. It is said, “ko’ach ha’poel ba’nifal” (the energy of the worker is invested in the object of his work), referring to something separate (i.e., outside of the person). In other words, being involved with matters that are not connected at all to the Rebbe’s immediate environment. In order to do them, one has to leave the Rebbe’s four cubits. They are extremely lowly things. However, since they are the Rebbe’s peulos, he is devoted to them.

Just like the connection between body and soul, the soul’s connection with the body is to the entire body, including the heel. The heel is below the leg. It does not have the brains of the head, nor the character traits of the heart, nor the ability of the hands. Even the legs’ ability to walk is not in the heel, for it is possible to get around even without the heel. Chayus (life-force) is not felt in the heel, which is why the heel is called the Malach ha’Mavves sh’b’Adam (the Angel of Death in Man) in Avos d’Rabbi Nosson. Even so, the heel must also have a connection. As the Rebbe Rashab said, “Eikev asher shama Avrohom b’koli” (Because [eikev, also meaning heel] Avrohom listened to My voice.) Even the heel has to be Chassidishe.

Through the Chassid’s devotion to the Rebbe’s activities, even if they are matters of separation, through carrying out the peula and shlichus of the Rebbe, he “takes” the essence of the Rebbe.


The Rebbe Rayatz says in Likkutei Dibburim (Vol. 1, p. 88):

When you read the letters of the Rebbeim, whether the general or the personal letters, you see the love and fondness the Rebbeim have for the Chassidim. The greatest love that people speak of is the love of a parent for his children, though really this love is nothing compared to the love with which a Rebbe loves a Chassid.

Further in Likkutei Dibburim (Vol. 4, p. 1490):

The Chassid R’ Isaac of Homil said, “Shlomo HaMelech was tremendously wise, as it says, ‘and Hashem gave wisdom to Shlomo.’ Wisdom was given to him, and what could be greater, more elevated or better than wisdom — in fact, the very essence of wisdom. Nevertheless, he did not have a Rebbe. If he had gone to a Rebbe, aside from his wisdom being greater, he would have had fellow Chassidim and he would have been present at their Chassidic farbrengens, and then he would have grasped the awesomeness of [the relationship between] a lover and his beloved in terms of Chassidim and Rebbeim.”

And in the Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz (Vol. 6, p. 353):

True hiskashrus is achieved through learning the maamarim and kuntreisim, by farbrenging with Anash and by arousing love. The custom of Chassidim mekusharim in every generation — in addition, to mentioning his Rebbe in “HaRachaman” in the bentching, “HaRachaman hu yivareich...” — was to set aside a specific time, for some an hour a day, or once a week, two weeks or a month, to arouse feelings of love for their teacher and Rebbe. This was done simply to love the Rebbe with a heartfelt love, like the tangible love for a wife and children. In arousing feelings of love, they would picture themselves at yechidus or when they heard [the Rebbe say] Chassidus, or during a farbrengen, so that by doing so they were always mekusharim. Above all else is actual avoda, each according to his ability, with oneself and with others.


On Yud-Tes Teives, there was a complete didan natzach, a complete victory, and not only regarding clarifying in a court of law the true ownership of the sfarim, but also regarding the personal claims made against the Rebbe shlita in connection with the court case. But the Rebbe did not establish this day as a holiday. The sicha of Gimmel Tammuz 5718 (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 4, p. 1315) explains that a Rebbe establishes a holiday only regarding an event that affects everyone. For example, 12-13 Tammuz is celebrated as the time of the liberation of the Rebbe Rayatz, enabling him to continue disseminating Yiddishkeit and Chassidus. However, concerning the Rebbe Rayatz’s personal issues, such as Gimmel Tammuz, when he was freed from prison only to be sent into exile, the Rebbe does not establish a holiday.

Nevertheless, says the Rebbe, Chassidim should also celebrate the days which pertain to the Rebbe personally, since Chassidim are connected to everything having to do with the Rebbe, including his personal matters. The personal matters of a neshama klalis (general soul) pertain to the public at large. (Although some may consider this suggestion to be based solely on hergeishim, the Rebbe Rayatz explained the advantage of hergeishim, as it appears above.)

The Rebbe is incomparably superior to all people and beyond the reality of the world. Therefore, his personal matters are far more of essence than those things connecting him to us and the world. We have no obligation and no connection to them. They are above us and pertain to the Rebbe himself.

A Rebbe gives himself to the world, to Jews and to his Chassidim with his very being, so that his main concern becomes his connection with us, even in the state of being indescribably higher than us. The entire concern of a Rebbe is his connection to us, because “the nasi is everything.” A Rebbe remains completely unaffected by his imprisonment and exile. Therefore, solely from a Rebbe’s position, there would be no reason to celebrate Yud-Tes Kislev and Yud-Beis Tammuz. However, since we perceived a situation of descent, imprisonment, and exile, we rejoice for the Rebbeim at the times they were redeemed. Because they have willed it, we have a connection to their most inner, essential matters, which under other circumstances, we would have absolutely no connection to.

On Motzaei Zos Chanuka 5738, at the thanksgiving meal the Rebbe made after his heart attack, the Rebbe spoke about the nisuch ha’yayin, nisuch ha’mayim, and the custom of Hakafos, saying: That which is more elevated is more refined. In fact, some matters are so lofty that they simply cannot be defined or limited as an obligation and a mitzva. The Rabbinic obligations are more lofty than Biblical obligations, and Jewish customs are even loftier. Therefore, since there is not even a custom to celebrate Motzaei Shabbos Chanuka (although the Rebbe added, in 5749, that one can ask why there is no Isru Chag for Chanuka; nevertheless, given its close proximately to Chanuka, this day is greatly affected by Chanuka), the simcha is even loftier. The same could be said of Yud-Tes Teives

Our hiskashrus to the Rebbe is with the Rebbe as Rebbe. Why did R’ Isaac say that had Shlomo gone to a Rebbe, he would have seen a much greater example of lover and beloved in the love of the Chassidim and the Rebbe? Because the Rebbe is the focal point of our lives. Because he embodies everything we believe and know. Because he connects each one of us to Hashem and to each other.

We cannot separate the Rebbe from Chabad ideology to say, “I am mekushar to the Rebbe. I care about the Rebbe and his health and pleasure, and the rest doesn’t interest me.” One cannot be mekushar without attempting to live with what the Rebbe wants us to live. The Rebbe does not have personal matters as does a private individual, who cares about physical health and the pleasure of a nice home and nice things, or even pleasure from the most spiritual things. Our inner hiskashrus must inspire us to koch in the matter for which the Rebbe was mosser nefesh for a year and a half (from 5753-5754), the matter of:



The intellect is subject to change and objection, unlike hergesh, which can never be contradicted, for all the understanding and explanations will not move the person who feels something.






There must be mesora, a mesira and hiskashrus to a teacher, who is involved in saving Jewish souls from the yetzer hara and is expert in this.




The greatest love that people speak of is the love of a parent for his children, though really this love is nothing compared to the love with which a Rebbe loves a Chassid.





Since there is not even a custom to celebrate Motzaei Shabbos Chanuka, the simcha is even loftier. The same could be said of Yud-Tes Teives.



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