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Looking Back At Yud Shvat 5740, Looking Forward To Shnas HaYovel
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

In this column I will attempt to describe my days in kvutza during the year 5740, and the weeks leading up to Yud Shvat, which marked thirty years of the Rebbe’s leadership. It is almost impossible to describe the atmosphere of Beis Chayeinu at that time. It was strikingly apparent that something wondrous was taking place, something around which everything else revolved.

The closer we approached that great and holy day, the more electrified the atmosphere became. Conversations among talmidim of the yeshiva inevitably focused on ideas for activities for Yud Shvat, a special gift for the Rebbe. A few weeks before the great and holy day, the talmidei ha’Tmimim convened an urgent meeting. Everyone showed up. The gathering was very serious, for everyone truly wanted to do something outstanding, something to give great nachas to the Rebbe.

The organizers of the meeting presented some ideas and then opened the session to whomever had any suggestions. They spoke about dividing Likkutei Sichos to complete the learning by Yud Shvat. Attendance at the sichos class was emphasized, the regular study of Shulchan Aruch was suggested, learning chapters of Tanya by heart, thinking before davening about “Behold, Hashem stands over him,” reviewing Basi L’Gani,” learning hundreds of pages of Gemara and maamarei Chassidus by heart in multiples of thirty, and other resolutions were undertaken by the Tmimim.

One of the general hachlatos was to add a half-hour of learning before morning Chassidus class, until Yud Shvat. Of course, first one would tovel in the mikva, for one doesn’t enter the Beis HaMikdash before immersing in a mikva.

The next morning, at 7:00 a.m., a half-hour before Chassidus class, you could not recognize 770. There wasn’t an empty spot, not in the small beis midrash upstairs nor in the large shul downstairs. The sounds of Torah were heard loud and clear. Everyone diligently studied the Rebbe’s Torah.

There were even those who, not trusting themselves to get up on time, remained awake all night in order to take part in this special gift to the Rebbe. The talmidim filled the benches, and there was hardly any room for the minyanim of Anash who came to daven before going to work.

Finally the big day arrived. The Rebbe’s farbrengen took place on Motzaei Yud Shvat – the day the Rebbe officially accepted the nesiyus, “On the eleventh of the eleventh month in the eleventh year,” Yud-Alef Shvat, 5711. The Rebbe emphasized this date in the KuntresBecha yivoreich Yisroel,” although the nesiyus began immediately after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, on Yud Shvat 5710. It is impossible to be without a Rebbe in a physical body in this world for even a moment.

Masses of people came and the crowding into Beis Chayeinu. Among the guests was Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchek, z’l, for whom the Rebbe stood up upon his arrival and departure. The Rebbe even warmly shook his hand.

On the night before, the night of Yud Shvat, there was a Chassidishe farbrengen in the small zal of 770 to prepare for the Rebbe’s farbrengen. The famous mashpia, R’ Nissan Nemenov, farbrenged. He spoke about our being soldiers, devoted heart and soul to every command of the Rebbe. He emphasized that a Chassid must always be a soldier, always standing ready for orders. He mustn’t be spoiled or self-indulge in anything. He must be sure that his every move is fitting for a soldier of the Rebbe. He should not eat what he wants to eat nor think what he wants to think. He must constantly remember that “behold Hashem stands over him!”

More and more people began to pack into the room. The small zal was full and looked almost like birkas ha’Tmimim on Yom Kippur night, and people continued to pour in! There were mashpiim, roshei yeshivos, rabbanim, shluchim, and Tmimim. Nobody could speak and nobody wanted to speak. The niggunim went on and on, especially niggunei simcha and marches, and rich niggunim expressing longing and yearning.

R’ Zushe Wilemovsky, the Rebbe’s partizan, stood on the table and conducted the singing as it grew stronger and stronger. There was no need for words – there were no words to express the feelings in the hearts that were present. People said l’chaim and sang niggunim and danced, but no one spoke. This went on for hours, but no one was aware of the time passing. Everyone stood (or sat) squashed together, without speaking, just singing niggunei Chabad, the only way to celebrate the feeling that we merited the thirtieth year of the Rebbe’s nesiyus.

In the early hours of the morning, as the sun arose, we suddenly heard a “Ssshhh.” Silence fell on the beis midrash. A mashpia stood on the table, picked up his cup to say “l’chaim,” and using the special tune before tekiyos on Rosh HaShana, bellowed, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam sh’hecheyanu v’kimanu v’higiyanu lizman ha’zeh!”

The mighty amen that burst forth still rings in my ears twenty years later, just before Yud Shvat 5760, Shnas HaYovel. Chazal say that the bracha of she’hecheyanu is said for simchas ha’lev. I can’t think of another event that had the simchas ha’lev of that Yud Shvat.

* * *

The message of Yud Shvat is hiskashrus – connecting Jews to the Rebbe. To get more and more Jews, gentiles too, “all members of the generation – to fulfill the Rebbe’s directives (“your judges”), to learn his teachings, to write to him and consult with him (“your advisors”). To believe that every word he says is the word of G-d, as the Rebbe indicates in the famous sicha of Shoftim 5751: “He reveals His secrets to His servants, the prophets, including the final prophecy. The prophecy [is stated] not merely as the chacham and shofet” (for then it might remain in the spiritual realm where sin might affect it), “but as a prophet, which makes it a certainty.”

Of course, these are all details. Important details to be sure, but still details. The nekudas ha’hiskashrus (main point of connecting to the Rebbe), the etzem (essence) which is above all giluyim (particulars, manifestations), is for one to be connected not only to the Rebbe’s directives, counsel, and prophecies, but to the Rebbe himself.

Our connection to Hashem necessitates our fulfilling Torah and mitzvos. Without them, there is no revealed connection. Chassidus explains that a person can fulfill the Torah punctiliously, and even go beyond the letter of the law, yet still be sunk deep in the abyss, r’l. Fulfilling mitzvos is not enough, for one must connect to Hashem Himself.

Likewise concerning our connection to the Rebbe, through whom we connect to Hashem. All the details are vital, yet at the same time something more, something greater, is needed, and that is the connection to the Rebbe himself, the etzem above giluyim.

Chassidim understand the Mishna in the beginning of Meseches Kiddushin as follows: “Isha” – (literally, a woman) the mekabel, the Chassid…niknes l’baala – is acquired by (literally, her husband) the mashpia, the Rebbe… b’kesef, b’shtar, u’b’biah”: b’kesef – by paying the monthly maamud to the Rebbe; b’shtar by learning the Rebbe’s Torah and writing to and consulting with the Rebbe; b’biah – by coming to the Rebbe, having yechidus with him, and by giving over everything — all one’s desires, all one’s emotions, and all one’s kochos — to him.

One way of connecting people to the Rebbe is by actually bringing people to 770 to daven with the Rebbe, to farbreng, and to learn his Torah in his dalet amos. R’ Dovid Raskin tells about the person who had a yechidus with the Rebbe, complaining that he tries unsuccessfully to think about “behold Hashem stands above him,” etc. The Rebbe told him to think about it within the dalet amos of one who is completely permeated with that awareness – i.e., the Rebbe in 770, and then it would be effective. The Rebbe himself emphasized the value of remaining in 770.

I had the privilege of being in Beis Chayeinu on Chanuka, with a group organized by Beis Midrash L’Nashim. There were different levels of observance among those present, ranging from women from Chassidic homes to women just starting teshuva. The hisorerus, the shiurim, mivtzaim, farbrengens, and most of all, the fact that all this was done in the Rebbe’s dalet amos, in “Beis Moshiach,” affected everyone greatly.

Ariella Benayoun’s devotion to the program is unsurpassed. Thanks to her, there were nearly non-stop shiurim and farbrengens. People went on mivtzaim who had never gone before. The guests’ meals and accommodations were arranged, entailing much effort and money.

Groups like these, primarily for women (it’s a shame there’s nothing similar for men on this scale) are organized from time to time. This is so important, and more and more people should join. One cannot estimate the value of such a trip for out-of-towners. The Rebbe says, in Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu She’b’Bavel,” that everyone coming to Beis Chayeinu adds to the king’s honor by demonstrating that this is the place that all turn to, as Chazal say about the Beis HaMikdash. In addition to the benefit we accrue both b’gashmiyus and b’ruchniyus, it also “adds to the king’s honor.” How important it is to bring more and more Yidden to the Rebbe, especially for Yud Shvat, the fiftieth year of his leadership.

Another group of women is planning a trip for Chaf-Beis Shvat, including a group of bas mitzva girls from Ateres Chaya in Bnei Brak. The whole class is going, along with their teachers and some parents. A full program is being prepared for them.

If we said that the year 5740 was connected with the etzem which is above giluyim, what can we say about 5760, the fiftieth year, the Shnas HaYovel, Shnas Geula Titnu LaAretz. This is also the Shnas Segula (according to the acronym for 5760), which comes after a decade of wonders and miracles.

The Rebbe explains the description of Bnei Yisroel as “you will be to me a segula, treasured of all the nations.” A precious treasure has no purpose or function beyond its very existence, for it is never used, never shown to anyone. What is the purpose of having it if it serves no function? Its role is simply in its existence, in the fact that such a treasure is owned, with no other additional benefit, or giluyim.

The same applies to the Jewish people: our primary value does not lie in possessing fine attributes, but in our very being itself, which Hashem Himself chose. This point is above all giluyim, including even the Torah — “Yisroel and Hashem are One.”

Etzem is not limited or defined by giluyim, and doesn’t have to be b’galui (revealed). Neither must it be concealed, for that would limit it. Davka in order to express its complete limitlessness, it must become b’galui too, with the final Geula. This etzem is expressed particularly in saying “Yechi,” which is the revelation of the “etzem metziyuso of Melech HaMoshiach.”


The message of Yud Shvat is hiskashrus, connecting Jews to the Rebbe. To get more and more Jews, gentiles too, “all members of the generation – to fulfill the Rebbe’s directives...







But the main point of connecting to the Rebbe is for one to be connected not only to the Rebbe’s directives, counsel, and prophecies, but to the Rebbe himself.


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