You My Chassid?
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg
of us must ask himself bluntly, "Ayeka – where are you? Can I honestly
say that I ‘belong’ to the Rebbe?"
Mendel Futerfas, o.b.m., used to tell the following story:
was the early days of the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesiyus when the Rebbe began
to establish his network of clandestine yeshivos and chadarim
throughout the Soviet Union. The situation was very bad. The Jewish branch of
the Communist Party, the Yevsektziya (which called itself "The Society of
Those Opposed to Religion"), was doing all it could to dismantle and
destroy all Torah institutions. The compulsory education law mandated that all
Russian children be enrolled in government public schools, which were dedicated
to eradicating the very concept of religious belief.
those early years after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Communists were still
intoxicated with their political victory. This was especially true of the Jewish
Communists, who seemed driven to prove their allegiance to the new order. Their
approach was two-fold: On the one hand, they utilized brutal force against
anyone who stood in their way and refused to implement their directives. Yet at
the same time, they insisted on waging a battle for people’s minds, trying to
convince them that their way was right. Countless show trials were held, with
the religious Jew always being portrayed as a bloodsucking parasite. Yeshiva
bachurim in particular bore the brunt of their animosity; they were
consistently held up for ridicule and accused of exploiting the working class.
this point in history the Rebbe Rayatz began to send shluchim across the
length and breadth of Russia, arousing Jews’ hearts and strengthening
Yiddishkeit. From city to city and from town to town they traveled, arranging minyanim
for davening, setting up a network of shiurim, and making sure
that mikvaos were in working order to facilitate observance of taharas
ha’mishpacha. But the Rebbe’s crowning achievement was the establishment
of chadarim for tinokos shel beis rabban – young Jewish
schoolchildren, whose minds were still unpoisoned. This more than anything else
was the biggest thorn in the Yevsektziya’s side, and they were determined to
fight the Rebbe till the death.
Rebbe Rayatz began to speak about tinokos shel beis rabban constantly,
on any and all occasions. The Rebbe mentioned the topic so often that Chassidim
joked that if the Rebbe’s finger were cut, tinokos shel beis rabban would
flow instead of blood. (This, of course, was a reference to what the Tzemach
Tzedek had said about the Mitteler Rebbe, that if his finger were cut, Chassidus
would come out and not blood…)
was one farbrengen around that time at which both Reb Mendel and Reb
Itche Der Masmid (may G-d avenge his blood) were present. As usual, the Rebbe
was speaking about the importance of tinokos shel beis rabban, urging the
Chassidim to put everything else aside and concentrate on the holy work of
establishing and teaching in chadarim.
Itche was a holy Jew, pure and simple. He was also a true Chassid, mekushar
heart and soul to the Rebbe. As reflected in his nickname (masmid – one
who learns Torah with hasmada, diligence), his diligence and capacity for
study were phenomenal. Reb Itche would sit with his feet in a bucket of cold
water to make sure he didn’t fall asleep and interrupt his learning. His davening
went on for hours, in the highest state of dveikus. People used to say
that Reb Itche davened all day and farbrenged all night. Reb Itche
also served the Rebbe in the capacity of shadar (shlucha d’rabbanan),
gathering gashmiyus (i.e., monetary contributions) and planting ruchniyus…
before, Reb Itche had a yechidus with the Rebbe Rashab and asked him for
a tikkun for his soul. His problem, he explained, is that in the course
of his travels he often came into contact with Jews who were in need of the
Rebbe’s blessing. If there wasn’t enough time to go to the Rebbe in person,
he would close his eyes, imagine the Rebbe’s holy face before him and give the
person a bracha, which was always fulfilled. Reb Itche knew that it was
only the Rebbe’s power that made it work, but the people who received the
blessing would give him the credit. A tikkun for this was surely
any event, Reb Itche was sitting at this farbrengen, and the Rebbe Rayatz
kept talking about tinokos shel beis rabban. All of a sudden the Rebbe
turned around and looked directly at Reb Itche. "Her zich ayn, Itche!
Tustu in tinokos shel beis Rabban, bistu meiner. Un tomer nisht, bist takeh
Itche…" ("Listen to me, Itche. If you involve yourself in tinokos
shel beis rabban, you are mine. But if not, you are still Itche…")
other words, a person can be involved in the holiest of pursuits – avodas
Hashem, hiskashrus, shlichus, etc., but when the Rebbe demands tinokos
shel beis rabban, if you really want to belong to the Rebbe, you simply have
to put everything else aside and involve yourself in tinokos shel beis rabban,
regardless of who you are. If you don’t, G-d forbid, it doesn’t matter how
many other wonderful qualities you might possess, you don’t really belong to
our times, the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, told us to put aside all other concerns
and concentrate on "the only thing that remains in the service of shlichus."
The Rebbe didn’t say "an important component in the service of shlichus"
or even "the most important part of the service of shlichus."
The Rebbe stated that "the only thing that remains is to greet
Moshiach Tzidkeinu in actuality," and everything we do, all our peulos
and activities, should reflect this. "All the days of your life" are
only for the purpose "of bringing about the Days of Moshiach."
Rebbe said this clearly and unequivocally. Anyone who ignores the Rebbe’s
wishes and insists on getting sidetracked on other issues – regardless of how
lofty – should reassess the health of his hiskashrus…
Shabbos Parshas VaYigash 5747, the first Shabbos after Didan Natzach, Hei
Teives (which fell out on a Tuesday), the Rebbe declared that a new time and a
new period had begun. From now on, the Rebbe said, there was only one thing to
focus on: "All of you stand ready for the building of the Third Beis
HaMikdash with the true and complete Redemption."
knows that the Rebbe did not consider the legal proceedings to determine
ownership of the s’farim to be an ordinary court case. As the Rebbe
explained so many times, especially on Zos Chanuka 5746, what happened was
similar to the Alter Rebbe’s experience in Petersburg in that it reflected the
larger, spiritual struggle going on up Above. The court victory was a
vindication of the Rebbe shlita’s path for the seventh generation,
which will culminate when the revelation of the Divine presence is completely
brought back to earth. The entire world must be filled with G-dliness, even the
lowest and most extraneous levels, "below which there is nothing
lower." Every tool at man’s disposal, every gimmick ever invented –
from the Internet and videos to the billboards in Times Square – must proclaim
the truth of Moshiach and Redemption.
the same way that the Alter Rebbe’s incarceration was a reflection of the
spiritual kitrug against him, so too do the accusations against Lubavitch
continue in our time. Although the charges are easily refuted, the Rebbe noted
that the fact that G-d allowed the charges to be leveled indicates that there is
something we can learn from them. The lesson, of course, is that Lubavitch needs
even more activism, above and beyond what has already been accomplished.
Alter Rebbe greatly expanded Chabad Chassidus after Petersburg far beyond what
came before. Similarly, the Rebbe shlita announced after Hei Teives that
a new time and a new period had begun, in which nothing else remained except to
prepare for Moshiach. (The Rebbe clarified that he didn’t mean everything else
we were doing should stop, but that all our actions should be permeated with
Moshiach and Geula.)
if someone should claim that these are "wild words," the Rebbe said at
the time, there is nothing to worry to about, for the words are true according
to Toras Emes. The truth must be stated loudly and clearly, without fear
of what the world might say, especially since the world is ready to hear it.
When these words will be said pleasantly yet emphatically, people will accept
the Rebbe continued in the same sicha, when there are those who claim
that "the eulogizers have eulogized and the embalmers have embalmed,"
they must be told the true reality according to Toras Emes, and there is
nothing to fear from their reaction. When something is true according to Torah,
it must be stated.
same thing applies to Eretz Yisroel, said the Rebbe. The reality according to
the Torah of Truth must be proclaimed. Jewish ownership of Eretz Yisroel is
something even non-Jews believe, and the world is sufficiently prepared to hear
the next few weeks the Rebbe gradually expounded upon this theme even more. The
Rebbe had spoken previously about the need to finish polishing the buttons; now
the Rebbe told us that they were already polished. Every farbrengen was
filled with references to Moshiach and Geula, and even the form of the sichos
kodesh changed (as the Rebbe pointed out on Purim 5747).
seemed to acquire increased momentum and urgency, especially after the histalkus
of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, o.b.m., on Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748. On Chaf Beis Shvat
5752, the Rebbe again referred to a new period beginning with the Rebbetzin’s
passing. And on Yud Shvat 5750, the Rebbe spoke about the new era after 40 years
of nesiyus, when "G-d has given you a heart to understand and eyes
to see and ears to hear."
on 28 Nissan 5751 came the famous plea to "do all in your power,"
which the Rebbe continued to expound upon through 5752, culminating in the Rebbe’s
address to the Kinus HaShluchim in 5752: "The only thing that
remains in the service of shlichus is to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu in
actuality." And in 5753 and 5754, the Rebbe publicly encouraged the
declaration of "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam
countless occasions the Rebbe described our times as a new era. What he expects
of us at present has also been laid out quite clearly.
of us must search his soul and ask himself the following: Even assuming that I’m
on the level of a Reb Itche Der Masmid, and my life is completely taken up with avodas
Hashem and mivtzaim, how would I answer if the Rebbe looked me in the
eye and asked me bluntly, "Bistu meiner?"…
– where are you – we must demand of ourselves. Do I truly belong to the
Rebbe? Am I marching forward with him toward wherever he will lead me? Or am I
straggling behind, still juggling all the peklach of an earlier era…
focusing on "the only service that remains," we will merit the
immediate revelation of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. And together we will all
proclaim in his presence:
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!