Single Word Uttered With An Emes
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg
a recent farbrengen in Kfar Chabad with Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Kalmanson,
Reb Michel Vishetzky told the following story he heard from the late Reb Simcha
Gorodetzky, who had known the famous Reb Itche der Masmid very well.
to Reb Simcha, a typical day of Reb Itche’s began at 7 in the morning, when he
would "rise up like a lion" from the two hours of sleep he had
permitted himself on a hard bench in shul. As anyone who had any contact
with Reb Itche knows, he never allowed himself to eat anything before davening.
(Note: This was before HaYom Yom was published in 5703, with its
well-known entry for Yud Shvat containing the Tzemach Tzedek’s comment to his
daughter-in-law, Rebbetzin Rivka: "Better to eat for the sake of davening
than to daven for the sake of eating.")
of eating before davening, a story is told that took place in the late
1940’s, in the last few years of the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesiyus. In those
days, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach had the custom to eat a piece of mezonos
in the sukka outside 770 after netilas lulav. One day he was
confronted by an elder Chassid, who reproached him that it wasn’t fitting for
the Rebbe’s son-in-law to eat in public before davening, as the only
reason the rabbis permit it is as a concession to weakness, etc. Surely it was
appropriate for the Rebbe’s son-in-law to be mehader in not eating, and
if he really had to eat, he should do it in private. The Rebbe answered that
keeping a Chabad minhag, i.e., eating before davening, was nothing
to be ashamed of. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt if people saw what he was doing
and copied him. The elder Chassid was shocked by this "impudent"
answer and went to the Rebbe Rayatz to complain, only to be told "I am
jealous of my son-in-law’s yiras Shamayim…"
late Rabbi Berel Baumgarten, the first shliach of the Rebbe MH"M to
Argentina, once related at a farbrengen in Kfar Chabad that he had a
similar experience as a child. On Sukkos, the Rebbe MH"M used to not only
eat mezonos, but would give out cake and coffee to everyone who bentched
on the Rebbe Rayatz’s lulav. (The custom is not to eat anything before bentching
lulav.) Reb Berel, who was not from a Chassidic home, was very scrupulous
about not eating before davening, and didn’t take any cake. When the
Rebbe asked him why he wasn’t eating, he explained that he never ate before davening.
"Do you want to be a Chassid?" the Rebbe asked him. "Yes,"
Reb Berel replied. "Then you must eat. Whoever doesn’t eat [before davening]
is not a Chassid."
back to Reb Itche Der Masmid…
all intents and purposes, Reb Itche ended up fasting until midnight just about
every day of the year! This is how it worked: After waking up in the morning and
going to the mikva, Reb Itche would sit down to learn Chassidus for
several hours. Around 12:00 p.m. he would start to daven Shacharis, which
would take him most of the afternoon. By then it was time for Mincha,
which he didn’t finish until after dark. Of course, by then it was time for Maariv,
so he would immediately start on that…
wasn’t until midnight that Reb Itche allowed himself to "perform an act
of kindness for the poor and wretched body." A typical meal of his
consisted of a piece of bread, a portion of fish, and a little soup. But even
then Reb Itche didn’t linger over his meal. For as soon as he finished, it was
time for Tikkun Chatzos. Reb Itche would sit on the floor and lament the
exile of the Divine presence and the G-dly soul within the body for almost two
hours. Then, around 3:00 a.m., he would resume learning for another couple of
hours. At approximately 5:00 in the morning he would say to himself, "Nu,
the time has come to get ready for davening," whereupon he would
stretch out on a bench for a little snooze. In less than two hours the whole
daily cycle would start again.
Itche was once asked what he was trying to accomplish with all his avoda.
What was he looking for? What drove him to such extremes? Reb Itche replied,
"The only thing I yearn for is to merit, at least once in my life, to utter
a single word with an emes…"
light of the above, it is astounding that Reb Itche der Masmid also served as an
emissary (shadar) of the Rebbeim "harvesting gashmiyus
(money!) and sowing ruchniyus." As was related in this column
several weeks ago, many people even sought out Reb Itche for his brachos,
for which he later asked the Rebbe Rashab for a tikkun. (Reb Itche knew
that it was only the Rebbe’s power working through him, but he worried that
others might get the wrong idea.)
this backdrop, the Rebbe Rayatz’s comment to Reb Itche about the necessity of
becoming involved in chinuch also acquires a deeper perspective. "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 Jew can be involved in the holiest of pursuits – avodas
Hashem, hiskashrus, shlichus, etc. But when the Rebbe demands
something specific, if you really want to "belong" to the Rebbe, you
simply have to put everything else aside and involve yourself in that,
regardless of who you are. If you don’t, G-d forbid, it doesn’t matter how
many other wonderful qualities you might possess, but you don’t really
"belong" to the Rebbe…
is especially important now, at a time when the Rebbe shlita has told us
to put aside all our 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," which means that everything we do should reflect this.
"All the days of your life" are only for the purpose "of bringing
about the Days of Moshiach."
topic we discussed recently is the Rebbe’s repeated references to a new era
having commenced on Hei Teives 5747 and in connection with Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka’s passing on Chef Beis Shvat 5748.
Rebbe spoke about three different periods in the nesiyus of the Rebbe
Rayatz: The first period, ending on Yud Shvat 5710; the second period, beginning
on Yud-Alef Shvat 5710 (the first full day after the histalkus),
especially after Yud-Alef Shvat 5711, when his nesiyus as the ninth
generation after the Baal Shem Tov commenced; and the third period, starting on
Chaf-Beis Shvat 5748, at which point all the required avoda was already
completed and the only thing remaining was to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
should the beginning of a new era be connected to the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka, of blessed memory, as opposed to an event involving the Rebbe? As the
Rebbe explained, this new period is especially significant for Jewish women and
girls, whose task is to not only establish a dwelling place for Hashem in this
world, but a beautiful dwelling place. When "a lovely dwelling that
broadens the mind" is made, Hashem puts Himself into the dwelling in an
entirely different manner, not just dwelling there, but uniting with it, as it
were. G-d’s dwelling place in the lower worlds becomes not only nullified to
the Owner, but one with Him. This is reflected in the special mitzvos of
Jewish women and girls, with their emphasis on light (Shabbos and Yom Tov
candles), purity and holiness (kashrus and taharas ha’mishpacha),
and warmth (chinuch, the main objective of which is to instill an
enthusiasm for Yiddishkeit, particularly in young children).
these last few moments of Galus it is, therefore, crucial that all Jewish
women and girls be made aware of their tremendous role in hastening the true and
complete Redemption, which will come "as reward for the righteous women of
a word about the timing of the above sicha: Back in 5752, the Rebbe spoke
about Jewish women and girls almost every Shabbos. On Shabbos Parshas VaEira,
the Rebbe connected the N’shei U’bnos Chabad Melaveh Malka of 28
Teives (Rebbetzin Chana’s birthday) to the idea of "and He shall exalt
the glory of His Moshiach." On Shabbos Parshas Bo, he spoke at great
length about the Rebbe Rayatz’s efforts on behalf of the women and girls of
our generation, who are the reincarnation of the generation that left Egypt and
in whose merit the Geula will come. On Shabbos Parshas BeShalach
the Rebbe discussed the special avoda of women and girls "with
tambourines and dancing," and on Shabbos Parshas Yisro, the
uniqueness of our times in connection to women.
you may or may not remember, a disagreement erupted between the women and the gabbaim
of 770 over that fateful Melaveh Malka. The women wanted to use the event
as a forum to publicly proclaim Moshiach’s identity and call upon the Jewish
people to accept his sovereignty. The women were not sure of the propriety of
holding such an event, but they received many positive and encouraging answers
from the Rebbe. At the Melaveh Malka, the Rebbe was officially addressed
as "the Rebbe shlita, Melech HaMoshiach" and called upon
the Rebbe to reveal himself and redeem the Jewish people and the entire world. A
long roster of distinguished rabbanim and mashpiim addressed the
women that night, including Rabbi Yoel Kahan and Rabbi Yosef Wineberg, who spoke
about our responsibility to tell the world who Moshiach is, now that we are sure
of his identity. (As is known, the Rebbe hadn’t rejected the idea of
collecting signatures for kabbalas ha’malchus, but had indicated that
"it depends upon Chabad locally." In other words, the idea was
appropriate and necessary, whereas the particular manner of implementation could
when Chaim Boruch Halberstam gave the Rebbe a list of 20 places throughout the
world that had carried a live broadcast of the Melaveh Malka, the Rebbe
stated that it had brought him "a great deal of nachas ruach."
long afterwards, the Rebbe wrote a letter to N’shei Chabad of London, who had
asked for guidance regarding activities promoting awareness of Moshiach and Geula.
The Rebbe answered that it was not necessary to consult with him on every
detail, but that they should stay in touch with N’shei Chabad of Crown Heights
and follow their lead. And surely they were aware of the recent Melaveh Malka,
the Rebbe was clearly saying was that when it comes to making a beautiful
dwelling place, it isn’t necessary to wait for explicit directions; Jewish
women and girls should take the initiative and start "decorating" the
world by themselves…
the above sicha, the Rebbe explained the inner significance of each of
these three periods:
the first period (up until Yud Shvat 5710), the avoda was focused
primarily on the Yud, the number 10, with the objective of bringing the
world to its perfection. After raising it to this level, the world could then
serve as a vessel for the revelation of 11, the wondrous revelation of the
the second period, starting on Yud Shvat 5710 (and especially after Yud-Alef
Shvat 5711 – "the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh
year"), the revelation of the Geula, the aspect of the number 11,
began to illuminate in the world. This aspect was "born" on the 11th
of Nissan and reached its perfection in a revealed manner of nesiyus on
the 11th of Shvat 5711…
this point, however, there were still two things lacking: The Yud had
been elevated, but only insofar as it had been subsumed by the Yud-Alef.
Moreover, it had only reached the lowest aspect of the number 11, and not the
number 11 in the objective sense, i.e., beyond all limitations.
simpler terms: The lowest levels had been raised so that they weren’t that low
anymore. At the same time, the highest levels had been brought down a notch, to
enable the highs and lows to come together and unify. But the very highest and
the very lowest levels in the objective sense still remained poles apart…
was the innovation of the third period that began on Chaf-Beis Shvat. Chaf-Beis
(22) is 2 times 11, the highest expression of 11, the true bli gvul
(limitlessness) that transcends both gvul and bli gvul. Only
Hashem’s essence can fuse the very lowest levels with the highest levels, with
each level retaining its own nature. In other words, despite the fact that the
lowest levels remain below, they unite with the very highest levels of holiness
until they are indistinguishable from each other, as the dwelling place has
finally become one with the Dweller.
is why the avoda of the lowest levels is especially important now. During
this third period we should be taking the initiative, not waiting for explicit
instructions. At this stage in history, it is not enough to be nullified and
obey orders from Above. Our job is to allow even the highest levels to
illuminate down here, on this lowest of all possible levels, in all their
strength and intensity.
Rebbe completely transcends all limitations, even more than a neshama
that is unencumbered by a physical body. At the same time, the Rebbe is chai
v’kayam in the literal sense in his physical body. As the Rebbe explained
in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Bo 5752, the innovation of Moshiach is
not so much the wonderful miracles and revelations of G-dliness that will occur
in the Messianic era, but the fact that they will have penetrated into and exist
on the very lowest levels of the material world. This revelation begins with the
Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation, who takes his physical body ("Come unto
Pharaoh") into the "Pharaoh" of the realm of holiness, G-d’s
very Essence, "from which all lights shine forth." It is then conveyed
to the rest of the Jewish people, through whom "Israel and the Holy One,
blessed be He are one entity" is revealed. The ultimate truth of
"Everything is G-dliness and G-dliness is everything" is then
manifested throughout the entire world.
whole point of proclaiming "Yechi Adoneinu" is that it comes
from below, without an explicit directive, in keeping with "And they shall
seek (from below, on their own initiative) the L-rd their G-d, and David their
king." It is a cry that comes from our inner depths and essence, yet is
manifested in the most external manner possible. For the ultimate objective is
that the lowest realms themselves proclaim, "there is none but Him."
this crucial and wonderful moment in history, anyone who is not willing to
"go out of your land and your birthplace, and your father’s house"
and dedicate himself to "the only service that remains" is missing the
point, like the older generation of Chassidim who were unable to adapt to the
new demands of the seventh generation. The Rebbe even compared the difference
between pre-5710 (before the Rebbe’s acceptance of the nesiyus) and
post-5710 to the difference between pre-5748 (before the passing of Rebbetzin
Chaya Mushka) and afterwards!
this fateful time for us and for the world, we must hold on tightly to the Rebbe’s
klamkeh (doorknob). The past was indeed illustrious, but memories and
remembrances are not enough, and we’ve got to move forward. The Rebbe has made
it clear what is expected of us. We cannot act like the proverbial spoiled only
child who demands to be picked up and carried across an iron bridge – i.e.,
who will only act on explicit instructions.
first thing, of course, is to fulfill the Rebbe’s explicit horaos as we
heard them countless times: to imbue everything we do with an awareness of
Moshiach and Geula, learn the weekly Dvar Malchus, and announce
and proclaim the Rebbe’s message of imminent Redemption wherever we go. At the
same time, we must take the initiative to publicly identify the Rebbe as
Moshiach, and call upon the entire world to accept his sovereignty. And we must
never stop demanding from Hashem that He bring about the Rebbe’s immediate and
Reb Itche might have said, "The only thing I yearn for is to merit, at
least once in my life, to utter a single phrase with an emes, that will
bring about the full and complete Redemption, now!"
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!