A Single Word Uttered With An Emes
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg

At 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.

According 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.")

Speaking 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…"

The 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."

Getting back to Reb Itche Der Masmid…

For 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…

It 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.

Reb 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…"

* * *

In 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.)

Against 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…")

In 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…

This 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."

Another 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.

The 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.

Why 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).

In 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 the generation."

Just 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.

As 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 vary.)

Later, 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."

Not 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, etc.

What 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…

* * *

In the above sicha, the Rebbe explained the inner significance of each of these three periods:

During 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 Redemption.

In 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…

At 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.

In 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…

This 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.

This 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.

The 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.

The 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."

At 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!

At 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.

The 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 complete hisgalus.

As 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!"

Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!


When "a lovely dwelling that broadens the mind" is made, Hashem puts Himself into the dwelling in an entirely different manner...





...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…"





During this third period we should be taking the initiative, not waiting for explicit instructions. It is not enough to be nullified and obey orders from Above.


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