By Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg,
Mashpia, Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim – Lubavitch, Kfar Chabad
Translated by Michoel Dobry
The mashpia R. Mendel Futerfas related the following
In the final years of the Tzemach Tzedek’s life in this
physical world, almost all his sons followed the conduct of rebbeim. Each
had his own minyan in which he davened and said chassidus.
Each accepted people in yechidus, where they offered advice and gave
The only son who did not follow the manner of a Rebbe, and
made every effort to conceal himself and to display the conduct of a simple
baal ha’bayis, was the Tzemach Tzedek’s youngest son, the Rebbe Maharash.
There is the well-known story about the mashpia R.
Shmuel Ber Borisover. He had a question about a maamer that the
Tzemach Tzedek said one Shabbos, the explanation of which seemed contrary to
the seifer Eitz Chaim of R. Chaim Vital. R. Shmuel Ber asked the
Rebbe’s sons, but none of their explanations satisfied him. He wondered if he
should ask the youngest son, the Rebbe Maharash, and decided to do so.
It was late at night. R. Shmuel Ber saw a light in the Rebbe
Maharash’s house, and decided that before going in, he would peek through the
window to ascertain if it would be possible to enter. There was no problem
looking through the window because the windows of the Rebbe Maharash’s house
were low, as were customary in the modern homes of that era; not high as in the
older homes. (Apparently, this was part of the Rebbe Maharash’s effort to show
himself as a simple baal ha’bayis.)
When R. Shmuel Ber looked in, he saw on the table the
seifer Eitz Chaim open to the exact section about which R. Shmuel Ber
"So," thought R. Shmuel Ber, "he conceals himself as someone
with no connection to anything?! Nu, let’s hear what he has to say!"
R. Shmuel Ber knocked on the door and the Rebbe Maharash
answered, "Just a minute." After the door finally opened, R. Shmuel Ber saw that
upon the table were all sorts of newspapers in Russian, German, and other
languages, as if the Rebbe Maharash had been reading the latest news in all the
papers… Needless to say, there was no sign anywhere of the seifer Eitz
"Shalom Aleichem, R. Shmuel Ber," the Rebbe Maharash
said. "What brings you here so late at night?"
R. Shmuel Ber got right to the point. He asked, "In the
maamer your father said on Shabbos, there was a portion which appears
contrary to what is written clearly in the Eitz Chaim.
The Rebbe Maharash answered, "What is this, R. Shmuel Ber?
People say you’re a clever Jew. You are coming to me to ask such a
"Listen here," R. Shmuel Ber said in response. "If you’ll
remove your veil and explain the matter to me, that’s fine. But if you don’t,
all of Lubavitch will know tomorrow that just a few minutes ago, the Eitz
Chaim was open on this table to the very section that I am asking you about,
and the moment I entered, the seifer suddenly disappeared, replaced by
all the daily newspapers!"
The Rebbe Maharash had no alternative. He elucidated the
section clearly, as if by direct Divine inspiration.
A few years later, the Tzemach Tzedek passed away and was
succeeded in Lubavitch by his youngest son, the Rebbe Maharash. The other sons
continued following the conduct of rebbeim, each one in a different city.
There were chassidim who were in doubt as to whom to travel for spiritual
guidance. R. Shmuel Ber told this story to the mashpia, R. Shmuel Gronem
Esterman, and said, "I’m not telling you what to do. But I have no doubt
* * *
Once, one of the sons had to travel to a number of cities,
and asked his youngest brother, the Rebbe Maharash, to accompany him.
The Rebbe Maharash agreed on one condition: "Zahlst nisht
firn kein rebbe’steve." In other words, don’t act like a Rebbe in any way on
this trip. The older brother had no choice but to agree.
The two traveled by carriage, and wherever they arrived,
chassidim approached them, as they were accustomed to requesting advice and
brachos from the older brother. Faithful to the agreement, the brother
Once on an Erev Shabbos, when everyone was rushing in their
preparations to greet the Sabbath Queen, a simple chassid approached
them, crying out for help. "Rebbe!" the Jew cried, "we have been married for
several years, and still have no children. Rebbe, bless us and tell us what to
do to merit to have children!"
The older brother stringently refrained from any breach of
the agreement, and was silent. But the chassid was unrelenting. He lay
down on the ground in front of the carriage and screamed, "Rebbe, I won’t move
from here until you bless me that I will finally embrace a son!"
The Rebbe Maharash saw that they couldn’t travel, and it was
almost Shabbos. He got out of the carriage and scolded the chassid.
"Instead of lying there, you would be better off going home and telling your
wife to prepare a kugel for Shabbos!"
The chassid got up happily and with a heart full of
joy. Now he knew exactly what to do!
In a voice filled with emotion, he mumbled, "Thank you, thank
you very much," and quickly ran home to tell his wife that the Rebbe instructed
her to make a kugel for Shabbos as a segula to have children!
That same year the Tzemach Tzedek passed away. There were
many among the "intellectual" chassidim who went for spiritual guidance
to those sons who had previously conducted themselves as rebbeim. That
simple chassid, however, came to Lubavitch, where the youngest son, the
Rebbe Maharash, succeeded the Tzemach Tzedek. He came in for yechidus
filled with praise and thanks to the Rebbe for his instruction to make a kugel
for Shabbos as his blessing for children. "In the merit of the Rebbe’s words,"
the chassid said, "twins were born to us this year!"
"Really?" the Rebbe said to him. "Your wife must have made
"Why yes, Rebbe," the chassid responded with much
excitement, "my wife prepared two kugels that Shabbos. How did the Rebbe know?"
* * *
When the Rebbe says something, one might think that what he
said is only a possibility, or perhaps that the Rebbe didn’t mean exactly that,
or that what he said was a mere utterance - "go make a kugel" - just to get rid
of the nudnik chassid. But, in truth, every chassid knows
that the Rebbe doesn’t say anything, ch’v, "just like that." Every sound
from the Rebbe’s mouth is holy and has tremendous effect.
When the Rebbe says clearly that something is possible, the
chassid knows what the Rebbe Rayatz said about the possible in regards to
his father, the Rebbe Rashab (from the maamer "Lecha Dodi"
5714, edited) - "What for you is a possibility is for me a certainty!"
All the more so when the Rebbe says clearly that something is
certain. It would be utter nonsense to be stubborn and say that it is only a
possibility or just wishful thinking.
Someone learning the D’var Malchus from Parshas Bo who
wants to understand, without preconceived notions, what the Rebbe shlita
is really saying, should not come to any conclusion other than what is said
clearly in the sicha:
There is a difference between this generation, the ninth
since the Baal Shem Tov, and all other previous generations, including the
eighth generation, the Rebbe Rayatz’s. The Rebbe says that in the previous
generations there was a departure of the soul from the body. And even when the
soul was in the body there were aspects of speech loss similar to Moshe
Rabbeinu, who was "slow of speech and slow of tongue," because "the refinement
was not complete" - the world was not a receptacle for the unlimited effusion of
light. Therefore, when the wondrous lights of the Redemption began revealing
themselves, they brought about a loss of speech to the point of a departure of
the soul from the body.
However, the Rebbe shlita says (Note: this was about
two months before Chaf-Zayin Adar 5752) that our generation is the last
of the exile and the first of the Redemption, particularly in the last few
months and years, since the refinement has already been completed. We see that
the whole world is now prepared for the Redemption. The Rebbe cited examples of
this, such as the fact that nations of the world were helping Israel, even those
that in the past had sought to cause harm, such as the former Soviet Union. All
the Supernal lights can now be accepted into the world, and there is no longer
any relevance to a situation of departure, or even loss of speech. "And souls in
bodies without any interruption will come to the ultimate completion of ‘come
unto Pharaoh’ in the true and complete Redemption."
This is the simple interpretation for every simple Jew who
takes the sicha and sees what is clearly written.
Unlike other sichos where this matter is discussed,
here it is the primary focus. To say that the Rebbe didn’t mean, ch’v,
what he said means that the entire central element explained in the sicha
is not true, ch’v.
As a preface to this sicha, the Rebbe also said in the
D’var Malchus of Parshas Shmos 5752 that in our generation, in these
times after all the main missions have been accomplished, there is an "outright
promise in the Torah" that everyone, even someone older than seventy, will
receive the eternal life of the Redemption without interruption.
While at first glance it appears that the reference in both
sichos is to the entire generation and not just to its leader, it is
obvious to anyone who understands the style of the sichos that the
statement refers primarily to the Nasi of the generation. By connecting
and nullifying oneself to him, the relevance of the words then also apply to
everyone in the generation.
As stated clearly in the sicha of Parshas VaYechi (Seifer
HaSichos 5752, Vol. 1, p. 242) regarding the Rebbe Rayatz:
"Yosef of our generation, who ‘did not die,’ just as Yaakov
Avinu… And by connecting and nullifying oneself to the Nasi of the
generation, this will be drawn upon each and every member of the generation."
Everyone understands that the intent of these words is not
that the generation of the Rebbe Rayatz "did not die" like Yaakov Avinu.
The statement refers primarily to the Rebbe Rayatz himself. By connecting to
him, the matter becomes relevant to others, as well.
The Rebbe shlita sometimes stated, "His descendants
are alive, and through this he is alive" when discussing ordinary people. (See
Seifer HaSichos 5752, p. 297, in reference to Mrs. Raizel Gutnick, may
she rest in peace, and p. 278, in reference to R. Moshe Yitzchak Hecht.) The
Rebbe made these statements even though he had said several times prior that
this statement pertains specifically to Yaakov Avinu (not even to Avrohom
and Yitzchak) and other leaders of generations similar to him. For as we know,
Nasi stands for "nitzutzo shel Yaakov Avinu" (the spark of Yaakov,
As the Rebbe said (Seifer HaSichos 5751, Vol. 2, p.
642, note 73), "It is known that my sainted father-in-law, the Rebbe,
corresponds to S’firas HaYesod (the Supernal attribute of
Foundation)…thus it can be said that our entire generation - men, women, and
children - is [at the level of] S’firas HaMalchus."
Clearly, the reference is to the Rebbe MH"M shlita,
leader of the seventh generation, but through connection and nullification to
him, it pertains also to the entire generation.
The sicha says that we have arrived at this situation
because we are proceeding to the true and complete Redemption. But the
Redemption has yet to come with respect to how we see things, in the physical
sense. We still have to fast on Tisha B’Av, etc. It appears that we must say
that the "outright promise in the Torah" was just a wish and a request, not a
But those familiar with the style of the sichos know
that this is not the correct way to interpret what the Rebbe says. When the
Rebbe shlita says clearly that something is an "outright promise in the
Torah," he means exactly that. This is an "outright promise in the Torah," not
just wishful thinking, ch’v. It is obvious that the "outright promise in
the Torah" must be fulfilled, just as it is inconceivable that it would not be
fulfilled, ch’v. However, it is the style of the sichos to attach
one portion of the sicha that is clear and unquestionable to another
portion that says, "May it be G-d’s will," in discussing a topic of which we
cannot always see the accomplishment in the physical sense. (This certainly has
a powerful effect, as does every holy word that the Rebbe utters, and it
certainly hastens the Redemption.)
There are parts of the "outright promise in the Torah" that
are requests and in the realm of "May it be G-d’s will." But this does not apply
when the Rebbe says something is an "outright promise in the Torah." It doesn’t
mean that he did not mean what he said, that it’s just wishful thinking, and not
an "outright promise in the Torah!"
All the more so in Parshas Bo, in which the Rebbe
distinguishes between our generation and the generation of the Rebbe Rayatz,
emphasizing that in our generation there is no relevance to the concept of the
departure of the soul from the body or a loss of speech. It cannot be that this
is just wishful thinking, that the truth is that there is no difference between
our generation and the previous one. This would mean that the Rebbe’s words are
incorrect, ch’v, ch’v!
Even were it possible, ch’v, ch’v, to interpret
the Rebbe’s words this way, then even when the Rebbe makes very clear statements
- then even those statements will tend to cause doubt (safek,
gematria for Amalek). People might suggest: Maybe also the statement that
our generation is the last generation of exile and the first generation of
Redemption was just a hope and a prayer, and not a fact? Maybe the fact that the
Rebbe is the leader of the generation is just wishful thinking? We could go on
and on and get farther and farther away, r’l!
This, then, creates a major question: What happened on
Chaf-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz? The answer is to be found in the
aforementioned sicha. This sicha was clearly intended to be a
preparation for Chaf-Zayin Adar and Gimmel Tammuz, and the Rebbe
emphasized this clearly. The Rebbe’s words clearly mean that what is seen in the
physical sense is not a possibility (and his words are not like the statement
about that kugel, which outwardly seemed to be a mere utterance; a simple
chassid knows that what the Rebbe says, goes - even if the whole world
screams the opposite), for in our generation it is simply not applicable, and
what happened was, therefore, not a case of "departure," illness, or loss of
When we start looking for explanations of what exactly is
happening here (even though all the explanations in the world will not suffice -
we simply want to see our king), it is possible to explain that this is an
ascent that Moshiach must undergo prior to his complete revelation for all to
see. As the Sages say in their famous commentary (brought by Rashi at the end of
the Book of Daniel and elsewhere), "Moshiach will be revealed and will be
In other words, this was not a departure or histalkus,
ch’v, of the soul from the body. It was an ascent of "soul in body similar
to that of Moshe Rabbeinu on the mountain," as the Arizal writes in Shaar
HaGilgulim, ch. 13.
It is possible to find other explanations and
interpretations, but it wouldn’t make a difference to us. We focus on the
explicit words as we heard them, when the Rebbe clearly distinguished between
our generation and the Rebbe Rayatz’s and established that the Rebbe MH"M
shlita is alive and will live forever.
We literally stand in the final days before the great and
holy day of the acceptance of the leadership and the malchus of the Rebbe
MH"M shlita, regarding which is it said (as explained by the Alter Rebbe
in reference to Melech HaMoshiach), "David, King of Israel, lives
We have absolute faith and belief in the Rebbe shlita’s
words that they are true and eternal in a simple sense (even if it appears
that they were a mere utterance, as in the kugel story, in order to cause the
chassid to stop nudging). This is especially so regarding the absolute faith
and belief in the fact that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam literally in a
physical body, even if it appears to the world that the opposite is the case.
This faith and belief is a proper vessel to bring this true and eternal reality
to fruition for all to see, even the non-Jews, so that "all the dwellers of the
world will recognize and know that before You all kneel and every tongue will
swear." "And all of them will accept the yoke of Your kingdom and You will reign
over them speedily forever" with the complete revelation for all to see the
Rebbe MH"M shlita with the true and complete Redemption immediately!
Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam