Not Just Wishful Thinking
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 story:

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 brachos.

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 was inquiring!

"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 Chaim

"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 question?!"

"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 whatsoever…"

* * *

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 remained silent.

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 two kugels."

"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, our father)!

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 certainty.

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 speech, ch’v.

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 hidden."

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 forever."

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 vRabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach lolam vaed!


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.



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.


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