The Rebbe & The Alter Rebbe
There was a special connection between the Rebbe and the Alter Rebbe, between the 7th Rebbe and the 1st. * A farbrengen with Rabbi Leibel Groner about the essential connection and love between Rebbe and chassidim. * Part I

Based on the directive of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe would farbreng on Chol HaMoed Sukkos at the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva for yeshiva students from all over New York. At this farbrengen, the Rebbe would speak a lot about topics in nigleh, and would explain them according to chassidus. This was the practice beginning with Sukkos 5702 (1942) and continuing even after the Rebbe accepted the nesius. Following this Simchas Beis HaShoeiva farbrengen would be another farbrengen on Shmini Atzeres.

It was interesting that every time the Rebbe mentioned the Alter Rebbe, or would quote something from the Alter Rebbe, the Rebbe would cry. Perhaps we can explain this based on the well-known saying of "na’utz t’chilasan b’sofan, v’sofan b’t’chilasan" (the beginning is wedged in the end, and the end in the beginning). That is, the idea of the "beginning" is revealed at the end, and the end is connected to the beginning.

Since the Alter Rebbe was the first Chabad Rebbe, and the Rebbe is the seventh and final branch of the seven-branch Chabad menora, this idea of t’chilasan b’sofan, v’sofan b’t’chilasan applies. This might also be the reason we see a number of amazing things in common between the Alter Rebbe and the Rebbe.

When the Alter Rebbe began revealing chassidus Chabad, there was tremendous opposition, leading to his being handed over to the authorities and several arrests. From the Mitteler Rebbe until the Rebbe Rayatz, there wasn’t such great opposition to chassidus. But then once again, in our generation, the Rebbe faced great opposition to chassidus. This is because na’utz t’chilasan b’sofan, v’sofan b’t’chilasan.

We see another thing: since the Alter Rebbe, no Rebbe spread the idea of learning chassidus and hafatzas ha’maayanos to the extent that the Rebbe did. The Rebbe succeeded in having chassidus reach all over the world; there is hardly a point on the globe where chassidus hasn’t reached. The Rebbe continued and expanded what the Alter Rebbe started in hafatzas ha’maayanos. The Alter Rebbe wrote the Tanya, but it was only in the Rebbe’s time that the Tanya was translated into many languages. Also, the Rebbe asked that the Tanya be printed in every city the world over, anywhere there is even one Jew. The Rebbe also said that it isn’t enough to print Tanyas, but that at least a little time be spent studying the newly printed Tanyas. Thus, the Rebbe brought the idea of learning Tanya and chassidus to the entire world.

One year, the Mitteler Rebbe’s yom hilula (Tes Kislev) occurred on Shabbos. At that Shabbos farbrengen, the Rebbe said that we have to be mekushar to the baal ha’hilula - but through our own Nasi, the Rebbe Rayatz (said the Rebbe). In other words, we have to connect to the Mitteler Rebbe, because it’s his yom hilula, but the way of doing this is through the Rebbe Rayatz.

The Rebbe explained how we should connect to the Mitteler Rebbe through the Rebbe Rayatz: by learning a maamer of the Mitteler Rebbe with the Rebbe Rayatz’s explanation. By learning the Rebbe Rayatz’s explanation on an inyan chassidus by the Mitteler Rebbe, we connect to the Mitteler Rebbe through the Rebbe Rayatz.

Therefore, on the Alter Rebbe’s yom hilula, we have to study the Rebbe’s explanations of the Alter Rebbe’s teachings. We also have to spread the wellsprings of chassidus in such a way that there is no Jew who hasn’t learned chassidus.

The Rebbe once explained why it’s not enough to learn Zohar and the kabbala of the Arizal: because the Baal Shem Tov was told "…when your wellsprings spread forth." So it’s specifically chassidus - as it is elucidated in chassidus Chabad - that needs to be spread. Moshiach himself said that the only thing that will bring the Geula is the spreading of the Baal Shem Tov’s wellsprings. So, everyone must learn chassidus. And someone who can study chassidus and doesn’t, delays Moshiach’s coming. As an act of ahavas Yisroel, we should try to get more and more Jews to study chassidus, thus hastening the Geula.

This ought to be the point we take from this farbrengen: to strengthen ourselves in limud ha’chassidus, and to be mekarev other Jews to limud v’darkei ha’chassidus.

Regarding hiskashrus to the Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz once related that his father, the Rebbe Rashab, explained to him the essence of the father-son connection, and between teacher and student. Then the Rebbe Rashab explained the connection between ohr (light) and maor (the source of light), and between ila (cause) and alul (effect), and explained the superior quality of each over the other.

After explaining all the qualities in these concepts, he told his son: "Even after you understand all this, you will not understand the connection between Rebbe and chassid." What is the connection between Rebbe and chassid? The Rebbe Rashab did not explain this, and the Rebbe Rayatz did not reveal it either. But what we do know is that the connection between chassid and Rebbe is above and beyond that of father and son, or teacher and student.

The chassid R’ Peretz Mochkin, alav ha’shalom, came to New York for his first time on Chol HaMoed Sukkos. After Simchas Torah, he had yechidus with the Rebbe. The night before the yechidus, some talmidim of the yeshiva approached him, including myself, and we asked him to farbreng with us. The farbrengen began after chassidus seider at ten at night, and ended at six or seven in the morning.

The main idea discussed was the inyan of "yechidus": to understand what yechidus is and how to prepare for it. R’ Peretz described a farbrengen which took place in Tomchei T’mimim Lubavitch in Russia, in which the mashpia, R’ Shmuel Grunem Esterman, explained what yechidus is. This is what he (R’ Shmuel Grunem) said: "I have a serious question about yechidus: You go into the Rebbe’s office and tell him everything that needs fixing, and you ask the Rebbe for a tikkun for each item so that you can progress in your avodas Hashem. Everyone knows what kind of pekel (load, burden) he’s bringing to the Rebbe: a very heavy one. And when you go for a yechidus with the Rebbe [Rashab], what does the Rebbe tell you? To say some chapters of T’hillim each day, learn some chapters of Tanya by heart, and give some coins to tz’daka!

"I don’t understand," continued R’ Shmuel, "The talmid goes to the Rebbe with such a heavy bundle, with all the concepts and details associated with it, and what does the Rebbe tell him? Not to fast and to torment himself - in fact, the Rebbe actually tells him to act like everyone else! To daven b’tzibbur, to learn in yeshiva, and to do all the usual things, with the addition of saying some chapters of T’hillim a day, learning some extra chapters of Tanya, and giving some extra coins to tz’daka. What value is there in these activities when you consider the pekel he went in with?

R’ Shmuel answered: "The true explanation is: when we go to yechidus, we give all our issues to the Rebbe, and they become the Rebbe’s. Now the Rebbe is responsible for our actions. But the Rebbe doesn’t want it to be "bread of shame," so the Rebbe tells us to contribute our share - say T’hillim, learn Tanya, and the like - while the avoda of correcting all the undesirable issues is taken on by the Rebbe himself.

"When you are mekushar to the Rebbe, it causes the Rebbe to become connected with us, and he takes our worst problems from us and takes them upon himself."

In the Rebbe’s first maamer, on Yud Shevat, 5711, the Rebbe told individual stories of each of the Rebbeim, and each story expressed the type of avoda the Rebbe took upon himself today. The story of the Alter Rebbe interrupting his davening to cook soup for a new mother expresses the idea of how involved he Rebbe is in everything. The story about the Mitteler Rebbe about the man who complained about his situation, and the Mitteler Rebbe showed him his arm and told him, "see how my skin is shriveled on account of your sins," shows us that the Rebbe takes our sins upon himself.

The connection between chassid and Rebbe is far loftier than we can understand, but is expressed in simple things: learning a maamer chassidus by the Rebbe, learning a sicha, doing what the Rebbe says. By doing these things, we express this connection with the Rebbe.

We see this in the Rebbe’s view on Shabbos candle lighting: when a little girl lights Shabbos candles and says the bracha, you should explain to her what the bracha means. When she says, "asher kidshanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu," you should explain to her that it’s "lashon tzavsa v’chibbur"; it "connects" the mitzva-doer with the Mitzva-Giver Himself. When the child holds the match and lights the candle, she connects to Atzmus U’mehus Ohr Ein Sof baruch Hu with this simple action!

In this way, tzaddikim are similar to their Creator. By doing seemingly little things, we actually connect with the etzem of the Rebbe with a kesher atzmi which is above that of father and son.

We need to arouse and strengthen our connection to the Rebbe, to do the things the Rebbe asks of us so that we widen the connection with the Rebbe, thus leading to the Rebbe giving us more and more hashpaos.

The Rebbe always asks us to take on hachlatos at farbrengens. Everyone knows how they can strengthen their connection with the Rebbe. And so, let us make good resolutions and be zocheh to see the Rebbe immediately.

(To be continued.)


The Alter Rebbe


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