Woman With The Most Famous Tambourine In The World
years ago, Mrs. Chavah Cohen stood with other women in line when the Rebbe
Melech HaMoshiach distributed dollars on Sunday. When it was their turn, they
presented the Rebbe MH"M with a tambourine. Written on it were the words
"Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam
va’ed." Photographs taken at the time became world famous and created a
storm. * Mrs. Chavah Cohen tells the complete story behind the tambourine, about
her emotions and her courage in standing before the Rebbe
and addressing him as "Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach."
number of times women would question me: ‘Why do you look so familiar to
would answer them, ‘I probably look familiar to you because of the picture,’"
said Mrs. Chavah Cohen of New York. She then began relating the story of the
famous tambourine that had "Yechi Adoneinu..." written
on it, which they presented to the Rebbe MH"M a few days before Chaf-Zayin
picture carries a very, very important message.
whole period of time was just totally out of the ordinary," explained Mrs.
Cohen, describing the events that led up to giving the tambourine to the Rebbe
MH"M. "At the time, the Rebbe MH"M was speaking strongly about
Moshiach over and over again: who is Moshiach, the need for kabbalas ha’malchus
(to accept the sovereignty), the message that the world is ready, and the famous
words: ‘Do all you can.’"
these extraordinary sichos were spoken, N’shei Chabad of Crown Heights
began to confer about what they should do in order to advance the revelation of
the Rebbe MH"M and promote the acceptance of the sovereignty of the Rebbe
certain point, the women started collecting signatures from the community at
large accepting the Rebbe’s malchus as Melech HaMoshiach. On
about the 4th of Iyar 5751, a declaration with 250 signatures of acceptance of
King Moshiach’s sovereignty was presented to the Rebbe MH"M. The Rebbe
MH"M’s response was: "I received it with favor (t’shuas chein)
and may this activity continue and increase. It is the appropriate time. Azkir
8th of Iyar, a letter was sent to the Rebbe MH"M. This letter said that at
a meeting of askanim and mashpiim it was decided to continue
gathering signatures. The letter also included additional signatures. The Rebbe
MH"M answered: "Azkir al ha’tzion. May you bring good
Menachem Av 5751, a minyan gathered at the gravesite of the Arizal, and
they read the psak din (halachic decision) of rabbanim
regarding the immediate revelation of the Rebbe MH"M. When they wrote about
this to the Rebbe MH"M, the Rebbe replied: "May it be Hashem’s will
that all this should have its desired effect. It is an appropriate time. Azkir
women gathered thousands of signatures, and on Hoshana Rabba 5752,
representatives of the women stood before the Rebbe MH"M. Leah Pinson, the
spokeswoman, said, "We are a group of women who stubbornly request from the
Rebbe that he reveal himself before everyone’s eyes as Melech HaMoshiach,
and we will go out of Galus immediately." None of the women knew
what the response of the Rebbe MH"M would be. After a moment passed that
seemed like an eternity, the Rebbe MH"M responded, "Amen, hatzlacha
rabba, good news," and immediately added, "For the letter, for the
pidyon nefesh, and for the names, I give you an additional dollar."
time after that, a kinus was organized for all the women in Crown Heights
about accepting the malchus of the Rebbe MH"M. This was the first kinus
of its kind (and in its boldness) and it was organized with the bracha of
the Rebbe MH"M.
said, "When the report of the kinus was presented to the Rebbe
MH"M, he said, ‘I will mention it at the Ohel again; continue with
much wondrous success in everything, etc.’"
Gimmel Kislev 5752, a group of women stood again before the Rebbe MH"M and
presented a beautiful box with signatures inside to the Rebbe MH"M. The
representative of the group said, "Baruch Hashem, there are
all kinds of wondrous activities concerning the mivtza of ‘they
searched for Hashem and for Dovid their king.’ The mivtza is being
spread far and wide under the auspices of N’shei Chabad around the world, and
also by the shluchos. We, N’shei u’Bnos Chabad, accept Moshiach
Tzidkeinu, Kvod K’dushas Admur shlita, and may we go proudly to our
holy land immediately."
Rebbe MH"M listened until the end and then said amen. The Rebbe then
turned his attention to the box and said, "Is this for me? Besuros tovos."
The Rebbe MH"M continued to focus on the box and the signatures and added,
"For all these matters you need to give tzedaka. There will be great
success. May you go from strength to strength until you come to Elokim
b’Tzion in the true and complete Redemption. Bracha and success,
Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh, Chaf-Ches Teives 5752, N’shei Chabad arranged a seudas
Melaveh Malka for the acceptance of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and they received
"a special bracha in a special time," to use the words of the
Malka was a historical event. All of the women from the neighborhood and
from far away came. Everyone was so excited about this event that 770 was
jam-packed before the time the event was called to start! The rabbanim
who were going to speak had to be asked to please try and come earlier than
scheduled because everyone was there so early! The emcee said that the showing
of the women, who were packed into the shul ahead of schedule, shows how
much the women really, really want Moshiach. Everyone cheered as loudly as they
all of the planning for each event, there were constant, warm responses from the
Rebbe MH"M, one after the other, encouraging every activity we wanted to
do. Naturally, this encouragement further inspired us to continue promoting the kabbalas
ha’malchus of the Rebbe MH"M. If in the beginning N’shei Chabad had
felt unsure if they were doing the right thing, when they saw the type of
responses from the Rebbe MH"M they were continually receiving, there were
no more doubts.
kind of activities to publicize kabbalas ha’malchus outside of
Crown Heights were arranged?
the activities was that on Friday mornings we went out to different areas or we
arranged home visitations. Wherever we went, we simply said, "We are from
Chabad-Lubavitch. Can we speak with you for a few minutes?"
down and spoke about the proclamation of the Rebbe MH"M: "The time of
your Redemption has arrived," and we told the people we were visiting that
the Rebbe referred to himself as Melech HaMoshiach. We showed them some
quotes the Rebbe had said in reference to himself as Moshiach. These quotes are
taken from sichos the Rebbe said. For example: "Moshiach, Menachem
is his name": "So will it be for us MiYaD
[immediately], an acronym combining the names of the three Chabad leaders, and
starting closest to our generation: Mem – Moshiach, Menachem is his
name [which is the Rebbe’s own name]; Yud -Yosef Yitzchok, the Rebbe
Rayatz, the sixth Chabad Rebbe; and Daled – Dov Ber, the second name of
the fifth Chabad Rebbe." We showed them many quotes like that. We explained
what a great merit and how important it is to sign that they accept the Rebbe
MH"M’s sovereignty. The majority of people signed and thanked us for the
merit we gave them to be part of this.
activities advanced in an even stronger way after the sichos of the Rebbe
MH"M on the Shabbosim of Parshas Bo and B’Shalach 5752 about the
superiority of the Jewish women and daughters who live in our generation. In
these sichos, the Rebbe MH"M spoke about the advantage of women in
bringing about the Geula. He said the women in our generation are the
reincarnation of the neshamos of the women who left Egypt, in whose merit
the Jews were then redeemed.
words of the Rebbe MH"M were a specific directive about singing and
dancing. In the exodus from Egypt, the righteous women in that generation were
so certain that Hashem would show them miracles that they prepared tambourines
to take with them when they would be leaving Egypt. To quote: "Also in the
final Redemption, the righteous women must – and certainly do – trust so
completely in the immediate Redemption that they will begin immediately in the
last moments of exile to play music and dance for the advent of the complete
that when N’shei Chabad decided to arrange dancing for the Geula?
Acting on this sicha, N’shei Chabad organized a giant event of dancing
with music and tambourines, through which we were truly expressing our belief
that the Rebbe MH"M will redeem us immediately. Cherna Light, Mindy
Halberstam, Ariella Benayoun, and Shifra Chana Hendrie were some of the women
who had planned the evening. This event took place in Oholei Torah on Motzaei
Shabbos Kodesh, the night of Yud-Beis Adar Rishon 5752. Before this, they had
requested a bracha and haskama from the Rebbe MH"M, and the
Rebbe MH"M gave a blessing and added that it should be according to the
standards of tznius. Only female musicians played music that night.
evening everyone showed up – grandmothers and great-grandmothers, babies,
girls, teenagers, and mothers. The evening started with a dvar malchus
about Geula and Moshiach. After that, everyone burst forth into dancing!
Everyone danced. Even the oldest ladies joined the dancing for a while. We
danced hour after hour, electrified – we felt that we were actually dancing
right into the Geula.
the night women were also inspired by the tambourine I brought. I received this
tambourine as a gift, and I had asked my son to write on it: "Yechi
Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed."
this the only tambourine at that event?
there were a few other women who danced with tambourines, but mine was the only
one that had "Yechi" written on it. Everyone who saw the
tambourine got all fired up that night. It was passed from hand to hand, from
circle to circle; it contributed to the atmosphere, to the mixed feelings of
yearning, expectation, happiness, and joy that here, right now, we are about to
evening of Geula dancing went on until 2:00 a.m., with all the women
leaving very much inspired and strengthened.
did you get the idea to present the tambourine to the Rebbe MH"M?
the dancing, Ariella Benayoun turned to me and asked, "Chavie, do you want
to give the tambourine to the Rebbe?" Of course I immediately agreed.
next day, Sunday morning, Yud-Beis Adar, Ariella called me and asked, "Do
you want to pass by the Rebbe and give him the tambourine?"
your tambourine," she said.
agreed. I stood in the long line outside 770 together with a group of women as
representatives of the dancing. I knew I wouldn’t be just giving the
tambourine and doing nothing more. I needed to say something, to mention the
previous night’s dancing. I was afraid to go alone, afraid that my knees might
collapse… The whole time on the dollar line I was reviewing out loud the words
I wanted to say to the Rebbe MH"M, because I was afraid that the moment I
would get to the Rebbe MH"M my mind would go blank and I wouldn’t be able
to say anything.
I found myself standing before the Rebbe MH"M. The photographer started to
take pictures. (There was always a steady photographer taking pictures and
videos of the people at the dollar line.) I said to the Rebbe MH"M in
Yiddish: "This is for the Rebbe shlita. With this tambourine the
women danced last night with a simcha that breaks all boundaries, with a bitachon
[trust] in the revelation of kvod k’dushas Admur shlita Melech HaMoshiach
immediately mamash with the complete Redemption."
Rebbe MH"M answered with a radiant smile, and great satisfaction was
apparent on his face. All my fear left as if it had never existed. The Rebbe
MH"M’s smile made me feel calm and peaceful. The Rebbe MH"M
responded, "Probably you will leave this [tambourine] with me?" The
Rebbe MH"M gave me one dollar and added another dollar and said, "This
is for the sounding of the trumpets, as it is referred to in Tehillim. It
should be in a good, auspicious time, and this is for the entire group."
you always addressed the Rebbe MH"M with the title "Melech
the first time I spoke to the Rebbe MH"M this way, but before this I had
written "Melech HaMoshiach" in my letters to the Rebbe.
did you do with the dollars and the picture?
enlarged one picture and framed it together with the two dollars. I also keep a
picture in my pocketbook. When I go on mivtzaim I show the picture. This
picture clearly shows the world the Rebbe MH"M’s approval and acceptance
of the women’s recognition that he is Melech HaMoshiach.
two years later, Rabbi Yitzchak Gansberg from Crown Heights found out about the
picture and called me immediately to make copies of it. On the back of the
picture he printed the original words that were said in Yiddish and translated
them to English and distributed the pictures all over the world.
heard from many people that this picture opened the door for people who until
then did not believe that it was the Rebbe MH"M who said, "The time of
your Redemption has arrived" and that he is Moshiach. There’s no doubt
that this picture nullifies a lot of doubts and misgivings. It’s impossible to
remain indifferent when you see the pleasure radiating so clearly from the Rebbe
MH"M at the acceptance of the malchus.
Women United for the Redemption" is an organization headed by Basha Oka
Botnick. She arranges speaker’s events and gatherings in people’s homes.
Sometimes, together with friends, I speak at these gatherings. When we speak, we
deliver a clear message that the Rebbe is the Nasi HaDor, Melech HaMoshiach,
alive with a neshama in a body, and that he prophesized about the Geula
and asked that we publicize it and prepare ourselves and others for it. At these
gatherings, we present the women with excerpts of the sichos of the Rebbe
MH"M about Moshiach and Geula. I show my picture and a video from
that Sunday. When I show this video, half our work is done. 99% of the people
present get the message.
which communities do you speak?
speak to all kinds of groups, including Satmar Chassidim, Littvish women, and
women who aren’t yet mitzva observant. The words are accepted. We see
how true are the Rebbe MH"M words – he said the world is ready.
did you get a video?
videos and photographs were continuously taken of the dollar line, so I just
went to WLCC (World Lubavitch Communications Center) and bought the part that
had me giving the Rebbe MH"M the tambourine. The first few people I showed
it to were strongly inspired by it.
out the video at our son’s wedding in England in 5757. The video was our gift
to the wedding guests; it was another means of publicizing the Rebbe
MH"M’s prophecy of Redemption to the world. On the video we added a
number of excerpts of the Rebbe’s strong sichos about his identity as
Moshiach. The excerpts were famous quotes of the Rebbe MH"M, such as,
"the Geula is already here," "do all you can to bring
Moshiach," etc. We gave the video out together with the booklet about the Geula
that Ruti Cohen and Sara Kanevsky published. (See issue 316 of Beis Moshiach.)
video and the booklets we distributed at the wedding made big waves in England.
When I returned to America after the Sheva Brachos, people called to tell
me that Manchester was still in a tumult about it. As we were looking through
the wedding pictures, we found a picture of one of the guests who belonged to
the Litvisher community intently reading the booklet…
we returned to America, I gave out on mivtzaim the pamphlets and videos I
had left over from the wedding. When I ran out of them, I again recopied another
batch of videos. I entitled the second edition of the video "The Time of
Your Redemption Has Arrived." We added English captions to the sichos
in the video and distributed it to hundreds of people.
is the secret of the success of the picture and the video?
secret of success is the Rebbe MH"M’s kochos in it. When people
see the picture or the video of that event, they cannot negate the issue. My
brother, Rabbi Gellis of Bnei Brak, told me that when he shows the picture to
different people, it encourages and strengthens them.
example, my daughter-in-law in Melbourne showed the video to one of her guests,
a Lubavitcher who already believed that the Rebbe is Moshiach. He exclaimed to
her, "Those words the Rebbe MH"M himself said?! I thought the
Chassidim said all those things. Such strong words!" He was astonished to
find that all those expressions originated from the Rebbe MH"M!
Moshiach also recognized the potential of the picture, which was published
on the front cover of issue number 37. The Friday that Beis Moshiach came
out with the picture on the front cover, I was walking down the street and
someone stopped me and asked, "Are you the woman who gave the Rebbe the
tambourine? Were the words ‘Yechi Adoneinu’ written on it?" I
replied yes to both questions, and he told me that someone is spreading a rumor
that the picture is a forgery. "Maybe you should go to him and let him hear
to the person on the telephone and told him that I was the one who gave the
Rebbe MH"M the tambourine. He told me the picture was definitely forged. He
kept on arguing with me about it, and he asked why when he visited the Rebbe’s
library he did not see the tambourine there. I answered, "It may be very
possible that someone specifically did not want the tambourine shown
there." I made up to meet him a few minutes later. I brought the picture I
had enlarged that was hanging on my dining room wall, with the two dollars
framed inside. I thought he would realize that I wouldn’t be able to forge
that picture so fast, with the two dollars as well. He even tried to refute that
picture. Comparing the picture on the cover of the Beis Moshiach and my
enlarged picture, I showed him that both were the same. He remained silent and
could not refute me further. A few days later he sent his daughter-in-law to see
the video. She saw it 3 or 4 times.
after the picture was publicized in Beis Moshiach, I read in that
magazine a sharp letter written to "Letters to the Editor." Someone in
Eretz Yisroel wrote the letter trying to bring proof that the picture was a
forgery. He was beside himself that Beis Moshiach could do something as
irresponsible as to print a picture that was a forgery. I personally wrote to
him and told him that I would be going to Eretz Yisroel in a few weeks and if he
wanted to, he could speak to me over the telephone when I get there. When I
arrived in Eretz Yisroel and got to my destination, I barely had time to put
down my things and take off my coat before the telephone rang. On the other end
of the line was this man questioning the validity of the picture. I spoke to him
at length and sent him a picture. He expressed his remorse and apologized for
his letter. He was very happy to find out that the picture was legitimate.
these the only times you have had difficulty transmitting the message?
constantly have to overcome ridicule from people. Ten years ago when I displayed
the tambourine on top of our bookcase in the living room, one of the members of
my family laughed at me and made a remark, "How about hanging it from the
ceiling like a chandelier?" Then, while I was hanging up the enlarged
picture of the event that was framed with the two dollars, a member of the
family protested: "No! This is a private thing, a picture for yourself. You
should put it in your bedroom." I said, "This is a picture that will
be hung in the dining room to be seen by everyone as proof of the Rebbe’s
my belief is strong, when I’m speaking to someone and I notice that person
making a face, sometimes it makes me clam up; it makes it harder for me to say
anything and I have to push myself to overcome their ridicule. There are some
people who I only have to see – that alone weakens me and makes it more
difficult for me to speak. There’s no doubt this is what the Rebbe MH"M
was referring to when he said that in our generation the main test is "not
to be ashamed before the mockers." This is the first chapter in the Shulchan
Orach and this is our hardest test.
you have a message for others that you want to relate?
keep on doing more and more. Every activity, no matter how small, affects the
birthday and other occasions, I have given out a present – audiotapes with
different songs about the Geula. I can’t tell you what kind of a hard
time I had making those tapes. During a visit to Eretz Yisroel, I was copying
songs about Moshiach and Geula onto my own tape, which I then wanted to
recopy so I could distribute a lot of them. Just copying a few songs onto my
tape, which would usually take a few hours, took a few days. Everything was
going wrong. The tape recorder wouldn’t work right…and then something else
would happen – until I finally produced two finished copies. I decided to
persevere, because I knew one thing – when something is very hard to do, that
means it is important and there are forces trying to prevent it from being
carried out. That is a signal that you must try harder and harder, so I did, and
I was finally successful.
brought the tapes to the copy center, the worker accidentally erased the whole
tape. I was almost ready to plotz! Luckily I had a second copy with me.
It wasn’t as good as the first, but I had him make the copies from the second
tape. These tapes were uplifting and strengthening to everyone who heard them.
printed out a page of excerpts of different sichos of the Rebbe MH"M
in Hebrew and English about Moshiach and Geula. I made hundreds of copies
and also distributed them.
small thing anyone does concerning Moshiach has a ripple effect, and we cannot
estimate how great its power is. When I wrote "Yechi Adoneinu…"
on the tambourine did I dream that it would get into the hands of the Rebbe
MH"M and would be such a powerful force? I just innocently wrote the
message on the tambourine so it would be ready for the Geula…
will help us see the Rebbe MH"M shlita immediately now!
* * *
at the Isaiah Wall
Sunday, June 11, 1995, the Jewish Women United for the Redemption was planning a
gathering in front of the United Nations by the Isaiah Wall, where the verse
about beating swords into plowshares is engraved. There were going to be
speakers talking about Moshiach and Geula. I very much hoped that someone
would say "Yechi," but at that time I had no say in the matter.
to the Rebbe to ask for a bracha that "Yechi" should be
said at the event. In the Igros we opened up, the answer had nothing to
do with what I wrote. But the Rebbe was definitely talking to me. The Rebbe said
that I should take much better care of my health and recommended that I eat
before davening. He wrote that the body was given to the person to take
care of. The tikkun (remedy) for not doing so is to encourage others to
take care of their health.
truth was that at that time, I happened to be living alone at home because my
husband was overseas and my children were out of the house. I was not looking
after myself as well as I should have been. I said, "Yes, I know, I accept
what you are saying to me – but what should we do about the event?"
a conference call to the gathering’s organizer, Basha Oka Botnick and a
friend. My friend and I had previously decided that we would ask Basha for
permission to bring someone to speak at the event. Basha answered the phone.
"Oh, Chavie, it’s you – how great! I want you to speak at this event! I
want you to describe how you went past the Rebbe and brought him the
so overwhelmed at how I had been immediately answered by the Rebbe MH"M,
and overwhelmed at the great responsibility he was giving me. I was literally
shivering. Tears were streaming down my eyes.
I knew I should use the opportunity to say "Yechi" when I would
speak, I was hesitant. A friend told me that I should not question, and I should
do what I feel I must do.
to the UN gathering and spoke about how I presented the tambourine with "Yechi"
written on it to the Rebbe, and how I stated my acceptance of the kabbalas
ha’malchus. I described how the Rebbe accepted my presentation. At the end
of my speech, everyone stood there, transfixed. I exclaimed, "Yechi
Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach l’olam Va’ed!" That
"Yechi" was awesome – it had a beautiful, long echo –
because we were speaking near the water surrounding Manhattan.
gave each participant a postcard picture of myself handing the Rebbe the
tambourine, which they eagerly accepted.
after this gathering, there was a change made in the UN Charter that related to
the Isaiah prophecy. It just shows that whatever small or large thing we do, we
can never estimate what the intensity of the outcome will be, since it’s not
us – it’s really the Rebbe doing the work through us.
A DOLLAR TO HASTEN THE GEULA
representative of N’shei Chabad related: After Chaf-Ches Nissan 5751, there
was a tremendous arousal concerning Moshiach among the women in the neighborhood
and among the members of N’shei Chabad. In response to the words of the Rebbe
MH"M, N’shei established the Moshiach Committee, which initiated and
organized many activities.
women felt so grateful to be connected to the Rebbe MH"M, and out of pure
love for the Rebbe wanted to give the Rebbe MH"M a gift in honor of Rosh
Chodesh Kislev 5752. The gift would be an expression of hiskashrus and a
love that was even stronger than before. They asked Mr. Herschel Pekkar to
create a beautiful silver pushka, in which they inserted donations
collected from women towards the building and expansion of 770. Previously, the
Rebbe MH"M had spoken about everyone’s obligation to participate in the
building of 770 Beis Moshiach, physically and monetarily. Mr. Pekkar fashioned
the pushka in the shape of 770. I don’t remember exactly what were the
words we wrote on it, whether or not it said Melech HaMoshiach. Only a
few minutes before we got to the Rebbe MH"M did we decide what to write.
the representative who presented the box to the Rebbe MH"M. This was a very
emotional and special event. None of us knew how the Rebbe would respond to
being called Melech HaMoshiach. I said something along the lines of: This
tzedaka pushka contains the first donation that the women gave for the Mikdash
M’at, 770, Beis Moshiach, a present from all N’shei u’Bnos Chabad to
the Rebbe, shlita, in honor of the special day, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, and
all the auspicious dates of the month of Geula, the month of Kislev. We
request from Hashem, may He be blessed, that the Rebbe shlita should be
healthy and strong and live forever, and that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach will
lead us to Eretz Yisroel, and we will have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a
heart to know and see this immediately."
how intently the Rebbe MH"M listened to each word that was said in the bracha,
and we saw the satisfaction on the Rebbe MH"M’s face the whole time.
the women present answered amen, and the Rebbe MH"M gave a dollar,
then an additional dollar, and a dollar to tzedaka to hasten the Geula.
Each woman in the group got a dollar and the Rebbe MH"M said to her,
"To hasten the Geula." This whole episode was extremely moving
– a very, very special moment.
CAREFUL WITH EVERY WORD"
Cohen relates, "As I said, we prepared the video tape which attests to the
Rebbe MH"M’s acceptance of the kabbalas ha’malchus upon
receiving the tambourine. We also added excerpts of the Rebbe MH"M’s sichos
about Moshiach and the Geula. We put English captions in the video. In
order to do this, a close friend of mine, Devora Leah Shalinsky, and I worked
for many, many hours translating the Rebbe MH"M’s words. We wrote paper
many tiring hours, Devora Leah went home to rest, intending to return and finish
the job later. She fell asleep and had a dream of the Rebbe MH"M. In her
dream, she was passing by the Rebbe MH"M in the dollar line. When it came
to her turn, the Rebbe MH"M didn’t look at her; he was busying himself
with many papers. Then the Rebbe glanced up at her and said, "Be careful
with every word."
awoke, very excited and emotional. When we got together again, we continued
translating, recognizing the big responsibility that lay upon us.
weighed and measured the translation of every word, and when we came to a few
words for which we didn’t feel sure about their exact meaning, we asked Rabbi
Y. Kaminker and Rabbi Nachman Schapiro, who helped us with the exact meanings.