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50 Stories For 50 Years
Part II

Fifty short stories, yechiduyos, answers and quotes in honor of the start of the Rebbe’s fiftieth year of leadership * collected from the personal diary of a Chassid


What is a Chassidishe bachur?
A bachur once told the Rebbe in yechidus that he wanted to be a “Chassidishe bachur.” The Rebbe said: There are five differences between a bachur who learns in Tomchei Tmimim and a bachur of another yeshiva: (1) a beard, (2) pei’os,  (3) mikva,  (4) two pairs of tefillin (Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam),  and (5) a belt [probably referring to the belt worn over the tzitzis]. If he does these five things, then he is a “Chassidishe bachur.”


I have to prepare for davening
In the years between 5715 and 5724, towards morning after the Hakafos, the Rebbe would teach a new niggun on Simchas Torah. He would also give mashke to those who resolved to increase their study of Chassidus in the coming year.

In the year 5724, the Rebbe warned that only those who would actually increase their learning should take mashke, unlike the earlier years when people took mashke and did not actually add in their learning.  Hearing this, many Anash and Tmimim did not approach the Rebbe for mashke.

The Chassid R’ Abba Pliskin stood near the Rebbe and did not know whether to approach him and take mashke. Suddenly the Rebbe turned to him and said: Ir vilt gor nit mashke nit nemen? (You don’t want to take any mashke?) Ich hub nit kein tzeit, Ich darf zich greiten tzum davenen! (I don’t have any time, I must prepare myself for davening!)

This was at six in the morning, and having stayed up all night, the Rebbe was already preparing for davening!


Concerned about foreign thoughts during davening
A Conservative rabbi left a yechidus with the Rebbe very impressed about what the Rebbe had told him. The Rebbe had said the following:

I received a letter from a Lubavitcher in Russia, and when I read the letter I was shaken up. What concerned the Chassid? That he had foreign thoughts while davening! We are talking about someone who has nothing to eat, and whose life is in danger, and what is he worried about? — foreign thoughts during davening!


Proper intention
The Rebbe once said on the words “One may do more and one may do less, as long as he directs his heart towards Heaven”: A person should not become despondent when he sees his friend doing more than he does, for one is only expected to achieve according to his own ability. But whatever he is capable of doing, he must do with the proper intention.


Reviewing Chassidus is good for gashmiyus
Somebody told the Rebbe in yechidus that he had publicly reviewed Chassidus, and had benefited materially as a result. The Rebbe responded: If only everybody knew and was aware that reviewing Chassidus is good for gashmiyus (material well being).


The Mann, The Well, And The Clouds
In the first year after the Rebbe Rayatz’s histalkus (passing) the Rebbe said (at the Simchas Beis HaSho’eiva, 5711) incredible things about it. Among other things, he said that those Chassidim who maintain that the Rebbe continues to live continue to receive hashpaos (Divine effluence) from the Rebbe.

In Moshe Rabbeinu’s lifetime, they saw how all spiritual and material matters came from him, such as the mann, the water from Miriam’s well, and the clouds of glory that washed their clothes, etc. But after Moshe’s passing — even though the Sages say “Moshe did not die,” since he was not to be seen below ten handbreadths — the hashpaos stopped.

However, those who maintain that Moshe Rabbeinu continues to live, “below ten handbreadths,” continue to receive hashpaos from Moshe — the mann, the well, and the clouds.


To see the good
The Chassid R’ Shmuel Levitin related that he once had a yechidus with the Rebbe during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, and he told the Rebbe that in Chassidus it is explained that through the avoda of Aseres Yemei Teshuva, a person can actually see how he is not in line with the Divine intent.

And the Rebbe said: Vos epes nit k’fi ha’kavana, men iz ye k’fi ha’kavana (why do you say one is not in line with the Divine intent, one is in line with the Divine intent.)


Take The Money
Two brothers who went to organize a public Pesach seider for university students in 5722, refused to accept money for expenses. Nevertheless, The Rebbe insisted that it should be given to them: The pain they have in taking the money is nothing compared to the pain that Hashem would have, ch’v, if Jews do not have a seider.


Not to be embarrassed by a Chassidic custom
R’ Berel Baumgarten related: On Succos 5702 or 5703, before davening, and after they made the bracha on the esrog and lulav, the Rebbe (during the lifetime of the Rebbe Rayatz) entered the succa at 770 and gave out mezonos (baked goods) to the Anash and Tmimim there. One of the Chassidim approached the Rebbe and said that Chassidim eat mezonos before davening due to weakness, etc. — so why do this publicly?

The Rebbe answered: Mit a minhag Chassidim iz nita vos tzu shemen zich! (There’s no need to be embarrassed by a Chassidic custom).


Go to the mikva first
A person from Eretz Yisroel wrote a letter to the Rebbe, and the Rebbe responded: I generally mention the letters and names at the tziyun. Therefore, from now on, go to the mikva before writing.


How Is It Possible That They Should Serve As Obstacles
In one of the first maamarim (Ki Sisa 5711) the Rebbe said:

We learn in Likkutei Torah (Savo 43, 2) that there must be three preparations for davening each day: 1) learning Chassidus, 2) going to the mikva, and 3) giving tzedaka.

But there are those who say that since they have to innovate new Torah thoughts, they have no time for that. The reason for this is the belief that the Torah is his, “his Torah,” and he has to approach the Torah with his human intellect, and therefore, he does not do these three preparations.

But if he learned Torah because it is Hashem’s wisdom and desire, how is it possible that these preparations, which were commanded by Hashem Himself, should serve as obstacles to his Torah study?


I read Between the lines
A person gave a letter to the Rebbe about a friend. The Rebbe said: Tell him to write it himself, because when I read a letter I also read between the lines.


One day in Tomchei TMIMIM
Somebody asked the Rebbe about a bachur who was ready to go to yeshiva, but for certain reasons, if they would send him to Tomchei Tmimim, he would only be able to learn there for a short time; if he would go to a different yeshiva, however, he would be able to learn there for a few years. Which yeshiva should they choose?

The Rebbe said they should send him to Tomchei Tmimim even if he would be there for only one day!

It turned out that after going to Tomchei Tmimim, he remained there for quite a few years.


The reason for being too tired
A Chassid once complained to the Rebbe about something he could not do because he was too tired. The Rebbe said: It says, “and you were tired and weary.” Why? Because “and you did not fear Hashem” — yiras Shamayim was lacking.


Think Positively And It Will Be Positive
Somebody wrote a letter to the Rebbe in the month of Adar, asking for a bracha for someone who was seriously ill, and for whom they had already despaired.

The Rebbe answered: “It’s surprising that we talk and talk and when it comes to action, everybody thinks that it doesn’t apply to them. 

“It has been quoted many times, the saying and directive of the Rebbeim our leaders, “Tracht gut vet zein gut” (think positively and it will be positive), which conversely illustrates the problem with negative thoughts.

“Despite the fact that we are in the month of Adar, when we are commanded to increase in joy, he is steeped in despair (see Tanya on this topic).

“And we will conclude with a Dvar malchus: “tracht gut vet zein gut” in a visible and revealed way.”

The end of the story was that the sick person suddenly became better, to the surprise of all the doctors.


When You Read The Paper Before Going To Sleep…
The Rebbe told one of the Chassidim to befriend a certain Jew. The Chassid once told the Rebbe that he was very concerned about that person because lately he had made heretical statements. Said the Rebbe: I know him. It’s just talk and apparently he read a newspaper before going to sleep. When you read the paper before going to sleep, you speak like that the next day.


They can do both
The administration of Tomchei Tmimim in Montreal wrote to the Rebbe that the students were spending a great portion of their time on hafatza and mivtzaim (outreach), and their learning was suffering. They asked the Rebbe to tell the boys to limit their mivtzaim so that it wouldn’t adversely affect their studies.

The Rebbe said: They can do both.


The One Thing He Couldn’t Do
At a farbrengen in the Rebbe’s first year (VaYigash), he related: My father-in-law, the Rebbe, was talented in all areas, even horse riding and target shooting.

The Rebbe continued: I heard from the Chassid R’ Eliyahu Chaim Althaus that he once traveled with the Rebbe in the lifetime of his father, the Rebbe Rashab. When they passed by a place where people did target practice, R’ Eliyahu suggested to the Rebbe that they compete, to which the Rebbe agreed.

R’ Eliyahu Chaim related that the amazing thing was that the Rebbe always hit the bull’s-eye, whereas he always missed entirely! Yet even though the Rebbe Rayatz was talented in all areas, he did not know how to drive a car.


The Rosh Mesivta must learn Chassidus too
At a farbrengen in 5712, the Rebbe told one of the Roshei Mesivta: Sometimes you have to forget you are a Rosh Mesivta in Nigla, and learn Chassidus before davening. By doing this, you will influence the students to learn Torah with yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven).


Bring the children
At a farbrengen in 5712, the Rebbe said that even small children, like three-year-olds, should be brought to farbrengens to rub shoulders with the Chassidim. He spoke about someone in Kutayis in Georgia (the C.I.S.) who saw a Jew bring his small son to the siyum on erev Pesach.

The people asked him: Does he understand?

He replied: And they (the older ones) understand?


Whispering the Rebbe’s name
In the winter of 5711 they found Reb Avrohom Sykens badly wounded in the street. He was taken unconscious to the hospital, and he lay in a coma for three days. The doctors despaired, saying there was no hope.

One of the Tmimim called the office of Merkaz L’Inyonei Chinuch and asked that they tell the Rebbe about the situation and ask for a bracha.

The Rebbe said they should whisper in the man’s ear that they had told the Rebbe what had happened, and they should whisper the Rebbe’s name and his father’s name.

The Tamim did so immediately, and the man suddenly opened his eyes and recognized the people standing around him. The doctors were astounded and said it was entirely unnatural.


The one who speaks is better
The Rebbe spoke to someone at a yechidus about those who write and tell the Rebbe everything, and those who don’t say anything. He said: there are two types of fools, one who speaks and one who keeps quiet. I love the one who speaks more.


To be a vessel
A Chassid complained to the Rebbe that he was not a vessel for ruchniyus (spirituality) and asked for a bracha. The Rebbe said: When it’s time to eat you choose a nice portion, and if it lacks salt you add salt. If you lie in the depths, how can you be a vessel for ruchniyus?


No two Blessing Are Alike
At a farbrengen in 5712, someone asked the Rebbe for a bracha that his brother would be able to leave Russia, “a bracha like so-and-so had received.”

The Rebbe said: The truth is that giving a bracha is something connected with the individual’s soul. (Therefore it makes no sense to ask to receive a bracha like somebody else.)


It Is Because He Wanted To
The Chassid R’ M.M. Cunin suffered from his second wife, and he always said that the reason was that he had badgered the Rebbe Rayatz until he received his consent for the match. At a farbrengen (Shmini 57120) the Rebbe said: Hashem should help you understand that when it concerns a Rebbe, there is no such thing as his being forced. If the Rebbe agreed, it is because he wanted to.


If you believe me
A woman once came to 770 and asked for a yechidus so that the Rebbe would help her father. The doctors had said he was mortally ill. Since it wasn’t a yechidus time, Rabbi Groner refused to allow her to enter. She insisted and stood near the Rebbe’s room and cried.

Hearing her cries, the Rebbe phoned Rabbi Groner and asked who was crying outside his door. When Rabbi Groner told him, the Rebbe told him to go over to the woman and tell her that if she believed in him — and certainly she did, since she came to see him —he was telling her that it wasn’t the time for yechidus now and, therefore, she shouldn’t enter.

When Rabbi Groner told the Rebbe that she wanted an assurance that her father would recover, the Rebbe told him to tell her that the doctors had made a mistaken diagnosis and that her father would surely recover.

Rabbi Groner relayed the Rebbe’s message, but the woman did not calm down. She took out a telegram she had received from Eretz Yisroel in which the doctors wrote about her father’s critical condition. Rabbi Groner repeated the Rebbe’s message, and she finally calmed down and left.

Two weeks later, the woman returned and asked Rabbi Groner to relay her thanks to the Rebbe, because the doctors did, in fact, err; her father’s situation was actually not that serious, and he was on his way to recovery. The lady said that now she understands why the Rebbe did not want her to enter his room, because it turned out that she was worrying for nothing.


The Rebbe giving out tzedaka to disabled soldiers of Eretz Yisroel, whom the Rebbe referred to as the “distinguished soldiers.”


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