Stories of the Rebbe
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A story of the Rebbe #68 - Great Miracles Print Email

From a letter written by a Tomim during Tishrei, 5712/1951:

"? On the night of Simchas Torah, it was after hakafos were over, and the Rebbe had gone into his room. At around 1 a.m., the Rebbe reentered the Beis Medrash and asked that it should be announced that hakafos were to take place again. Anyone who had not recited the pesukim at the earlier hakafos had to say them now. Anyone who did not have a hakafa earlier should take part in one now.

"[The Rebbe] then asked Mr. A. to recite the verse, ?to perform great wonders.? The Rebbe then asked if Mr. A. believed that he would receive the yeshua that he needed that very night, and Mr. A. started to cry. The Rebbe told Mr. A. to repeat the verse more loudly, and he asked the same question as before, also in a louder voice. This happened several times until the Rebbe remarked, as if to himself, ?Okay, he believes it now.?

"The Rebbe then asked the Tmimim to recite the verse, ?Vayehi binsoa.? He told them to repeat it because they had not said it loudly enough. However, this was also not satisfactory, as the Rebbe'said after the second reading, ?This is still not right. Say it again.? After the third time, the Rebbe remarked, ?This is still not the way it should be, but three times is already a chazaka.?

"At the second reciting of ?atoh horaisa,? when the Tmimim reached this verse once again, the Rebbe again told the Tmimim to read it out. At this point, he said, ?It's getting there.?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #69 - Purchasing and Packing Print Email

Rabbi Shimon Beckerman relates:

"In 5726/1965, I went into yechidus twice. The first time was when I arrived, and the second time was just before I was about to travel. During the second yechidus, I wrote to the Rebbe that although I had been in 770 for a month, I didn?t feel that I had experienced any positive change from having been there.

"The Rebbe replied with a saying of the Previous Rebbe that, ?We purchase and pack, purchase and pack, and we only open the parcels when we get home.?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #70 - The Marseillaise, Uforatzto and Vesamachta Print Email

On Shemini Atzeres, 5734/1973, before the fourth hakafa, the Rebbe'stood on the edge of the bima and began to sing "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to the tune of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." That year, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah fell out on a Thursday and Friday, followed immediately by Shabbos Bereishis. Whenever this order fell out, there were two farbrengens. One was the regular farbrengen for Shabbos Bereishis and Shabbos Mevorchim. The other farbrengen took place an hour later, and it made up for the Simchas Torah farbrengen as that particular festival had fallen on Friday.

That particular Simchas Torah, after the farbrengen, kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv,the Rebbe began to sing "Vesamachta" on his way out of the shul. However, he did not sing it to the regular tune, but to the tune of "Uforatzto." Although there may have been some who thought this was simply a mistake, it was obviously intentional.

Sure enough, during the farbrengen on Shabbos Bereishis, the Rebbe'spoke about why he had sung "Vesamachta" to the tune of "Uforatzto" and "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to the tune of "La Marseillaise."

The Rebbe explained that on the one hand, although it was already after Maariv on Motzoei Simchas Torah, as that night was Shabbos, the idea of "Vesamachta" still applied. On the other hand, as it was actually the end of Simchas Torah, the idea of "And Yaakov went on his way" was also applicable. Since this relates more to "Uforatzto," the Rebbe decided to link these two concepts, which was why he sang the words of "Vesamachta" to the tune of "Uforatzto."

Similarly, regarding the Rebbe's rendition of "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to "La Marseillaise," this related to the concept of "Napoleon's March," when the Alter Rebbe took the theme of victory from the March.

It is also interesting to note that that year, the French President Georges Pompidou, who was known for his anti-Israel stance, died that year, which was also when the French national anthem was changed.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #71 - Beyond Comparison Print Email

During hakafos on the morning of Simchas Torah, the Rebbe used to say how much money a person should give to Machne Israel or Merkos for "Atoh horaisa." R' Zalman Gurary once approached the Rebbe and said that the avreichim were prepared to give whatever the Rebbe would ask them for, and they wanted the Rebbe to tell them how much to give.

The Rebbe replied, "My achievements are beyond comparison with theirs. They can?t reach my level of achievement. Therefore, do them a favor and tell them not to ask me."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #72 - What to Squeeze Out and What to Push in Print Email

From the diary of a Tomim, written during Tishrei, 5714/1953:

"Before we left to bring joy to Jews in other shuls, the Rebbe instructed each group to appoint a leader, who would make sure that no one went over the top or would upset the baalei batim. They would do whatever they could to make sure that any serious drinking would only occur when the group got back to 770 ?

"During hakafos, the Rebbe'stood on the shtender several times (after he had turned it over on its side) and danced joyfully.

"During hakafos someone wanted to give the Rebbe a handkerchief to wipe away his perspiration, but the Rebbe didn?t want to take it. The Rebbe later explained that this was because he wanted his perspiration to remain with him and not go to someone else.

"When this particular individual later went into the farbrengen, he was pushed by the crowd. The Rebbe remarked to him, ?Let them squeeze out everything that isn?t appropriate from you, and they should push into you everything that you need?.?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #73 - From the Mouths of Babes Print Email

When the Rebbe concluded dancing one of the hakafos with a sefer Torah, a young boy gave the Rebbe the traditional Simchas Torah greeting, "Derlebt iber a yahr" [May we merit the next year]. The boy said it in a loud voice, with a joyful expression on his face.

An elder chassid hushed the boy, rebuking him for being so forward. However the Rebbe'smiled and answered the child, "And to you." Turning to the chassid, the Rebbe asked, "What do you want? Doesn?t it say, ?From the mouths of s,? ?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #75 - "Your Miracles and Your Salvation" Print Email

Rabbi Ch., a leading Rabbi in the United States, had a daughter who had abandoned the Jewish way of life that she had been brought up with and wanted to marry a non-Jew. With a broken heart, Rabbi Ch. went to the Rebbe on erev Yom Kippur, when lekach was being given out, and asked for a bracha and some advice on what to do.

The Rebbe gave him a piece of lekach and recited the verse, "for Your miracles and Your salvation." Rabbi Ch. found this blessing to be a little strange, especially as the Rebbe had not given him any specific advice.

Time went by, and despite the efforts of her family, the Rabbi's daughter remained firm in her decision to marry her non-Jewish "fianc?."

On one of the nights of Chanuka, the family was therefore very surprised when the daughter turned up at their home pale and crying. She announced, "That's it. It's over. I?ve decided to leave him!"

When she had calmed down, she explained that on that evening, she was walking through the main square of a town in New Jersey when she saw that a public menorah-lighting ceremony was going on. For an unexplainable reason, this made her feel very troubled. Collecting her thoughts, she decided that she could never bring herself to marry a non-Jew.

After Rabbi Ch. had recovered from this pleasant surprise, he remembered the blessing he had received from the Rebbe on erev Yom Kippur. It was, "for Your miracles and Your salvation," from the "Haneiros hallalu" prayer, which we recite every year during Chanuka.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #76 - A Different Kind of Lechaim ? Print Email

Rabbi Nachman Sudak, head shliach in the UK, relates:

A 14-year-old boy from London, who came from a family that had become close to Lubavitch, once traveled to the Rebbe for Tishrei. On Simchas Torah, he was standing with the other children, when the Rebbe motioned to him to say, "lechaim." The boy did as he was asked, but a short while later, the Rebbe again indicated that he should make a "lechaim." No one understood was going on.

The boy wrote home about this incident, and his family wondered what it meant. Nothing unusual had happened either to the boy or to his family that would explain it.

It did not take long, however, before the significance of this incident became apparent. Soon after his return to London, the boy was crossing a road on his way home from school when he was struck by a speeding car.

The car hit his leg very hard, and the force of the blow caused the upper part of his body to be thrown forward. His head struck the front of the vehicle very hard, smashing the windscreen and bending its metal frame.

The boy immediately lost consciousness as a result, and fell to the ground bleeding heavily. Fortunately for him, a doctor was driving in the car immediately behind, who rushed to his aid. However, the boy's chances of survival were still considered to be very low.

When the boy arrived at the hospital, the doctors were surprised to find that he had not sustained any brain damage from the heavy blow he had sustained. Miraculously, all he needed were a number of stitches to his scalp. His only major injury was a broken leg.

The accident had occurred in a central area, and there had been many witnesses. No one believed that he had escaped with such minor injuries. However, the explanation was obvious. The boy had been protected by the power of a "lechaim."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #77 - Not A Slip of the Tongue Print Email

During the haftara read by the Rebbe on the first day of Sukkos, 5742/1981, people were surprised to hear the Rebbe read the verse, "the entire land will spin like a willow," as "like a cedar (?Levanon?)."

That summer, everyone realized that this was not just a slip of the tongue when the war with Lebanon suddenly broke out.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #78 - "And How is Rabbi Rosen?" Print Email

The late former Chief Rabbi of Romania, Rabbi Rosen, once related:

"One day, on the morning of Isru Chag of Simchas Torah, the telephone rang in my home. To my surprise, it was Rabbi Hodakov, the secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Hodakov told me that the Rebbe wanted to know how I was. I was very surprised by this question, because on the morning of Simchas Torah, when I was getting ready to go to shul, I had suddenly felt unwell. I fainted and fell to the floor. Although everyone around me thought of taking me to the hospital, I recovered fairly quickly and I got up as if nothing had happened.

"While I was still marveling at Rabbi Hodakov's question, I asked him how the Rebbe knew that I had not been feeling well. Rabbi Hodakov replied, ?I Don't know. Yesterday, during hakafos on the night of Simchas Torah, the Rebbe asked me to come over to him. He asked me how Rabbi Rosen was feeling, and told me to say a "lechaim" for him. Now, ten minutes ago, after the distribution of kos shel brocha had ended, the Rebbe called me into this room and asked me to call you and find out how you are.?

"I asked Rabbi Hodakov, ?What time did the Rebbe mention me during hakafos?? When Rabbi Hodakov told me what time it was, I saw that this was exactly at the same time as when I had fainted at home. ?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #79 - You Cannot Deceive the Rebbe Print Email

Yosef Yitzchok Katz of New York relates that through mivtzoyim activities, an influential businessman in Manhattan started to get closer to Yiddishkeit. The businessman, who was not married and knew very little about Yiddishkeit, started to put on tefillin every day. After a while, he agreed to go to "dollars" on Sunday afternoon. He also asked if he could bring his brother, and Yosef Yitzchok accompanied the two of them to receive the Rebbe's brocha.

The businessman's brother was the first to receive a brocha and a dollar bill. When he asked for a blessing for his wife and children, the Rebbe gave him an additional dollar. When the businessman himself took his turn, he asked for a similar blessing, for no apparent reason. In response, the Rebbe gave him a piercing gaze before turning to the next person in line.

With great excitement, the businessman later gave Yosef Yitzchok a large Don'tion for mivtzoyim. "I have seen that the Rebbe is no ordinary person," he said. "You cannot lie to him, and when I asked for a brocha for ?the family,? the Rebbe looked into my eyes and saw that I was single. For this reason, he wouldn?t answer me and went on to the next person in the line."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #81 - What is Her Name and Her Mother's Name? Print Email

Brian Kirscher, a Jewish lawyer originally from England, once arrived at the Chabad House in Vancouver, Canada. He asked the shliach, Rabbi Weinberg, if he would write to the Rebbe for a brocha for the speedy recovery of his non-Jewish wife from a serious illness.

Rabbi Weinberg faced a serious dilemma. One the one hand, this man had married a non-Jewish woman. How could he possibly ask the Rebbe for a brocha for her? On the other hand, how could he push away a Jew who was begging for his help? In the end, Rabbi Weinberg decided to write to the Rebbe and see what he should do. Deep down, he hoped that he would not receive any answer.

About two days later, Mr. Kirscher turned up at Rabbi Weinberg's office once again. "I have just received a telegram from the Rebbe with a blessing for a complete and speedy recovery for my wife. The Rebbe would like to know her name and that of her mother."

"I almost fell off my chair when I heard this," Rabbi Weinberg later related. "It was the first time that I had ever heard about the Rebbe asking for the name of a non-Jewish woman and her mother. My friends and I decided that I would find out exactly what was going on, so that day we went to the hospital to visit the sick woman. We asked her if there was any possibility that she might be Jewish. She thought that we were crazy, and when we asked her about her background she answered that she had been brought up in a convent from a very young age. Her mother still lived in northern France, and she had no connection with Jews beyond the fact that her husband was Jewish.

"We persuaded her to write to her mother, asking about her origins. Two weeks later, she called us. She sounded very emotional when she told us that her mother had replied that both of them were, in fact, Jews. ?We put you into a convent during the Holocaust, and we kept your origins a carefully guarded secret,? she wrote."

Now, thanks to the Rebbe, the secret was revealed at last.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #86 - His Life was Saved Print Email

The late Rabbi Yisroel Yitzchok Piekarski, author of Chakrei Halachos, once related: "Once I went into the Rebbe for a bracha before flying from America to Israel. The Rebbe asked me when I would return and on which airplane. When I gave the Rebbe the details, the Rebbe'suddenly asked, ?why do you need to stay there so long? You could come back two days earlier.?

"Although this seemed rather strange because all my arrangements had been made, I did as the Rebbe'said and cut my trip short. In the end, I found out that the airplane on which I previously booked my return flight went down over Bulgaria, and all the passengers were killed."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #87 - The Missing Matza Print Email

The late Zelig Slonim once related,

"Every year, I would travel to the Rebbe during the month of Adar, and the Rebbe would always give me three matzos to take back to Israel for three leading Rabbis in Jerusalem. Each Rabbi always received one matza. Among them was the late Rabbi Aryeh Levin. Rabbi Aryeh, who devoted his life to strengthening the faith of many Jews, even during their most difficult moments, derived much encouragement and spiritual inspiration from the matzos that he received from the Rebbe.

"In 5629/1969, I was very surprised when I left yechidus to find that the Rebbe had only given me two matzos, which were for the other two Rabbis. When I mentioned to the Rebbe that he had not given me a matza for Rabbi Aryeh, the Rebbe did not respond."

"Several days later, on 9th Nissan, Rabbi Aryeh Levin passed away."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #88 - A Broken Heart ? Print Email

Rabbi Moshe Wolfson, spiritual director of Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, related that every time he walked past the Rebbe, he would openly see the Rebbe's ruach hakodesh. On one such occasion, Rabbi Wolfson was troubled by a particularly depressing problem. When he walked past the Rebbe during "dollars," he mentioned it to the Rebbe. The Rebbe replied, "You should make sure to fulfill your obligation to recite the verse, ?A broken, oppressed heart will never be despised by G-d.?" This answer, which appeared to be a little strange, surprised Rabbi Wolfson very greatly. Over the past few nights, he had recited the verse over and over with great concentration.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #89 - The Day Will Come Print Email

Rabbi Azriel Miller, who was the president of the Rabbinical Committee, relates, "I was with the Rebbe for yechidus in 5724/1964. This was after I had visited Russia, where I saw a room in the shul in Leningrad containing many ancient sifrei Torah. I asked the Rebbe if we should work to bring the sifrei Torah out of Russia as a mitzvah of pidyon shevuim (redeeming captives).

"I was very surprised by the Rebbe's answer. ?Don't touch them,? he said. ?The day will come when the Jewish community in Russia will grow and develop, and not only will the religious articles already in Russia be insufficient for their needs, but they will even need to bring more.?

"At this time, in 5724, this idea sounded totally unrealistic. And here we see what is happening today in Russia. Forty years later, we have seen how the day has already come."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #90 - Digging Wells Print Email

During the Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen in 5713/1952, a Jew approached the Rebbe and asked him to say "Lechaim." The Rebbe replied, "Lechaim velivracha" and asked the man his name. "Yitzchok," replied the newcomer. "Do you know who Yitzchok was?" asked the Rebbe. Yitzchok answered that he never attended Talmud Torah during his youth, and his knowledge of Judaism was very limited. All he knew was that Yitzchok was one of our forefathers.

The Rebbe continued to ask: "And do you know what Yitzchok Avinu used to do?" Yitzchok replied once again that his knowledge of Jewish subjects was very scanty. "Yitzchok used to dig wells," the Rebbe continued. "Deep under the ground there were reserves of water, and by removing the earth Yitzchok reached fresh water." The Rebbe added that a Jew's avoda is to dig wells within his soul, because deep down inside the person there is a soul but it is concealed within the physical body. Our avoda is to find the soul and bring it out of its hiding place."

Yitzchok did not understand how these words affected him, and he asked the Rebbe what the connection was. The Rebbe replied, "What I want is the following: When you leave this farbrengen, you will meet another Jew. Ask him if he has put on tefillin yet." Yitzchok was not too keen on this idea, and he told the Rebbe that he could not expect another person to do a mitzvah that he himself did not keep.

The Rebbe replied, "But here you will gain twice. First of all, it will cause you to put on tefillin yourself. But apart from that, there are people who are influenced by you, in one way or another. Your request will cause them to put on tefillin, while they might not respond to anyone else if they asked them to do it."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #91 - Chassidim Are Not Weak Print Email

During the early years of the Rebbe's nesius, a liberal rabbi named Herbert Weiner devoted hours of research into Chabad chassidus. As part of this project, he attended farbrengens and even had yechidus with the Rebbe. One of the questions that he asked the Rebbe was, "Isn?t the fact that Chassidim consult with the Rebbe before every decision they make a sign of weakness? Doesn?t it negate the concept of free choice?"

The Rebbe replied, "A weak person is usually overcome by his environment. However, our Chassidim can be sent anywhere, no matter how strange or even hostile, and they can look after themselves. So how can we possibly describe Chassidim as weak?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #92 - Don't Do What Everyone Else Does Print Email

A group of bar mitzvah boys who were attending a religious school once had a yechidus with the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked them if they would continue on to yeshiva after the end of the current school year, and the boys answered that they would not. When the Rebbe asked why not, one of the boys replied that none of the young men in their area studied in yeshiva.

The Rebbe asked the boy what he had last learned in school. The boy replied that he had learned about Noach and the Flood. The Rebbe remarked, "If that's so, you must know that the reason why the world still exists is because Noach didn?t just follow what everyone around him was doing."

The Rebbe then asked another boy what he had most recently studied. This boy answered that he had been learning about Avraham Avinu. Here, the Rebbe replied, "Then you must surely be aware that the reason why the Jewish people exists at all is because Avraham didn?t do what everyone else around him did!"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #93 - I?m Not Asking for a Check Print Email

On the night of Sunday, 19th Adar, 5732/1972, a group of representatives of the young UJA had a yechidus with the Rebbe that lasted until dawn. At one point, the Rebbe'said, "I?m not asking you for a check. What I would request is that when each of you asks someone for a check tomorrow, you will be more Jewish than you are today. How? By adding at least one mitzvah to your personal lives, as well as those of your families. I know about this from my own experience. I am seventy years old at the moment, but I still hope that I will be a better Jew tomorrow than I was today. By fulfilling a mitzvah in your private lives, you will have an immediate influence on your local community. ?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine


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