Thursday, June 12, 2008

More stories of vim and vigor

Here are some more stories from the Shavuos Farbrengen of Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm. Most of them are written in a shorter manner than I would normally encourage for consumption. Anyway, enjoy.

When Yisroel's brother was a Shliach in the Yeshiva in New Haven he Farbrenged with the Bochurim about viewing the Rebbe as their father, and telling him their problems. One of the Bochurim had many spiritual problems, and he was persuaded by the Shliach to write a letter to the Rebbe detailing them. This was in the days when people were lucky to get a "yes" or "no" to their letters, so the Shliach cautioned the Bochur not to write too much. The Bochur wrote a nine page letter. The Shliach was inspired, but managed to convince his young charge to shorten the letter; after all, the Rebbe was extremely busy, and it really wasn't fair to him to receive such a big letter. The Bochur managed to shorten it down to seven pages, and he couldn't cut any more out. The Shliach mailed it off, and told him not to expect anything to big in response. He was picking up the mail a couple weeks later, and he was shocked to see a letter from the Rebbe, addressed to this Bochur. And the letter was a whole page, dealing at length with the Bochur's problems.
Sometimes...Just lay it out there.

In a slightly different story, Rabbi Wilhelm told of his uncle, who was a bit of a bum. Bochurim used to go into the Rebbe to yechidus once a year, for their birthday. This Bochur wrote to the Rebbe that he was a bum, and basically said, "Sorry, that's just the way I am." The entire upstairs 770 heard the Rebbe screaming at him for being a bum during his birthday yechidus.
Sometimes...Don't be an idiot.

There was a Chassid by the name of Deitsch who came out of Russia and settles in Crown Heights. He got cancer, but since he didn't want to make the Rebbe worried about him he stopped coming to Farbrengens. Eventually things got really bad, and he realized that he had to ask the Rebbe for a Brocha. He managed to finagle a quick Yechidus, but it was on condition that it was only to ask for a Brocha. The Rebbe's door wasn't even closed, which is how this story is known. The Chassid came in, but he was so petrified that all he managed to say was, "I ask the Rebbe for a Brocha that the Rebbe should be healthy." The Rebbe responded, "When I hear good things from you, then I'll be healthy."

Rabbi Wilhelm related a story about himself; he got a phone call from a student at the university who had just found out that he was Jewish. He was dating a Muslim, and his mother told him, "How can you date her?" He replied, "Who cares?" She said, "Well, I never wanted to tell you this, but we're Jewish." The student looked up things, and found out that his mother's mother's mother was in fact Jewish, and therefore, even though his mother, and her mother before her, had intermarried, he was Halachicly Jewish. The student came by, and started to learn about Judaism. He lapped it up, but was bothered by one thing: What is with this whole Jewish soul thing? How is it that he, someone who didn't even know he was Jewish, was a Jew, while someone could keep all the laws of the Torah and still be considered a gentile? It just didn't make sense to him. Eventually he drifted away from the Chabad House because of this. A couple of months ago Rabbi Wilhelm invited this student to join some other students on Birthright. The student agreed; after all, who wouldn't take a free trip to Israel? About a week after they got back Rabbi Wilhelm received a phone call. The student told him, "You're 100 percent right about this whole Jewish soul business. You know how I know? When I was by the Western Wall I felt spirituality for the first time in my life. When I got home I told my mother that I wanted to keep Kosher, at least a little, so would she please keep meat and milk separate? My mother told me that she always kept milk and meat separate, because that's what her mother did and her mother before her. She wasn't sure why, she just did it. Rabbi, my mother has a Jewish soul, and so do I."

There was a young guy in Crown Heights who was a bit of a bum. Nevertheless, he was still a Chassid, and he and his wife wrote a letter to the Rebbe asking if they should buy a house on Crown Street or on Montgomery. The Rebbe wrote back three words, "Lamah Lo Shlichus?", "Why not Shlichus?" As this guy will tell you himself, he barely reads Hebrew, and no one thought he would be A Shliach. And now? He's a Shliach.

For many years the Rebbe spoke about Mi HaYehudi, "Who is a Jew" in Israel. It's said that his beard only turned white because of the pain the whole issue caused him. And yet the Rebbe once said to someone in Yechidus, "One Bochur in Lubavitch matters more to me than the the whole Mi HaYehudi."

Rabbi Meir Lau, former chief Rabbi of Israel, once came to visit the Rebbe, who asked him to tell a story of Israel. Rabbi Lau obliged: "Right after the Yom Kippur started I was approached by a man and woman who wanted to get married before he was sent off to fight. I hastily got together a Minyan, and made the wedding in a bomb shelter. As I was finishing a woman approached me and asked for a Brocha. She had lost her whole family in the Holocaust, her husband had died in the Six Day War, and now she wanted a blessing that her two sons, who were going off to fight, should return safely." When Rabbi Lau finished telling the story he saw that the Rebbe was crying.

12 comments:

Eliezer said...

nice stories. :)

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R. Shliach:

Once again, an excellent collection of stories (although calling these "stories" doesn't do them justice as the term implies something made-up, even trivial, and these, even if the events are not reported exactly, contain a great deal of insight). Anyway, the link to "Shliach" - is the person in the news story the "bit of a bum" you reference or is that merely an example of a shliach?

Yours inquisitively,
Leo de Toot.

The Real Shliach said...

LdT: Yup

Nemo said...

Andrusier- Fun guy.

Eliezer said...

TRS: Whaddaya mean "yup"? It wasn't even a yes-or-no question?

Babushka said...

In Rasha, zis verd "yup," zis wery bed verd. zis not good you zis say.

The Real Shliach said...

Eliezer, you are correct. What I meant was that the reference is in fact to the Shliach that is linked to. In my previous post, I also linked to the Shliach involved, though no one seems to have noticed.
As for "yup", I can't be held responsible for foreigners.

Anonymous said...

ui whould think that the term 'bum' is not the best way to discribe them...

The Real Shliach said...

I just wrote it like the Rabbi said it.

cheerio said...

it's great that you link to the actual people in the stories - instead of having that vague, unsubstantiated, "i heard this story about this guy", status, it makes the stories real, and a lot more moving.
and the stories were amazing... you only ever hear such stories at farbrengens...

Anonymous said...

these are weird stories get them off you idiot.

The Real Shliach said...

?