Monday, April 6, 2009
Here's the second half of the Farbrengen last night with Rabbi Zev Katz. Again, this is only a rough draft. By the way, did you know that according to the Me'am Lo'ez there were 9,968,760,000 Jews in Egypt? That's nearly ten billion Jews! Keep in mind that the current earth population is about 6.7 billion. Yup. Thanks go to Dvora Lakein for bringing this little bit of info to her attention.
----In the early years a group of people from the Jewish federation came to the Rebbe, including Frank Lautenberg, the senator from New Jersey. They thought the Rebbe would ask them for money. What does any other rabbi do? The Rebbe didn't. He discussed education. At the end the senator said, "Rebbe, let's wrap it to, cut to the chase." The Rebbe said, "If tomorrow morning senator Lautenberg will wake up and look in the mirror and see a different senator Lautenberg, then we've accomplished something tonight. And if tomorrow morning he wakes up, looks in the mirror, and sees the same senator Lautenberg? We haven't accomplished anything tonight."
In a sicha on Shemini Atzeres 1967, the Rebbe related that in 1867 the Rebbe Maharash brought his kids into the sukkah on Shemini Atzeres to say goodbye, and told them that it was now a hundred years since the Maggid of Mezeritch told the Alter Rebbe that he was now going to see the Baal Shem Tov, even though the Baal Shem Tov had passed away seven years before.
Why did the Alter Rebbe merit this? Because he was the Maggid's meshares, his personal attendant. The Alter Rebbe was only by the Maggid for 32 months out of 11 years, and yet he was the meshares. How? He was like Yehoshua, the meshares of Moshe. He was always by his Rebbe. Even though the Alter Rebbe was almost always physically not by the Maggid, but the way he lived his life.... The Baal Shem Tov appeared to him, because he was with the Maggid always. We too, we can also be by the Rebbe always. Yes, we need the Rebbe physically down here, but until then... We can still be connected to the Rebbe, still always be with him.
Who figured out that the Rebbe's birthday was on 11 Nissan? The Rebbe went in 1947 to pick up his mother from Paris, left in Adar, came back in Sivan. She told the chassidim in Paris when the Rebbe's birthday was. People then realized why the hayom yom for 11 nissan was what it was (about how to celebrate a birthday). The Rebbe farbrenged with chassidim who had just come out of Russia about hiskashrus. The Rebbe said, "How is it done? With maamad, regardless of financial standing or situation."
In 1951 the Rebbe said that people should write in hachlatos and he'll bring them to the ohel. He said that the hachlatos shouldn't be too difficult to keep; rather they should be practical things that a person knows he can fulfill.
In 1952 the Rebbe's fiftieth birthday, he said a maamar in his room for invited people only. Rabbi Chodakov got a list, that was all who could come. There was nothing after that until 1962, the Rebbe made a farbrengen, said two maamarim, and that was it until 1972, the Rebbe's seventieth year, which was when it became a big deal. In 1982, the eighteith year, the Rebbe told people not to come; after the farbrengen he gave out tanyas until 7:30 AM.
Meir Harlig tells a story that many years ago in 770 right before Pesach after Maariv 770 emptied out. Meir was still in 770 and the Rebbe came out of his office and told him to come into the Rebbe's office. He went in and the Rebbe gave him matzos and copies of the Rebbe's Pesach message. The Rebbe then told him to go to the airport, to Pan Am, and a well dressed Jew would come over to him and he should give him the matzos and messages. For the tirchah, the Rebbe said to take a matzah and a message for himself.
And how will he go? By taxi. The Rebbe offered to pay, but he said he had money. The Rebbe said, "How will you get back?" Taxi. How will he pay? The Rebbe offered, again he says he has money. The Rebbe told him to report back once he finished. He did the shlichus, a well dressed Jew came over and asked for matzos from the Rebbe, he gave them, no discussion, and came back. Rabbi Chodakov said, "The Rebbe is waiting for you", he went in, and the Rebbe said, "You did your shlichus, I did mine, now Hashem should do his."
One of the top criminal attorneys in New York is a guy by the name of Brafman. He grew up in 778 Eastern Parkway, which used to be apartments but are now the apartments next to 770, and he played punchball there every day. He was alwas very careful not to hit the Rebbe, and eventually he developed a kesher. He recalls that he would say, "Hello Rebbe", and the Rebbe would give him a smile and he felt, "I'm the only person in the world who matters to the Lubavitcher Rebbe right now"
Levi Yitzchak Freidan, an Israeli photographer, loved the Rebbe. He would take pictures in Tishrei, then go home to Israel and travel throughout Israel in the kibbutzim and show them the pictures of the Rebbe. He once went in to yechidus, right before kerias hatorah, and as soon as he came out he picked up his camera. The Rebbe came out for kerias hatorah, and pointed to him to take a picture of the time-it was 7:30 am. The rebbe had yechidus all night. And everyone said that the Rebbe would treat every person as if he was the first person in yechidus that night.
There's a Gerrer chassid in Israel, the Tolner Rebbe, very close to the Pnei Menachem (previous Gerrer Rebbe), who was very close to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He once said, while visiting the US during the three weeks, that for me it's a double three weeks. 1. It's the three weeks. 2. (For whatever reason) I can't have yechidus by the Rebbe.
By him this was as bad as the three weeks. Anyway, he said about the famous story of the chassid in the elevator with the Rebbe, told him lived in New Zealand, the Rebbe asked, "What about a mikveh there?" Many years later this chassid came for dollars, and the Rebbe asked him, without prompting, "Nu, what with the mikveh?" The Pnei Menachem said, "You see, the Rebbe saw what his soul needed! He needed to be involved in the mikveh in New Zealand."
The Maggid had a friend from before the Maggid came to the Baal Shem tov. This friend learned all day, and his wife ran a fabric shop. Every couple months he'd go to the market to buy cloth for his wife to sell. Some time later it worked out that he was near Mezeritch, so he popped in to see his older friend. He found him davening for a very long time. Eventually the Maggid ended, and the friend wondered, "I use the same kabbalistic kavanos, I do the same thing. What's with this incredibly long davening?" The Maggid said, "What do you do for a living?" He explained. The maggid said, "Why all the bittul Torah? Just use your imagination! You'll go to the market, you'll buy the cloth, why the need to actually go to the market?" The friend said, "Oh, you don't get it, I need the cash!" The maggid said, "So too here. You think the kavanos, but you're only imagining. I need to actually go get the merchandise, and it can take a long time."
Why did the Rebbe bother to tell the bochurim in 770 that would be five or ten minutes late to Mincha? Are the bochurim going to start mincha without the Rebbe? Every minute of a bochur is precious. They shouldn't waste their time-they should learn.
The Rebbe wanted the nigleh of the Nesiim to be special. When the bochurim would make mareh mikimos for their Friday night pilpul, the seven lights of the menorah, the Rebbe would get a copy. He would often add a mareh makom, and usually it was from the Torah of the Rebbeim. Because by the Rebbe that was very precious.
Chaim Shaul Brook told a story. He was very involved in the maamarim which were magiah by the Rebbe. The rule was, when the maamar was presented to the Rebbe it had to be ready for print. Even if the Rebbe changed things here and there, it had to be ready to print from the outset. R' Yoel, who would prepare the Maamarim, would sit for thirty hours with cigarettes and coffee and work straight. As long as there were no interuptions, he could work. After 1988 the Rebbe would be magiah late at night, then come into Gan Eden hatachton, put it on a table, and a bochur sitting there would take it and give it to the proper people. Once the rebbe returned a maamar with a big part crossed out and the Rebbe said that this was the opposite of pshat. R' Yoel looked at the original hanachah, and he remembered it, it was like he had written in the maamar that he had given in to the Rebbe. He didn't get what the issue was.
What did it say? It said that a Jew can suffer, but since he knows Moshiach is coming he can still do Torah and mitzvos. R' Yoel didn't get what the problem was, so he sent in Rabbi Groner who asked the Rebbe. The Rebbe said, "How can you say that a Jew can suffer?! Things have to be good for him!"
Ok, the Rebbe said it originally, but...