Mar 12, 2018
Our Rebbetzin: A Spiritual Giant

In honor of 25 Adar, the birthday of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson OBM, we present a speech by Alaska Shliach Rabbi Yosef Y. Greenberg in London, England, which sheds a new light on the spiritual greatness and holiness of our Rebbetzin.

In honor of 25 Adar, the birthday of the Rebbetzin, we present the transcript of this year’s 22 Shvat farbrengen in London, England, by the Shliach from Alaska, Rabbi Yosef Y. Greenberg.

Full recording below.


Lechayim! Thank you Rabbi Shmuel Lew for the inspirational stories of the Rebbetzin. The community in England was blessed with many people who have had a personal relationship with the Rebbetzin, and we thank them for sharing their stories with us.

In the year 5712, on Shabbos, the 13th of Shevat, which marks the yartzeit of Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, the wife of the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe spoke after Mincha a very special Sicha about her. As i was learning the Sicha just recently, I was astounded at its immense relevance to the yartzeit of our Rebbetzin, on 22 Shevat.

The Rebbe begins with the Zohar’s question regarding why the Torah says the length of Sarah’s lifespan when mentioning her passing. As the Torah begins parshas Chayei Sarah, “And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah”. Why did the Torah find it significant to mention the length of Sarah’s life while nothing is mentioned about the lifespan of the other Imahos?

The Zohar goes on to explain that the Torah singles out Sarah since she possessed great merits that the other Imahos did not. While each of our Imahos were great Tzidkaniyos, Sarah was singled out since she was the only one who was forced to leave the holiness of Eretz Yisrael and go down to the profanity of Mitzrayim, yet she retained her righteousness and holiness just as though she had never left. The Torah therefore singles out Sarah and tells us that she lived “one hundred years and twenty years and seven years” to show us that all of those different ages and years of her life were equal in how she lived in righteousness.

But the question remains! True, Sarah passed a far more difficult test than that of the other Imahos, but does this prove that she stood on a higher spiritual level? Had the others been placed in a similar test, they would have surely withstood all trials and temptations just like her! So why does this justify putting Sarah on a pedestal superior to the others?

The Rebbe explained, that although the other three Imahos were on the level to potentially pass the test of descending to Mitzrayim, it was specifically Sarah who actually went through and passed that difficult test. They all possessed that spiritual strength in potential, but only Sarah brought out her potential in reality, through her actions.

The reason why revealing a strength is considered far more superior then having that same strength in a concealed form, is because Tzaddikim are compared to Hashem, and so are the Tzidkaniyos.

Chassidus tells us, that one of the reasons why Hashem created the world is to show that Hashem is capable of doing the impossible, to create the world. Although Hashem hypothetically possessed that capability prior and independent to the world’s creation, it was specifically through actually creating the world that Hashem’s power was revealed in action, which makes is all the more real and tangible.

Similarly, with regards to Tzaddikim of whom the Torah tells us that they are likened to Hashem, as well as Tzidkaniyos of whom the Torah says “Eshes chaver kechaver”, the wife of a Tzaddik is like the Tzaddik himself. Tzadikkim and Tzidkaniyos reach their full potential specifically when it is revealed in action.

We find this also with regards to the Rabbeim, although they all were imprisoned at some point, only the Alter Rebbe and the Frierdiker Rebbe faced the death penalty. Though all of the Rabbeim would have certainly withstood the most harsh tribulations had they been faced with such a predicament, only the Alter Rebbe and the Frierdiker Rebbe actually faced such a harsh challenge in actuality.

The Rebbe concluded that with regards to Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, she possesses merits greater than that of the other Rebbetzins since she is the only one amongst all the Rebbetzins who spent a life full of exiles, one after another. During most of the nesius of her husband, the Rebbe Rashab, she was living in Lubavitch, but with the advent of the First World War, she was forced to vacate the courtyard of the Rabbeim in Lubavitch and relocate to Rostov, where they lived under far more difficult conditions. The situation only became worse when during the communist rule they were forced to move to Leningrad, and after the Frierdiker Rebbe was practically expelled from Russia, she again was compelled to leave and go to Riga, Latvia. They again moved to Poland, to Otwock and Warsaw, until the advent of world war two, when they were again forced to move across the Atlantic, to American shores, eventually settling in New York.

The Rebbetzin Shterna Sara was constantly on the move, from one exile to another, and life was far from easy, yet she retained her spiritual greatness just as she did under normal circumstances.

Although the other Rebbetzins would have surely retained their righteousness had they been faced with a similar challenge, in was Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah who was actually faced with the test of exile and overcame the challenge.

The relevance that this Sicha has to our Rebbetzin can be found in the only story that the Rebbe told about the Rebbetzin after her passing, in relation to her testimony in the court case of the Sefarim.

Over the last three decades, hundreds of unknown stories are being shared with the public thanks to personalities such as Rabbi Lew, Mrs. Luis Hager and many others who have had the merit of visiting and spending time with the Rebbetzin. Yet after her passing the Rebbe chose one story which sheds light on merits that only the Rebbetzin possessed.

In truth, before her passing, the Rebbe shared with us numerous stories about the Rebbetzin, such as the well-known story of her discussion with her older sister about why we don’t say shehecheyanu on Acharon Shel Pesach. Over the years, the Rebbe Rashab, the Frierdiker Rebbe and our Rebbe all retold this story, and the Rebbe actually explained the story on three separate occasions over the years! Another example is when the Rebbe once discussed the Minhag that is brought in Sefarim to draw water from a well on Motzaei Shabbos, adding that the Rebbetzin did not follow this custom.

In order to understand why the Rebbe chose the story of the court case to tell after the Rebbetzin’s passing, i would like to share with you some stories which will illustrate the Rebbetzin’s unique greatness.

When working on the book Yemei Bireishis, I had the opportunity to interview Reb Zalman Gourary, who shared an exceptionally close relationship with the Frierdiker Rebbe’s family, spending much of his time as a child in the Frierdiker Rebbe’s home as he was orphaned at a young age. He said that the Rebbetzin inherited the mind of her father, the Frierdiker Rebbe, and that she could have very well been a Rebbe in her own right.

Reb Eliyahu Chayim Althaus was a very warm and loving Chossid, who was also privileged to have an extremely close relationship with the Frierdiker Rebbe and his family. In the year 5689, the Frierdiker Rebbe spent a whole year in America away from his family and Chassidim who remained in Riga. In one of his letters to the Frierdiker Rebbe, Reb Eliyahu Chayim describes each one of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s family members, and describes the Rebbetzin style of writing as being a very “serious” style, similar to the style of the Chassidim in Kremenchug who were known to be great Maskilim in Chassidus. In Lubavitch there were numerous different types of Chassidim. There were the “Ovdim” and Melamdim from Nevel, the Mekusharim from Nikulayev and the “Maskilim” from Kremenchug. Among the Frierdiker Rebbe’s family, the Rebbetzin was known to be very intelligent and exceptionally wise. It is interesting to note that the Rebbetzin used the same terminology when describing the Frierdiker Rebbe during her testimony. She described her father as being a “serious person” as well.

In reality, all of the stories which were shared with us in the last three decades reveal to us merely the tip of the iceberg of the Rebbetzin’s true greatness:

One of the Bochurim who worked in the Rebbe’s house would always run to put on his hat and jacket whenever he knew that the Rebbe was about to come home. Once while he was working the Rebbe suddenly appeared in the doorway so he dashed for his hat and jacket. Seeing his sense of urgency, the Rebbe asked the Rebbetzin where was this Bochur running, to which she replied, “He went to take his Chossid”... There is so much Chassidic rich wisdom found in this expression.

This reminds me of a similar episode to which I was privileged to be witness.
A Chossid from Israel, Rabbi Sholom Ber Glazman came to the Rebbe for Purim of 5746. After one of the Sichos he began to sing the Russian Niggun “Miarmia Admura”, but in a slightly different version unfamiliar to the Chassidim who silently looked on as he tried to carry out the song by himself. The Rebbe instructed, “Help him out!” at which point the crowd began to sing the same Niggun but in the other version familiar to them. Seeing this the Rebbe said, “Don’t help him by singing your song, help him by singing his song!” The crowd began to sing a bit but soon enough silence prevailed and Rabbi Glazman stopped singing as well, at which point the Rebbe looked at Rabbi Glazman and said the Chassidic Russian expression “Chossid utchok”, meaning “the Chossid left”.

The Frierdiker Rebbe writes in his letters that Reb Yekusiel Liepler, the Alter Rebbe’s Chossid, would have his times when he was more inspired in his Avodas Hashem. When he didn’t feel inspired, he would Daven normally and say “Chossid Uchok” - “the Chossid left”, and when he felt again inspired he would say, “the Chossid has returned”.

In the Rebbetzin using the expression, “he went to take his Chossid”, it echos the same message that although simply put, he went to put on his hat and jacket, since that’s how one is meant to stand before the Rebbe; but on a deeper level, you could hear in this expression a profound lesson that one cannot check one’s Chossid at the door. You don’t become a true Chossid just by putting on a hat and jacket, rather the change must take place beneath the hat and jacket.

Another example which illustrates the Rebbetzin’s style: The Lipsker family were very close with the Bais Harav, and they shared a close relationship with the Rebbetzin. Once Reb Yankel Lipsker called the Rebbetzin on the telephone, and the Rebbetzin picked up saying that she couldn’t talk at that particular time since “Chessed” was there. This was a person who was helping out in the Rebbe’s house and his full name was “Chayim Sinai Dovid”, and was called Chesed as an acronym of his name. Later when Reb Yankel called again the Rebbetzin told him, “Chesed is a good thing, but sometimes to be without Chessed is also good.” There is much to be said about the wisdom contained in that one liner. Chessed, which is one of the Sefiros which means kindness, is obviously a great thing. But there are times when you need the Sefira of Gevura to accomplish necessary things that Chessed cannot accomplish.

During the years that the Frierdiker Rebbe was in America, he Farbrenged in his house for a very select group, since his physical condition did not allow him to Farbreng with a large crowd. The members of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s family would take turns standing by the door and making sure that only those who received permission to attend would come in. At one particular Farbrengen it was the Rebbetzin’s turn to supervise the entry, and on that Shabbos, permission of entry was limited to married men only. One Bochur, certain that the Rebbetzin didn’t know him, came dressed in a Kapote and Gartel as though he were married, and stood in line with the other married men. When his turn came to enter, the Rebbetzin gave him a sharp look and asked him whether he was married, to which he replied yes. She immediately retorted, “Say the Ma Yakar!”

Ma Yakar is a tefillah said while putting on the Tallis. Although it comes from Chapter 36 of Tehillim, only married men know it by heart since they say it every morning whereas most Bochurim are completely unfamiliar with the Pesukim. The bochur was, of course, caught off guard and could not recite the pesukim.

There are also many stories which bring to light the Rebbetzin’s humility:

The Rebbetzin once related that she received a tray as a wedding gift - a tray which belonged to the Tzemach Tzedek - from her uncle and aunt, the Horenstein family. “I never use it” she said, “For who am I, a simple woman, to use these holy objects. I only look at it, and then I feel connected to the family.”

This story parallels the episode recorded in Reshimos HaYoman, when the Frierdiker Rebbe instructed the Rebbe that he should begin wearing Tefillin of Shimusha Rabba and Raavad. The Frierdiker Rebbe told the Rebbe that he does not have an extra pair in his possession, so he said that he would order new Tefiilin for him. He added, that although he did have in his possession the Tefiilin of Shimusha Rabba and Raavad used by the Rebbe Rashab, “I know that you will not be willing to wear them. I also fear using them; only once in a while do I put them on.” Again we see the humility with which Tzaddikkim see themselves in reverence of the Rebbeim who preceded them; the concept of “Venachnu Ma” “who are we”, or as the Rebbe put it in the Maamor in Basi Legani 5711, “Bemakom Gedolim Al Taamod” - “Don’t stand in the place of great people”.

Here is a story from which we can learn much about the Rebbetzin’s Hiskashrus to the Rebbe; how she was “the ultimate Chossid of the Rebbe”.

When Reb Chanina Sperlin was preparing for his wedding which took place in Elul 5747, the Rebbetzin asked him which Maamor he planned on reciting. Upon replying that he planned on reciting the Maamor of the Frierdiker Rebbe from 14 Kislev 5689, the Rebbetzin asked “Un fun man iz nita” – “is there no Maamar from my husband?” After further discussing the matter with the Rebbetzin, Reb Chanina recited both the Maamar of the Frierdiker Rebbe as well as the Rebbe’s maamar.

After all, the Frierdiker Rebbe explained that the reason why we say a Maamar at one’s wedding is in order to invite the Rabbeim’s presence to the wedding, so the Rebbetzin concluded that it would be most proper for a Chossid to invite his own Rebbe to his wedding.

Another example of the Rebbetzin’s ultimate Hiskashrus is an episode that happened during the night of Simchas Torah 5746. During the Farbrengen the Rebbe instructed that everyone should turn their cups upside-down. The Rebbe explained that the cups on the branches of the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdash were placed upside down symbolizing that the energy goes forth from the Bais Hamikdash to the entire world. Similarly, our Shlichus is not to worry about ourselves, but to give energy of Yiddishkeit to the entire world. Saying this, the Rebbe finished the contents of his own Becher and turned it upside-down while the Chassidim began to sing. After the Farbrengen, a few of the Shamoshim in the Rebbe’s house went in to visit the Rebbetzin and told her what had happened by the Farbrengen. When they came to telling about the Rebbe turning over his cup, the Rebbetzin asked in wonderment, “Un der man hot take azoi geton? - And my husband actually did so?” Saying this, she immediately took a tiny bottle of Mashke that was sitting on the table and turned it over.

There are also many stories of how concerned the Rebbetzin was for the Shluchim’s welfare, how much she admired them, and how proud she was of their accomplishments.

The well-known Shlucha Mrs. Bassie Azimov from Paris once visited the Rebbetzin. At that time there were a number of American couples who went out on Shlichus to France, and the Rebbetzin was telling Mrs. Azimov of all the troubles these Shluchos would have to face, such as getting used to a new country and learning an unfamiliar language. The Rebbetzin was visibly worried about them. She tried to calm the Rebbetzin, telling her, “It’s not that difficult, as we were educated to do this.” To which the Rebbetzin replied, “You did receive this education, but the others did not, so you must appreciate the hardships that they are going through.”

There are also many stories which show how the Rebbetzin completely had the Rebbe’s perspective; where the Rebbetzin would voice her opinion on a topic, after which the Rebbe was heard saying precisely the same thing. The concept of “Eshes chaver kechaver”, that the wife of a Tzaddik is like a Tzaddik himself, was visible to all on many different occasions.

Reb Meir Harlig related that he would go every day to the Rebbe’s house to bring the Rebbe a thermos of tea. Once the Rebbetzin opened the door, and upon asking him how he was doing, Reb Meir told the Rebbetzin that his son had an infection in his throat, and the doctor said that his son needed to have his tonsils taken out. The Rebbetzin objected, saying that the tonsils is something that Hashem placed inside the body and it should not be removed. The next day, when Reb Meir again came to the Rebbe’s house to bring the thermos to 770, the Rebbetzin told him that she had spoken with the Rebbe about the matter and the Rebbe agreed with her that the tonsils need not be removed, and indeed, the child healed completely without his tonsils being removed.

Another example of this concept is when the unforgettable Shluchim Reb Mule and Mrs. Bassie Azimov and Reb Nachman and Mrs. Fradel Sudak Shetichye came to visit the Rebbetzin. This visit took place on Bais Kislev 5748, which turned out to be their last visit with the Rebbetzin as this was less than three months before her Histalkus. During the course of their visit she said several times cryptically, “Now, a new Tekufa will begin.” We know of course the Sicha in which the Rebbe stated that from Chof Bais Shevat a new Tekufa has begun.

There are also countless stories which were revealed to us about her righteousness and holiness and about her many Berachos and miracles. Here are a few examples:

There is a story that was recently publicized by Mr. Izik Milstein who told the story and had it videotaped. He and his family had moved from Russia to Eretz Yisrael, until the year 5738 when they left Eretz Yisrael and moved to Crown Heights where they lived on Montgomery Street. Izik’s mother, Mrs. Milstein, went to work as an assistant to Mrs. Kugel the Shaitel macher, who owned a wig store called “Freeda Wigs”. The Rebbetzin once called the store regarding her own Shaitel and asked to speak with Mrs. Kugel. Mrs. Milstein answered the phone and told the anonymous woman on the other end that Mrs. Kugel was absent but that she would gladly pass on a message for her. When Mrs. Millstein asked who is calling, the woman on the other end said that it’s Mrs. Schneerson. Mrs. Milstein immediately understood that it was the Rebbetzin, so she said, “Rebbetzin, it’s a great honor for me to speak with you! I will give over the message to Mrs. Kugel.” As she was about to hang up however, the Rebbetzin suddenly said, “Do I detect from your voice that something is wrong? Is everything alright?”

At that moment, Mrs. Milstein burst into tears, and told the Rebbetzin her story. She and her family had just recently left Russia and settled in the United States, when suddenly her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 4, and the doctors predicted that she has perhaps a few months left to live, certainly not more than a year! At that point, the Rebbetzin switched into speaking in Russian. She gave Mrs. Millstein a Bracha that her mother will be fine with Hashem’s help, and that she will come out of the whole ordeal in peace. And so it was. Against all of the doctors’ bleak predictions, her mother survived and lived another 23 years, from 5738 until 5761, many years after the Rebbetzin’s passing in 5748. This story illustrates what the Rebbe said about the Rebbetzin during the Shiva that being a Tzaddekes, her Neshama is found in this world even more than before her passing, “Yatir Mibechayohi”.

Another amazing story about the Rebbetzin was told by Rabbi Hershel Kesselman, a Shliach in England, son-in-law of the head Shliach Rabbi Nachman Sudak O.B.M. This story underscores even more the concept of “Yatir Mibechayohi”. From after his marriage until he went on Shlichus, Rabbi Kesselman learned in the Kollel, and he lived with his family on the second floor of the building which housed the Albany Bakery, on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Albany. To help make ends meet, his wife would give private art lessons to women. Every once in a while, the Rebbetzin would go for a drive, and on the way back, her driver would stop by the Albany Bakery to pick up an order for the Rebbe’s house. During the month of Elul 5747, Mrs. Kesselman once went out to the balcony with another women who she was teaching, and as they were conversing, the Rebbetzin’s car suddenly pulled up right next to them. The driver entered the store to pick up the Rebbetzin’s order, and the Rebbetzin opened the window and looked at the two women chatting on the balcony.

Mrs. Kesselman, being a daughter of the Sudak household, had the privilege of visiting the Rebbetzin, and immediately recognized her. She told the women with whom she was speaking, “Let’s go inside! We don’t want to just stand here and look at the Rebbetzin, invading her privacy.” But the woman would not budge, and instead remained standing on the balcony, where she and the Rebbetzin looked at each other for a long moment, until the driver returned and they left. Why did she stay?

This woman was childless after ten years of marriage. Exactly nine months after this episode, on Lag Baomer 5748, which was already three months after the Rebbetzin passed away, she gave birth to a baby girl, and named her Chaya Mushka after the Rebbetzin, of who’s merit she finally gave birth after ten painful years. This was a Bracha from the Rebbetzin by just looking in the eyes of a childless woman without a word being exchanged.
We can literally sit here all night long recounting stories of this nature.

Let me give you just one more example which I heard from my brother-in-law Rabbi Levi Azimov, a Shliach is Paris, France. During their first years of Shlichus, his parents traveled one year to the Rebbe using the charter that started off in Israel passing through Europe. Before leaving back home, they visited the Rebbetzin, who asked them, “When are you going?” to which they replied, “This evening, with the charter.” About a half hour later, the Rebbetzin again asked them, “When will you be going?”, and they answered, “This evening”. When the Rebbetzin repeated the question a third time a bit later, the Azimovs were really puzzled by this unusual repeated question. They wondered whether this was the Rebbetzin’s way of hinting to them that they should stay and not travel, but in the end, they left with everyone else on that very evening. About a half hour after take off, the pilot announced that one of the engines caught fire and they would have to make an emergency landing. At that very moment, the Rebbe who was at the time in 770 walked out of his office and asked the secretaries if there was any news about the charter. Miraculously they landed safely, and they immediately called the Rebbe’s secretariat to notify the Rebbe of what had occurred. The Rebbe gave them a few instructions, among them that they should recite one of the Rebbe’s Maamorim. The very next day, they all left again homeward bound, only this time landing safely at their destination.
These stories give us just a glimpse of the Rebbetzin’s holiness and G-dly insight, like our Imahos and Tzidkaniyos of days bygone.

But from all of these stories, the Rebbe chose only one specific story to relate after the passing of the Rebbetzin. After the Shiva the Rebbe said the well-known Sicha of “Cheshbono shel olam”, when the Rebbe discussed what would be the future of Lubavitch were Moshiach not to arrive immediately. The Rebbe mentioned the story that he heard from the Frierdiker Rebbe, that after the Histalkus of his Rebbetzin, one of the sons asked what will be after his Mea Veesrim. The Sicha was so frightening, that although it was subsequently prepared for print, the Manichim never actually gave it in for the Rebbe to approve it and it was not officially printed.
It was during this Sicha that the Rebbe told that one single story about the Rebbetzin. The Rebbe related that during her testimony in the court-case of the Sefarim when she was asked, “To whom do you think belong the Sefarim; to your father, or to the Chassidim?” she responded, “They belong to the Chassidim because my father belonged to the Chassidim”.

In truth, when contemplating the matter, it is no wonder why the Rebbe chose specifically this story to tell.

Allow me to preface by quoting a Farbrengen from Yud Shevat 5732. In that Farbrengen the Rebbe explained the difference between the song of Miriam and the song of Devorah. In the case of Miriam’s song, she was a supplement to Moshe and her song was therefore mentioned only after Moshe’s song. In the case of Devorah, she was the main character, with Barak Ben Avinoam being a supplement to her. Her song is therefore considered the main song thanking Hashem for the miraculous victory. Why did Moshe serve a more central role than Miriam? Because Moshe took the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim into the desert in order to eventually conquer Eretz Yisrael. Regarding conquering, the Torah tells us that “Ish Darko Lichbosh” – that it is the man’s task to conquer. Therefore during Yetzias Mitzrayim, the man – Moshe Rabbeinu played the central role and Miriam was a supplement to Moshe.

During the period of Devorah however, things were quite different. The Jewish people had long conquered Eretz Yisrael and were living there peacefully, when suddenly the Plishtim tried to enter their territory with the intent of destroying both their bodies and souls by bringing non Jewish influence into their lives. Since their undisputed dwelling place was under attack, it was the women’s task to fight for their homes since the woman is the foundation of the home.

With the Rebbetzin as well, we find the similar idea. As a rule, the Rebbetzin, like Sarah Imenu, about whom the Torah says the expression, Ninei Hi BaOhel, was completely modest and unassuming, keeping away from the public eye. Although she was technically at the center of the world’s attention as the Rebbe’s wife, she amazingly succeeded to continue her work secretly, without enjoying any of the honor and glory she could have received on the merits of being the Rebbetzin. We don’t find such a case in the entire history of Lubavitch, and maybe not even in the entire Jewish history.

Yet, although she wished to remain unrecognized, whenever the house of Lubavitch was in mortal danger, when the future of Chassidus was uncertain, she was suddenly out in the open, standing at the helm fighting for all to see.

This is what the Rebbe spoke about in that Sicha of Cheshbono Shel Olam, that through her testimony in the court case of the Sefarim, the Rebbetzin caused that even the nations of the world would come to realize and admit that the Seforim belonged to Lubavitch. This was reminiscent of what the Alter Rebbe stressed with regards to the victory of Yud Tes Kislev, that even the nations of the world agreed to the study of Chassidus and they all admitted that it was a miraculous episode.

This was so important to the Alter Rebbe because the dissemination of Chassidus is to be the preparation for the Geula which includes the redemption of all mankind, hence it must affect the nations of the world as well. Similarly, the Rebbetzin in her testimony brought about that vital part of the victory, that the world would all see and conclude that the Rebbe belongs to the Chassidim.

What connection did the Rebbe’s Sicha about the future of Lubavitch have to do with the Rebbetzin’s testimony that the Rebbe belongs to the Chassidim?

The Manichim, those who wrote the Rebbe’s Sichos, understood that the Rebbetzin’s words have much meaning regarding the eternity of Lubavitch and the eternity of the influence of the Rabbeim in the world even after their Histalkus. The Rebbe himself repeatedly said all through the period of the court case, that this is not just a battle over the Sefarim per se, but rather it is a battle over the Nitzchiyus of a Rebbe after his Histalkus and his effect in our world. “Hu Bachayim.” The Seforim which are part and parcel of the life of the Rebbe are a physical expression of his continuous life in this world even after his Histalkus.

We can now understand the relevance of Sicha about the greatness of Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah to our Rebbetzin. That one story which the Rebbe chose to tell about the Rebbetzin underscores how she stands out amongst all the other Rebbetzins, since she was the only Rebbetzin who testified in a non jewish court to protect and guard Chassidim and Chassidus. We know just how important this battle was, as the Rebbe said that this is a battle against all the Rabbeim until the Baal Shem Tov. The Rebbetzin knew in advance the difficulties involved in a deposition, she knew that she would be videotaped and that the video would be showed to the judge and it’s transcript would be read aloud in a room packed with Chassidim who came to see the court proceedings. This is precisely what she ran away from all her life. Nevertheless, she went on Mesiras Nefesh to fight for the house of Lubavitch, and like the Rebbe said that she will succeed in her testimony with “flying colors”.

It is interesting to note, that many years earlier when the Frierdiker Rebbe was imprisoned and subsequently exiled to Kastroma, it was the Rebbetzin whom the Frierdiker Rebbe selected to travel with him. Here again, the home of Lubavitch and the future of Chassidus was in great danger, and here again, the Rebbetzin was the one in exile together with her father the Rebbe, fighting for his survival and for the future.

It’s ironic, that in this very same testimony in court, the Rebbetzin mentioned that when the Frierdiker Rebbe was notified of his release, it was she who phoned her father’s house to tell the family and Chassidim about his miraculous release.

She again stood at the helm in 5738, when on the night of Shmini Atzeres the Rebbe suffered a severe heart attack. The Rebbe was in a life threatening condition and the doctors wanted to take the Rebbe to the hospital against his will. The Rabbonim and Mazkirim, frightened as they were, concluded that the doctors’ orders must be followed, when suddenly the Rebbetzin appeared on the scene. In her greatness and her steadfast Hiskashrus to the Rebbe she did not allow the doctors to take the Rebbe to the hospital. She said that ever since she knew the Rebbe, there was never a single moment that he was not in complete control over his life, and therefore she could not possibly agree that something be done against the Rebbe’s will, and she assured the frightened Chassidim that all will surely be well.

At another crossroad in the history of Lubavitch we find the Rebbetzin fighting for the future. In 5710 her involvement turned the tide as well. When all the Chassidim were confused as the Rebbe refused to take upon himself the Nesius, it was the Rebbetzin who told the Rebbe that if he would not take upon himself the Nesius, all that the Frierdiker Rebbe built would go to waste. It was her words that tipped the scale, and the Rebbe took on the leadership. Here again we see her intense Hiskashrus to her father and to all the Rabbeim, that although she knew how much heartache would be involved in such a step, nevertheless she went on Mesiras Nefesh, saying that Lubavitch must continue and that the Dor Hashvii must finish the task started by the Alter Rebbe to bring the Shechina Lemata.

Interestingly, there is a video extant from the daughter of Reb Chonye Marozow, in which she relates that after the Histalkus of the Rebbe Rashab, when the Rebbetzin was 19 years old, she had an argument with the Rebbetzin. Chonye’s daughter said that she thinks that Lubavitch has ended with the Rebbe Rashab’s Histalkus, since in his absence Lubavitch couldn’t possibly thrive amidst the communist regime tearing apart Russian Jewry. The Rebbetzin disagreed with her, and said “G-d forbid to even bring up such a possibility” and stated her assured belief that Lubavitch would certainly continue and thrive. They met many years down the line, when the greatness of the Frierdiker Rebbe and the tales of his heroic Mesiras Nefesh and imprisonment was already widespread, and the Rebbetzin asked her, “Do you recall our argument? What do you say now?”…

Maybe this can help us understand why the approach to the Rebbetzin changed so drastically after her Histalkus, that until her Histalkus no one was allowed to even see the Rebbetzin, yet immediately after her Histalkus the Rebbe began speaking about her publicly, books were printed about her, and she became a public figure.

The truth is that even before her Histalkus, during the period of the court-case, she became more involved in the goings on. An example for this was in the year 5746, when I had the privilege of being involved in the first time the Chassidim recognized and celebrated Chof Ches Sivan marking the day that the Rebbe and Rebbetzin arrived on the shores of the United States. This was the first time that the Rebbe accepted the day as a Chassidishe Yom Tov, and we organized a Farbrengen and prepared a Teshura in it’s honor. In the Shaar of the Teshura, I wrote that it was marking 45 years of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s arrival in the United States. At the Farbrengen of that Shabbos, Rabbi Meir Harlig went to receive Mashke from the Rebbe for the planned Hisvaadus Chassidim, and he announced that all are invited to a Farbrengen marking the day that the Rebbe came to America. The Rebbe stopped him and called out “Ish Uveiso”, implying that he should mention that the Rebbetzin came as well. Reb Meir mistakenly understood this to mean that the Rebbe wanted him to invite “Ish Uveiso” – men and their wives to the Farbrengen, and he announced as much, at which point the Rebbe smiled broadly. Those who were standing next to Reb Meir corrected him saying that the Rebbe meant that he should mention the Rebbetzin, at which point he announced again that all are invited to a Farbrengen marking the anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s arrival to America. But this was an extraordinary occurrence. As a general rule, until her Histalkus, the Rebbetzin was almost never spoken about.

It was for this reason that the Chassidim were shocked when the Rebbetzin suddenly became a topic of public discussion. Those who were very close to the Rebbetzin were afraid to tell their stories since they felt it was a breach of privacy. Mrs. Hager related that after Chof Bais Shevat she asked the Rebbe’s permission to talk about the Rebbetzin in public. Many were certain that the Rebbetzin wished to remain a secret like a Tzaddik Nistar, in line with the Passuk, “Kol kevuda bas melech penima”. So why the sudden drastic change?

Maybe we can understand the contrast by taking a look at a Sicha that the Rebbe said on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5749, around Parshas Toldos, when Neshei Chabad concluded the Sefer Torah which they had begun to write at the end of the Shiva Leilui Neshama of the Rebbetzin.

The Rebbe related that in Parshas Toldos we see the superiority of the Imahos over the Avos, that it was Rivka who understood that Yaakov was superior to Esav, whereas Yitzchak wanted to give Esav the Brachos, and in the end, Yitzchak agreed with Rivka and gave the Brachos to Yaakov instead. A similar occurrence happened with Avraham who said “Lu Yishmael Yichye Lifanecha’ and Sarah said that only Yitzchak would continue the Am Yisrael. Here as well, Hashem told Avraham to listen to Sarah.

The Rebbe explained the reason for the difference between Yitzchak and Rivka’s relationship with Esav is because there is a difference between the Avos and Imahos regarding their effect upon the world, and the same applies regarding the difference between the Rabbeim and the Rebbetzins’ effect upon the world, as will be explained.

The Rebbe concisely explained in the Sicha that the “Avos hen hen hamerkava”, that the Avos and Moshe Rabbeinu are Neshamos Deatzilus, and even higher than that, that they are on the level of Yechida. It is further explained in Chassidus that Rashbi and the Arizal and the Chabad Rabbeim are also Neshamos Deatzilus.

The Passuk in Yirmiya says “Vezarati eschem bais yisrael zera adam vezera beheima”. In Torah Ohr on Parshas Mishpatim, the Alter Rebbe explains the deeper meaning of the Passuk that there are two different types of Neshamos. Most Neshamos come from what is called “Zera Behheima” “animal seed”, and these Neshamos originate from Olamos Biy”a (the worlds of Bria Yetzira Asiya) which are the lower of the four spiritual worlds and descended immensely from their source in Chachma Ilaa where Elokus is revealed. In Tanya Chapter 2 the Alter Rebbe explains that the spiritual realms are parallel to the human organism, and most Neshamos in our generation originate from the “nails and heals” – “Tzipornayim Veakvayim” of the Neshama of Adam Harishon. The higher level of Neshamos are the Neshamos of the Nessiim and Rabbeim in every generation. These Neshamos are called “Zera adam” or “human seed”, which are Neshamos Deatzilus. These Neshamos are from the head and mind of the Neshama of Adam Harishon.

The difference between an animal and a human being is that an animal has no understanding - “Daas”, whereas the human being has “Daas”. Similarly in the spiritual realms, since our Neshamos originate from the lower three Olamos - Briah, Yetzira and Asiya - and have descended from their source in Atzilus where Elokus is revealed, they are therefore called “Zera Beheima” or “animal seed”, and like animals, in a spiritual sense we don’t have a comprehension of Elokus as a real and tangible concept, what is called “Rieeya” – a conviction as concrete as seeing. We therefore see the world as reality, whereas we see Elokus as an existence we only learn about - “Olamos bipeshitus veelokus behischadshus”.

The task of a Rebbe, therefore, is to be the “Memutza Hamechaber” – “connecting intermediary” connecting and elevating us to the level of Elokus in Atzilus, so that even we should have a semi-comprehension and concrete feeling for Elokus which we would have never been able to reach on our own. This is the deeper meaning of the Mitzva, “Ledavka Bo” that we connect to Hashem by connecting ourselves to Talmidei Chachamim who are the “heads of the Bnei Yisrael”, as explained in Tanya.

In Hemshech Rana”t and elsewhere, the Rebbe Rashab explains the meaning of “Memutza hamechaber” by examining the Pessukim in Parshas Vaeschanan which is one of the sources in Torah for this concept. Moshe Rabbeinu relates to the Bnei Yisrael the events of the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai where he says, “Panim bepanim diber hashem imachem - Hashem spoke with you face to face”. However, the very next Passuk Moshe says, “Anochi omed bain hashem uveineichem… lehagid lachem es devar hashem – I stood in between Hashem and you… to tell you the words of Hashem”. The Rebbe Rashab asks, if Hashem spoke with Bnei Yisrael face to face, than why was it necessary for Moshe Rabbeinu to stand in between them; they’ve heard it from Hashem directly! And if he was indeed standing in between them, then that’s not speaking face to face with Hashem!

The Rebbe Rashab explains that both Pesukim don’t contradict each other, but to the contrary, they complement each other. Hence, this is what the Memutza Hamechaber – “the intermediary connector” - is all about. Bnei Yisrael on their own, being Neshamos DeBiya, and even lower, from the level of Tzipornayim Veakvayim, are unable to connect to Hashem face to face. Only through their connection to Moshe Rabbeinu being their Memutza Hamechaber, standing in between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael and thereby connecting them together, that they were able to receive this face to face revelation. In other words, on their own, Bnei Yisrael aren’t capable to reach the level of a G-dly revelation face to face. Only through Moshe Rabbeinu who stands in-between them and connects them, are they able to reach the level of face to face.

To better understand the concept of Memutza Hamechaber, the Rebbe Rashab provides the parable of a Mashpech – a “funnel”. It is impossible to pour water from a large barrel directly into a small cup. It is therefore necessary to use a funnel. Notwithstanding the fact that the funnel is an intermediary, the water that comes through the funnel to the cup remains the very same water that was in the barrel. The same is with the Rebbe, our Memutza Hamechaber. The Neshamos of Zera Beheima on their own are not capable of receiving the Elokus which is revealed in Atzilus, but through the funnel, through the Nasi Hador, they are being connected to a semi level of Elokus in the way it is revealed in Atzilus.

The Rebbe brought a similar point across in a Sicha in 5712, about a conversation that the Rebbe had with a non Lubavitcher about Hiskashrus to the Frierdiker Rebbe. The Jew asked, “What do I need a intermediary for? I can connect to Hashem on my own?!” The Rebbe said that it was difficult to explain to him that without a Rebbe it is impossible to have a real connection with Hashem, since the Neshama of every Jew is only connected to the lowest levels in Elokus. Therefore, the world blocks him from being able to see Elokus and causes him to have doubts in Elokus. For him it is “Olamos bipeshitus veeolkus behischadshus”. It is specifically through the Rebbe being the Memutza Hamechaber that can connect the Jew with the higher levels of Elokus revealed in Atzilus. The connection made through Rebbe is the only real connection that a person is able to experience with Hashem.

Even after the Histalkus, the Rebbe continues to be our Memutza Hamechaaber with Hashem, as explained at length in the Rebbe’s Sichos and letters in the period after the Histalkus of the Frierdiker Rebbe.

In truth, we see this in the real world, that those who had merited to be Mekushar to the Rebbe and to the Rabbeim have a deeper perspective of Ruchniyos that even the Gedolim of the non Chassidishe world don’t have.

I saw this clearly when a few years ago, I visited Eretz Yisrael, and was asked to Farbreng in Bnei Brak. Behashgacha Pratis I came across a booklet from one of their greatest Gedolim, in which it says a story that shocked me to the core.

They tell a story about this greatest Gadol, who said in the name of the greatest Gadol of a previous generation, that said that he is certain that the Ketzos didn’t have a Geshmak and relish in a piece of kugel since he was such a great and lofty person. He told the story during the week of Parshas Toldos. The students asked, “What about Yitzchak Avinu, it says in this week’s Parsha that he asked Esav “Vaase li matamim kaasher ahavti - make for me tasty foods like I love.” How could Yitzchak Avinu relish good food when this Gadol said that the Ketzos didn’t relish kugel?! Wasn’t Yitzchak much greater?” The Gadol of our time answered, “Kan lifnei matan torah, kan leacharei matan torah”, the Ketzos who lived after Matan torah didn’t have an enjoyment of good food, but Yitzchak Avinu lived before Matan Torah and he therefore enjoyed and appreciated good food…”

We see from here, that such a great Jew like this Gadol who sat all his days and learned Torah and was separated from worldly pleasures; even he had a mistaken and shallow understanding of the Yesodos of Yiddishkeit. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this view is completely wrong, since it says in Midrash Rabbah about the Avos that they are a chariot for Hashem, “Haavos hen hen hamerkava”. It is brought down in the Rishonim and in Tanya at length that all the limbs of their bodies were holy and were merely a vessel for the Shechina to rest upon them.

If this is said regarding all of the Avos, how much more so regarding Yitzchak Avinu of whom we know that Hashem always remembers his Akeida, “Afero shel Yitzchak munach lefanav” – “The ashes of Yitzchak are always before before Hashem”. Furthermore we know, that unlike Avraham and Yaakov who both traveled to Mitzrayim, Yitzchak Avinu was forbidden from leaving Eretz Yisrael since he was so holy that he was only fitting to live in Eretz Yisrael and was forbidden to descend to the contaminated land of Mitzrayim. Every day during our Davening we say in Shmone Esre, “Elokei Avraham elokei Yitzchak veelokey Yaakov”, since Hashem placed his name upon the Avos.

It is therefore hard to believe that the greatest and most aidele gadol of the olamishe, thought it sensible to conclude that Yitzchak Avinu was capable to be on such a low level to enjoy materialistic pleasures such as enjoying good food etc. I commented that if this were true we would have ought to change the Nussach Hatefila from Elokei Yitzchak to “Elokei Haktzos” CH”V VR”L.

As we all know, the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that the deeper meaning of Yitzchak Avinu’s request “Vaase li matamim” - in plural form - is that these are the words of the Shechina. The Shechina is saying that Hashem enjoys two types of Avoda: the Avodas Hashem of Tzaddikim and the Avodas Hashem of Baalei Teshuva.

The reason why even the least of the Bochurim learning in Tomchei Temimim would not make the mistake that this Gadol made, is not only because the bochur learned it in Tanya; but because through learning Tanya he is connected with the Rebbe and through our Rebbe he is connected to the Alter Rebbe. He therefore has the kind of outlook on Elokus available only to a Rebbe, a Neshama DeAtzilus. Whereas someone who is not connected to the Rebbe might be the greatest Gadol but does not have the connection to Elokus of Atzilus which is beyond comprehension of a regular Neshama.

This is what the Avos and the Rabbeim are all about. With regards to the Imahos and Rebbetzin’s, the Rebbe explains in the above mentioned Sicha that the Imahos are on the level of Malchus DeAtzilus, as they are “Mekablim” – “receivers” from the Avos. It is the task of the Imahos to receive the energy from the Avos and bring it down into the physical world. It is precisely for that reason that Avraham and Yitzchak wanted Yishmael and Esav to be part of their Avoda, since they saw them the way they appear in Atzilus, where there is no evil and they are good as well. The Imahos on the other hand saw Yishmael and Esav the way they are here in this physical world, and therefore understood that until the coming of Moshiach they have no place in Am Yisrael and therefore they must be excluded.

The Rebbe adds, that the same is true with our Rabbeim. Since Chassidus was revealed to combat the darkness that has descended upon the world and to prepare the world for the Geula, the way the Rabbeim elevate the world is through the Rebbetzins who bring down the spiritual energy of the Rabbeim into the physical world. Similarly, the Rebbe said on Rosh Hashana 5748 that the Rabbeim had a custom every Erev Rosh Hashana; they made a point to go in to their Rebbetzins to speak with them. This is because as explained in Chassidus, that on Rosh Hashana we crown Hashem as the king of the world, which in Kabbala is called rebuilding Sefiras Hamalchus. Therefore it is through the Rebbetzins who represent Sefiras Hamalchus that this takes place.

In the Farbrengen on the Shabbos during the shiva of the Rebbetzin, the Rebbe spoke about this concept. That Shabbos was Parshas Mishpatim, which was the same Kvius as this year. The Rebbe quoted the Zohar’s interpretation on the Passuk “Viaileh Hamishpatim” that “these are the laws of the Gilgulim of the Neshamos and their ascent Lemaala”. The Zohar says that there are two types of Neshamos. There are Neshamos Debiy”a which come down to this world again in a Gilgul, since there are things which they still have yet to fix. The Neshamos Deatzilus on the other hand, are complete in every way and they therefore don’t need to come back down to the world through a Gilgul. The Rebbe added that the Rebbetzin who was a Tzaddekes and the daughter of the Nassi Hador is on the level of Malchus Deatzilus, and therefore only Hashem deals with her Aliyas Haneshama, raising it higher and higher.

To conclude, this might be the reason why after Chof Bais Shevat the Rebbe made the Rebbetzin a public figure in Chabad. As mentioned before, both the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin said that from Chof Bais Shevat, a new Tekufa started. Indeed, it was then the first time that the Rebbe spoke about the future of Lubavitch if Moshiach will not come immediately Ch”v; and it is only after Gimmel Tammuz that we understood that we are now experiencing the darkest period in the history of Chassidus in preparation for the coming of Moshiach.

Now more than ever we need the help of the Rebbetzin, as mentioned before that she represents the Imahos, whose task is to bring Elokus to the lowest and darkest levels; and now more than ever, we need the Rebbetzin spiritual energy to help us strengthen our Hiskashrus to the Rebbe, who connects us “face to face” with Hashem, even in these very dark times before the Geula.

Perhaps this is the reason why the Rebbe chose the story about the Rebbetzin’s deposition at the court case to be the only story he said after her Histalkus. For this is the whole Inyan of the Rebbetzin. With her statement that the Rebbe himself belongs to Chassidim she brought about the Nitzchiyus of the Rebbe in the physical world via the court ruling. This is in line with the Avodah of a Rebbetzin, to bring the Rebbe’s Inyanim down to the physical world. As the Rebbe said in the beginning of the case of the Sefarim in 5745, that the whole battle of the court case is about the belief of “Hu Bachayim”, that a Rebbe is active in this physical world even after his passing, and the Rebbetzin brought this whole concept down to the physical world through a court ruling.

The Rebbetzin continues to help us from Shamayim through her Brachos and Tefilos. It is therefore important for us to know about the Rebbetzin, to learn from her ways how she did everything with complete Mesiras Nefesh, to fight this last battle before the coming of Moshiach, and to protect the house of Lubavitch that it should remain complete and eternal until Bias Hamoshiach, just as the Rebbe wants it to be.

We are now in the Motzaei Shabbos following the Yom HaHilula of the Rebbetzin, and as the Rebbe always says regarding the Shabbos after a Yom Hilula that the Shabbos elevates everything that happened in the week preceding it. We all know what the Rebbe said in 5752 about the Yom Hilula of Chof Bais Shevat that it is a Yom Beracha “Becha Yevarech Yisrael”. The greatest Bracha that we all ask from the Rebbetzin, is the Bracha that encompasses all the Brachos, that all of us, men, women, and children, especially the children and grandchildren who were not able to see the Rebbe, should have the feeling of connection – of Hiskashrus – to the Rebbe, just like before and even stronger than before.

We ask that we may all have the recognition and understanding that we are all in the Dor Hashevi of the Rebbe, and that the Rebbe continues to lead us just as before without any change. That all should understand that all of the success of the thousands of Shluchim around the world is only thanks to the fact that the Rebbe is more alive and more active after the Histalkus, like the Rebbe said, “noch mer lebediker, noch mer shtarker, un noch mer aktiv”, and that every day we get closer to the moment when we will finally merit to see the Rebbe and Rebbetzin do Lemata, Bigeula haamitis vehashleima bimeheira viyameinu mamash.


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Opinions and Comments
1
so nice!
wow thank u 2 whomever typed this up
(3/12/2018 10:42:38 PM)
2
Thank you
Thank you for printing the transcript. May Hashem bless Rabbi Greenberg and all of the shluchim and shluchos with much success and abundant wealth and may we all greet moshiach mow.
(3/12/2018 10:44:38 PM)
3
Thank you
Thank you for posting this. Very beautiful
(3/12/2018 11:21:55 PM)
4
Correction
Chessed stands for Chanania Sinai Dovid (Halberstam)
(3/13/2018 7:57:48 AM)
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