Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Rebbe "We Must Give A Proper Education"

"The Rebbe's impact upon Jewish education is very noteworthy. He saw to it early on in his term of leadership that educational materials were developed to reach out both to adults and to children"

-Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

I would like to present part of a very unique letter of the Rebbe on the importance of education, the Letter was written to Vice President Walter F. Mondale He was the forty-second Vice President of the United States (1977–1981) under President Jimmy Carter. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 89 in the series) special thanks to Rabbi Asher Lowenstein and Rabbi Kromby.

"Education, in general, should not be limited to the acquisition of knowledge and preparation for a career, or in common parlance "to make a better living!" We must think in terms of a "better life," not only for the individual, but also for society as a whole. The educational system must, therefore, pay more attention, indeed, the main attention, to the building of character, with emphasis on moral and ethical values.

The skepticism on the part of those who, at present, oppose the Administration's educational program (of which you make mention in your Remarks) is, I believe, in large measure due to the shortcomings of the educational system in this country, which leaves much to be desired in the way of achieving its most basic objectives for a better society. In a country, such as ours, so richly blessed with democracy, freedom of opportunity, and material resources, one would expect that such anti-moral and anti-social phenomena as juvenile delinquency, vandalism, lack of respect for law and order, etc. would have been radically reduced, to the point of ceasing to be a problem. Hence, it is not surprising that many feel frustrated and apathetic.

I submit, therefore, that the Administration's resolve to restructure the Federal education role - long overdue - would be well served if it were coupled with greater emphasis on the objective of improving the quality of education in terms of moral and ethical values and character building that should be reflected in the actual everyday life of our young and growing generation."

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Why do Bad things Happen to Good people"

In regards to the terrible tragedy that accrued today to the parents of my sister in law Pessa Kirschenbaum, Reb Zev and his wife Rochel Simons two very Special Neshamas that were taken from this world in a Terrible car accident,

I would like to present an answer the Rebbe gave to parents of a young girl Miriam, who at six years old was killed in a car accident in Berkley, California (Erev Pesach 1989). Following the death, the parents wrote a long letter to the Rebbe with many different questions regarding the nature of these types of tragedies. The Rebbe's response did more than comfort – it provided a new focus to the mourning family. Also included is interesting picture of the Rebbe. The Rebbe attending a funereal in the winter of 1991.

1. A person cannot say with certainty that he clearly knows Hashem's intentions, (except for a prophet who was instructed by Hashem to reveal it).

2. For everything that happens in today's day in age, we can find its example in the past. ( In Midrashim of Chazal, with additional different interpretations for different events), At times, the specifics of an incident today, we can explain with an event or an explanation of an event in the past.

4 .With regards to Miriam, it stands out that she passed away on a high note, in a manner that Torah Emes commands that is forbidden to mourn her in a Shiva, except for a few moments and similarly with regards to the Shloshim [due to the fact that it was Erev yom tov].

5 .All Neshamos (Souls) of the present come down as a continuation of a previous Gilgul ( Reincarnation) in order to complete what was missing before it came down, (in totality or partially).

6. Those who are Nistalek (pass on) before their obligation to do Mitzvos, it is because they are here in this world to complete the number of years that they needed to be in this world. (Even though this is an exception, in general everyone needs to live 70-80, up to 120 years)

7 .If Miriam needed to complete the number of years she needed to be in this world, and then go immediately into Gan Eden, its understood that the parents should not be saddened that this Pesach that she parted she was in Gan Eden and according to this, its also understood that they needed according to Torah Emes to be in true Simcha on Pesach.

8. Especially since she (Mrs. Gearman) and her husband, gave their child a childhood that was mostly filled with Good, materially and spiritually all her years.

Good Shabbos.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hey Teves: The Rebbe, a Bachur, and Eli Weisel

“The Rebbe told them, "I want you to do your work - not as a Chassid, but as a lawyer."

-Rabbi Avraham Shemtov

In honor of the twentieth anniversary of Hey Taves, I would like to present some interesting accounts related to the events that led to the Rebbe's library being returned to the Chassidim. Also included is interesting pictures of the Rebbe (part 51 in the series)

The lawyers who represented the Rebbe met with the Rebbe before the actual case.

The following is a part of what was discussed in this first meeting:

"The first thing the Rebbe stressed was that the lawyers make it clear that books are not a personal heritage of the previous Rebbe and this should be explained and should be understood according to "human logic." The Rebbe stressed many times that their desire to dedicate themselves to the Rebbe's will should be in line with nature, and the society's system. The Rebbe told them, "I want you to do your work - not as a Chassid, but as a lawyer."


When the news came to 770 that we won the court case, everyone was elated. The following is from a diary of a student who was learning in 770:

"When the news came that we won the court case, it was 11:40 in the morning and we were sitting in the upstairs Zal (study hall). For me, to picture what went on in these moments is impossible. We all when outside 770 and began dancing and singing 'Didan Notzach.' Before I knew it, Bachurim got handle of bottles of Mashke and guys were dancing and making flips!
Chassidim from Crown Heights began crowding at 770. A bunch of mitzvah tanks were driving around playing 'Didan Notzach'

on the loud speakers. When the Rebbe's secretaries came out of the Rebbe's room, there was tremendous joy on their faces. Piamenta and Eli Lipsker were playing with their bands. In the middle of the dancing, someone got up and made the bracha of Shehechiyanu."

During the court case, part of the testimonies involved defining the Rebbe-Chassid relationship (it was important for understanding ownership of the books). There were three people chosen to participate and get the message across that the Rebbe and Chassid are intimately connected. One of the three was Eli Wiesel. The following is an excerpt from his testimony:

"Strangely enough, the choice of (involvement) is made by the Chassid and not the Rebbe. It is not the Rebbe who chooses the Chassid. It is the Chassid who chooses the Rebbe. But once the choice is made, it is boundless.

It is total loyalty. And therefore, the Rebbe owes the Chassid total loyalty. So, for the community, the Rebbe must have total generosity and compassion. Also, he has even more responsibility. That's why he is a Rebbe."

Picture description: The Rebbe addressing children at a Lag Beomer Parade 1953.

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

The Rebbetzin " No I Never Heard About it From My Father"

“In the winter of 1985 Lubavitch Library staff noticed valuable books were disappearing from the shelves. Before long, it became obvious that some of the rare Kabbalistic and biblical commentaries were missing. They tried to find out who could be taking the Sefarim”

-Excerpts the story of Hei Teves

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Hay Teves (the day which marks a court ruling which returned the Rebbe's library into the hands of his Chassidim), I would like to present part of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka's testimony regarding the ownership of the library, Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 22 in the series)
The following is the back-and-forth between the lawyer and the Rebbetzin:

The lawyer: Why did your father have books?

The Rebbetzin: This was his life. His main goal was to spread Judaism.

The lawyer: It's important for me to know - how do you know that the reason he collected the books was to spread Judaism)?

The Rebbetzin: I understand very well. This was his personality, this is what he grew up with, and this is what he lives with.

The lawyer: When your father was alive, who did you think the library belonged to?
The Rebbetzin: I never thought about it then.

The lawyer: Did your father ever tell you who the books belonged to?

The Rebbetzin: No, I never heard about it from my father.

The lawyer: My second question is about the books that your father used in his study. Are those books your father's or they belong to the Chassidim?

The Rebbetzin: It belongs to the Chassidim because my father belonged to the Chassidim.

The Rebbetzin's response gave tremendous insight into the true nature of the relationship between the Rebbe and his Chassidim. There is only a perceived separation – they are strongly united at their essence.

Good Shabbos.


Monday, December 3, 2007

"The Rebbe is a Revolutionary Person"

"The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of Brooklyn, the spiritual leader of the World Chabad Movement, is both wise and learned, but above all he is a man of faith. And if faith be the art of truth, he is also an artist whose creation is the army of believers that he commands, the army of the Jewish faith, of the G-d of Israel and the people of Israel"

- Geula Cohen

I would like to present a beautiful article that was written on the Rebbe and Lubavitche's work around the world, in the London Jewish Chronicle February 1, 1980, titled "In Search of the Soul" by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 88 in the series).

"The Rebbe is a revolutionary. He has enthroned Chasidic philosophy not as one of the limbs, but as the heart of Judaism. He is a systematic and conceptual thinker on the largest scale. And, more than anything, he continually drives together the highest abstract truth and the most specific call for action, spanning the continuum of the whole range of Jewish study.

It is perhaps the case that his fame as a leader, organizer and initiator of communal projects has impeded a measured assessment of his originality as a thinker. But, essentially, the two facets of his work are one--the comprehensiveness of his thought and action are part of the same drive: the unity of the Torah, the unity of the Jewish people...

Many of the Rebbe's achievements have shaped so deeply the development of the post-war Judaism that we hardly think of them as Lubavitch at all. Fifteen years ago, the term baal teshuva ("penitent") was almost confined to Chabad. To other Jews, teshuva was something one did on Yom Kippur, atoning for sins. In Lubavitch it meant a rescued soul. Specifically those hundreds of students brought from drugs and alienation into deep Jewish commitment by the massive Chabad involvement in campus life across the world. Today it is the word that describes the Populations of dozens of yeshivot in Israel that have no connection with Chasidism; it has become the leitmotif of a generation.

The Jewish day-school movement, of which Lubavitch was one of the earliest pioneers, has displaced across a wide spectrum the once prevalent ideology that Jewish education was a kind of dutiful appendage to the real business of acquiring a secular culture. The idea, in which Lubavitch was for so long alone, of resuscitating dying communities by sending out a small resident nucleus of religious families, has been widely copied by Yeshivos in America, and is at last being tentatively taken up in Britain. The Rebbe has never had an interest in preserving a monopoly of his innovations. Every achievement means a new goal to be formulated.

Results can never be quantified. It is sufficient to know that they are always never enough.... In all the campaigns there is a driving sense of urgency that sanctifies their often unconventional approaches: a Sukkah on wheels taken through crowded streets, a radio advertisement reminding listeners that it is Purim, a resolution of the United States Congress proclaiming a national education day--all these and more are ways of hastening the Messiah. Lubavitch takes to heart the injunction in the first paragraph of the Shulchan Aruch not to be ashamed when others make fun of one's pursuit of a religious mission. Discretion is the better part of cowardice...

We come, then finally, to the great and controversial question: is there something suspect about the attachment of Lubavitch Chasidim to the Rebbe? Does it go too far? Is there an abdication of personal responsibility involved in bringing private questions to the scrutiny and advice of a great man? Ultimately, can there be a man worthy of such adulation?

It is important to understand about Lubavitch that it is a movement supremely dedicated to allowing each Jew to play his special role, to being, in the Baal Shem Tov's image, his own particular letter in the Torah scroll. The Rebbe is the person who guides him towards that role; who, by standing above the distortions of the ego, taking a global view of the problems of the Jewish world, being in the language of Chasidut a "collective soul," sees where the individual belongs. It is, after all, difficult to think of many other leaders who can assume this role, for they are for the most part leaders of a sectional group, without a brief and perhaps without the information to be authoritative beyond their borders. The Rebbe's advice carries with it no more and no less than the authority which his worldwide concern has given him.

Those who visit the Rebbe--and the vast majority of those who do so are not born Lubavitchers, do so because of his reputation as a man of encompassing vision. They tend to emerge somewhat unnerved, taken by surprise. They expect, perhaps, the conventional type of charismatic leader, imposing his presence by the force of his personality.

What they find is the reverse: a man who, whatever the complexity of his current concerns, is totally engaged with the person he is speaking to. It is almost like coming face to face with oneself for the first time. Not in the simple sense of, as it were, seeing oneself in a mirror, but rather seeing oneself revealed as a person of unique significance in the scheme of things, discovering one's purpose. So much so that it is difficult to talk of the Rebbe's personality at all, so identified is he with the individuals he guides.

This is, ultimately, what is so misconceived by those who have never met him. His leadership--rare almost to the point of uniqueness in the present day--consists in self-effacement. Its power is precisely what it effaces itself towards--the sense of the irreplaceability of each and every Jew .

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Rebbe "How Many People Will You Affect, 20 or 30?"

"From all over the world his followers come--to consult the new "Rabbi of Lubavitch" on matters of faith, health, family, and finance. They seek him out on social issues and psychological problems--on everything which might affect their spiritual, physical and material well-being, and make no vital move without him"

-Charles Haddock

I would like to present Part one of Rabbi Nachman Meir Bernhard, former Rabbi of the prestigious Oxford Synagogue in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fascinating encounter's that he experienced with the Rebbe in Yechidus in regards to his work as Rabbi and the future of Judaism in South Africa. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 87 in the series)

"I received my Rabbinic ordination in 1958 and left for my first position in Wichita, Kansas. Once, Rabbi Yosef Wineberg came to Wichita on the behest of the Rebbe. I met him but I had no idea he was a Lubavitcher.

We left Wichita five years later and returned to New York when our eldest daughter was of school age. The Orthodox Union asked me to be their New York director. I accepted the position. Within a few months I was asked to become Rabbi of the largest synagogue in South Africa.

Not feeling drawn to the Rabbinate and wanting to pursue my studies, I declined. But they insisted that I at least come and see the place.

After my visit, I read a friend's report about a lecture tour to South Africa. The report mentioned Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. The name rang a bell and I thought maybe it was worthwhile to hear his opinion about the proposed position.

I met with Rabbi Wineberg and told him my hesitations. He firmly insisted that I go there. "They need a young, dynamic rabbi like you," he said. Rabbi Wineberg didn't give up easily and suggested that I ask the Rebbe. "I would if you arranged it," I told him.

It was after 1 a.m. when I entered the Rebbe's office and saw the Rebbe for the first time in my life.

The yechidut [personal audience] lasted for over an hour. I felt as if the whole world around us had disappeared and it was only the Rebbe and I.

This yechidus took place a year after I had left both the Rabbinate and the Orthodox Union; I had devoted myself to learning full time.

In the yechidus, the Rebbe told me that Jewish life today is being devastated, as if by a fire, and whoever can extinguish the fire, must do so.

The Rebbe pointed his finger at me: "You have no right to sit and become a talmid chacham [scholar]." I said that I could fulfill my obligation by giving a class, but the Rebbe responded, "How many people will you affect, 20 or 30?"

I mentioned I was offered a Principal's position.

The Rebbe said again, "You will only influence 200 or 400 children in a big school. Hashem has given you the skills and strength to lead an entire community." He urged me to utilize my potential to the fullest.

I still resisted.

"I have already left an important position for the sake of my children's education. What will happen to them in South Africa?" By then, I had three daughters.

The Rebbe answered that the children of every Jew who devotes himself to communal work receive Divine protection.

The Rebbe didn't exactly tell me "go," but he calmed my fears about going to South Africa.

When I went out of the Rebbe's room I said to myself, "I may not yet be a Lubavitcher Chasid, but from now on I am the Rebbe's Chasid."

We arrived in South Africa in 1966, a few weeks before Rosh Hashana. Whenever I was offered exciting positions in other parts of the world, I asked the Rebbe.

The Rebbe always answered me that South Africa was my proper place, that I was there by Divine Providence, that my situation was improving, and that G-d would help.

After three years, the government wanted to throw me out because of my opposition to apartheid. I didn't call for an open rebellion. I just spoke from the Jewish heart and conscience. I said that we should work to bring about change legally and within the system. But the prospect of deportation did not upset me at all. The Rebbe had wanted me to be there, so I was. But if I was deported, I would be able to move to Israel.

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"The Rebbe Wrote a few Words on a Paper"

"But, you see, whenever I went to the Rebbe, or even when I wrote him, I felt known by him. Seen by him. And I mean these words—known and seen—in their most profound sense. I felt naked before him. And through him I saw myself fully exposed"

-Jay Litvin

The Rebbe's wedding long ago in Warsaw, a prayer book in Salonika, a note from the Rebbe and two grandfathers look on proudly from above as their descendants add another link in the chain of Jewish tradition. In Honor of Yud Daled Kislev the Rebbe and Rebbetzin"s wedding anniversary, I would like to present an unbelievable encounter that a Chosson and Kalla experienced with the Rebbe in the winter of 1989. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (Part 86 in the Series).

"The city was hot and sweltering on that summer eve in 1989. The Chabad rabbi looked incongruously out of place in Manhattan's East Village, with his long beard and black coat. Nevertheless, the Chabad rabbi was determined. He had made a promise to a grieving father in Southern California, a man who was a leader in their Jewish community, that he would find his runaway teenage daughter. "Sarah is in New York City, that's all we know, can you find her for me?"

the man had begged the rabbi during a recent visit.

Mission impossible? Not for the rabbi. With a lot of effort and a little bit of mazel, he finally found someone who recognized Sarah's picture and he was able to track her to an urban commune. He invited her to come to his home for a Shabbat meal. She not only came but returned many times and began finding her way back to Judaism. After a while, she met a young man from Israel, who was also rediscovering Judaism.

"We want you to marry us," Sarah told the rabbi.

The father of the bride was delighted beyond belief, but the father of the groom less so. He was a holocaust survivor from a rabbinical family, but his experiences during the war had so alienated him from his faith that he had raised his children in a humanistic ethicism, completely devoid of spirituality or mention of G-d.

The father made his son promise that he would not be asked to recite any blessings or prayers either at the ceremony or during the reception. Only on this condition would he attend the wedding.

On the morning of the wedding, the rabbi wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to inform him about the marriage and to ask for a blessing for the bride and groom.

The Rebbe, upon receiving the note, put it together with hundreds of others that he would read aloud that day at the "Ohel," the resting place of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe.

On this day, upon reading the note from the rabbi, the Rebbe wrote a few words on a paper and directed that it be given immediately to the rabbi.

The Rebbe had written that today's date, the date that the young couple chose for their wedding, was the 14th of Kislev, the same day on which the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were married decades earlier. The note explained that the groom's grandfather was a Rabbi in Warsaw and had attended the Rebbe's wedding. As a wedding present the rabbi had given them a book that he had written. The Rebbe directed the Chabad rabbi to go to the Rebbe's office, find the book, and take it to the chupa that evening."

Of course, the rabbi did exactly as the Rebbe had instructed. Just before the ceremony, the bride asked the rabbi to say a few words. The rabbi decided to tell the story about the book he was carrying.

He related how the Rebbe had asked that the book be at the chupa and explained that through the presence of the book the groom's grandfather, the former rabbi from Warsaw, would be spiritually represented at the wedding of his grandson, a grandson from whom he now has so much nachas.

Upon hearing these words, the father of the groom abruptly stood up and quickly left the room. The rabbi found him, a few minutes later, weeping quietly in a phone booth in the lobby of the hotel.

"Rabbi," he sobbed "when I was a child, my father took me to Cheder, where I loved studying, but I forgot everything. I wanted to forget. I made myself forget. Now I see that my father never gave up on me, even from Heaven. Won't you take me by the hand and teach me again?"

Thus ends the story of a Jewish soul who thought he had forgotten, until the Rebbe reminded him. But the story has ripples that turned into waves and washed over Jack Castro in Boca Raton, Florida.

Jack Castro's story begins in the small, picturesque city of Solanika, Greece. Salonika was home to more than 60,000 proud Sephardic Jews, among them Moshe Prado, before the nazis decimated their numbers to a pitiful one thousand.

It had been Moshe Prado's custom that as each of his children were married, he gave them a set of High Holiday prayerbooks, hand-carved in ivory. Moshe Prado did not survive the war, nor did his children except one daughter and one son, Jack's father.

Jack Castro ended up with one of the High Holiday prayerbooks. "My aunt gave me that book years ago," says Jack. "I sadly never met my grandfather, but I had one of his books in my possession for many many years without really thinking about its value."

Jack was born in Paris, grew up in Argentina and emigrated to the United States in 1965. He and his wife Graciela have two children and two grandchildren. About fifteen years ago, they moved to Boca Raton where Jack is the president of a software company.

A few years ago, Jack had a surprise call from an old childhood friend in Argentina, a friend with whom he had kept in close contact all these years.

"He told me that his daughter Julie and her boyfriend were coming to Miami and could I show them around," said Jack. Of course he readily agreed and promised to pick them up at the airport.

The day their plane was due however, Jack had an important meeting and he asked his son Spencer to pick them up instead. As it turned out, Julie's boyfriend had to return to Argentina, so when Spencer got to the airport, Julie was alone.

Yes, you guessed it, the meeting was "bashert."

"Spencer picked Julie up at the airport in Miami," said Jack "and by the time they reached our home in Boca they had really connected."

Two months later, the young couple had a civil marriage. They planned to have a Jewish wedding in Argentina. But the economic crisis was already threatening and Julie's parents soon moved to Florida. Now that the whole family was together, the plans for a Jewish chupa began in earnest.

"Although we are a traditional family" said Jack, "we did not belong to any synagogue and didn't know where to find a small one that would please the children. A friend suggested that we look into Chabad of East Boca that had recently opened."

Jack and his family set up a meeting and he recalls that "just like with the children, it was love at first sight. We all liked Rabbi Ruvi and Ahuva New and their family and we set a date for the wedding. We even began attending Shabbat services."

At one Shabbat dinner at the New home, Rabbi New told the Castros the aforementioned story about the book at the wedding. "I have a book that belonged to my grandfather, too." Jack told the rabbi about the prayerbook and decided to bring it to the wedding of his son.

And what a wedding it was. "We were expecting a simple ceremony, but Rabbi New had other plans. He brought a CD of Jewish wedding music and turned it into a real simcha." Jack Castro and his family are now regular participants at Shabbat services. "My son loves to go to the synagogue now," he says proudly "we are all rediscovering our Judaism."

The Rebbe's wedding long ago in Warsaw, a prayerbook in Salonika, a note from the Rebbe and two grandfathers look on proudly from above as their descendants add another link in the chain of Jewish tradition. Mazel Tov.

Picture Description: the Rebbe coming out from Mikva on Union Street.

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blog Picture Information

Dear Visitor,

Due to the incredible response we have had regarding the beautiful rare images of the Rebbe, many of which have been published here for the very first time, we are pleased to announce that "Rebbe Archive" are making these pictures available for purchase for the very first time. They are great gifts opportunities for child and adult alike, and are sure to be treasured and prized by all. Photos are available framed and in a variety of sizes.

For more information please contact

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Rebbe: "My Father was very Dear to Me"

"Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the Rebbe's father. The Rebbe's father was a great luminary in his own right, an awesome reservoir of Talmudic and Kabbalistic knowledge. But perhaps the most unique dimension of his character was his unflinching commitment to Jewish practice and the total lack of fear with which he expressed that commitment."

-From a Student's Diary

I would like to present a beautiful interview with DovBer Gourary in which he Relates his memories of the Rebbe's father Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson O.B.M, also included is interesting pictures of the Rebbe (Part 86 in the series),

"After finishing yeshiva I attended a bookkeeping course which I completed successfully. I got a job as a bookkeeper at the train station in Dnepropetrovsk. And it was through this job that I was able to help Rav Levi Yitzchak. I remember clearly, a few years before the beginning of World War II, I was sitting in my office in the train station when I heard everyone saying that the Rav of the city was being taken away. I left my office and saw the Rav carrying a bundle on his shoulder and two policemen walking at his side. I was able to ascertain that he was being taken to Kiev and notified the family as soon as possible.

How did you feel when you saw the Rav being taken away?

As can be understood, it was very upsetting. But, truthfully, it wasn't a surprise. Everyone in the city was expecting the Rav's imprisonment. We all knew that if it wasn't today it would be tomorrow, or the next day.

What made it so obvious?

You, everyone who never lived in Russia as it was then, don't understand what it is. It was the most terrible time of Stalin, and in all of Russia there was not a strong rabbi like Rav Levi Yitzchak, of blessed memory, who would neither bend nor bow to the government. Everyone in the community worried about him. Everyone in the city. He gave sermons without being at all concerned about the Bolshevik emissaries who infiltrated everywhere. He declared publicly in the synagogue, in a voice filled with fire, that we couldn't give in one drop in areas of Judaism. The Bolsheviks didn't have to send spies. He didn't hint. He spoke clearly and decisively. There was, therefore, no doubt that he would be imprisoned. It was just a matter of when.

Did the Rav's strong words, during that difficult period, have an impact on the Jews of the city?

A tremendous impact. Specifically because people recognize words of truth that come from the heart, and whatever he demanded of others he first did himself. He was very strong-minded and didn't compromise on anything Jewish.

I remember, for example, in the area of kosher food. If he wasn't absolutely certain that something was 100% kosher, even if the manufacturers became angry or if the government threatened, he wouldn't give his stamp of approval. He always warned them that if they wouldn't accept all of his instructions he would announce that all of the products were not kosher. In Stalin's time even the mightiest warrior was afraid to do this type of thing.

The government didn't interfere?

Actually, many people were surprised. This was a great wonder. How he was not afraid to act and judge according to his reckonings at a time when all religious workers were being sent to Siberia. But this is how it was. Total self-sacrifice. He also arranged Jewish weddings with total self-sacrifice.

Did he also officiate at your wedding?

I was married in 1925 and, of course, Rav Levi Yitzchak officiated. He was also the sandek at my oldest son's bris. But the self-sacrifice for "kosher" weddings to which I was specifically referring were in the '30s, when the fear of the government reached new heights. People were afraid of their shadows, but the Rav was very adamant that couples shouldn't get married without a kosher chupa. He also went against the government in his insistence that Jewish bodies be prepared for burial and buried according to Jewish law as opposed to the civil requirements of the government.

How did the Jews react?

They loved him. Everyone. From every group. Everyone respected him, even those who were on the "other side." His upright bearing, his aristocratic face, he was quite a handsome man--his nobility made an impression on everyone with whom he came in contact. I remember that everyone, even those who did not agree with his views, spoke of him with the utmost respect.

You went to the Rav's shul on Shabbat?

Of course! He used to speak each Shabbat afternoon at the third meal, words of Torah, Chasidic discourses. The discourses were lengthy and not everyone understood them for they were filled with much esoteric wisdom. I remember on Rosh Hashana when he would blow the shofar he really looked like an angel. His face was beaming and he seemed to be like a burning flame.

I also remember that on every Simchat Torah he would rejoice with such happiness that words cannot describe it. He would dance for many hours without stopping, with the Torah scroll pressed against his heart. His deep and intense happiness was witnessed by many who came to see the dancing of "Rebbe Levik" on Simchat Torah. Anyone who saw it never forgot it.

Picture description: the Rebbe addresses the children at the Lag Beomer Parade 1957,

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Rebbe "I Have Been Expecting You"

"Now is the ideal opportunity to transform the whole canvas of life in the Land of Israel and direct it into the above-mentioned channels. This opportunity is knocking at your door; for you have been granted the ability and privilege to use it to the best advantage, a privilege and opportunity which are not given to every man and the likes of which have not presented themselves for many decades"

-From a Letter to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion

I would like to present a beautiful encounter that Louis Hozinsky and his brother Mordechai experienced with the Rebbe in the late 1950s. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (Part 85 in the series). I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Dear readers, for the beautiful Brachos and wishes that you sent me and my kalla in honor of our engagement. May all the Brachos be fulfilled.

Rabbi Moshe Aharon Geisinsky of blessed memory wrote this account of events which he was a party to:

"One summer's day in 1959, two brothers came into my shul in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. They wore black ties and black armbands as signs of mourning. The older one, Louis (Levi Yitzchak) Hozinsky, lived in Crown Heights; his brother, Mordechai, lived elsewhere. I eventually became very close to Louis and he began to put on tefillin every day, observe many aspects of Shabbat, put up mezuzot in his home and keep other mitzvot.

That year, Yom Kippur was on a Monday. At about 10 p.m. Saturday night, my doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I saw Levi Yitzchak with his brother Mordechai, and they looked very worried. Mordechai was pale and very thin. After feeling ill for some time, Mordechai had undergone tests in the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. The results showed that he had a malignant growth in his stomach and he needed an operation urgently. The doctor and hospital staff had told him that as soon as a place became free he would be called for the operation. Other doctors had all concurred with the doctors at the Medical Center.

Finally, Mordechai found an expert who thought that, although the operation was necessary, it might be better to wait in order to undergo further tests. However, today he had received a call to go immediately to the hospital, as a bed was available. When Mordechai informed them that he wished to wait a little, he was warned that the hospital would take no responsibility for the consequences.

"I have only one suggestion for you," I said. "Go to the Rebbe. He will advise you what to do." I explained how difficult it would be to see the Rebbe on the day before Yom Kippur. If the Rebbe's secretary said that the only option was to write all of the details in a letter, I suggested that they stand near the Rebbe's office,

and when the Rebbe came out, they should tell the Rebbe about the situation and ask for his advice and blessing. At 12:45 a.m. my telephone rang. "Hello, Rabbi. I have good news for you!" It was Levi Yitzchak. He told me that the secretary had told them to put everything into a letter. The brothers did as I suggested, and stood in the narrow passageway in front of the Rebbe's doorway. At midnight, the Rebbe came out of his room and closed the door behind him. At that moment, Levi Yitzchak came forward and said:

"I am Levi Yitzchak Hozinsky, and I desperately need to speak to the Rebbe!" The Rebbe immediately unlocked his door, and ushered them in. When they were inside, the Rebbe said, "I have been expecting you!"

Mordechai told the Rebbe all about his illness.

The Rebbe said, "I have the medicine for you. Start putting on tefilin tomorrow and continue to do so every weekday after that. Then you won't need an operation. All you will have to do is maintain the diet I am going to recommend.

After three weeks, go to Dr. Seligson [the Rebbe's private doctor], and ask him to examine you." The Rebbe then gave him instructions for a special diet. Mordechai continued, "The Rebbe spoke to us for about an hour."

The Hozinsky brothers did not realize that on the night before Yom Kippur the Rebbe almost never gives a private audience to anyone. "Before we left," Levi Yitzchak continued, "I told the Rebbe that the secretary had not allowed us to come in and speak to him, but had said that we should put everything into a letter.

The Rebbe answered, "No, no! I waited all evening for you to come to me for your cure -- to put on tefilin!" The Rebbe repeated his words three times in Yiddish: "Your medicine is that you should put on tefilin!" The following day, the eve of Yom Kippur, I got into line to receive honey cake -- lekach -- from the Rebbe.

When my turn came, the Rebbe stopped me and asked if I knew whether Mordechai had put on tefilin. When I said that I did not know for sure , the Rebbe answered, "You must make sure that he puts on tefilin!" When I saw Mordechai later that day, he told me that he had put on tefilin. And Levi Yitzchak assured me that he was fasting -- for the first time in his life -- on Yom Kippur. Before three weeks were up, Mordechai went to see Dr. Seligson. He told Dr. Seligson that he had come to him upon the instructions of the Rebbe.

The doctor examined him for about two hours and saw that his condition was very serious. His opinion was the same as that of the doctors at the Medical Center -- Mordechai desperately needed an operation. But Dr. Seligson first wished to consult the Rebbe. At midnight, Dr. Seligson telephoned Mordechai and informed him that he had spoken to the Rebbe regarding his situation.

Dr. Seligson said that Mordechai should follow the Rebbe's exact instructions. Shortly after this, the brothers called me with an update. Over the past few days Mordechai had gained three pounds. Normally, someone in his situation would constantly be losing weight. About three or four days later, he asked me to consult the Rebbe, as his family had asked him to go for further X-rays with a famous specialist. The Rebbe said that he could go for X-rays if he wanted. He went to the specialist, who examined him thoroughly. When the X- rays failed to show anything definite, he was told to come back for further tests in another six weeks. Six weeks later Mordechai again visited the specialist. The doctor took the X-rays again. In the interim, as Mordechai awaited the results, he called the Rebbe's office and received a reply that

"all would be well." In the evening, the doctor called: "All clear, with absolutely no trace of disease!"

Picture Description: The Rebbe Davening Shacharis in the winter of 1965.

Good Shabbos,

Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

"To Disturb the Unbelievable work that Lubavitch is doing?”

"He (The Rebbe) showed the Jewish community that it was possible to revive and rebuild - after assimilation, persecution or both - and that this could be done on a tremendous scale,"

-Professor Lawrence Schiffman

The following is a Yechidus of the Rebbe that took place During the mid-1970s, when the Rebbe was establishing the "Ten Mivtzoyim" campaign, there was a certain Chassidic sect in New was fighting the Rebbe’s outreach work and openly opposing it,
also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 30 in the series)

Rabbi Chaim Gutnick o.b.m was Bothered by these events and of all the opposition the Rebbe was receiving, so he asked the Rebbe in yechidus:

“How is it possible that G-d-fearing Jews who are observant of the Torah would try to disturb the unbelievable work that Lubavitch is doing?”

The Rebbe explained, “In the book Torah Or, the Alter Rebbe notes that in the times of the First Temple, the Jews committed the worst sins, transgressing the laws against adultery, murder, and idol worship.

“Paradoxically, at that time, one of the greatest in Jewish history, the Jews were on a spiritual high. The Temple was complete with all its vessels and utensils, and there were prophets who could communicate with G-d in a revealed manner. Yet, the Jews did the worst things, against the very fundamentals of the Torah.

“In the times of the Second Temple, on the other hand, which lacked many of the items the First Temple had and thus revealed a spiritual dearth, the Jews didn’t commit such transgressions. Rather, the only problem with their conduct which eventually led to the Temple’s destruction was the lack of love for a fellow Jew, ahavas Yisroel.

“These observations beg for explanation. Why is it that during the time of the First Temple, when there was such a great spiritual light shining in the world, they committed the worst sins? On the other, during the period of the Second Temple, when the revelation of G-dliness was not so apparent, they did not commit such sins?

“The answer is that when the Satan sees that the highest light of G-dliness shines in the world, he looks for all ways possible to make a Jew transgress the most fundament principles of Judaism. However, when the revelation of G-dly light is not so apparent and not so revealed, the Satan doesn’t feel such an urge. He then attempts to make Jews transgress only easier prohibitions.

“The mivtzoyim outreach draws down into the world such a powerful light that the Satan is shocked and overwhelmed into putting up an exceptional fight. Now, instead of using conventional means, he is using specifically religious Jews, who fulfill Torah and mitzvahs and are G-d-fearing.”

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who was 770’s First Official Photographer and How Did the Rebbe Relate To Him?

“On one occasion, the Rebbe mentioned photographer Yitzchak Berez while in conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Prime Minister turned to the Rebbe and said, "He takes pictures of me in Israel all the time!"

-From a Students diary

Who was the first official photographer in 770? How did find his way to 770? I would like to present the first photographer in 770 and how the Rebbe related to him. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (Part 46 in the series)

In the later years, photographers snapping shots of the Rebbe became a routine fixture in 770. In fact, however, there was initially much opposition to the practice, as related below.

Yitzchak Berez, the first individual to regularly photograph the Rebbe, was born in Poland, and then made “aliya” (immigrated) to Israel in 1947. His photographs are well known, with a portfolio including a famous photograph of Ben Gurion announcing the founding of the State of Israel, and several photos of the Adolf Eichmann trial.

Mr. Berez relates:

In 1971, Rabbi Krinsky invited my son and me to a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) with the Rebbe in 770. When I arrived at 770, the room was filled to capacity with hundreds of Chassidim, waiting for the Rebbe to arrive. One of the Chassidim told me that the Rebbe normally entered the shul from the door located at the rear of the room. I immediately proceeded there to wait for the Rebbe.

After a short while, I heard a great commotion. The Chassidim were saying, “Der Rebbe gayt (the Rebbe is coming),” and 770 became silent. I prepared my camera and took my first picture of the Rebbe as soon as he came in.

Some people in 770 were upset by my brazenness and began to scream, “Who gave you permission to take a picture of the Rebbe?" Several bachurim attempted to take my camera away! I was nervous, as I did not know anybody in the room, and I searched for the easiest route to leave

In the middle of this episode, it grew still around me. I looked up and saw the Rebbe calling me up to his place to make a l’chaim (Chassidic toast). The audience made room for me to clamber to the Rebbe’s place. When I got to the Rebbe, he asked in Yiddish, “Where is this person from?”

“He is from Israel,” someone answered.

The Rebbe then said to me in Hebrew, “Nu, if a Jew comes from Eretz Yisroel he must say l'chaim!” The Rebbe poured for me a glass and instructed me to make a blessing.

“Perhaps we can speak in Yiddish?” asked the Rebbe. “This way, everyone will understand?”

“Yes,” I replied.

"What happened over there?" he asked, referring to the pushing by the door.

“The Chassidim were upset that I took pictures of the Rebbe.”

“Nu, and then what happened?” As if to say, that was no big deal.

Then the Rebbe told me, “Beginning today, you can take pictures of me from all sides, whenever you want and however you want!”

“Thank you very much!” I exclaimed.

After everyone heard this, no one bothered me any more regarding my photography of the Rebbe. I used this opportunity to take as many pictures of the Rebbe as I could, because I was unsure whether the Rebbe’s grant applied to all occasions or only to this farbrengen. I took altogether 170 pictures at the farbrengen!

At one point, the Rebbe turned to me with a big smile and said, “I think it is enough for today. Come another time and you'll have a chance to take more pictures!”

From then on, I often came to 770 and photographed the Rebbe. I normally gave the best photographs to the Rebbe’s secretaries, to pass on to the Rebbe, and sold the rest of the pictures.

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

"Zalman Shazar believes that a person can be both a President and a Chassid"

“Zalman Shazar believes that a person can be both a President and a Chassid, and that the Chassid needs the Rebbe. This is Shazar's real greatness. Despite his high stature, he demonstrated the Rebbe-Chassid relationship with pride”

-Elie Wiesel

The following article was written in Maariv in 1966 by Professor Elie Wiesel. It addresses the controversy surrounding President Shazar's visit to the Rebbe.Many believed that the Presidents high position should have made it that the Rebbe visit him, and not the other way around. And interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 52 in the series)

"I am not what they call a Lubavitcher Chassid. However, I still support President Shazar's trip to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn.

Imagine President Linden Johnson showing up in the home of a famous composer or artist. Is there anyone that would lessen their respect for him and his position as president? Absolutely not. On the contrary. People would appreciate that he puts aside all political interests and power to visit a friend. He would be hailed a fabulous, dedicated and real leader.

I really don't understand what people want from President Shazar. In what way did he sin? And against whom? President Shazar goes to buy books in Oxford University or on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and a whole brigade of press photographers follow him. But all of a sudden, for him to go to the Rebbe is forbidden?!

I have said before, I would have preferred the Rebbe go to the President. However, the President did not invite the Rebbe. The reason for that is because, "a Chassid which tires his Rebbe is not a Chassid."

Zalman Shazar believes that a person can be both a President and a Chassid, and that the Chassid needs the Rebbe. This is Shazar's real greatness. Despite his high stature, he demonstrated the Rebbe-Chassid relationship with pride.

In my opinion, the people that are trying to make a fence between the two souls are doing a terrible thing.

In those words, Elie Wiesel gave the critics the background they needed to better understand President Shazar's trip. And more than that, he showed Shazar's greatness in that he wasn't too impressed with his own high position, and still found it important to visit the Rebbe.

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007