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

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