Thursday, February 14, 2008

How do you know it's the Rebbe's Siddur?

"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"

-Geulah Cohen

The following encounter took place during the Month of Tishrei 5703 /1943 with the Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe. Special thanks to Rabbi Yossi Goldstein for relating the encounter. Also included is interesting picture of the Rebbe part 93 in the Series.

"Someone came to 770 for Tishrei 5703 whose name, was Rabbi Weiler. He had bought a large number of siddurim, and had brought them to 770, to the room where the Rebbe Rayatz davened, so the tzibbur would have new siddurim for Rosh Hashana. He sent one of the siddurim in to the Rebbe Rayatz.

Rosh HaShana night I stood in my regular spot, in the north-west corner. I saw the Rebbe standing near the Rebbe Rayatz, who davened with great weeping, enthusiasm, and warmth. After the Davening when everybody had left, I remained behind to help arrange the chairs and tables.

Rebbetzin Nechama Dina came in and asked me to help her gather the siddurim from the tables so it shouldn't be a mess. She herself went around and gathered siddurim. Suddenly I noticed how she went over to the shtender of the Rebbe Rayatz, took the Siddur from there, and put it in the pile with the other siddurim. I marked which Siddur was the Rebbe's, and ran over to her and said it was too heavy for her and that I would schlep the pile of siddurim instead of her. I took that opportunity of removing the Rebbe's Siddur from the pile, and as soon as the Rebbetzin left the room I ran to my room with the Siddur which the Rebbe Rayatz had just davened from that Rosh HaShana night.

I turned the pages of Maariv and noticed an amazing thing. Under the words, "u'malchuso b'ratzon kiblu aleihem" there was a line written in pencil. I was still new to these things, but I understood that Rosh HaShana is the time for binyan ha'malchus, "malchuso b'ratzon," and on Erev Rosh HaShana the Rebbe had made a line for reasons of his own.

I was ecstatic with my find. I had a Siddur with the Rebbe's writing in it! I figured I had to show it to the Ramash (i.e., the Rebbe). I went to him and said: I'll show you a Siddur which the Rebbe davened from.

He looked at it and asked: How do you know it's the Rebbe's Siddur?

I opened the Siddur to Maariv and showed him the line, and said it was the handwriting of the Rebbe Rayatz. The Rebbe looked at it and trembled, and then said: Yes, my father-in-law wrote that, but how do you know that he wrote it (i.e., I recognize it, but what about you?)?

I said that I could see that the line wasn't straight, and the Rebbe Rayatz's hand trembled when he wrote. The Rebbe didn't let up, and he asked: How do you know the Rebbe's hand trembles when he writes?

I told him that I once sat in the Beis Midrash, and R' Chaim Lieberman entered and came over to me and said that it was difficult for the Rebbe to write straight (when he wrote, it went up or down), but he didn't want to write on (the usual) paper that had printed lines on it. The Rebbe Rayatz had said to take a sheet of paper and to make black lines on it, and that he would take another paper and put it on top of the first one and see the lines through the paper, and would be able to write straight. So R' Chaim wanted me to have my father print up paper like that. I asked him how far apart to make the lines, and since he didn't know, he went up to the Rebbe Rayatz and came down a few minutes later with a paper on which the Rebbe had drawn two lines so I would know how wide to space them. That's how I knew that when the Rebbe Rayatz made lines, it was shaky.

I stood near the Rebbe's room holding the Siddur and said that it was very precious, mamash a treasure. The Rebbe said, "ya ya" (yes, yes), and took the Siddur from my hands, and I never saw it again"

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007