Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inspiring Yechidus & Photo of The Rebbe

Over the years Reuven Dunin, a”h, late Chabad emissary of Haifa, shared a special relationship with the Rebbe. The Avner Institute would like to present a unique yechidus (private audience) taken from notes Rabbi Dunin wrote down after leaving the Rebbe’s room.

Included is a photo of the Rebbe, courtesy of the Rebbe Archive, with special thanks to Yechi Ezagui.

Good Shabbos

In his diary, Rabbi Reuven Dunin, a”h, remembers a profound private audience with the Rebbe took place 26 Tishrei 5721 (1961):

"It was after ma’ariv, the evening service, a few minutes past seven. The month of Tishrei was nearly over, and those of us, the Rebbe’s Chassidim who had converged on Crown Heights to partake in the magical atmosphere, were starting to pack their bags and return home – home being the work of the Rebbe needed elsewhere. Before making my own eventual preparations I felt an inner urge to be, once again, near the Rebbe and alone with him"

I walked into 770, amid the cluster of offices and busy attendants. Usually whenever the Rebbe entered his room, he left the door unlocked. That night, seizing the opportunity, I knocked lightly on the door and heard the Rebbe answer in Yiddish, "Yes?” Then I went in.

The Rebbe was holding a bundle of letters. “What is it, Reb Reuven?”

I groped for a way to begin. “How do I know whether I am fulfilling the Rebbe's will?”

Putting down the bundle of letters, the Rebbe calmly answered, “If you act in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law], then you know you are acting in accordance with my will. For if not, that means there are doubts about whether I fulfill theShulchan Aruch.”

I was amazed. “How can there be any doubts as to whether the Rebbe fulfills Shulchan Aruch?”

“If you do not fulfill the Shulchan Aruch, G-d forbid,” the Rebbe answered, “then it is suspected that I do not keep Shulchan Aruch.”

“Does one nevertheless still belong to the Rebbe?” I asked.

The Rebbe nodded and I remained silent, though I longed to speak.

Then he continued, “Why should you split hairs and search?”

He rose and clutched his lapels in a mock dramatic manner. “The thoughts that come from the yetzer [inclination] – you have to grab the yetzer by the sleeve and toss him out, and do what you have to do. Do not get into arguments with him; instead, turn your thoughts towards Torah matters, to whatever is necessary.

“If I thought you had something to correct I wouldn't keep it to myself, and if I don't tell you, why must you search? If I wasn't satisfied, I wouldn't say all this to you.”

He then made reference to the holiday that had just elapsed, the height of the Tishrei celebration. “From Simchas Torah you must take simcha [joy] for the entire year. Not even a week has gone by since Simchas Torah and already . . . you must learn from what I do.”

It was then that I saw the Rebbe cry. Tears trickled down the side of his face. Here he was, stressing the role of joy, yet he seemed deeply pained.

Sensing my confusion, the Rebbe explained, “There is no contradiction – the tears fall because we find ourselves in exile. However, one’s actions, in fulfilling one’s Godly mission, must be done with joy daily. As the Zohar states, "joy is lodged in one side of my heart, and weeping in the other.”

The Rebbe then took out a Tanya, the classic text and guiding light of Chabad philosophy. He turned to the end of Chapter 31 and, pointing to the words, read, "And this should be his service all his life in great joy,” emphasizing that sadness is the result of the distance between the body and its enlivening soul.

Then he pointed to the phrase “and also simchas ha'nefesh,” the joy of the soul in her release from the despised body, and connected these words with the ideas about simcha at the end of chapter 33 -- that every Jew should be glad to dwell in the lower worlds, which through our faith become a “private domain” for G-d and His blessed Unity.