Devar Torah

Thursday, 12 January, 2012 - 10:31 pm


In the year 1874, on Tu B’av, the Rebbe Maharash was visiting Vitebsk. A large bimah was brought from one of the shuls in town into a large courtyard in front of where the Rebbe Maharash was staying. He was asked by the local community to come to the courtyard to say a maamer in front of a large crowd. The Rebbe Maharash replied that he wasn’t feeling well but would come out and address the crowd with a few words. The Rebbe Maharash explained that the Medrash uses examples from the world and that we need to use various examples from the world in avodas Hashem.

There is a saying; “es past (befitting) adar es past nisht.” In general, this refers to one’s standard of etiquette. Some things are befitting or proper behavior, while others are not.  This saying varies relative to the group to which one belongs. In one level of society it is fitting while in a higher level of society it is not. Jews in general, have their unique standard of acceptable behaviors. This is even more so for Chassidim. “Es past adar es past nisht,” is not just relevant to activities but also to speaking and character and perspectives on life. Being that this is true in the physical, all much more so it is true with regard to the spiritual. The Rebbe Maharash went on to enumerate the following list of; “es past adar es past nisht.”

For a chosid it is befitting…

  • …To learn a Chassidishe saying everyday
  • …To be preoccupied in doing good for others
  • …To be b’simcha, and even more to relate good heartedly to others
  • …To recognize well one’s personal shortcomings and the virtues of others
  • …To consider the youngest and most simple person to be better than oneself
  • …To learn from every person their unique good character traits and habits
  • … to have love and friendship, peace and camaraderie

For a chosid it is not befitting… 

  • …not to learn Chassidus
  • …not to be preoccupied with doing good for others
  • …not to be preoccupied with atzvus
  • …not to see your own shortcomings
  • …to consider oneself the greatest of the great
  • ...not to learn something good from others

…to cause divisiveness amongst brethren that leads to estrangement from each other. This is true even if one’s intention is to preserve the ways of Chassidus.

The Rebbe Maharash said that Yidden in general and Chassidim in particular need to make use of the etiquette of “es past adar es past nisht” in the service of Hashem. When he completed these holy words he stood up, gave the crowd a bracha and returned his place of lodging.

The Friediker Rebbe heard from Chassidim who were present at that time that when the Rebbe Maharash’s holy voice spoke these words, all of those present quietly wept. Reb Shmuel Brenn who was there expressed it in the following way: “The occasion was infused with the true spirit of Yom Kippur.  It was a fulfillment of the words of the Mishnah, “There were no yomim tovim for the Jewish people like the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.” Reb Dov Ber haRashman expressed it in the following way; “For the twenty minutes that the Rebbe spoke, he washed and he cleansed us. May it only be that I would be in such a state after the prayer of “al cheit” during mincha on Yom Kippur. At that time we truly felt what a Rebbe is.” (Sefer HaSichos from the Previous Rebbe, Summer 1940 pages 139-1410

In 1974 an elderly 95 year old chosid who learned in Lubavitch, Reb Mordecai Perlow, the Rav of the Chabad Kehilla of Melbourne Australia, wanted to visit the Rebbe in New York. Due to his advanced age and poor health he knew that it would be difficult to get the Rebbe’s approval and bracha to travel. Before he asked the Rebbe he sought, and after much effort he finally got his doctor’s approval to fly to New York. When he wrote to the Rebbe to get his approval and bracha, the Rebbe did not give his approval. Instead the Rebbe asked him “what’s with Mivtzoyim?” The Rebbe set the standard of what is proper behavior for a chosid. Even a 95 year old Chosid who davens and learns and wants to see the Rebbe, needs also to be involved with Mivtzoyim.

Each Chosid big or small, young or old, needs to be aware of our unique chassidishe etiquette that we Lubavitcher Chassidim hold in the highest regard. We need to realize that what is fitting someone else is not necessarily fitting for us. Each person needs to consider and apply “es past, adar es past nisht,” into our perspectives on how to live a chassidishe life today in 2012. We need to have standards in all of our conversations, whether with our children, spouses, friends or business associates. And most importantly we need to be aware of how to act in the best and most fitting way according to the standard which the Rebbe has taught. We need to ask ourselves about what we think, speak and do:  Es past?, adar, es past nisht? Is this befitting, or not? 

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