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Devar Torah - Shemos

Thursday, 31 December, 2015 - 10:00 am

Preparing for Yud Shevat:
How Important is having a Connection and Leaning Chassidus
to Me and to You?
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

We are continuing from last week's article where we reviewed some of the history of the Rebbe's involvement in transcribing and editing his Sichos and Maamarim. According to the Rebbe's directive every week bachurim would visit various shuls and review Chassidus. There was a list posted in 770 detailing each bachur and the location to visit. Afterwards a detailed accounting of what occurred, a duch was prepared and sent in to the Rebbe.

In the late 1950's two bachurim (who later became two Head Shluchim in different countries Rav Nachman Sudak to England and Rav Laibel Raskin to Morocco) wanted a Sicha edited by the Rebbe to give out to the bachurin to use in preparation for their visits to the various shuls. When they approached Rav Hadakov he reminded them that the Rebbe had said that he wouldn't edit Sichos because he was too busy with matters of pikuach nefesh. They answered clearly and without hesitation that an edited Sicha for a Chosid is a matter of pikuach nefesh. Rav Hadakov went in and told the Rebbe what they had said. The Rebbe answered that if so he should give him the Sicha to edit. The Rebbe continued editing and from these edited Sichos we have the basis of the first 4 volumes of Likutei Sichos. This editing process ended in the early 1960’s.

In the late 1960’s Rav Bentzion Shemtov founded the organization Vaad L’Hafatzas Sichos for the purpose of disseminating the Rebbe’s Sichos and Maamarim. He set up a printing press and a mimeograph and began mass distribution to the public as well as a list of Rabbonim from the first four volumes of Likutei Sichos. After 2 ½ years the supply of the previously edited Sichos was finished. He had new Sichos prepared and brought before the Rebbe for editing. This continued for 2 years. On Simchas Torah 5732-1971 the Rebbe announced that he was discontinuing the editing because people were not learning the Sichos. He said that it was if the Chassidim were ‘doing him a favor’ by learning a quote here and there but they weren't really involved. A year later he began to edit again and soon thereafter Sichos appeared in Hebrew for the first time (found in volumes 10-14 of Likutei Sichos). After 2 years this also came to an end.

In 5736-1975 the Rebbe began once again editing for another 2 years up until 5738. There were those who thought that the Rebbe would stop in order to avoid making a chazaka of three straight years of editing as before. That Shmini Atzeres the Rebbe suffered a heart attack by hakafos. Later, while in bed connected to machines the Rebbe asked; “Where are the Sichos (to edit)?” He continued to edit while in bed recovering from the heart attack. Also on Motzoi Shabbos each week he spoke and then edited the Sichos. The Rebbe continued to edit Likutei Sichos uninterrupted throughout the years until the last week before his stroke during the week of Parshas V’Yakel 5752-1992.

We learn from this history the great importance the Rebbe placed on editing and publishing the Sichos and Maamarim. The Rebbe put so much time and energy into the editing, time that would have been used for pikuach nefesh, saving lives, because to us we need Chassidus just like pikuach nefeash.

As we draw near to Yud Shevat and prepare ourselves, we need to ask ourselves; how important is learning the Sichos and Maamarim of the Rebbe to me? Is it important to my family, my friends, my community and the world at large? It really is as we see from this history, but are we aware and prepared for Yud Shevat in this way, that my life depends on Chassidus and having a connection with the Rebbe? Now is a great time to make a resolution for Yud Shevat (not for the secular new year!) to learn Sichos and Maamarim well every week.

Rav Pinchas Teitz from Elizabeth, NJ, would make trips to Russia in the years before Glasnost. Once while in Moscow in the 1970’s, during the years when people feared arrest and secret agents were everywhere he heard a quiet voice calling out to him as he passed by. He heard; “A Maamar” being whispered and turned to see a chosid. He asked him; “What do you want from me”. He said; “A Maamar”.  He didn’t understand so the man explained. “You came from America and you don’t have a maamar of the Rebbe?  Improvising from a saying of Pirkei Avos that with one utterance (Maamar) Hashem could have created (l’hebaros) the entire world he said: Don’t you know that one 'Maamar' of the Rebbe can make someone healthy (l’hebaros also means to become healthy)? To this Chosid, his life depended on Chassidus so much so that he risked his own safety just to get hold of one Maamar.

Each one of us can take a lesson in our connection to the Rebbe and to Chassidus before Yud Shevat. Through our good resolutions and through our preparations may we witness the complete revelation of Moshiach before Yud Shevat.

A Good Shabbos

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