Devar Torah

Friday, 7 December, 2012 - 1:26 am

A Good Fabrengen is the Best Medication
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The Previous Rebbe wrote in a letter (vol. 4 pg. 285) that it’s impossible to determine just how much good comes, both physically and spiritually from a chassidishe fabrengen. The truth is that it requires a great deal of preparation to achieve the proper mindset and heartfelt interest in order to receive what a fabrengen has to offer. Just as it takes effort to prepare a maamar to say in public, the preparation for a fabrengen is far greater.

In another letter (vol. 3 pg. 291) the Previous Rebbe described his experience in a clinic. The Rebbe described the procedure carried out by the doctors while administering an injection. He saw the tremendous care taken to check the cleanliness of all the instruments. The nurse dressed in special white garments. They washed their hands repeatedly and looked under their fingernails meticulously. In the end they poured strong chemicals on their fingers, especially their nails to remove any contaminants. When they finished the preparations, they washed the foot to be given the injection with alcohol and other cleansers to remove even the smallest amount of dirt. They repeated this procedure two or three times.

When I saw all this careful preparation, I asked them why it was necessary to do this if I had just finished a meticulous cleaning of my own. They explained that it is an unbreakable rule that any time someone receives a shot of medicine, the surface where the injection is made must be washed following this procedure. If this procedure is not followed exactly, they run the risk that a minute amount of bacteria can enter the body together with the medicine. Then, not only could the bacteria neutralize the power of the medicine, it could even make the sickness worse. The Rebbe then connected all of this to the meaning of a good fabrengen.

When chassidim gather together for a fabrengen, it’s is like good dose of medicine. It is a great remedy that truly enlivens the soul. It brings help that is impossible to estimate. Most fabrengens are led by individuals who demand that the attendees improve their ways, establish times to learn that they will keep, and that the learning should lead to action. Although these requests are delivered with a heartfelt love, nevertheless, it feels like getting a shot.  The purpose of taking a shot is to get well. The injection leads to a good outcome but it comes with a “shtech”; with the point of a needle.

Before one goes about sticking someone with a needle, he needs to be certain that it is clean. The words spoken need to be carefully chosen and infused with deep heartfelt content. As we have seen; every chassidishe vort enters into the mind and heart and arouses the heart and attaches one to the truth. He also needs to be sure that the place where the shot is given is also very clean. There shouldn’t even be the slightest bit of dirt. If you don’t keep these conditions, not only will you lose the benefit of the remedy, but more importantly it is dangerous because the dirt from the outside, (unimportant or unrelated ideas or personal attacks), while easy to remove beforehand can cause great damage after the fact.

There is a story about the famous letter that the Rebbe Rashab wrote for chassidim in the year 1901 when he was unable to be present in Lubavitch at the Yud Tes Kislev fabrengen due to communal affairs. The letter is called “The Maamer of Rosh Hashana of Chassidus”. (It is printed in the beginning of the Kuntres Hamayon.) There were a few thousand copies that were hand written and distributed. Many chassidim finally received it in Teves or Shevat or even later. The Previous Rebbe wrote a report (found in Kuntres Hamayon) about the responses he received from chassidim all over Russia, including the following story. The Chassid Reb BenTzion Osyevski was traveling on business and brought the letter to his relative Reb Yaacov Osyevski in Petersburg. Although Yaccov was non-religious, this letter aroused his inner being and brought back memories of his childhood. He was so moved that he asked to arrange a specially prepared yom tov seuda in order to celebrate a second Yud Tes Kislev fabrengen in honor of this letter. They made this farbrengen on the fifteenth of Shevat. The fabrengen was made with great joy, a large crowd of chassidim, in an opulent fashion. All of the great chassidim of the time attended.  In the midst of this fabrengen, Reb Yaacov clearly very moved, stood up and swore that from this moment on his house would be kosher. He would keep Shabbos and only eat kosher food. The very next day he broke his old dishes and bought all new dishes. Shabbos Shira was the first Shabbos that he kept according to halacha. From this we can clearly see the power of a chassidishe fabrengen. When one becomes aroused with the great words of the Rebbe, it has the power to bring someone who has been desecrating Shabbos and eating non kosher for 19 years to do teshuva. Chassidim cannot overestimate their own spiritual powers.

(Adapted from the letters of the Previous Rebbe)

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