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Devar Torah - Vayechi

Friday, 25 December, 2015 - 9:00 am

Being Involved, Staying Connected
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

This week in honor of Hei Teves we had a special lecture and powerpoint presentation in Shul from Rav Chaim Shaul Brook, the Editor of the Toras Menachem series in Hebrew. His presentation covered the process of the Rebbe’s involvement in editing and publishing his Sichos and Maamarim. It was striking to see just how many hours went in and how comprehensive and detailed the process was.

At first the Rebbe did not edit his Sichos and Maamarim. At first they were printed unedited, mostly the work of Rabbi Yoel Kahn, the bachurim and transcriptions from tape recordings. The first three edited items were Maamarim. They were: Basi L’Gani 5711-1951, the Rebbe’s first Maamar given on Yud Shevat; Yosheves B’Ganim 5711-1951, the Rebbe’s Yud Gimmel Shevat Maamar and, Basi L’Gani 5712-1952 the Rebbe’s second Yud Shevat Maamar.

The Chassidim begged for more edited Sichos and Maamarim but the Rebbe declined. The reason he gave was that he was too busy with pikuach nefesh, saving lives. This means that he was too busy with his answers, involvement and guidance to those seeking help with medical needs etc. 

While I was in France in 1975 as a bachur on shlichus I spoke with Reb Nisan Neminov the Mashpia in the yeshiva about this issue. Reb Nisan said that once in the early 1950’s Chassidim begged him that during his upcoming yechidus in New York he request that the Rebbe edit the Sichos and Maamarim. He said he didn’t feel like asking but the ‘olam’ pressed him to the point that he agreed to ask. The Rebbe’s answer was that there are so many hours in a day. There are people who are waiting for an answer before they undergo an operation or enter into a business. They hold off on critical issues regarding their children and their families. They will not act without my advice. Their neshamos depend (in the original; its ‘nogea b’nefesh) on the answers they await. On the other hand I do not see that having the Sichos and Maamarim edited is as nogea b’nefesh to those who are asking for them as those waiting for these answers. It’s a question in Halacha.

In the winter of 5714-1953 the Rebbe held a fabrengen upstairs in the small Beis Midrash. Since it was a small group, people were asking for personal brachos as they were making l’chaim. When Reb Moshe Dubinsky came before the Rebbe he requested another edited Maamar. The Rebbe asked him if he knew the ones that were already printed. He said yes. That winter he edited Basi L’Gani 5713-1953. It was printed 5714-1954. When they brought the printed Maamar the Rebbe instructed Rav Hadakov to give a copy to Reb Moshe Dubinsky saying that he was ‘involved’ in it’s printing.

In the 1950’s the Rebbe instructed people to start learning Sichos and Maamarim by heart and that the bachurim would go to out to shuls to deliver Sichos and Maamarim by heart. Someone avoided learning by heart saying that he couldn’t do it because his ‘head wasn’t clear’. The Rebbe responded by saying that although he knew all the politics in Washington very clearly, no one, neither the President nor the Congress is going to ask him for opinions. Nevertheless this is where his mind is, with a very detailed understanding of all the political angles of current events, and he says that he cannot learn a maamar by heart? If it’s important, it’s possible.

On the 6th of Tishrei 5725-1964 the Rebbe’s mother passed away. In his mother’s memory the Rebbe planned on holding a fabrengen every Shabbos, which had not yet been customary. This is also when the Rebbe began saying Rashi Sichos in his mother’s memory. One Shabbos as the Rebbe was delivering a Rashi Sicha he noticed people sleeping. He said that he had been up all night involved in that Rashi and asked why they were not involved as well. The Rebbe wanted that people should learn, review and be involved in the learning.

Many times after fabrengens there were questions raised that remained unanswered. The Rebbe would ask why people weren’t writing in to ask for the answers. Learning and absorbing is an integral part of being a Chosid of the Rebbe.

We are now within 30 days of Yud Shevat. We prepare ourselves by learning and delving into Sichos and Maamarim of the Rebbe. By getting involved we are connected. To be continued.

A Good Shabbos! 

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