Devar Torah - Va’era

Friday, 12 January, 2018 - 10:27 am

In what merit do we ask?
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

This week was Chof Daled Teves, the Hilula and Yahrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe. The following is an excerpt from a fabrengen of the Previous Rebbe given on Shevei Shel Pesach 1942. When a chosid prepares to go to a tzaddik to request a bracha, to go to the ohel or to write a pan, he needs to have the following in mind.

“In the year 1825, one of the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim visited Haditch to daven at the Tziyon of the Alter Rebbe. Later, while the chosid was on his way to Lubavitch, both the Mittler Rebbe and the Tzemach Tzedek saw the Alter Rebbe in a dream. They did not tell each other about their respective dreams. When the chosid arrived for Yechidus with the Mittler Rebbe, the Rebbe told him that the Alter Rebbe came to him and said that this chosid had pleaded too much by his tziyon. The Alter Rebbe then asked the question, “farvos-for what?” Afterwards, the chosid visited the Tzemach Tzedek as well. During the conversation, the Tzemach Tzedek spoke about the topic of “farvos-for what?” The Chosid understood that this question was not a simple matter. (The Previous Rebbe said that he heard from his father the Rebbe Rashab on several occasions about the concept of “farvos”, meaning for what purpose should your request be answered?)

During a Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen, in the year 1892, one of the baalei batim stood up to say l’chaim. He said, “L’chaim, the zchus of the ba’al hasimcha (the Alter Rebbe) should protect us.” The Rebbe Rashab asked him, “farvos-for what?” (For what purpose should your request be answered?)

The fiery words delivered by the Rebbe Rashab during that Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen left a powerful impression upon all those that attended. My teacher, Reb Nissan A”H, explained the meaning of the Rebbe’s words in great detail. The individual that was most deeply affected from the question; ‘farvos-for what?’ was the Chosid Reb Hendel. After the farbrengen we went to the small zal to write pidyonos to bring to the Ohel (in Lubavitch of the Tzemach and the Rebbe Maharash). One could hear Reb Hendel immersed in a form of ‘self litigation’ asking himself repeatedly through a torrent of tears; “Hendel… farovs? Hendel… farvos?” He didn’t actually write a pidyon in the end. When he arrived at the Ohel he spoke simply with a sentiment that his requests should be heard with undeserved kindness and great compassion.  The entire episode affected within him a truly broken spirit. It wasn’t just that he became bitter which would imply that he retained aspiration and thirst; rather it affected within him complete and essential brokenness.

Many wealthy Chassidim; Reb Shmuel Gourarie, Reb Yaakov Horowitz from Riga and others, assembled at the Purim farbrengen in the year 1910, in Mentan. Reb Yaakov Horowitz took a cup of mashke and said, “L’chaim, the zchus of the Alter Rebbe should protect us.”The Rebbe Rashab answered; “farvos-for what?” The Rebbe then said to Reb Yaakov; “Yaakov, do you remember the way you were in Shebitz? When the Shadar (a distinguished shliach of the Rebbe) used to come to your town? You ran through the mud to hear a good word!”

During the farbrengen, the Rebbe asked Reb Yaakov Horowitz, “Why is it that when someone asks you for tzedakah you ask, “farvos?” and just now you bentched that the Rebbe’s merit should protect us and you didn’t ask, “farvos?” It’s known that when a good malach goes on high with a request to a tzaddik for someone’s needs, he is in the world of truth. Emes is also din-judgement. In that place, one cannot just be there because he is a good guy. There has to be a “farvos?” a purpose. In general, a malach has great fear to enter the chamber of a tzaddik. Therefore, I asked you about your request, “farvos?”

Later, the Rebbe told me in a private yechidus that a pnimi – an inward and serious person – always needs to ask himself, “farvos – for what?” The reason is because the Alter Rebbe made that his chassidim shouldn’t be beggars, meaning that they should not receive bread of shame. A pnimi should always have, “farvos” a reason for receiving. Even when he is given things, he shouldn’t want to take it (without a “farvos”).”

When Moshe came with the shlichus to take the Yidden out of Mitzrayim, Hashem informed him immediately the “farvos” the reason that they merited to get out of Mitzrayim. It was because they were going to accept upon themselves the Torah on Har Sinai.

In everything in our lives there is a “farvos”. When we come to the Rebbe we need to tell the Rebbe what we are doing with our time. We need to write to him what shiurim we are giving, what peulos we are involved in, how we are running our homes, about our davening, and what tzedakah we give. This is the vessel that holds the bracha; this is our “farvos.” The Rebbe speaks in many places that a chosid needs to notify the Rebbe about what he is doing. A Chosid is always asking himself; “farvos?”

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