The Lipsker brothers, R’ Chaim Sholom Dovber (Berel) and R’ Shneur Zalman, are an integral part of the 770 scene. They have spent thousands of hours in Beis Chayeinu, from their early childhoods until today. * At a special farbrengen with Beis Moshiach, the two told of the special relationship their father had with the Rebbe, even before the nesius, about childhood games in the courtyard of Beis Chayeinu and near Rebbetzin Chana’s house, about a family yechidus with the Rebbe with special kiruvim, and about the role of gabbai that added a whole new dimension to the special family connection with 770.
We are sharing two small portions, from the lengthy interview, done by R’ Avrohom Rainitz.
Your father’s grocery store supplied items for the Rebbe’s household. Do you have any special stories about that?
R’ Zalman: The Rebbetzin would make an order and we would deliver it to her house. Sometimes she would ask that on the way to her home we stop at other stores and buy other products for her. Of course, we were happy to do so.
My father would also send mishloach manos to the Rebbe every Purim. As children, we would love to deliver things to the Rebbetzin, both for the privilege and for the tip that the Rebbetzin would give.
When we brought deliveries, sometimes the Rebbe was at home and he would give us a tip. The Rebbetzin would say, “Buy something good for yourselves,” and the Rebbe would say, “You’ll probably give some tz’daka from this.”
R’ Berel: The connection with the Rebbetzin continued even in later years. I remember a special story that happened on Purim, I think it was 5747. I went to the Rebbe’s house to deliver mishloach manos, as I did every year. I started the tradition while my father was still alive. One of my daughters and a niece went along with me. We always planned on arriving when the Rebbe was not at home.
We rang the bell. The way it usually went was the Rebbetzin would open the door and bring us into the living room. This time, the Rebbetzin remained in the entrance. She had received information that the Rebbe would be arriving soon and she wanted to remain close to the door.
Before we had a chance to leave, the door opened and the Rebbe walked in. We didn’t know where to bury ourselves. The whole event was shocking and stunned us into silence. The Rebbe wished us a freilichin Purim and crossed the foyer to the inner room. We left immediately.
We can’t talk about your lives around 770 without mentioning gabbaus. Your father was the gabbai and R’ Zalman is too. How did that come to be?
R’ Zalman: My father was involved with 770 long before he was elected as gabbai. When I was a boy I would help him build the furniture for 770. When I was fourteen, I built many benches with R’ Amram Malka and also the special bima for Rosh Hashana. But that bima would come apart every year after the t’kios. It was only at the end of the 60’s that my father built a strong enough bima that lasted until 5750; then it was replaced with the current bima.
My father also built the farbrengen table. Until then, they would put a table on the floor of 770 that was the height of the farbrengen bima, and then put another table on it. Of course this wasn’t stable. My father built a huge table made out of one board that was the height of two tables. The table served the Rebbe for many years until the present table was built.
The amudim, aronos kodesh and many furnishings were also made by my father. When he wanted to build the aron kodesh in the small zal, the Rebbe told him not to replace the old aron kodesh which was in use during the Rebbe Rayatz’s lifetime. So my father built a cover for the old aron and he also covered the chazan’s lectern.
My father also built the aron kodesh in the large zal. At first he thought of building it recessed in the wall as is done in many shuls, but the Rebbe told him it should stick out the way it did in the small zal in the days of the Rebbe Rayatz.
The veteran gabbai, R’ Yochanan Gordon, died at the end of 5729. Elections were held in 5730, and due to his great devotion to the shul, my father was picked to be one of the gabbaim. A year later, when they wanted to call other elections, someone suggested that the five gabbaim continue serving and the idea was unanimously accepted.
In 5745, when my father passed away, they asked me and Berel to take his place. Berel did not want to and I also strongly refused. I said I did not want to force people to accept me over them. It was only when they held elections the following year and I was duly elected that I became a gabbai.