Sefer HaMinhaogim: The tenth of Shvat is the day on which our saintly master and teacher – R. Yosef Yitzchak, the sixth of the Rebbeim of Chabad– departed this world. Born on Yud-Beis Tammuz 5640 (1880), the Rebbe Rayatz succeeded to the leadership in the year 5680 (1920) and passed away at 8.45 a.m. on Shabbos Parshas Bo,on the tenth day of the eleventh month, Shvat. His resting place is in New York.
The Rebbe’s Letter; Customs Regarding the Histalkus:
By the Grace of G-d
Rosh Chodesh Shvat, 5711
To Anash, to the students of Tomchei Temimim, and to those who have a bond or a relationship with my revered father-in-law the saintly Rebbe, of blessed memory:
G-d bless you all.
Greeting and blessings:
In reply to the many questions that have been asked about a detailed schedule for the Tenth of Shvat, the yahrzeit of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, I would hereby suggest the following:
- On the Shabbos before the yahrzeit [each chassid] should attempt to be called for an aliyah to the Torah.
- If there are not enough aliyos the Torah should be read [a number of times] in different rooms. However, no additions should be made to the number of aliyos [at each reading].
- The congregation should see to it that the Maftir should be the most respected congregant, as determined by the majority; alternatively, the choice should be determined by lot.
- The congregation should choose someone to lead the prayers on the day of the yahrzeit. It is proper to divide [the honor, choosing] one person to lead Maariv, a second to lead Shacharis, and a third – Minchah. In this way a greater number of Anash will have the privilege.
- A [yahrzeit] candle should be lit that will burn throughout the twenty-four hours. If possible, the candle should be of beeswax.
- Five candles should burn during the prayer services.
- After each prayer service (and in the morning, [this means] after the reading of Tehillim), the sheliach tzibburshould study (or at least conclude674 the study of) ch. 24 of Mishnayos Keilim and ch. 7 of Mishnayos Mikvaos. He should then recite the mishnah beginning “Rabbi Chananyah ben Akashya…,” followed silently by a few lines of Tanya, and Kaddish deRabbanan.
- After Maariv, part of the maamar (Basi LeGani) that was released for the day of the demise should be recited from memory. If there is no one to do this from memory, it should be studied from the text. This should also be done after Shacharis, and the maamar should be concluded after Minchah.
- Before Shacharis, a chapter of Tanya should be studied. This should also be done after Minchah.
- In the morning, before prayer, charity should be given to those institutions that are related to our Nasi, my revered father-in-law, of sainted memory. Donations should be made on behalf of oneself and on behalf of each member of one’s family. The same should be done beforeMinchah.
- After Shacharis and the recitation of the maamar, each individual should read a pidyon nefesh. (It goes without saying that a gartl is worn during the reading.) Those who had the privilege of entering [the saintly Rebbe’s study] for yechidus, or at least of seeing his face, should – while reading the pidyon nefesh – picture themselves as standing before him. The pidyon nefesh should then be placed between the pages of a maamar or kuntreis, etc., of his teachings, and sent, if possible on the same day, to be read at his graveside.
- In the course of the day one should study chapters ofMishnayos that begin with the letters of his name.
- In the course of the day one should participate in afarbrengen.
- In the course of the day one should set aside a time during which to tell one’s family about the saintly Rebbe, and about the spiritual tasks at which he toiled throughout all the days of his life.
- In the course of the day, people (to whom this task is appropriate) should visit synagogues and houses of study in their cities and cite a statement or an adage drawn from the teachings of the saintly Rebbe. They should explain how he loved every Jew. [Furthermore,] they should make known and explain the practice that he instituted of reciting Tehillim every day, studying the daily portion of Chumash with the commentary of Rashi, and, where appropriate, studying the Tanya as he divided it into daily readings throughout the year. If possible this should all be done in the course of a farbrengen.
- In the course of the day, people (who are fit for the task) should visit centers of observant youth – and, in a neighborly spirit, should make every endeavor to also visit centers for the young people who are not yet observant – in order to explain to them the warm love that the saintly Rebbe constantly had for them. It should be explained to these people what he expected of them; they should be told of the hope and the trust that he placed in them – that they would ultimately fulfill their task of strengthening the observance of Judaism and disseminating the study of Torah with all the energy, warmth and vitality that characterize youth.
If prevailing conditions allow, all the above should of course be continued during the days following the yahrzeit, and particularly on the following Shabbos.
May G-d hasten the coming of our Redeemer, and then “those who repose in the dust will awaken and sing joyful praises.” And our Nasi among them will give us wondrous tidings, and lead us along the path that leads up to the House of G-d.
[Signed:] Menachem Mendel Schneerson
“I once heard from my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, that before visiting a resting place or ohel [i.e., the structure built over or around the grave of a tzaddik] it is customary not to eat, but one drinks something.”
(courtesy of Sichos in English)