Rabbi Zalman Liberow, Beis Moshiach
Chof-Ches Sivan 5751: A one and only, unique Yom Tov innovated in the seventh generation, which pertains especially to the seventh generation, and its entire significance is the special quality of the seventh generation and the completion of the avoda. To hear about a Yom Tov like this, we had to sit at a farbrengen with one of the well-known shluchim in the “lower hemisphere,” who, as a bachur in 770, was connected with organizing the first public celebrations of this day.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Liberow, shliach in Flatbush, shared his memories of 770 of that time, as well as the lessons from the amazing sicha from the jubilee-year of Chof-Ches Sivan 5751.
Rabbi Liberow, they say you were connected with organizing the farbrengen of Chof-Ches Sivan in 5746, the first time there was a farbrengen for Chof-Ches Sivan in 770 in an official capacity. How did it all begin?
The day marking the Rebbe’s rescue, 28 Sivan, was unknown to us, the Chassidim. In 5701, they obviously celebrated it in a big way but this did not continue in the years to follow which is why people did not know about it.
In general, marking dates, or a yovel shanim (jubilee) etc, was mainly the innovation of the Rebbe so that even if people knew the date, they did not necessarily think to mark the occasion.
How did it all begin? One year, in the early 80s, the Rebbe began speaking about 9 Adar, the day the Rebbe Rayatz arrived in America. The Rebbe said it is a special date which marks the start of the spreading of the wellsprings in the lower hemisphere.
After that, when the Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz was published, one of the tmimim pointed out a letter dated 28 Sivan 5701 which says, “This is to inform you that my daughter Chaya Mushka and her husband, my son-in-law, HaRav HaGaon Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, successfully arrived here today.” We immediately connected this to what the Rebbe said about the Rebbe Rayatz that this is a special day marking the spreading of the wellsprings.
At that time, I had the privilege of being on the editorial board of the Kovetz He’aros of the yeshiva in Morristown. The way it worked was, the booklets that were published close to a special date, like Rosh Chodesh Kislev or 11 Nissan, had this noted in the date marked on the binding.
On the kovetz for parshas Shelach of that year, I wrote, “Published for Shabbos Parshas Shelach – Chof-Ches Sivan.” It was a chiddush, to refer to this date.
I went to 770 a year later, 5745. The bachurim decided to celebrate Chof-Ches Sivan. We held a farbrengen in the small zal in the “cheder sheini” and it was very joyous.
I remember that they asked which niggun to connect to this day. I thought to myself that if we were there on Chof-Ches Sivan and the Rebbe arrived, we would certainly sing “Napoleon’s March.” They began to sing this niggun and they danced for a long time, maybe an hour, on the tables too. During the dancing, one of the bachurim inadvertently broke a window. The tmimim went outside and danced on a “tank” too. In short, it was lively.
The following year, in Sivan 5746, a few of us bachurim decided to hold a more serious farbrengen with speakers, in honor of Chof-Ches Sivan, and to invite Anash.
The plan was to hold the farbrengen upstairs in the small zal (It was not the norm to hold farbrengens downstairs, as is done today. Even the Rosh Chodesh Kislev farbrengen took place upstairs.) They invited Rabbi Leibel Posner and Rabbi Tzvi Fogelman who were there in the early years, to tell about the Rebbe’s arrival to America and about the activities in the early years.
The tmimim who arranged the farbrengen, wanted to submit a bottle of mashke to the Rebbe in order to receive it from the Rebbe for the farbrengen, as was customary. We asked R’ Meir Harlig to take the mashke to the Rebbe and everyone was told that there would be a farbrengen on motzaei Shabbos (that year, 28 Sivan was on Shabbos).
The big question is, what did the Rebbe think about this?
At the farbrengen on Shabbos, 28 Sivan, there was a big surprise. Farbrengens with the Rebbe were usually orderly. The first sichos were on timely subjects. For the second sicha, the Rebbe said a “maamar k’ein sicha.” The third was Rashi sichos, etc. When the Rebbe wanted to speak about additional things (the situation in Eretz Yisrael or among Chassidim, etc.) he would do so at the end of the farbrengen.
On this Shabbos, the Rebbe began speaking at the beginning of the farbrengen about spreading the wellsprings in the lower hemisphere! This was most astonishing. Nobody imagined that the Rebbe would refer to this, and so soon. The surprise element increased the “shturem” of the whole thing.
In general, the Rebbe did not openly refer much to dates having to do with himself. Even Rosh Chodesh Kislev was not quite fully out in the open, which is why you can understand how exciting it was when the Rebbe made this reference.
When the Rebbe gave out the mashke, R’ Meir Harlig went up and announced the farbrengen to mark the rescue of the Rebbe. The Rebbe smiled and corrected him, “ish u’beiso” (i.e. his wife too).
Of course, the great commotion which ensued affected the farbrengen that was going to take place after Shabbos. Many of Anash attended, and of course, the tmimim. The farbrengen was particularly joyous and in the middle, R’ Yisrael Shemtov announced, “Now, we are going downstairs to continue the farbrengen.” We took all the refreshments and we all went down and the simcha increased.
Some of the stories that R’ Posner and R’ Fogelman told were included in 5751 in the “Kovetz Chof-Ches Sivan – Yovel Shanim.”
It would be worthwhile to address the Chof-Ches celebration of the Shnas HaYovel, as well as the distribution of that kovetz.
One can immediately see the enormous chiddush in the distribution of the kovetz. If you look at what the Rebbe gave out until then, most were teachings of the earlier Rebbeim. Aside from the Tanya, the Rebbe gave out maamarim of the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz, Kuntrus Heichaltzu, Kuntrus Eitz Chaim.
This was something else entirely. The Rebbe gave out a kuntrus which included his own teachings with stories about him and his rescue! This was unprecedented.
At that distribution there was another very special thing that the Rebbe also mentioned in an edited sicha. The Rebbe returned from the Ohel and went in for mincha after which there was a bracha given to the Rebbe in the name of Anash and a sicha and then maariv. Giving out the kovetz was going to take place after maariv and this would take several hours. Since not all the booklets had arrived, the gabbai announced a “hefsek” (recess) until the distribution but the Rebbe immediately said that instead of a “recess,” there would be a “hemshech” (continuation!) Then he began a second sicha until the distribution began.
Of course, to Chassidim, this connects with the next date in the Chabad calendar: 3 Tammuz. When you look at the Rebbe from a physical perspective – “The Rebbe returned late from the Ohel and did not eat all day and now a distribution is about to begin that will take several hours … the Rebbe needs to rest …” – one can think there is a hefsek, chalila.
However, the Rebbe wants us Chassidim to look at the Rebbe as he truly is, to see the pnimiyus, not the chitzoniyus, and then it will be clear to us that there is no hefsek; just a hemshech! Everything continues without stopping and without being fazed by anything.
Another amazing point mentioned in the sicha, apparently for the first time in the Rebbe’s teachings, is the fact that the first place where the hisgalus will begin is 770. How did Chassidim react when they heard such an amazing thing?
The truth is that next to the ocean is where the sand is the driest. When we heard more and more giluyim from the Rebbe, we did not realize the treasure we had. Today though, as I look at that sicha, I am much more excited than I was then and I marvel about how we did not understand it.
This was exceptional! The Rebbe was telling us that here in 770 is where the Geula will begin. This is actually the basis for the kuntrus Beis Rabeinu, which is the most fundamental of the Rebbe’s teachings about the special quality of the house of the Nasi HaDor. This sicha ought to change our perspective on 770.
We cannot keep this to ourselves. When we understand even a tiny fraction of the spiritual loftiness of 770 that is explained in the sicha, obviously, we must bring as many Jews as possible to 770, to the Rebbe.
I remember that many Poilishe Chassidim used to come to the Rebbe’s farbrengens. My place was near the path where the Rebbe would walk through as he entered the farbrengen. There were mountains of benches at the end of which was a small pyramid. I would stand on top. In the middle of the farbrengen I would see many guests arrive and I would go down and let them stand in my place (it was a weekday and it was less difficult to give it up since we could hear well over the microphone).
It once happened that many guests came and I made sure that everyone standing on the bench got down to give them a place. It also happened that I had to replace the guests with new guests.
At a certain point, I concluded that we needed a video screen. Along with another tamim, we bought a screen and attached it to R’ Chaim Boruch Halberstam’s video apparatus that was already broadcasting anyway. After that, there was a live broadcast of the farbrengen for all the guests who could not come inside.
Today too, we must try and bring as many Jews as possible to the Rebbe. Throughout the years I saw and we see the enormous impact that 770 has on every Jew who comes to visit, even without seeing the Rebbe.
When we look at this special sicha, with all of the lofty revelations contained therein and look for a direct instruction for us, what is there?
In that sicha after the “hemshech” there are some remarkable statements from the Rebbe, that Hashem needs a Jew “to agree and furthermore, to want and announce that not only has the time for your redemption arrived but the Geula is already here in the plain sense.”
The Rebbe repeated the word “agrees,” five times! In such a case, even those who look at the Rebbe from a more “realistic” perspective can’t explain it. We don’t understand anything at all when it comes to the Rebbe, but perhaps we can try to explain this:
The Rebbe is making a demand which is not easy or simple. The Rebbe does not suffice with a Jew “getting” that “the time for your redemption has arrived,” but getting that the Geula is already here in the plain sense! The Rebbe wants us to agree and live with the Geula as the present reality.
One can speak at length about hiskashrus and Chassidus and then also speak about Moshiach. The Rebbe once spoke about this and said there are those who do a favor and at the end say, “U’va l’Tziyon Go’el.” When the Rebbe demands that we agree that the Geula is here, that means we must live with it at every moment. The Geula needs to permeate everything as the main thing.
How? What is this demand of the Rebbe that we agree and feel that the Geula is here?
The most successful prescription for living life, according to the Rebbe, in accordance with the current reality that the Geula is already here, was provided by the Rebbe himself in the well-known sicha of Chof-Ches Nissan: “Do all that you can in a manner of oros of tohu in keilim of tikkun.” These few words express an entire way of life which the Rebbe demands so we can live with the Geula and bring it.
On the one hand, “oros of tohu,” we must carry out all of the Rebbe’s inyanim uncompromisingly, until the end. There might be those who, in order to turn the entire subject of Moshiach into “miskabel,” throw out everything to do with tohu and remain only with tikkun. This is a mistake, because the Rebbe also demands “oros of tohu.” On the other hand, tohu alone is easy; it’s easy to thumb one’s nose at the world.
The Rebbe wants both tohu and tikkun and that’s a bit difficult, but we have the power. When the Rebbe demands something, he gives the kochos.
As a bachur, I was in charge of the tanks. A tank is all about l’chatchila ariber. Despite this, I would try to see to it that everything be as organized as possible (sometimes I tried to see to it that not so many children go on the tank. Children are wonderful but it’s a bit hard to control the keilim of tikkun with them. Not everyone liked that but I insisted.) Even when you do something that is the most tohu there can be, you must exert yourself to adapt it into tikkun!
It is not at all easy to keep the right balance.
To do so, we need to be extremely careful about not allowing our personal inclinations to get mixed in with the Rebbe’s activities. We need to submit totally to the Rebbe, to try as much as possible to align with the will of the Rebbe as it is, and not mix in our own intellect at all.
The Rebbe gave us “shoftim” and “yoatzim” for this. We need to listen to the rabbanim and our personal mashpia. It’s not always easy to obey someone else with utter bittul but this is not “someone else.” He is the channel through which the Rebbe chooses to convey his wishes. I personally, when consulting with friends etc., try very much to work on myself to accept their answer just like an answer from the Rebbe.
I remember a big nisayon I had with this. After the sicha of Purim 5747 in which the Rebbe spoke very strongly about bringing the Geula, the Rebbe spoke about this again the following Shabbos, Vayakhel-Pikudei. In a very painful sicha, the Rebbe said there were no results of the previous sicha and nobody was doing anything.
The tmimim were roused and started Matteh Moshiach. They raised $10,000 and had public relations people prepare an ad for the paper on the subject of Moshiach and Geula. Then, R’ Moshe Slonim, a dynamic askan and one of the heads of the Matteh, got a sharp answer from the Rebbe saying that all activities in this matter need to go through Tzach. The money that was raised was given to Rabbi Dovid Raskin and Tzach.
I immediately came up with an idea. As I said, I was in charge of the tanks and Tzach owed me a lot of money for many expenses which I paid and they did not reimburse me. Since I was supposed to get this money from them anyway, I wanted the money that had been collected to be given to me but Tzach refused. I went with them to Rabbi Yehuda Kalman Marlow a’h and he sided with them. Of course, it wasn’t easy for me to accept this but I was happy to have the opportunity to do as the Rebbe said and obey the rabbanim.
Erev Gimmel Tammuz is the time to review again and again the hora’ah of the Rebbe in the sicha that we agree and live with the Geula.
At the time, when the Rebbe said the sicha, it wasn’t so hard. When you see the Rebbe before you, it’s mamosh Geula. But today, after 3 Tammuz, we need a lot more strength to live this way and this is what the Rebbe demands of us, to strengthen our emuna that the Geula is here and then we will immediately see it openly.
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