Panel Farbrengen: Unpacking Tishrei Energy


    Panel Farbrengen: Unpacking Tishrei Energy

    Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Rabbi Yitzchok Akselrod, Rabbi Avrohom Mann, Rabbi Meir Mizrachi Farbreng with Nosson Avrohom of Beis Moshiach Magazine about unpacking Tishrei energy: How do we draw down the energy of a 770 Tishrei into the rest of the year? To whom did the Rebbe write not to waste his money to come to him? • Full Article

    By Nosson Avrohom, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    How do we draw down the energy of a 770 Tishrei into the rest of the year? To whom did the Rebbe write not to waste his money to come to him? Why is it that bachurim who were never in 770 before, are now moser nefesh to jump at the opportunity? How do we infuse life into the inyan of “being with the Rebbe?” * This and more in a discussion amongst mashpiim who also share their memories of their Tishreis over the years.


    Rabbi Gershon Avtzon – Rosh Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch in Cincinnati, Ohio

    Rabbi Yitzchok Akselrod – Mashpia of Yeshiva Ketana Chabad – Bnei Brak

    Rabbi Avrohom Mann – Mashpia in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch in Toronto, Canada

    Rabbi Meir Mizrachi – Mashpia in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch – Lud

    * * *

    You just spent Tishrei with the Rebbe in 770. As mashpiim, how do you instill an inner chayus to the tmimim about the inyanim of Rebbe, Tishrei and 770?

    R’ Mizrachi: I once heard an interesting vort from the mashpia, Rabbi Zushe Posner. It says “600,000 feet of the nation, which I am within,” – Moshe Rabbeinu refers to the Jewish people as his feet and he says that he is present there. So too, the Rebbe MH”M, who is the Moshe Rabbeinu of this generation, is there with his Chassidim.

    Since the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, he gives the strength and the chayus to the Chassidim and he watches over us so that we don’t fall and we continue to be in the category of “I am within.” Today, the hiskashrus of the tmimim is no less than it was in the past.

    Those who want to feel the Rebbe can feel; those who want to receive chayus from the Rebbe, can receive chayus; there are “yechiduyos” today too, there are farbrengens, there are giluyim, and there is everything we had in the past. However, today these things come in different forms.

    The best example of this is the miracles the Rebbe does every day in the areas of children, health and livelihood, for thousands of Jews, through the Igros Kodesh. This chayus, that the Rebbe lives and leads as he always did, has to be instilled in the tmimim.

    Rabbi Gershon Avtzon

    In the past, the job of the mashpiim was easier. When the tmimim saw the Rebbe, they felt ashamed. One look from the Rebbe was enough to have a powerful effect on the soul of a bachur. Today, the preparations for the trip to the Rebbe have to be more spiritual and more p’nimius’dike. We have to speak to the tmimim more about the power of thought and the power of imagery.

    I heard from a mashpia that the Rebbe once said that a certain woman asked for a bracha for something and it disturbed the Rebbe’s sleep. The Rebbe feels us Chassidim, he feels everything.

    The same is true today. In fact, the Rebbe is giving brachos and doing open miracles now more than ever. Today a bachur can picture the Rebbe and ask for whatever he wants. Writing to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh, the answers people receive, and the results, are just amazing.

    A few years ago, Rabbi Reuven Matusof was in 770 on Erev Rosh Hashana and he wrote a pa’n which he read, at first, near the Rebbe’s shtender and afterwards, near the Rebbe’s room. After Rosh Hashana he returned to France. When he went to the shul where he davens, one of the people there was happy to see him and proceeded to tell him an amazing thing that happened to him. The night before, he dreamt that the Rebbe came to him in a dream and asked him where he davened. The man said he davens in “Beis Moshiach.” The Rebbe asked, “Who else davens there?” and the man answered, “Rabbi Matusof.” When the Rebbe heard the name he said, “He was by me.”

    We must review and stress to the tmimim, whether at farbrengens or in personal conversations, that there is no substantive change. The only change is in the “garments.” The Rebbe is the same Rebbe. In the past the Rebbe was not what we saw with eyes of flesh. The Rebbe is an inner reality, and we have this today, more powerfully than ever.

    Before I came to 770 one year, I was very uncertain about whether to go for all of Tishrei or only or half a month. I wrote to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh and the answer I opened said to add, not to diminish. I understood this to mean that the Rebbe wanted me to remain for the entire month.

    After I ordered a ticket, one of the mashpiim in the yeshiva reprimanded me for wanting to go for an entire month. He said that I had a family, I wasn’t a bachur, and how could I leave my family for a month. When I told him about the answer I opened to, he said the answer wasn’t that clear.

    I sat down to write again and the answer I opened to was in volume 9, p. 152. The letter is addressed to the mashpia, Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman and the Rebbe expresses his surprise that the tmimim are allowed to go home for the month of Tishrei, saying that the hanhala of the yeshiva had to be with the mimim even if this interfered with their family… My doubts were laid to rest.

    R’ Akselrod: First, I have to be honest and say that there is no rational explanation for the hiskashrus of the tmimim today, to the Rebbe and his hora’os, which is sometimes far and away greater than it was in the past. This hiskashrus, which demands mesirus nefesh, proves that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam.

    I heard a nice vort from someone that the Tmimim of today were babies when the Rebbe spoke about not having images of impure animals in the house. This prepared them for this kind of emuna.

    The avoda today is not only to daven five or six hours, but to go on mivtzaim for hours, to forgo personal comforts and it’s all because the Rebbe said this should be done by way of preparing the world for Moshiach. The tmimim today have a “Chassidishe light,” a purity that is no less than that of the great Chassidim of the previous generation.

    Whenever I go to 770, I meet the Chassid and baal mesirus nefesh, Leibel Mochkin (a”h). He points at the tmimim who fill 770 and says to me in Yiddish, “give a look.” See how beautiful it is, look at this emuna, see their fire. The tmimim live with the Rebbe no less than in the past and they are particular about Chassidishe hanhagos and the Rebbe’s hora’os no less than in the past.

    R’ Avtzon: It depends on how the mashpia presents it. When a tamim sees a mashpia talking about 770 with a smile, he understands that the mashpia lives with, and is happy with the idea. When he hears the mashpia tell a story about the Rebbe and sees how the mashpia is enthusiastic about a letter of the Rebbe that he saw or learned; when he sees that the mashpia holds a sicha of the Rebbe and talks about the Rebbe in the present tense and talks excitedly about this at farbrengens – all this arouses a love for those things in the bachur.



    When you refer to people’s grandfather, the grandchildren “wake up” and it has an effect on them; all the more so when you mention inyanim of the Rebbe. The mashpia needs to do this in such a way that he piques the bachur’s interest so that the bachur catches the enthusiasm. When a mashpia says, “Last night at a farbrengen I heard a great miracle story about the Rebbe,” or “I heard an inspiring Chassidic saying,” or a hora’ah or a moral lesson, it shows the tmimim that the concept “Rebbe” and all that goes along with it, is alive for him. You cannot work on the talmidim and sell them stories while not living iy yourself.

    All this is, of course, in addition to learning the Rebbe’s sichos and maamarim, and especially regarding 770 – learning the kuntres “Beis Rabbeinu Sheb’Bavel,” as that adds fire to the hiskashrus. The mashpiim have to live it in a way that fills their very being, and not just by rote.

    R’ Mann: There needs to be two, simultaneous approaches. The first approach entails emuna peshuta, to explain to the tmimim, in all seriousness, that nothing changed. If the tmimim see that the mashpiim live this, they will accept it too. How should this be conveyed? Everybody has their hergesh but the main point has to be that there is no change in the Nasi HaDor, and there can’t be. When this is explained, it is accepted. Some need to see it in the sichos; others are satisfied by stories and by seeing that the Rebbe continues to lead us.

    The second approach – although it is the opposite of the first approach – entails speaking about the details. It is very hard to live with something abstract even if it’s Atzmi (of the Essence). It’s hard to connect to pnimiyus with emuna alone. You have to tell the talmidim how Tishrei used to be, with all the giluyim, describe it in detail, and then say that we have the same thing today.

    We see an interesting chiddush in recent years that the Rebbe asked that Chassidim zolen zich kochen (should take a great interest) in the details of the Rebbe’s holy conduct. The Rebbe wrote to Rabbi Boruch Kahane, who served then as the editor of the periodical, “Beis Chayeinu,” which described the events in 770 at the time, as well as every move the Rebbe made, “Whoever describes in detail is praiseworthy.”

    With Moshiach too, we saw that the Rebbe asked that it come down into the details and that we should learn the subject, going beyond the eternal belief in Moshiach. Today too, beyond the emuna peshuta that we need to have, which the talmidim today have, it’s very important that the mashpiim delve into the details and giluyim of the Rebbe too.

    Rabbi Avrohom Mann

    How do you “take” all the enormous giluyim that we absorbed here during Tishrei and “translate” them in a way that affects the year to come?

    R’ Mizrachi: We have the power of visualization. The Rebbe Rayatz says that through the power of visualization you can veritably live the thing you are picturing, as though you are experiencing it for the first time, even if it was something you experienced many years ago.

    Whenever they feel down, the tmimim have to picture themselves standing in 770 at farbrengens, at the tefillos and the learning sessions; the feelings they had at certain times. By picturing all the details, you can re-experience the emotions. This is one of the reasons that the Rebbe asked that a replica of 770 be built in Kfar Chabad, so that someone who cannot travel, who needs a bracha or advice, materially or spiritually, will go there and have the same experience.

    770 is Beis Chayeinu where you receive the chayus and koach to accomplish. You can see tmimim who come to 770 for the first time, who never saw the Rebbe, who insist on getting good spots for the tefillos, insist on getting in for the Birkas Ha’banim, who give their all in order to get another “piece” of 770 in a tangible way. This itself proves that the Rebbe hasn’t left us, even if we don’t see him. It’s not a coincidence that the Rebbe had the kuntres “Beis Rabbeinu Sheb’Bavel” published a half a year before the stroke on 27 Adar. 770 is the place from where we draw the chayus and kochos for the entire year.


    R’ Akselrod: Every tamim has to focus on one hachlata and this will remind him of Tishrei. A bachur, who until he came for Tishrei, learned one chapter a day of Rambam, should commit to learning three chapters a day. This gives a certain chayus to the entire stay in 770 and not just for Tishrei. Throughout the year he will remember what made him make that commitment.

    Furthermore, the truth is that the tmimim today “live” 770 all year round. In the yeshivos they speak about Tishrei and live it in the most sincere way.

    R’ Avtzon: The Rebbe referred to this too. It’s analogous to friends who want to remember someone and so they give him a gift that will remind him of all his friends and the pleasant days they spent together. The same is true for Tishrei. Every tamim has to make a hachlata that will remind him of Tishrei; a hachlata of “Chassidic warmth,” of Chassidic feeling – to think Chassidus for a few minutes before every tefilla or to be careful not to talk from the beginning of davening till the end. When he has a hard time standing by his commitment, he will always remember when and why he made it, as well as the lofty spiritual experience he had at the time.

    I want to tell you a story that happened with a friend of mine. His father would take him every Shabbos to daven with him in 770. One time, he was outside 770 and someone who knew his father asked him whether he davened in 770. My friend, who was a boy at the time, said no. The father’s friend later asked the father why he didn’t bring his son to 770.

    The father smiled and said, “Come and I’ll show you how to ask the question. He asked his son, “Do you daven in the Rebbe’s shul?”

    The boy answered, “Of course!” That’s the chinuch we were raised with.

    R’ Mann: The Rebbe explains in a maamar what Chazal mean when they say that during davening it has to be “the heart upward and the eyes downward.” This means that if during davening, a person finds that his heart and concentration are soaring upward – then he need to direct his eyes downward, i.e. he has to think about what will happen after the davening; how will he preserve the lofty state he reached during the davening.

    The same is true for traveling to the Rebbe and the days that follow. Of course, emuna peshuta shines in 770 and clearly isn’t lacking by the bachurim who work hard to come to the Rebbe. What’s needed is the inyan of “I await him every day that he come” – that it should be as the Rebbe explains in Parshas Balak 5751 that he has to change his whole way of thinking, which is accomplished through learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula, as it will affect the mind and then the heart and then one’s thoughts, speech, and actions.

    The way to achieve this is when you’re in 770, to think how you want to go back home.

    Recently, a short and sharp response from the Rebbe was publicized in which the Rebbe writes to someone, “I told you the previous time to sit and learn diligently and you looked for easier work. Don’t waste money on coming here again.”

    The point is not to discourage anyone from traveling to the Rebbe; on the contrary. We must go to the Rebbe but we must put more effort in and think about how (with what) we want to leave 770.

    If for example, a bachur has a problem concentrating while learning, he should make a firm commitment to be particular about this; to put more attention into davening with kavana, in learning before davening, in Chassidishe hanhagos, and in any area that needs chizuk. This is what will draw down the “lights” of Tishrei into the entire year.

    Rabbi Yitzchok Akselrod

    As bachurim you went to 770. Can you describe how you felt and what you experienced?

    R’ Mizrachi: I went for the first time for Tishrei 5749 as a talmid in shiur beis in Tomchei Tmimim in Lud. Back then there was a special chayus about traveling to the Rebbe and everybody yearned to spend Tishrei with the Rebbe in Beis Chayeinu.

    At a younger age I waited eagerly to join the “welcome home farbrengen” that was organized in Shikun Chabad in Lud by the mashpia, Rabbi Moshe Levitin. Those farbrengens were special and full of Chassidishe chayus and hergesh and bubbling with hiskashrus to the Rebbe. All the Chassidim who had spent Tishrei with the Rebbe would come to those farbrengens which would be attended by many people from the Shikun who could not go that year, as well as children and Tmimim.

    Those who came back from the Rebbe would describe their spiritual experiences while we listened avidly and lapped up every detail about the Rebbe and certainly anything the Rebbe said.

    The mashke at these farbrengens was plentiful and we looked forward to this farbrengen all year. These farbrengens intensified my desire to go to the Rebbe. In Tishrei 5749, after much effort, I was able to realize my dream. I arrived at the end of Elul, in the evening. The Rebbe returned from the Ohel and I was overwhelmed by emotion as I recited the Shehechiyanu bracha upon seeing the Rebbe for the first time. Throughout that month I was on an indescribable spiritual high.

    We did not look for giluyim or kiruvim back then. A Chassid is mekushar to the Rebbe with his essence, not with giluyim. The sweetness and inner joy lay in the fact that we were in the Rebbe’s presence.

    There is one moment from Shabbos Parshas Noach 5752 that is engraved in my mind. I would usually stand on the eastern pyramid from where you could only see and barely hear. Before that Shabbos I found out that there was a bench opposite the Rebbe that was reserved for guests. It was my last Shabbos that Tishrei with the Rebbe and I wanted to hear the Rebbe’s voice!

    מרכז סת”ם 720

    My friend, R’ Aryeh Kedem, and I took turns watching our places on that bench from Friday afternoon, including Friday night and during tefillos. Every few hours we would switch. This was all leading up to the very special farbrengen. That Shabbos, the Rebbe spoke more loudly than other Shabbasos and he spoke animatedly about the advantage of teshuva that comes from simcha.

    I listened closely to the Rebbe and felt that it was being said just for me. I left that farbrengen so deeply inspired that I never felt that way again, not even at Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur.

    Motzaei Simchas Torah 5752 I was in 770 and I wondered whether I should pass by the Rebbe for kos shel bracha. I would decide to go and start walking but then I would change my mind. When I left the line once again, I felt a strong desire to pass by the Rebbe. I had a powerful thought of teshuva and got back on line.

    When I reached the Rebbe, he gave me a special smile that melted me. These things cannot be explained rationally but my Chassidishe hergesh told me that the Rebbe knew what I had been thinking. When you go to the Rebbe you have to make the proper preparation, and the main thing you need is bittul.

    There was a strong feeling that you were in the Rebbe’s presence and nothing was hidden from him. Just as the head feels what is going on in the foot, the Rebbe feels what you feel and whatever you think.

    It was hard b’gashmius in Tishrei but knowing that we were going to the Rebbe, material comforts meant nothing to us. That feeling is felt today too. You can see how the tmimim put aside their comforts, maybe more than in the past.

    R’ Akselrod: The first time I went to the Rebbe was Tishrei 5746. That year I was learning in Tomchei Tmimim in Lud and they spoke a lot about preparing before the trip.

    On Simchas Torah of that year, many of my friends and I went on tahalucha to Queens. We ran all the way back in order to make it to the Rebbe’s farbrengen which took place before hakafos in 770. I arrived exhausted but who worried about things like that. I went to the farbrengen and managed to get right near the Rebbe. It was at the end of the farbrengen and there were amazing things. The Rebbe asked everyone to turn over their cups. At that farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke about the gematria of Moshiach with the addition of the letter Yud which alludes to the ten soul powers.

    At the davening on Simchas Torah morning, R’ Yisroel Duchman would make kiddush on mashke and he would sing “HaRebbe shlita.” I remember that that year the Rebbe smiled and then signed to him, with his finger to his lip, to stop. It was an amazing and unusual sight. Two years later, in 5748, the Rebbe encouraged the singing of this song.

    R’ Avtzon: I can tell you about the Tishrei atmosphere in Crown Heights when I was a boy growing up. It was always a very special feeling when Tishrei arrived and guests came from around the world. As a child, I looked forward to Tishrei.

    Throughout the year my father davened in the Sosnovitz shul between Kingston and Albany and he went to 770 only for the farbrengens. In Tishrei we went to 770 for the tekios, for Ne’ilah and especially for Napoleon’s March. We also went on Simchas Torah and it was something extraordinary. I looked forward to it all year.

    My father had a place near the Rebbe and I always knew that when I would be older, I would be next to the Rebbe all the time. At the davening Simchas Torah morning, I remember asking my father why it was so empty and many tmimim were not there. He told me, “When you get older, you’ll understand.” When I got older, I understood that many of them had returned exhausted from tahalucha and the mashke from the first day was still affecting them.

    We lived at Crown and Kingston and so we felt the Simchas Beis Hashoeiva whether we wanted to or not. We were a part of it. Even a child in Crown Heights understood and felt that Tishrei with the Rebbe was something special. I remember that on the first night of Sukkos we had a bachur as a guest who apparently had drunk more than enough mashke. Before he fell asleep he yelled, “Get me up to get a place on line to shake the Rebbe’s lulav!” That was the atmosphere, living with the Rebbe, Tishrei with the Rebbe, and we were raised with this.

    R’ Mann: I went to the Rebbe for Tishrei many times but the first time I was there, when I was a boy, and the events that took place, are more memorable than later visits. It was 5742. The year before, the Rebbe had spoken about Tzivos Hashem. I remember that on Yom Kippur, at Ne’ilah, we children were on the bima. There were older Chassidim who wanted to take us down but the Rebbe motioned to leave us alone. Another thing I remember well is that we sang “Avinu Malkeinu” before the “march” and the Rebbe encouraged us very strongly and cried a lot.

    Till this day, I have a powerful image in my mind of the Rebbe’s majesty when I saw him that Tishrei. After Shabbos Bereishis some of us families had yechidus. I remember that the Rebbe asked me if I have a letter in a Torah scroll. For months after that Tishrei I was on a high and still caught up in the incredible atmosphere of that Tishrei with the Rebbe.

    I remember something special from 5746. It was the Rosh Hashana farbrengen and I sat under the Rebbe’s table because I wanted, at least, to hear the Rebbe since both hearing and seeing the Rebbe was nearly impossible for someone who did not have a regular spot.

    The Rebbe asked that they sing a happy niggun and they sang his father’s hakafos niggun. I came out from under the table (the older Chassidim allowed me to do so since I promised to only say l’chaim). I will never forget the sight – the Rebbe looking enormously happy, got up and danced and strongly encouraged the singing with his hands.

    I remember something that happened in Tishrei 5751 that can serve as a lesson. That year, Shabbos Bereishis (Shabbos Mevarchim) was immediately following Simchas Torah and when the Rebbe came in to say Tehillim at 8:30, it was a relatively small crowd. When the Rebbe went over to the shtender, he placed the Tehillim on it and encouraged the singing for about a minute, in all directions, just like at hakafos. Whoever was there for Tehillim that morning saw this wondrous sight.

    The Rebbe said, on Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh 5727 that when Moshiach comes, he will ask each one of us how many Jews we got to say Tehillim on Shabbos Mevarchim.

    Those are a few of my memories of Tishrei with the Rebbe, memories that keep me going all year round.


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