When The Rebbe Was The Shadchan…



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    Shifra Vepua

    When The Rebbe Was The Shadchan…

    Amazing stories of shidduchim the Rebbe suggested, arranged and finalized with love, sensitivity and wisdom Presented for Yud Dalet Kislev, the 95h wedding anniversary of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka • By Menachem Ziegelbaum, Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    By Menachem Ziegelbaum, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    “A [royal] Matron asked Rabi Yosi bar Chalafta how many days did it take for G-d to create the world. He told her, six days. She asked, what has He been doing since then? He said: G-d sits and makes matches, the daughter of so-and-so to so-and-so.”

    Tzaddikim are likened to their Creator and the Rebbe was often involved in shidduchim between families, and at times between the individuals in question. He advised, sent people to meet, brokered and when necessary even worked out differences.

    For example, R’ Shlomo Reinitz a’h, who served in the royal household in the early years, related:

    “After four years of eating the Yom Tov meals with the Rebbe and serving the food, I became of age for a shidduch and suggestions were made. One suggestion came up and we met several times and things were going in a positive direction.

    “One day, the girl and her parents, who were not Lubavitch, had yechidus. They couldn’t decide about the shidduch. The Rebbe began saying positive things about me and asked the girl what she thought about the suggestion. She said, ‘Fifty-fifty,’ in other words, fifty percent positive and fifty percent negative. The Rebbe smiled and said, ‘Then I’ll add one,’ and that’s how our shidduch was concluded.”

    THE REBBE SUGGESTED A SHIDDUCH FOR ME

    “I was privileged to receive guidance from the Rebbe in the matter of shidduchim and not only that but the Rebbe even suggested my shidduch,” said Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky. “It was one of the early years of the nesius and I had yechidus. The Rebbe said to me that he had placed me on the list of bachurim who were ready for a shidduch.

    “In the months that followed, people called the yeshiva staff to get information about me; I wasn’t involved with that. After a while, four or five suggestions accumulated and I decided that since the Rebbe said he put me on the list, I would ask the Rebbe and he would decide for me.

    “I asked Rabbi Chodakov for an appointment and he was surprised since I had recently had yechidus, but I said I had a particular matter to speak about and he agreed.

    “In yechidus, I handed the Rebbe the note I had written. The Rebbe looked at me and read the note and then asked, ‘What about Kasinetz?’ I did not know who the Rebbe meant and the Rebbe said, ‘Moshe’s sister.’

    “R’ Moshe Kasinetz, later my brother-in-law, was my chavrusa for many years. We learned many things together and yet, I never knew he had a sister and here was the Rebbe suggesting her. At that moment, I knew that this was my shidduch; it’s just that the shidduch needed to be actualized.

    “A certain shadchan arranged a day for us to meet. It was the night of Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5717. That day, like every erev Rosh Chodesh, the Rebbe went to the Ohel. When we returned (I was the driver), I went to Brownsville where my wife’s family lived. By the end of the meeting, we decided to marry.”

     

     

    THE REBBE URGED A BACHUR TO ‘GO OUT’

    There were times that the Rebbe was the first one to urge the boy or girl to begin looking into shidduchim or speak to shadchanim and get the process moving.

    R’ Berel Junik was one of the older bachurim who learned in 770 after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz. R’ Berel merited special kiruvim from the Rebbe, who treated him like a son. The Rebbe took an interest in his welfare and his spiritual and material states.

    Since R’ Berel’s parents lived in Canada, the Rebbe took it upon himself to urge him to get busy looking for a shidduch. The Rebbe even oversaw the process from beginning to end.

    Already back in Tishrei 5711, the Rebbe began speaking to him about shidduchim, which was done at the request of R’ Berel’s parents.

    “I received a letter from your parents in which they ask me to speak to you about this,” said the Rebbe in a yechidus which took place in Tishrei 5711. “You can learn afterward as well. Your father wants this and you are 23, a mature age.”

    All along, the Rebbe was involved in R’ Berel’s shidduch just like a parent; with love and extraordinary openness.

    R’ Berel would write down what the Rebbe said to him in yechidus. By reading what the Rebbe said, we see the tremendous closeness with which the Rebbe spoke to him.

    For example, in the yechidus that took place erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5713, the Rebbe said to him, “Let’s speak without diplomacy. Do you need to have fear of me or me of you? Better we should fear Hashem. You don’t have [extra] time and I don’t have time.

    “How do you think about approaching the matter – that R’ Chodakov will be involved – no. R’ Yitzchok Goldin – no. How will the opportunity to meet a girl become possible – do you want Hashem to lead a girl to you and you will close your eyes and say, ‘harei at mekudeshes li?!’

    “Someone needs to introduce you to a girl. That is also with Hashem’s help. Why the need for a miraculous approach? That’s how it goes, that you pick up the phone and you meet! You don’t set up a chuppa right away, and since you are sitting in a room in a Beis Medrash or Beis Knesses, how will this happen? After meeting, whether it’s suitable or not is not my issue. There is also the other side. The details – when one doesn’t want, do not need to be told to anyone, and when it is necessary to ask something, you can make inquiries.

    “You don’t want it to be through R’ Chodakov and Yitzchok Goldin? Say through whom you do want! Maybe I need to tell you myself, but nothing would change.

    “Why am I saying this? Since I feel obligated to the bachurim who conduct themselves in a way of Torah. It is my obligation to help them on the path of Torah conduct. And since you have no other way to meet girls, I asked R’ Chodakov, R’ Yitzchok Goldin and others, to think of you. And of Dovid Raskin, Sholom Morosow and others who are suitable.

    “Why do I say this? Since you won’t go to Philadelphia or Baltimore; you only want to meet in New York, Brooklyn, Brownsville, Manhattan and Washington Heights, which are close. Your parents are in Canada and you want to make them feel good; you simply don’t write to them about this. That’s my assessment, since they don’t write me anything about this because you don’t answer them about this or you deflect them. A pity on the [wasted] stamps! …And you don’t want through others.

    “What will be? To say, ‘my soul is infatuated with Torah,’ – if you are thinking of sitting for another five years in yeshiva just like in Mir, I think otherwise… From R’ Chodakov I understand that you aren’t thinking about a shidduch at all and you see that in the world most people get married…

    [Apparently, in answer to R’ Berel’s question, ‘What will be,’ the Rebbe said] “This is what I wanted you yourself to say – what will be? And what will be in another half a year?

    “Hashem should help that it go smoothly and as early as possible, and that this should also be a given by you.”

    About two and a half months later, in another yechidus, the Rebbe continued talking about this matter:

    “What about what I spoke to you about? What excuse did you prepare today? I see that it’s not moving. It’s exactly the way it was a year ago, two years ago, three, four. Using a go-between, which everyone does, you don’t want, and on your own you’re doing nothing. Hashem does miracles but there’s got to be some hold in nature. You want to stand absolutely free and immediately walk under the chuppa?!

    “You’re looking at me with such frightened eyes! You parents are sitting in Canada and you’re doing nothing about this. Decide, and in another few days I’ll see. If you haven’t started doing anything, I will write to your parents.

    “In the meantime, be happy and don’t be annoyed with me…”

    After the Rebbe urged him to get involved in finding a shidduch, involving himself and directing him all along the way, R’ Berel met and decided to marry his wife.

    In one of the yechiduyos, the Rebbe asked, “How many times did you meet? As far as her, I need to hear from her. Nu, mazal tov, may it be in a good and successful time, may you have a Yiddish and Chassidishe home.”

    On other occasions, the Rebbe guided him and spoke to him about various details concerning the tenaim and the wedding.

    THE SHIDDUCH IS HERE

    The Rebbe’s pure eyes which saw from one end of the world to the other, very often knew how to “locate” the potential boy or girl for a shidduch. How? We don’t know but it’s a fact that the Rebbe directed people to various places to find their shidduch there, and so it was.

    An amazing story in this regard is told by Mrs. Rochel Fogelman:

    A few years after my husband and I were appointed to serve as the Rebbe’s shluchim in Worcester, MA, I brought a group of young ladies from Hadassah Junior to meet with the Rebbe.

    Although I was a newly-married bride at the time; not much older than these girls, I became the leader of the group in Worcester, Massachusetts. They used to come to our house, and I would teach them about Judaism.

    I had told them about the Rebbe, and they wanted to see him in person, to hear him speak. At one point, we decided to go visit the Rebbe as a group. And one girl’s mother decided to come along with her daughter. The girl’s name was Estelle Greenberg, and her mother, Mrs. Greenberg, said that she, too, wanted to see the Rebbe.

    It was a large gathering. Other groups of young people came that day as well, and the Rebbe spoke to all of them together. When there was a break in the program, Mrs. Greenberg requested a private audience with the Rebbe. She went in, and she was there for quite a while. When she came out, the Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Chodakov, approached me and said, “Please, the Rebbe wants to see you. Go in and see the Rebbe.”

    I was surprised that the Rebbe should want to see me, and I went in wondering, “What could it be?”

    The Rebbe greeted me with a broad smile and said, “Mrs. Greenberg came to ask for a blessing so that her daughter should find a husband. I gave her a blessing, but she doesn’t believe me.” At that he laughed.

    And then he said to me, “Please see to it that you find a match for her daughter, and then your sister will find a match also.”

    At that time, I had been asking the Rebbe to give my sister a blessing to get married. She was so choosy that it looked like there was no young man in this world who could ever meet all her qualifications. So I kept asking for a blessing for her.

    When the Rebbe told me, “Find a match for her daughter and then your sister will find a match,” I immediately resolved to do so. But how?

    I asked the Rebbe, “Where should I look?”

    The Rebbe smiled at me and replied, “Perhaps you’ll find her a match in one of the towns nearby or around Worcester.”

    When I came out of the Rebbe’s office, Estelle and her mother were standing there, and Mrs. Greenberg was looking at me very sternly. She had asked the Rebbe for a blessing, she had received it, and now she wanted to see results. She was a wonderful lady; she really did believe in the Rebbe’s power to bring this about. And she expected her future son-in-law to materialize right there before her.

    As soon as I returned to Worcester, first thing in the morning, I came to my husband’s yeshiva and I looked around. And all of a sudden I realized that he was right there. I had found Estelle’s husband.

    A young man, Rabbi Weinberger, was teaching one of the classes. He was a rabbi in the nearby town of Clinton, Massachusetts. And I remembered the Rebbe’s words: “Perhaps you’ll find her match in one of the towns nearby…”

    This had to be him!

    I could hardly wait for the recess; I had to speak to him.

    When he came out, I was waiting in the yard. I ran over to him and said, “Rabbi Weinberger, have I got a girl for you!” And I began to rave about her, urging him, “You must call her, you must go out with her, it’s a good match for you…”

    He believed me. He took her name and number. He called her that night, and they started to go out. They liked each other, and by Yud Tes Kislev, they were engaged.

    They came to the Rebbe for Yud Tes Kislev, because they were so excited. And I kept telling them, “The reason I introduced you is because the Rebbe told me to look for someone in a town near Worcester.”

    They were very overwhelmed and impressed and happy.

    I went to the Rebbe after that, and I said, “The Rebbe promised that my sister will find a match if I find a match for Estelle Greenberg.”

    And the Rebbe smiled and said, “Yes, she’ll find a match.”

    Not long after that, she met the man who would be her husband.

    WRITE TO ME AND I WILL GUIDE YOU

    R’ Reuven Dunin, later the famous mashpia, spent many months in 770. At a certain point, the Rebbe decided that he should return to Eretz Yisrael to look for a shidduch. This decision was hard for him. In one yechidus, he said to the Rebbe, “Rebbe, I have no strength for this! Why must I ‘break my head’ in order to find a shidduch? Better the Rebbe should tell me who my shidduch is and that will be that!”

    The Rebbe smiled and said, “Better someone from your family should help you with this who has more time and I will make it easier for you. After you hear some suggestions, write to me about them and I will guide you as to which to approach seriously.”

    R’ Dunin returned to Eretz Yisrael and some time later, in Tammuz 5719, the Rebbe began to urge him to start working on shidduchim. “And with the requisite energy make efforts in shidduchim,” wrote the Rebbe. “Chazal have already said, ‘if you toil and find …’ And Hashem will help you and as it says, ‘From Hashem comes an intelligent woman.’”

    There were nine suggestions and as a faithful Chassid, he wrote to the Rebbe about each suggestion and asked whether he should look into it further, but the Rebbe negated them all, one after the other. R’ Dunin wasn’t fazed by the suggestions being shot down. He remembered that when the Rebbe spoke to him in yechidus before he returned to Eretz Yisrael, the Rebbe mentioned the word, “Yerushalayim.” To R’ Dunin, that was enough. He decided to choose the first Yerushalmi shidduch that would be suggested to him.

    At the beginning of Teves 5720, the tenth suggestion was made, a girl by the name of Rivka Sonnenfeld of Yerushalayim. The people around him made sure to explain to R’ Dunin that even if a Chassidishe bachur is not immersed in the goings-on of this world, and certainly isn’t particular about nice clothes, still, when it comes to meeting a girl, he had to have new, clean clothing.

    At the end of their first meeting, the Chassidishe bachur asked the girl, “So, are we writing to the Rebbe?” The girl, who hadn’t been raised in a Chassidishe home and who was certainly unfamiliar with concepts of hiskashrus to the Rebbe, didn’t quite understand what he was asking. When he explained, she was stunned and she tried to explain to him that it wasn’t the accepted practice to decide after one meeting. In the end, they “compromised” and met another time.

    After the second meeting, R’ Dunin wrote to the Rebbe and the girl did too. In his response, the Rebbe blessed, “May it be in a good and successful time.” The Rebbe wrote to the girl, “And to build a Jewish home, an everlasting edifice, a Chassidishe home.”

    The shidduch was a done deal. Reuven Dunin from Haifa became engaged to a Yerushalmi girl from the famous Sonnenfeld family.

    THE REBBE’S FATHERLY GUIDANCE

    The shidduchim stage isn’t easy, with many doubts and uncertainties arising. A supportive family is the answer to situations like these, but there were cases in which young boys and girls found themselves at a loss in regards to their shidduch, especially those who had become religious and whose parents couldn’t help them think things through, develop insights and make decisions.

    The Rebbe would often get involved and personally counseled the suitors as he “thought along with them,” and guided them to make the fateful decision.

    This is the story of Yehudis Fishman:

    I am an only child to two handicapped parents. My mother had a stroke and my father was a deaf-mute. Both emigrated from Russia to Boston where they were introduced since they were both Jews and both were handicapped. They married, and I was born in 5703.

    My father died when I was ten and my mother raised me alone. She knew something about religion and tradition but was not mitzva observant. Despite this, she wisely sent me to the religious school, Maimonides, where I thrived and greatly enjoyed learning Torah. I eventually committed to being religiously observant but my real flourishing began after I became acquainted with Chabad in one of their summer camps. One of the counselors invited me to join a farbrengen of the Rebbe which I loved.

    When I finished high school, the Rebbe directed me to continue to broaden my Torah knowledge. I accepted his advice and registered for the Bais Yaakov seminary in Williamsburg.

    Every day, after school, I worked as a nanny in the home of a prominent rabbinic educator. While tending to the children, I unknowingly drew the attention of an older couple who lived nearby. They approached me and explained that they had noticed my love for Torah and offered to pay my way to Israel to meet a young man who headed a Kabbalistic seminary there. They were convinced we would be a good match for marriage.

    At the time, I had no one to ask for advice about such a serious matter. The offer sounded exotic and interesting, but I wasn’t sure it was suitable for me. Besides, I was only eighteen years old. The well-meaning couple really didn’t know me or know what I was looking for in a life-partner. How could they suggest a soul-mate for me? The more I thought about it, the more distraught I became, but I didn’t know whom to ask for objective advice.

    It was then that I decided to go to the Rebbe. I didn’t know the proper protocol, so I just arrived at Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, sat down on the steps outside the building and, not knowing what else to do, started to cry.

    While I was sitting there sobbing my heart out, an elderly gentleman approached me — I later learned he was Rabbi Mordechai Chodakov, the Rebbe’s chief secretary — and asked me what was wrong. I explained why I needed to speak with the Rebbe.

    He said, “Wait here a minute,” and went inside. He returned a short while later and informed me that I had an appointment with the Rebbe the very next day.

    The next day, after a sleepless night, I had my audience with the Rebbe. When I walked in, my knees felt like jelly, and I held onto his desk for support. But as soon as I looked into the Rebbe’s calm, clear, compassionate blue eyes, I was able to relax somewhat.

    After I explained my predicament as concisely as I could, the Rebbe responded, “This young man is in Israel and you are in America. He is there and you are here. You are very different from each other.” Then he added, “You should remove him from your agenda.”

    I walked out exhilarated and relieved, not just because I had received a direct answer from someone I trusted, but because I had found my mentor. From that moment on, I was certain that I had acquired not only a guide and a teacher, but also a compassionate friend, and — most important for me — a father figure. I would say that the Rebbe listened to me more than I listened to myself.

    Not long after this audience, someone else suggested a young businessman as a suitable match for me. I met with him a few times, but I was unsure if he was truly my soulmate. This time, I went to Chabad Headquarters and asked to make a proper appointment with the Rebbe.

    When I saw the Rebbe, and I described my dilemma, he asked me point blank, “Do you like him?”

    It was an obvious question, but to me, coming from a rabbi, a totally unexpected one. I gulped before replying, “I feel a basic love of a fellow Jew for him.”

    The Rebbe grinned from ear to ear and said, “For a husband, one must feel more than a basic love of a fellow Jew.” I took this as an indication that I should not pursue this match any further. And, shortly after this, I met the man who would be my future husband.

    HE GOT ON THE LINE TO REASSURE THE GIRL

    Mrs. Leah Rivka Arkush tells about the personal guidance she received from the Rebbe in shidduchim:

    When I returned to England, people began to press me to start dating for marriage. But I felt I was not ready yet. Still, a match was proposed, and I and the boy each wrote in to the Rebbe to ask if he approved. The Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, called with the reply—the boy got an answer “yes,” but I got an answer “no.” The people involved felt I must have misunderstood, and told me to phone New York again to clarify the issue.

    When I called and explained the problem to Rabbi Groner, he said, “Hold on a moment.” Then another man’s voice came on the line and he said, “To the boy I said ‘yes,’ to indicate that your character is acceptable and that he should look for someone similar. But to you I said ‘no,’ because he is not for you.”

    And then I said, “Who am I talking to?” He replied, “Rabbi Schneerson.”

    I said, “Do you mean the Rebbe?” After a few second pause, which felt like forever, he said, “Yes, the Rebbe.” It took me a while to absorb that.

    Then he said: “Another thing I want to tell you is that you shouldn’t worry about dating yet. Just think about it for now, and G‑d willing, you will meet the right person at the right time, and you will get married. But for now, don’t worry about it.” I said thank you, and that was it.

    I thanked him and the conversation ended. After I conveyed the Rebbe’s message to the people who pressured me to get married, they left me alone.

    A year went by and the Rebbe himself got involved in finding a shidduch for me. It happened on our second trip to the Rebbe, when I joined the Jaffe family from Manchester.

    This time, the Rebbe took the initiative to say to Mr. Jaffe, “I’d like you to be my partner in a certain venture. Do you agree to serve as my agent?”

    Of course, Mr. Jaffe said yes. The matter had to do with finding a shidduch for me. The Rebbe offered to pay shadchanus for me.

    Afterward, I had another yechidus and the Rebbe advised me in detail about qualities I should look for in a husband. I remember that he said it’s important for the bachur to be knowledgeable in Shulchan Aruch and to be proficient in the teachings of Chassidus.

    Since I didn’t expect to get married soon, I asked the Rebbe whether to accept a job offer in Manchester. At first, the Rebbe said yes but then he immediately said no. I didn’t understand and I asked, “Didn’t you just say yes?”

    “Yes,” said the Rebbe, “but for your good, I don’t want you to travel to Manchester. You should live in London. If you want to marry, people need to know about you; people need to see and get to know you so they can suggest appropriate shidduchim.”

    That’s exactly what happened. I met my husband in London. When we called New York to ask for the Rebbe’s bracha, the bracha was already waiting for us. This was because Mr. Jaffe had already sent a telegram to the Rebbe in which he wrote, “The assignment was executed. Keep the shadchanus money. I will collect it when I go to New York.”

    In those days, we didn’t make a big deal about all this, It’s just today, many years later, that I realize that I am who I am because of the attention the Rebbe bestowed on me throughout my life. It was a big zechus for me that the Rebbe took a personal interest in me. I was a poor girl from an irreligious family and the Rebbe made sure my life followed the right path.

    SOUL SECRETS

    As is customary among Chassidim, when closing a shidduch, the two parties would send a request for the Rebbe’s blessing and consent. Then they waited for the answer in order to know if Hashem decreed it to be. Only when a positive answer was received was the shidduch concluded.

    Every Chassid knows that shidduchim are matters that pertain to the Rebbe. There are soul secrets involved which only the Rebbe is privy to, in order to facilitate the connection between one soul and another.

    When a Chassid asked about a shidduch and did not get a response, he understood that the shidduch was not for him. The Rebbe did not usually say “no” outright.

    The Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Sholom Mendel Simpson, related:

    “I once submitted a request for a bracha for a shidduch. The Rebbe took the note in both hands and began turning it from side to side for many seconds. It was an otherworldly sight which only underscored how far we are from any understanding of the Rebbe’s answers. It was palpably manifest that the Rebbe wasn’t just randomly moving the paper and that there was something to it… In the end, the Rebbe stopped turning the note and only then gave his consent to the shidduch.”

    Another time, when Rabbi Simpson submitted a note with a request about a shidduch, the Rebbe said to tell the parents that “The matter has emanated from Hashem.”

    SHADCHANUS MONEY

    What was the shadchanus payment that the Rebbe asked for? A girl whom the Rebbe helped find a shidduch wanted to pay the Rebbe. The Rebbe said, “Your happy lives will be my shadchanus money.”

    In another case, when the Chassid, R’ Sholom Yeshaya Deitsch approached the Rebbe in the middle of a farbrengen and wanted to thank the Rebbe for his son Zalman’s shidduch that was completed thanks to a bracha from the Rebbe, the Rebbe’s face turned solemn and said, “For shadchanus you need to pay.”

    About a month and a half later, the chassan’s father died suddenly. When the chassan and his mother had yechidus before his wedding, even as they were engulfed in their pain, the widow asked how she could pay the mysterious shadchanus money that the Rebbe mentioned at the farbrengen.

    The Rebbe said the shadchanus payment would be that she would hold strong in her trust in Hashem and with joy, and she shouldn’t cry at the chuppa.

    Mazal Tov! 

    *

    Beis Moshiach magazine can be obtained in stores around Crown Heights. To purchase a subscription, please go to: bmoshiach.org

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