“You Won’t be a Rebbe; I Wont a Gabbai” – Short Stories For Beis Nissan




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    “You Won’t be a Rebbe; I Wont a Gabbai” – Short Stories For Beis Nissan

    From Beis Moshiach Magazine: A compilation of short stories about the Rebbe Rashab, in honor of his 100th Yom Hilulah on Beis Nissan, compiled by Rabbi Shlomo Veshedskya • Full Article

    A compilation of short stories about the Rebbe Rashab, in honor of his 100th Yom Hilulah on Beis Nissan, compiled by Rabbi Shlomo Veshedsky, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    “By examining the seedling of a fruit tree,” say Chazal, “one can already determine the quality of the fruit that will grow from it.” This is a metaphor speaking of tzadikim: from their youngest of ages, one can already determine by their conduct that they will grow up to be righteous.

    In this light, I wish to begin with the following stories which reflect the Rebbe Rashab’s tremendous yiras Shamayim (fear of heaven) and ahavas Yisrael from his childhood years:

    The Tailor and the Scraps

    Rebbetzin Rivka, the Rebbe Rashab’s mother, once related:

    Once, when her son was about four years old, a tailor came to her home to bring a dress he made for her. Out of curiosity, the young Sholom Dovber pulled out a piece of material that was sticking out of the tailor’s pocket. “This scrap was the leftovers from the fabric that I gave him to sew the dress for me,” the Rebbetzin continued. It appeared that the tailor intended to keep the fabric for himself.

    When the boy pulled out the scraps, the tailor became very embarrassed and started excusing himself, saying that he forgot that leftover material remained.

    After the tailor left their home, the Rebbetzin admonished her son for shaming the tailor by pulling out the leftover fabric from his pocket. Upon hearing this, young Sholom Dovber started crying bitterly, realizing that he embarrassed a fellow Jew.

    A few days later, the young boy approached his father — the Rebbe Maharash — and asked him what the tikkun for the transgression of shaming a fellow Jew is. (A tikkun means a spiritual rectification. It the proper course of action to spiritually repair and mend one’s ways after succumbing to the folly of transgression, customarily offered only by a Rebbe).

    To his father’s inquiry of why he was asking this, young Sholom Dovber answered that he was just asking out of curiosity.

    Later on, his mother, who overheard the conversation, asked the young boy why didn’t you tell father the whole story of what happened with the tailor? Young Sholom Dovber responded: “Is it not enough that I embarrassed a fellow Jew, that I should sin further by speaking rechilus (gossip) and lashon hara!?”

    Translated and adapted from Kuntres Chanoch La’Na’ar p. 9

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    Why Did the Rebbe Rashab Not follow the Tikkun?

    When the Rebbe Rashab and his older brother Reb Schneur Zalman Aharon (known by the acronym of his name “Raza”) were small children, they would often role-play “Rebbe & Chassid” — for, after all, they grew up in a home where Rebbe and Chassid was a constant theme.

    Once, when the children played Rebbe & Chassid, Raza played the Rebbe — since he was about a year-and-a-half older than the Rebbe Rashab — and the Rashab played the Chassid.

    The Rashab came over to his brother and asked him for a tikkun for the transgression of shelling three nuts on Shabbos, which according to the Alter Rebbe’s ruling in his Siddur — that he found out about after the fact — should not be done.

    The Raza conveyed to him a tikkun: that he should daven (pray) the lechu neranena prayer from inside the Siddur, and in general he should pray from the Siddur and not by heart. Furthermore, even when he makes a blessing over food, it should also be from the Siddur.

    Their mother, Rebbetzin Rivka, noticed that young Sholom Dovber was not following his brother’s directions.

    When she asked him why he wasn’t listening to the advice of his brother, the Rashab answered that his brother’s tikkun would not be effective since he is not a Rebbe, and the proof is that he didn’t sigh upon hearing the Chassid’s transgression…

    The Rashab continued, about a tikkun that a Rebbe gives, that it’s not the advice that helps, it’s the sigh that helps… The Rebbe Rashab — as a child — cried bitterly over the occurrence with the nuts on Shabbos.


    You Won’t be a Rebbe; I Won’t be a Gabbai

    On another occasion — after the previous tale — the Raza said to the Rashab: “Come [let’s play “Rebbe and Chassid”,] I’ll be the Rebbe, and you’ll be the gabbai (attendant). The Rashab refused, answering him: “You’re not going to be a Rebbe, and I’m not going to be a gabbai!”

    From the Rebbe’s diary, recording stories heard from the Frierdiker Rebbe on 20 Cheshvan 5693

    The Rebbe Rashab’s Favorite Sandwich

    In the town of Lubavitch, there lived a jew by the name Pesach, he was the town wagon-driver and was affectionately known by the nickname “Paishe the ba’al-agalah.” He was a very simple Jew.

    As a child, he studied in cheder (school) together with the Rebbe Rashab. Chasidim, being aware of this, would therefore often request Paishe the ba’al-agalah to share some of his memories of the Rebbe Rashab while in school with him. Paishe would always reply: “What do you want from me!? I’m a simple Jew, and I don’t remember anything”!

    On one occasion, the Chassidim nudged Paishe quite a bit to share something with them of the Rebbe, from his childhood. Additionally, they gave him some vodka. This plan worked, and suddenly, Paishe opened up, his memory came back to him, and he related the following story:

    “In the town of Lubavitch, there were different classes of people, there were wealthier families and poorer ones” related Paishe. “I came from the more impoverished families, while the Rebbe Rashab came from a wealthy family.”  — As famously known, his father, the Rebbe Maharash was very wealthy.

    “I would come to school every day with a sandwich for lunch made from black bread, while the Rebbe would come to school every day with a sandwich made of white bread. Every day the Rashab would approach me and offer to exchange sandwiches with me, he would take my black bread while I would take his white bread. Understandably,” continued Paishe, “I didn’t need much convincing, I immediately accepted his offer.”

    “Do you know why the Rebbe wanted my black bread!?” Paishe asked the Chassidim, and immediately gave the answer himself: “It was because my mother used to rub fresh garlic onto the hard bread, and the Rebbe simply liked hard bread garnished with fresh garlic!” Paishe concluded.

    It is self-understood that the deed of the Rebbe Rashab to exchange his sandwich with Paishe’s every day, was an expression of his immense ahavas Yisrael already in his early childhood.

    I heard this story from my father a”h, as well from Rabbi Shmuel sheyichye Butman.

    What Comes first: Mincha or a Cup of Tea?

    Once, two of the Rebbe Rashab’s closest Chasidim, Rabbi Yitzchok Yoel Rafalovitch and Reb Shmuel Gurary, were sitting and talking over a cup of tea in the foyer in front of the Rebbe’s study.

    Reb Yitzchak Yoel was a rav in the central industrial city Kremenchug in Ukraine, and Reb Shmuel, a wealthy cigarette manufacturer from the same city, was known as the Rebbe’s g’vir (philanthropist), as he financially supported many of the Rebbe’s institutions.

    Within their discussion on topics of Torah and Chassidus, they started debating whether when the time comes to daven Mincha and one desires to drink a cup of tea, should you first daven, or is one permitted to have the tea first, and then daven Mincha?

    Suddenly, the Rebbe walked out of his study, and while passing them, the Rebbe commented: “If one wishes to drink tea with peace of mind, then he should daven Mincha first. However, if one desires to daven Mincha with peace of mind, then it’s okay to drink a cup of tea beforehand!”

    Translated from L’Sheima Ozen by Rabbi Schneur Zalman a”h Duchman

    Lemaan Yilmidu Chosson Kallah


    Care for a Frail Bachur

    The esteemed Chassid, Reb Schneur Zalman Duchman once related the following:

    My brother, Reb Boruch (when he was a yeshiva student) studied for a year in the yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim branch in Shchedrin, Ukraine.  In the following year of 5673 (1912), he traveled to Lubavitch to spend the month with the Rebbe Rashab.

    For the coming year, my brother wanted to study in the town of Lubavitch, which was the headquarters of the yeshiva, so he could be near the Rebbe.

    My brother submitted an application to be accepted to the yeshiva & was farherred (tested) by the yeshiva staff in Nigleh and in Chassidus.

    My brother Boruch — continued Reb Zalman — passed the exams with flying colors. However, with that said, the yeshiva staff committee still refused to accept him into the yeshiva in Lubavitch and sent him again to learn in the branch in Shchedrin.

    After Succos, my brother went in for yechidus (a private audience) with the Rebbe Rashab. While in yechidus, my brother pleaded with the Rebbe to allow him to study in Lubavitch. All the Rebbe responded was that “one must obey the hanhala.”

    Needless to say, my brother was devastated.

    In honor of Yud Tes Kislev of that year, my father, Reb Ber Mendel, traveled to Lubavitch to be with the Rebbe. While in yechidus with the Rebbe, my father expressed that he was in fragile health, the Rebbe commented: “Your children are also in fragile health, your younger son —referring to Boruch — is fragile too, therefore, I sent him again to study in the yeshiva in Shchedrin, since materially the conditions there are better.”

    Translated from L’Sheima Ozen


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