It’s Not (Only) What’s Being Said, It’s Also Who Says It




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    It’s Not (Only) What’s Being Said, It’s Also Who Says It

    One Motzei Shabbos, a mispalel in our Flatbush Chabad shul who regularly stays behind to hear the video of the Rebbe, approached me as I was putting away the video equipment we use for the said purpose. He told me, “Rabbi, I’m going to tell you something you might not like.” Levi Liberow writes • Full Article

    By Levi Liberow

    One Motzei Shabbos a number of years ago, a mispalel in our Flatbush Chabad shul who regularly stays behind after Motzei Shabbos Maariv to see and hear the video of the Rebbe, approached me as I was putting away the video equipment we use for the said purpose. He told me, “Rabbi, I’m going to tell you something you might not like.”

    I mentally braced myself for what’s coming. I have — in my several childhood and adult years in this Brooklyn neighborhood — heard many things I didn’t like, but I still wasn’t prepared for the Chassidishe “derher” this Lubavitch-friendly Jew told me.

    “Probably, without all this,” he said pointing to the video, “it would be much more difficult to deal with the situation.” He didn’t have to specify what “situation” he was referring to. Both he and I understood what it meant — the situation of the terrible he’elem v’hester after Gimmel Tammuz.

    I assume that my response surprised him. “You are right. And the way many of us see it is that there’s a reason why this technology became available specifically in our generation.”


    We are all well familiar with the Hayom Yom of 9 Adar II which teaches us (paraphrased) that “Simply seeing the Rebbe is not enough. The intense longing to be mekushar can be satisfied only by learning maamarim of Chassidus which the Rebbe delivers as oral discourses and writes down.” We also all know the Hayom Yom of 24 Sivan that “the true hiskashrus is through learning his Torah.”

    So why do all Chassidim (of all stripes and styles) share this insistence on watching videos of the Rebbe and not suffice with learning the Rebbe’s maamarim and sichos if that indeed is the true and most pure form of hiskashrus?

    The mitzvah of Hakhel, which we are now very much into, may give us some insight into this matter:

    At first glance, Hakhel is no big deal. A person gets up and reads portions of Sefer Devarim from a Seder Torah. Look at the Rambam’s words (Hilchos Chagigah 3:4):

    “The king accepts the scroll while standing … he opens it, looks at it, and recites the blessings like anyone who is reading the Torah in a synagogue.”

    Just like in shul. Just like any other baal koreh. No special commentary. No added words of inspiration. No musical accompaniment. So what’s the big deal?

    Let’s read on from the Rambam:

    “He should see himself as if he was just now commanded regarding the Torah and heard it from the Almighty. For the king is an agent to make known the word of Hashem.”

    In a most fascinating sicha (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 24, sicha I on Devarim) the Rebbe explains why the Jews were justified in seeking a new leader when “this man Moshe who took us out of Egypt, we don’t know what happened to him.” The Rebbe does so by precisely defining the role of Moshe Rabbeinu:

    Elokus is revealed to a man here below, soul in body, and is manifest in a wondrous unification the likes of Moshe who was a ‘Man of G-d’ — a ‘man’ who can be seen and heard.”

    “Seen and heard” are the keywords here. But why indeed is this so important? After all, shouldn’t the content itself be the focus? Don’t we follow the rule of “accept the truth from whoever says it”? Why does the spoken word reign above the written?

    It’s very simple. It’s not only about what is being said, but also about who is saying it. The very same words can come either from me and you or from the melech, but the impact won’t be the same if it’s not from “the agent to make known the word of Hashem.”

    Hearing it from the Rebbe — and for sure seeing the Rebbe — is a whole different experience. It’s accepting the truth from someone who means it 100%, it’s hearing it from an individual for whom these words are truer than “reality” itself. The experience of hearing it from a Rebbe rubs off on the listeners, and in many ways much more than studying a text (which has its own advantages, but that’s for another time).


    There’s nothing more Geuladik than the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach and there’s nothing more inspiring than creating a personal and direct channel of communication between a Chassid and the Rebbe. One of the finest ways of establishing this is using the technological advancements of the audio and visual media Hashem has introduced to our generation to see and hear the Rebbe even at this time when we cannot see and hear him in the normal way.

    Just to illustrate what I mean, I often find myself saying in my shul sermons or farbrengens, “I heard this from the Rebbe last week” and I have to clarify to the listeners that it was via tape or video…

    [Interestingly, in a sicha (13 Tishrei 5738) the Rebbe discussed that while one cannot use a telephone to perform mitzvos which require the voice of a person (like shofar and Megillah etc.), still, regarding matters of feeling such as being inspired by teachings of the Rebbe and the like, it makes no difference if it is actually a human voice being heard or sound generated through inanimate objects. What matters is that the inspiration is carried through!

    We should also add what the Rebbe wrote about gazing at a photo of the Rebbe — which also is just a piece of paper… — that “being a true shepherd of Israel, you should know that he’s also looking at you.” I think we can apply the same rationale to an audio or video recording of the Rebbe and thus even a farbrengen from decades ago is truly forever a “live broadcast.”]


    In Tanya (Chapter 50), the Alter Rebbe writes about certain deep concepts in Chassidus that “it is impossible to explain this subject clearly in writing. Yet every person with a feeling heart … will find the goodness and light.” Similarly, the best way to understand the difference between hearing the Rebbe and other ways of learning from the Rebbe is by doing for yourself a great service by watching/listening to a couple of farbrengens.

    See and hear for yourself.

    After all is said and done, we still maintain, like the Jews at Har Sinai (see Rashi on Shemos 19:19) that “we want to hear directly from You”. We maintain that there is no comparison between one who hears a message from the mouth of the messenger and one who hears it from the mouth of the king himself.” Retzoneinu liros es Malkeinu Meshicheinu!


    New Feature in “The Daily Sicha”

    One of the reasons this piece was written was a call I got recently from Rabbi Tzi Hirsch Gurary, in which he asked me to share an incredible piece of news with the Beis Moshiach readers about the “Daily Sicha.”

    Close to three decades now, Rabbi Gurary has been offering an invaluable service to Chassidim the world over — The Daily Sicha. The Daily Sicha is a clip of about 10 minutes on various subjects that comes along with a transcript of the sicha in the original Yiddish or in a Hebrew translation.

    I fondly recall my days in Yeshiva when the daily sicha and the transcripts were a part of my schedule and I try to listen when I can now too.

    As of last Gimmel Tammuz, the Daily Sicha is offering an English translation of the transcript, assisting listeners to whom Yiddish isn’t a first language to follow the Rebbe and understand his holy words.

    The sichos — and all three versions of the transcripts — are available on or on the easy-to-use Daily Sicha app, available on the Apple App Store or on Google play Store.

    This is a highly recommended dose of hiskashrus you can add to your day. Give it a try!


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