An Israeli backpacker once shared at the Shabbos table of an Australian shliach his experiences in the Australian outback just one week prior:
He originates from a completely secular background. He always was ashamed of his Jewish identity. He felt the Jews stole a country from the Arabs and provoked the UN. After he completed the Israeli military, he traveled abroad. His destination: far from his shameful Jewish brethren. Appropriately, he arrived in Sydney and flushed his Israeli passport in their international airport. So he thought. As he walked through the streets of Bondi, he encountered scores of very visibly Orthodox Jews. Ultra Orthodox, modern Orthodox and everything in between. Determined, he moved north to Cairns, Queensland where he clearly reached his desired goal. No orthodox Jews lived or visited here. He quickly became friendly with the locals and blended in well with them. One Saturday afternoon, as they were enjoying a beer in the pub, one of the guys remarked how Australia has such a remarkable קבוץ גליות. Another suggested that each person around the table should announce his nationality. And so they went around the table. One individual was American, a second a Turk, a third Russian and on it went. Several, of course were true blue Aussies. As our friend announced that he’s Jewish, all his peers spontaneously rose as they exclaimed, ” a Jew?!” Spitting, they moved to a different table leaving the Israeli a table all for himself.
Sunday morning, the Jew spoke with his pals about yesterday’s events. He inquired each one about any possible Arab, Muslim or UN background or other motive for their reaction. Each denied any such motive adding, “Mate, we were stoned drunk and had no idea what we were saying. Don’t take it personal. Forget about it. OK mate?”
Finally arrived about the chronic reality of anti-semitism, the backpacker immediately returned to Sydney, resolved to reconnect with his brethren.
One Shabbos Mevorchim morning, R’ Volf o”h Greenglass walked over to a fellow who was yapping away and instructed him to say Tehillim with everyone else. He explained that in Gan Eden (after 120+), he’ll be handed a Tehillim which’ll include all the דברים בטלים he ever spoke while saying Tehillim and he’ll be instructed to read it all…
R’ Pinchos Althaus was very instrumental in returning Mr. Shazar to his Lubavitcher roots. He visited Mr. Shazar regularly (weekly?) in his government office. Each such visit lasted well over an hour. R’ Pinye general arrived unannounced. Mr. Shazar interrupted his daily schedule in order to see him.
One morning, a delegation of French politicians arrived for their appointment with Mr. Shazar. France at that time was very valuable to the fledgling Jewish sate as it provided Israel with invaluable funding ad other resources. Just then, as luck would have it, R’ Pinye walked in. R’ Zalmen ushered him right into his office, leaving the French delegate outside to wait… As time went by and the audience gave no signs of ending, Mr. Shazar overheard his head of staff (מנכ”ל) apologizing to the delegate for the delay “due to some Rabbi who came to visit”. But the apology was purposely intended to be overheard as its primary purpose was to tell off Mr. Shazar for insulting France and its delegates.
As R’ Pinye exited Zalmen’s room, Mr Shazar, who had yet to return to yiddishkeit, explained to his head of staff. He spoke in English to ensure the French entourage understood well: “This Rabbi precedes these French delegates. These delegates were appointed by the current French government. Their appointment will last as long as the current government – until the next French elections. This Rabbi represents the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe was not elected into office. He was born Rebbe and remains Rebbe for life. It’s for this reason that I let the French politicians wait outside while I chatted with Rabbi Althaus.”
Mr. Shazar’s secretary noted in his journal his impression from the display of Zalmen’s גאון יעקב (Jewish pride).
(Heard several times from my father.)
The Frierdike Rebbe once attended a pidyon haben. The Cohen barely glanced at the silver coins as he hastily placed them in his pocket. The Rebbe then told him that money must always be counted. Dutifully, the Cohen counted the coins, revealing that he was one coin short…
(Heard from R’ Leibel Wolowick)
(Incidentally, כסף is the acronym of כסף סופרים פעמיים – one needs to count money twice.)
R’ Yudel Krinsky brought a secular couple to the Rebbe for Dollars. Upon receiving his dollar, the husband challenged the Rebbe’s stance on Mihu Yehudi meddling into the affairs of Israel and so on. One of the points the Rebbe touched upon in his response was the theme he mentioned in several sichos that everyone who objected the Rebbe’s position on this issue had a personal stake as one of their own relatives was converted improperly. The Rebbe concluded, “and your wife certainly appreciates everything I’ve said.”
As they left the Rebbe’s presence, the husband remarked to Rabbi Krinsky, “My wife was actually converted improperly. But what impresses me more than the Rebbe’s open ruach hakodesh is his personality. He could have said outright that the reason I was so angry was because my own wife is an improper proselyte. He basically could have put me to the wall. But the Rebbe conveyed the message in such a delicate and kind manner.
22 Sivon 5776
Rabbi Fine, visited his Rebbe just prior to the holocaust. Rabbi Fine was reluctant to part from him despite the looming disaster. The previous Belzer Rebbe, however, encouraged his devoted chosid to flee. Allaying his reluctance, the Rebbe advised Rabbi Fine that whenever he’ll need the Rebbe’s assistance, he should simply close his eyes, state his request while imagining to address the Rebbe and all will work out.
“And what shall I do after the Rebbe’s passing?” asked Rabbi Fine.
“Do as I instructed you. A living tzadik will then come to your help.”
Rabbi Fine hastily escaped Europe and eventually settled in the States. Shortly after our Rebbe assumed his nesius, Rabbi Fine’s daughter gradually lost her eyesight. There was nothing her doctors could do for her. The previous Belzer Rebbe had passed on. Remembering what the Rebbe told him during his farewell yechidus, Rabbi Fine closed his eyes and tearfully told his Rebbe about his current tzoroh. As he finished speaking, the telephone rang. Our Rebbe’s secretary introduced himself and explained that the Lubavitcher Rebbe wishes to know whether there was anything he could do for him. Rabbi Fine told the secretary about his daughter’s blindness.
With time, Rabbi Fine’s daughter regained functional eyesight. This was when the Fine family joined Lubavitch.
(Heard in the name of Rabbi Fine’s son, Rabbi Ronnie Fine of Chabad Zichron Kdoshim.)
22 Sivon 5776
The Previous Belzer Rebbe annually baked Matzos Mitzvoh at Kfar Chabad. Our Rebbe directed the proprietor of the padriyad (bakery) to heed all of the Belzer Rebbe’s instructions.
One winter, the Belzer Rebbe sent a message to the bakery’s owner to construct an awning outside the bakery to prevent the matzos from getting wet in the event of rain. This instruction was very strange. It never rains in Eretz Yisroel on Erev Pesach. And anyway, where was he to cough up the thousands of sheqalim needed for such an awning. Yet the owner dutifully complied.
That erev Pesach, a torrent of rain unexpectedly descended upon Eretz Yisroel. With his foresight, the Belzer Rebbe saved everyone’s matzos mitzvoh from turning to gebroks.
Rebbe Naftoly Ropshitz was renowned for his humor. He equally couldn’t stomch people who thought the world of themselves.
One day, a fellow approached him with a question. It was common practise then to publicly clip the nails in the bathhouse. Now, typically this was done before the bath, in order to better clean the fingers. However, this fellow noticed Rebbe Naftoly clipping his fingers following the bath. He decided to ask the holy Rebbe about it.
“What is the reason you clip your nails after washing yourself?” our friend inquired expectantly.
“Oh, there’s a deep mystical explanation behind it. But being you noticed it, I can share it with you provided you first prepare yourself accordingly.”
The Rebbe gave him a full schedule of immersions, study, prayer and conduct. Our friend was to return to the Rebbe when he was done with the schedule to obtain the answer to his question.
As per the Rebbe’s instructions, the fellow returned to the Rebbe when he was ready for the answer. The Rebbe motioned to him to come closer explaining that nobody else was to hear the secret the Rebbe was about to share with him. The Rebbe then whispered into his ear the reason he clipped his nails following the bath, “Because after the bath, the nails are softer and easier to clip…”
15 Iyor Omer 30 5776
This story is of a wealthy, ignorant fellow in a small shtetl who barely learned any Torah. Once, in an audience with the local Rov, he noticed an expensive set of the Vilna Shas on the Rov’s bookcase. The wealthy fellow was enraged that the Rov, on his meager income owned such an expensive when the wealthiest resident of the shtetl, meaning himself, did not. he therefore determined to obtain for himself the set. The trouble was that he had no use for such a set. He therefore commissioned a carpenter to carve out for him a wooden set of the Shas with the names of the respective masechtos carved out in gold as they appear on an authentic Gemoro.
Upon his demise his sons arrived from the various Yeshivos in which they studied to bury their father. But how were they to eulogize such an ignorant, arrogant and vain father who never displayed any noble midos? The oldest suggested the wooden Shas be displayed at the funeral. And so they did.
During the funeral, the oldest son stepped up to offer the elegy. “It’s stated that when a scholar passes on, a Sefer Torah is placed near his coffin to indicate that he observed everything written therein.” Pointing to their father’s wooden Shas, the son continued, “I hereby attest that our father observed everything written herein.”
(In the name of R’ Chaim Shaul Brook)
One recalcitrant Lubavitcher husband in Eretz Yisroel did not obey the local Rabbonim to divorce his wife. The Rabbonim decided to bring up the matter with the Frierdike Rebbe on his impending trip to Eretz Yisoel. In one Israeli town, the husband was amongst the crowd who greeted the Rebbe on his arrival. The Rebbe indicated with his finger should the fellow should come up the bacony to speak with him. Up on the balcony, the Rebbe told him that the first Mishna in Kiddushin indicates that there are two ways a woman can be freed from her marriage; either by receiving a get or by her husband’s death. Should the fellow refuse to free his wife the first day there’ll be no altenative but that she be frred the other way.
All this regrettably didn’t sway the husband. Several days later as he walked down the street, he was fatally hit by a bullet shot randomly into the air by some Arab. (As apparently reported in a local newspaper shortly thereafter.)
12 Iyor, Omer 27 5776
When a bocher newly accepted into Tomchei Tmimim of the shtetl Lubavitch had his first yechidus with the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe’s typical directive to him was to learn Torah weekly throughout Thursday night. Well, this story is aout a talmid who did not receive this directive. Nonetheless, he decided to conduct himself like most of the peers. The following week, he had pain in his eyes. The doctor who examined him observed that he apparently stayed up recently an entire night. He explained that the boys eyes could not handle an entire night staying open. Unfortunately there was no treatment for their condition which would sooner than later leave the boy blind h”y.
The mashpia R’ Shilem was very disturbed by this. He assumed that, like everyone else, this bocher stayed up on the Rebbe’s directive. In yechidus, he complained that the Rebbe had brought this calamity upon the boy. But the Rebbe Rashab simply remarked that he never gave the talmid any such instruction. At the first opportunity, R’ Shilem gave the bocher a piece of his mind. Nevertheless, he implored the Rebbe to pity the boy. The talmid’s condition healed and never again did he stay awake throughout the night.
The veteran non-Jewish caretaker of the Rostov Jewish cemetery fulfilled his duties faithfully and in proper sensitivities to the place. Upon the Rebbe Rashab’s histalkus, he was particular to respect the sanctity of the Rebbe’s ohel. After several years, he was replaced by a young Jewish communist. In keeping with common practise then, the new caretaker, like his predecessor, lived in a hut by the cemetery. Some months went by when the Rebbe appeared in a dream to his son, the Frierdike Rebbe. He instructed his son to advise the young Jew that he could not stand his irreligious and irreverent conduct in his home by the cemetery and away from it. If the caretaker would not shape up, it’ll be necessary to replace him.
The caretaker simply laughed off the warning. But the day came shortly thereafter when his intestines suddenly turned inside out. The treatments we have today for this dangerous condition were not known then. It was long then that this fellow died.