Over two hundred descendants (“Tzetzoim”) of the Alter Rebbe, gathered for the yearly Melava Malka in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in a wonderful atmosphere of family, dedication and inspiration.
Beginning with a Dvar Malchus and Sicha of the Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Butman, chairman of the Association of the descendants of the Alter Rebbe, and Director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, stressed the specialty of the gathering this year.
He recalled the time, when the Rebbe spoke that famous Sicha. The year was 5744, end of 1983. There was a question as to when to make the Melava Malka of the Tzetzoim. Would it be best to make it on the Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Shmos, the Metzoei Shabbos before Chof Daled Teves, or, as Chof Daled Teves was on a Friday to make the Melava Malka on the Motzoei Shabbos after Chof Daled Teves. Although it is after Chof Daled Teves — it is “Bismichus” (close by) to Chof Daled Teves.
The decision was to make it on the Motzoei Shabbos that is “Bismichus” — close and following Chof Daled Teves.
What is the right choice was not yet known.
At the Farbrengen that Shabbos, Parshas Voeiro, 25 Teves 5744, the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Yehudah Leib Groner brought a bottle of “Mashke” and placed it in front of the Rebbe near the plate of Mezonos.
During the Farbrengen the Rebbe spoke a Sicha about Tzetzoim. In the Sicha the Rebbe mentioned that in the Siddur there is a version ונהיה אנחנו וצאצאנו וצאצאי צאצאנו we are asking for a Brocha for “ourselves, our offsprings and our offsprings offspring.”
The version the Alter Rebbe chose, however, was ונהיה אנחנו וצאצאנו that we are asking for a blessing for “ourselves and our offsprings.” The advantage of that is that in the first version we are limiting our blessing to three generations – ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Whereas, in the version that the Alter Rebbe chose, we are not limiting our blessing for it includes our offsprings without any qualifications — all offsprings without limitations.
The Rebbe then said that in this one word וצאצאנו the Alter Rebbe put in his son and successor the Mitteler Rebbe together with all descendants throughout the generations.
The Rebbe then said that as the descendants of the Alter Rebbe are having their Melave Malka this Motzoei Shabbos, he will give them a bottle of “Mashke” for greater success. The Rebbe then gave that bottle of “Mashke” that was brought in when the Rebbe came in for the gathering of the Tzetzoim that Motzoei Shabbos.
Speaking about that Motzei Shabbos, the Rebbe said “the Motzoei Shabbos that is “Bismichus and following” Chof Daled Teves. The Rebbe clarified that this is the Motzoei Shabbos closest identified with Chof Daled Teves.
“Besser Un Besser”
Rabbi Naftoli Besser, grandson of the Chasid Reb Dov Ber Ludmir and the son of the late renowned Rabbi Yechezkel Besser talked about the special relationships his father and grandfather had with the Rebbe and related a story with great detail concerning the miracles he personally had from the Rebbe in having a family. At one point the Rebbe said to him that it’s going to be “בעסער און בעסער” – “Better and Better.” And, indeed, so it was.
The special Zechus
The Harnasteipler Rebbe Rabbi Mordechai Dov Ber Twerski, a grandson of HaRav HaTzaddik Reb Mordechai Dov Ber of Harnasteipel, grandson of HaRav HaTzaddik Reb Yaakov Yisroel of Cherkas, son-in-law of the Mitteler Rebbe, spoke of the great Achdus that we saw in Klal Yisroel just recently. He expressed his hope that will be also continued in the future.
Rabbi Twerski also stressed the Zechus (merit) of being a descendant of such a great Tzadik and the need to conduct oneself as is fitting for one who is a descendant of such a great Tzadik.
Rabbi Dr. Ben Tzion Twerski, a descendant of HoRav HaTzadik Reb Mordechai Dov Ber of Harnasteipel stressed that parents have a responsibility to educate their children from an early age on that they have a special Zechus and a special responsibility. When we educate our children this way early on we will have real Nachas from them when they grow up.
“The Rebbe told me to come to the Melave Malka of the Tzetzoim”
Rabbi Shem Rokeach, whose mother’s mother is a sister to the Gaon Reb Boruch Shimon Schneerson, a descendant of the Tzadik Reb Yosef Yitzchok of Avrutch son of the Tzemach Tzedek, spoke of the special relationship his family had with the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin. “By the Rebbetzin we were like Bnei Bayis (members of the household).”
Rabbi Rokeach related that the Rebbetzin once called him on phone and told him that the “Rebbe wants you to go to the Melave Malka of the Tzetzoim.”
“I am here because the Rebbe sent me”
Rabbi Rokeach related many personal stories from the Rebbe. “We must do something for the Rebbe, we must bring Moshiach.”
A Meaningful Folder
A great activity took place during the Melava Malka. Special folders were prepared in advance with each folder including a part of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, to be finished by the 24th of Teves 5779. Each folder had a particular electronically computerized label indicating the Halochos contained in the folder.
Many of the descendants were seen going home proudly with many folders each containing a special commitment to learn a section of the Shulchan Aruch. “This is a truly great idea” said a young descendant taking home several folders. “I know that no one else got the same folder, I must finish it.”
“והי-ה כנגן המנגן” [“When the Singer Sang…”]
The Descendants sang the ten of nigunim of the Alter Rebbe with great awe and inspiration, led by Rabbi Yosef Zirkind, son of Rabbi Yitzchok Zirkind, a prominent Rov in Crown Heights, son-in-law of the legendary Horav Reb Yitzchok Dovid Groner. Rabbi Yitzchok Zirkind would regularly attend the Kinus of the Tzetzoim.
Rabbi Zirkind was accompanied by the renowned musician Choni Milecki.
A Pan to the Alter Rebbe
The highlight of the evening was when the descendants sang the famous niggun of the Alter Rebbe. “You cannot possibly describe the unique atmosphere that was in the room when the nigun was being sung by the descendants of the Alter Rebbe,” said one of the offspring. “This was a particularly uplifting moment, one was able to truly feel that a Pan (personal petition) was being sent to the Alter Rebbe.”
Rabbi Butman thanked his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Butman for organizing the Melava Malka, “May the Zchus of the Alter Rebbe stand him in good stead in all things.”
The Descendants ended the evening with the strong feeling that the Alter Rebbe the first of Chabad leaders began the work to prepare the world for redemption and that the Rebbe, the seventh, who explicitly told us that this is the last generation of Galus, will finish the work of preparing the world for the great redemption, speedily in our very own days.