Story: Learning Ahavas Yisroel from the Rebbe

In honor of Gimmel Tammuz, we present the following excerpt from the forthcoming book Footprints: Challenging Lives, Huge Impact to be published by Hasidic Archives.

by Dovid Zaklikowski

In 1952, at the suggestion of his uncle Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Isaac Hodakov, chief aide of the Rebbe, 17-year-old Immanuel Schochet traveled from Toronto to the Lubavitch school in Brooklyn, New York. Initially, while attending the school, located in Crown Heights, close to Lubavitch World Headquarters, known as “770”, he found Chassidic life foreign. Although he enjoyed the gatherings presided by the Rebbe, he had little understanding of a Rebbe’s role and felt out of place whenever the crowd sang melodies for lengthy periods. In addition, he found the study of Chassidic texts bewildering.

His views changed one day after waiting outside 770 to wish the Rebbe a good Shabbos. “I followed the Rebbe into 770,” he recalled. “When I came to the stairs, I saw that the door was open, and it was the Rebbe himself holding the door open for me.” He said that the encounter made him feel closer to the Rebbe, who he discovered was not only brilliant but also uniquely sensitive to others.

According to those who knew him, Rabbi Schochet’s deep consideration for others, regardless of differing views, was a trait the rabbi gleaned from the Rebbe. One illustration of this took place while Rabbi Schochet was still a young student in Crown Heights. In 1954, he had remained in the neighborhood for Passover, so as to experience the Rebbe’s court. During one of the Rebbe’s gatherings, an elderly Jewish scholar entered the room. Unknown to most there, he was waging a personal battle against the Rebbe.

The room was already packed, with no place for this man to sit among the elders at the head table. He tried to inch his way over the benches and tables when someone suddenly pulled him back forcefully.

The Rebbe, watching the scene, turned white as a tablecloth, as Rabbi Schochet described. The hall grew silent and the Rebbe spoke sharply about G-d’s command to the Jewish nation not to show anger towards the Egyptians, “for you were once strangers in their land.”

“A person should never be embarrassed in this way,” the Rebbe continued, “and certainly not one who has many merits from the good deeds he has done.”

Another incident took place following the passing of Uriel Zimmer, professional translator for the Rebbe. Letters in foreign languages continued to pour in, and so Rabbi Schochet was asked to translate letters in languages in which he was fluent. Considering many of the letters too laden with detail, he suggested to the Rebbe that only relevant sentences be translated.

The Rebbe responded: “You never know what the writer expresses about himself and his pain in the seemingly non-essential parts of his or her letter. Therefore, you should translate the entire letter.

This was a lesson Rabbi Schochet took to heart: other people’s “nonsense” should never be trivialized. One must always listen. He was never a man for small talk, but questions or opinions broached by others were considered with thoughtfulness and sincerity.

One acquaintance told Rabbi Schochet’s children, “Your father could highbrow with top professors and great rabbis, yet he talks to us at our level and as our best friend.”

One Shabbat morning, a man in crisis was waiting near Rabbi Schochet’s home as he was about to make the 25 minute trek to the synagogue. For Rabbi Schochet, this walk was a sacrosanct time for quiet thought. Nevertheless, he allowed the man to accompany him. Together, they walked to the synagogue, while discussing the man’s issues at length. As they neared the synagogue, Rabbi Schochet embraced the man warmly.

Yet the man remained outside the synagogue until Rabbi Schochet completed his prayers. When the rabbi re-emerged, he happily let the man escort him home, while they continued their conversation. This act repeated itself for the next several months, until the man was able to regain his former life.

An excerpt from the forthcoming book Footprints: Challenging Lives, Huge Impact to be published by Hasidic Archives.

Dovid Zaklikowski’s latest book Learning on the Job: Jewish Career Lessons is available at your local Judaica store or Amazon.com. Bulk orders are available from RebbeAdvice@Gmail.com.

 

6 Comments

  • 1. Yasher Koach wrote:

    I seek clarification and explanation:

    (1) Was the Rabbi’s known and common given name “Immanuel” or “Jacob” (as often found “Jacob I.”)?

    (2) “Immanuel” is not a very common name – neither in Chabad or the Litvish world, so what is the origin of this name in the Schochet Family?

    (3) Did the Schochet Family escape to Toronto during World War II or were they exposed to the horrors of that war?

    (4) We all heard the famous story of the Schochet Family “becoming” Lubavitcher Chassidim, but surely they must of had very strong connections to Lubavitch prior, since the Rebbe’s closest aide was their uncle, Rabbi Hodakov?

    (5) How is it possible that one family produced so many rabbonim, rosh yeshivas, community leaders etc. that are know for their scholarship and superior intellect – that does not seem usual, and must have an explanation?

    I ask these questions in the hope that someone can shed more light on this illustrious family.

  • 2. a Loyal chosid wrote:

    Thank you Rabbi Zaklikowskyi you got his guts and portray it nicely. Perhaps too niclely.

    Rabbi Schochet was certainly ‘considerate’ of views other then the Rebbe’s, as he’d often say the Rebbe’s is not the only opinion.

    As the Rebbe told him there’s nothing wrong if he’d reference sources from chasidus and chasidim which are just as valid and equally credible as academia’s (at least according to the MLA, which has an opinion too)

    In today’s age we chasidim could use some chizuk in standing firm for our rebbeiyim’s ‘opinions.’ Our bittul to the Sitrah Achrah is a geferlicheh matzev today, and unfortunately it’s evident right here that even our mightiest giants are not immune. Let’s remember Rabbi Schochet (and certain individuals of his family) for the hiskashrus, the unwavering loyalty to the Rebbe’s will, instead of for the Rebbe’s enlightened tolerance (aka ahavaT yisroel) of Other opinions (shleimus ha’aretz, mihu yehudi, vdal)

  • 3. #1 wrote:

    1 his name is generally immanuel
    2 his mother liked the name (all of them have biblical names)
    3 escaped
    4 they were never really lubavitch
    5 smart parents produce smart children

    • 4. Yasher Koach wrote:

      Thanks for sharing the info, but can you provide some more details:
      1. If his name is generally Immanuel, why is it always published “Jabob I.” (rather than “J. Immanuel”)?
      2. Did his parents not have the need to name their children after relatives or tzaddikim / rosh yeshivos?
      3. Did they escape to Canada before the war or during the war or after the war?
      4. What was their connection to Lubavitch prior to
      “becoming” Lubavitch – I heard that the Father of the Immanuel learned Tanya and chassidus while still in Telz and Rabbi Hodakov would send him booklets authored by the Rebbe?
      5. Many smart parents do not necessarily produce smart children – I heard that the parents were given special brochas that their children and grandchildren will bring the Light of Torah to the Jewish People (from Litvish gedolim), can you confirm?
      Please share the story behind these stories!!!

  • 5. To #1 wrote:

    We all remember that Rav Immanuel Schochet OBM was not just a talmid chochom nd chassidic master but also an expert in the “New Testament” and openly debated with the “Jews for J”.

    The name Immanuel is part of his shoresh naneshama!

    The name Immanuel appears only twice in Tanach, in Isaiah ch 7:14 & 8:8.

    In 7:14 the possuk is used by the xtians translated as “the virgin will give birth” & in 8:8 they use it to reference “messiah” (whom they also call Immanuel).

    Therefore, the Rav was drawn to battle these heretics and prevent them from spreading their lies to Jewish youth – living up to his middle name Immanuel, a name by which he was known.

    Indeed, an illustrious family!

    • 6. Pshetel wrote:

      Nice pshetel. Wish it was from Sha’ar HaGilgullim and not from S’voras HaBeten.

×

Comments are closed.