by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon
Rabbi Lazer Naness was sentenced in Soviet Russia to twenty years of imprisonment because of his adherence to Torah and Mitzvos. When he was freed and then finally allowed to leave the USSR, he settled in Eretz Yisroel. Shortly afterwards he came to the Rebbe, and in his first Yechidus, he told the Rebbe the following:
It was in 5676 (1917) and I informed the Rebbe Rashab that I will be going home (for whatever the reason was). The Rebbe replied, I should have a safe trip and he requested if I can take along a letter of his and deliver it to the Rebbe’s father, Reb Levi Yitzchok. Even if it would have been out of my way, I definitely would have agreed to have the zechus to be a messenger of the Rebbe, and especially as it wasn’t out of the way.
I delivered the letter and planned on continuing my trip, in order to arrive at my parents’ house before Shabbos. However, the Reb Levi Yitzchok asked me if I can remain there for Shabbos. Being that he requested it, I agreed, after all, I have experienced many shabbosim with my parents, but this would be a new experience.
Before Shabbos he asked me to please review for him the last maamar Chassidus I heard from the Rebbe Rashab and I did so. On Shabbos day and by Shalosh seudos he reviewed the maamar and added his own explanations and thoughts.
Sunday morning after I davened, I bade Reb Levik farewell.
Taking my hand he said I would like to show you something and it will come to help you (“ess veit zein tzu’nootz”). He then took me to a room and showed me his oldest son [The Rebbe], sitting and learning. The Rebbe (who was then fourteen) was so involved in his learning that he didn’t notice we entered and were looking at him, he continued his learning.
Seeing that Reb Lazer finished his narrative, the Rebbe asked him, Hust ess tzunootzed gikumin – Did it benefit/help you?
Reb Lazer smiled broadly, The Rebbe sees that I survived the twenty years and I am here.
Posted in honor of Chof Av, the yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s father HaRav Levi Yitzchok, which is this Shabbos.
Epilouge: Either then or on a different occasion the Rebbe told Reb Lazer, “The twenty years that they took away from you, are not going to be counted in your allotted years. Indeed Reb Lazer lived a long life.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran Mechanech and author of numerous books, and is available to farbreng in your community. He can be contacted at Avtzonbooks@gmail.com.