by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
Three weeks ago on Parshas Shelach I wrote an article titled Continuing the Conversation, about the mitzvah of tzitzis. One the comments on it was:
“If Tzitis is SO important – why wasn’t it included in the Mivtzoyim?”
Many chilled among us (sometimes called Chabad Light) keep the mivtzoyim like never missing teffilin or kashrus or candle lighting. We do so in respect of the Rebbe MHM, but often choose to neglect tzitzis, tznius etc. especially in summer.
So as noted at the end of last weeks’ story, I will continue the conversation and reply to your question via another story.
In the early years of the Rebbe’s Nesius, one of the conditions that the Rebbe gave in order for him to be mesader kiddushin was that the chosson begin letting his beard grow and refrain from shaving or trimming it. However, this could only encourage a bochur to grow his beard, how about one that was already married? And we see from the following story that the Rebbe placed emphasis on that group as well.
Once in a yechidus the Rebbe instructed Reb — to convince his friend Reb — to begin growing his beard. However, the Rebbe stated, you are not allowed to say that it is from me.
Being that the Rebbe gave him this clear directive the chossid, set out to fulfill the Rebbe’s wish and instruction. So at the next chassidishe farbrengen, the individual who was given this instruction, sat near his friend and spoke about the importance and kedusha of a beard.
We all know that some chassidim in Russia and elsewhere, had actual mesiras nefesh to keep their beard untouched. However, others who witnessed what the communists etc., did to those who proudly wore their beard, didn’t have the stomach etc. for the possible brutality that they might be dealt with, and shaved it. Who am I to judge them? Boruch Hashem, I didn’t have to endure the hardship and suffering that they did.
But now that we are in this wonderful country, there is no reason or excuse why anyone who is a chossid of the Rebbe, shaves. We should go with pride and shtutltz.
Being that his friend wasn’t the only individual that shaved, it wasn’t seen as if he was speaking to anyone personally, rather he mentioned this, as an example of conducting oneself in the ways of chassidim.
In subsequent farbrengens and friendly chats, he broached the point directly and tried to convince him.
At first his friend simply ignored it and changed the conversation to other topics. But as his friend was becoming more and more persistent, he was becoming annoyed. So he decided to answer him once and for all, and close the conversation.
So he replied, Tell me my friend how often do you have a Yechidus with the Rebbe?
A few times a year, he replied.
And I, have a Yechidus with the Rebbe on average at least once a month. Don’t you know that the Rebbe entrusts me to deal on his behalf with communal issues and guides me through them. Whenever I need further guidance I have a Yechidus! Obviously I am not at liberty to divulge any point that the Rebbe is or was involved in, but it suffices to say that I stop whatever I am doing in my personal business and indeed life, in order to take care of the Rebbe’s work.
The Rebbe knows that I put aside my own interests to take care of his. So if the Rebbe wants me to grow my beard, all he has to do is mention it, and it is done. But you know why the Rebbe never told me to grow a beard; it is because he feels just as I feel, that my communal activity will be more successful, because I don’t have a beard.
So please let us remain friends, but stop pestering me.
The first person didn’t know what to reply. This person feels that he is fulfilling the Rebbe’s will by not having a beard. And the Rebbe knows all he has to do is hint it and it is done, so he requested another yechidus to discuss it with the Rebbe, and stated that the person says, it is with the Rebbe’s agreement not to have a beard.
The Rebbe replied, what he told you is true. He is active and achieves positive results in his communal askanus (activities). However, I can not ask him to grow a beard, because then I will have two beards one on my face and one on his face, and I don’t need that. My desire is that HE grows HIS beard. It should be from him. You should inspire him to do so, on his own. That will be the proper thing.
Hearing this, the chossid realized that he must persevere in his mission, and thoughtfully changed his approach, until he succeeded and the person chose to let his beard grow.
So in response to your question, wearing tzitzis, as discussed in that article is a declaration of our love to Hashem. Yes in the summer it is hot and humid, but don’t we always go out of our way for a friend, spouse and child? Doing more than we think is expected is the way we express our friendship. “I am doing this for you!” The fact that you would be more comfortable without it, yet you choose to proudly wear it, is a genuine expression of you true connection and love.
Especially in the days after yud beis yud gimmel Tammuz, when at your farbrengen you discussed that the mesiras nefesh of today is, as the Rebbe taught us, forgoing your own comfort zone, in order to fulfill the will of Hashem. You are doing this because it is your personal expression.
May you have a healthy and enjoyable summer.
To continue this conversation even further please look up the story I Am A Schneersonki published two years ago, (posted on July 29, 2016) in honor of yud beis yud gimmel Tammuz.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He is available to speak or farbreng in your community and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org