Weekly Story: The Power of a Chassidishe Farbrengen
Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
As I am about to reprint Reb Hillel Paritcher, with an additional 64 pages, I am posting the following the following story that the Frierdiker Rebbe wrote behind this saying that Reb Hillel publicized about the power of a chassidishe farbrengen: Your good wishes and feedback is always appreciated.
It was the summer of 5649 (1889), and the noteworthy chossid Reb Gershon Dov of Paher came to visit Lubavitch. Additional outstanding chassidim were also visiting then, such as Reb Abba Person, Reb Menachem Monish Monesohn, Reb Chanoch Hendel, Reb Meir Mordechai, and Reb Abba. This was besides the known chassidim who lived in Lubavitch, such as Reb Nissan Skoblo (who was the Frierdiker Rebbe’s teacher), Reb Aharon the chozer, and Reb Yaakov Koppel Seligson.
One day, these chassidim gathered at the lodging of Reb Menachem Monish. Reb Gershon Dov, who was one of Reb Hillel’s outstanding students, related that he had heard Reb Hillel speak in tremendous praise of a chassidishe gathering. Reb Hillel had said, “What a chassidishe farbrengen can accomplish, even the angel Michoel cannot accomplish.”
Reb Gershon Dov related that Reb Hillel heard this saying from is mentor Reb Zalman Zezmer. Reb Hillel continued that Reb Zalman related the following story that had occurred with the elder chassidim of Reb Menachem Mendel of Horodok. After Reb Menachem Mendel went to Eretz Yisroel, they became chassidim of the Alter Rebbe.
They were once farbrenging in Horodok, reviewing some of the teachings of Reb Menachem Mendel. The Alter Rebbe was present as well. After a while, someone brought some mashke, and the farbrengen continued. Among the group was a chossid who suffered from a debilitating sickness for which the doctors said they had no cure. He began to cry and plead that the assembled bless him with a complete recovery.
Some of the assembled replied, “Do you think we simple individuals have the ability to bless someone? That power was only given to a few truly elevated people in each generation.”
The chossid didn’t accept this response, and he persisted in pleading with them to bless him. His emotions became so intense that he broke out in a painful cry from the depths of his heart.
Those chassidim who had said there was nothing they could do began singing, hoping this would calm him down and help him relax.
Suddenly, the Alter Rebbe exclaimed “Sha!” and everyone was quiet. He then said, “My brothers and friends! Have you forgotten the piece of parchment that descended from heaven during a gathering of the holy chevraya. The note stated, ‘What a chassidishe farbrengen can accomplish, even the angel Michoel cannot accomplish.’”
When the assembled remembered this saying, they became inspired with a passion of friendship, and together as one they blessed this chossid.
The Alter Rebbe then explained how is it that the blessing of [even ordinary] Jews can accomplish more than the intercession of the angel Michoel. The Alter Rebbe gave the following beautiful parable:
“By their very nature, when young children see a good item, they desire it for themselves. They have no interest or concern in sharing it with their friends. They are very possessive of their belongings, and they are also naturally jealous of something a friend has which they do not. Many of them get angry easily and have other negative character traits. Parents have tremendous pain from such children.
“A couple with children like these once searched for someone who would improve their children’s behavior. They found a wonderful educator and hired him to guide and educate them.
“After some time, the parents noticed that their children were now conducting themselves with love, friendship, and peace among themselves. Each one strived to fulfill the other’s wishes and was concerned about the other’s benefits as if they were his personal concern. Sometimes they even put their own interests aside and focused instead on their friend’s needs and desires.
“Seeing this, the parents were filled with delight over their children’s conduct and went out of their way to fulfill their requests. This is in addition to the excellent remuneration they gave to the educator.
“[Similarly, when Hashem sees the love between chassidim as it is expressed in a chassidishe farbrengen, He is filled with joy and pleasure, and He happily fulfills the brachos they wish each other.]”
After relating this story, Reb Zalman Zezmer concluded, “A brochah from chassidim can initiate more heavenly compassion than the compassion initiated by the angel Michoel.”
After Reb Gershon Dov conveyed these words of Reb Zalman, he noted that Reb Hillel added, “I would like to give an explanation of my own on that holy saying, ‘What a good, brotherly chassidishe farbrengen can accomplish, even the angel Michoel cannot accomplish.’ Not only can a brochah of chassidim during a farbrengen accomplish in thre material world, be it with children, health, or sustenance, even more than what is accomplished through the intercession of the angel Michoel. Additionally, a chassidishe farbrengen accomplishes in the spiritual sense by improving the daily conduct of the participants—Hashem’s children, giving Him tremendous pleasure.”
I will conclude with a story that occurred years ago. Reb Mendel Futerfas noticed a former student standing in line waiting to for the Rebbe. After greeting him warmly, he asked how everything is going. The person replied, it is almost ten years since our marriage and we have yet to be blessed with a child.
Reb Mendel grabbed his hand and said, By next year you and your wife will be blessed with a child.
The following Tishrei Reb Mendel once again noticed him standing in line, but this time he was holding an infant. After greeting him and wishing him a hearty mazal tov, Reb Mendel added, I knew you would have a child.
The person was somewhat shocked and asked, “Do you have ruach hakodesh?”
No, he replied. However, when I blessed you last year, I blessed you from the depths of my heart, and as Reb Hillel such a blessing is always fulfilled.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanch and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kovetz michtovim in the back of the Tehillim, pp. 198 – 200.
- Also known as Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.
- The Frierdiker Rebbe notes of our teacher, which normally means the Maggid.