Weekly Story: Chitas

by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon

I am posting a thought I shared at a farbrengen on Shabbos Bereshis. Your feedback is always welcomed and appreciated. 

In 5702 (1942) the Frierdiker Rebbe began a worldwide campaign of memorizing Mishnayos. The entire six sets were divided and each participant was instructed what to learn. 

Sometime later, our Rebbe was speaking at a gathering or farbrengen and he quoted verbatim the commentary of the Bartenura on a Mishna.

Knowing that it wasn’t the Rebbe’s style to demonstrate his abilities, someone asked him why he deviated from his regular conduct?

The Rebbe replied, “The Mishnayos that was allotted to me to learn, I already knew so how was I going to fulfill the Rebbe’s instruction of learning it by heart? So I decided to learn the main commentary by heart.”

A nice anecdote of the Rebbe, but how is it connected to Shabbos Bereshis? 

On Simchas Torah and Shabbos Bereshis, the Rebbe would farbreng for many hours, speaking on many topics. However, one of the topics that he always mentioned was about the importance and necessity of learning Chitas.

Yes, there were some guests who were not Lubavitchers and a small percentage of Lubavitchers possibly were not adhering to this guidance of learning Chitas on a daily basis. 

However, would the Rebbe speak about something that wasn’t applicable to the vast majority of those attending?

But from the above anecdote, we see that the Rebbe was speaking to each individual who was there. Yes you are saying and indeed learning Chitas on a daily basis, but if this is what you did in the previous year, perhaps it is time to enhance your learning. Maybe you should learn an additional commentary (as the Rebbeim did) or learn one possuk and Rashi in depth (as the Rebbe discussed in regard to the learning of Rambam to learn one halacha in depth).

As I was leaving the farbrengen one participant told me that once his father-in-law received a reply from the Rebbe to the letter he had written “To be especially careful in the learning of Chitas.”

He went over to Rabbi Binyamin Klein and asked, “What did the Rebbe mean? There isn’t a day that I don’t learn Chitas before going to sleep.”

Reb Binyamin replied, “That is exactly what the Rebbe was telling you, you are to learn Chitas during the day after Shacharis and not at night.”

One person said the reason for this is that in the morning your head is clearer than at night. Another individual stated that by night it is already connected to the following day. This is why we are allowed to learn the daily Chitas on Tisha  B’Av in the afternoon and not postpone it until after Maariv.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

Be the first to comment!

The comment must be no longer than 400 characters 0/400