This picture, which I recently found, reminded me of a Yechidus that my father, Reb Avrohom Dovid Tennenhaus OBM, had with the Rebbe the night of Yud Shvat, 5711 – the evening before the Rebbe officially assumed leadership.
As recorded in Yimei Breishis, many Anash from Montreal had Yechidus that night, and pledged their Hiskashrus to the Rebbe. My father did the same, as he was dedicated to both the Frierdiker Rebbe, with whom he had two Yechidus’n (and substantial correspondence), and to the Rebbe, who knew my father before the Nesius and with whom he had an extensive correspondence and relationship.
My father, originally a Viznitzer Chossid, was befriended by the nine Shluchim who came to Montreal in 1942, and from the first day of the Rebbe’s Nesius, jumped to involve himself Bgufo, Bnafsho, UBmomono with every Mitzvah campaign the Rebbe started.
When my father walked into Yechidus that night, he also expressed a feeling, and told the Rebbe “Why do you need this headache? You won’t have a second for yourself! You could sit by yourself and learn without any aggravation.” He told me that he said this because he knew the Rebbe, how private of a person he was, and he cared for the Rebbe’s personal wellbeing. The Rebbe told my father “If I have Chassidim who are dedicated, and they work for me, it will then be worthwhile to accept the Nesius.” The next night, the Rebbe elaborated on this theme, as everyone is familiar with the Sichos, how in Lubavitch, unlike elsewhere, one doesn’t rely completely on the Rebbe, but every Chossid is expected to do his share.
Sure enough, in 1967, when Mivtza Tefillin started, my father was a pioneer, as he put on Tefillin with all the boys, every day, in Herzliah High School (one of the schools he taught in), many of whom came from unobservant homes. Soon after, he moved to the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, where he established, with the assistance of the Protestant School Board(!), a special classroom for the Tfillin Club! The Vaad Ha’ir of Montreal bought many pairs of Tefillin for the Tefillin Club. Scores of boys came in before school and were helped by my father to put on Tefillin. Tefillin Clubs were also established in Strathcona, Outremont and Wagar High Schools.
The picture is from Wagar High School, in the early 1970s. It is safe to say, that thousands of times a year (several hundred times each week), boys put on Tefillin with my father. Over the years, my father had the Zchus to help boys put on Tefillin tens of thousands of times! Over the course of my 32 years of Shlichus, I have met hundreds of men, some now fully observant, whose first connection to Yiddishkeit was putting on Tefillin with my father. They also remind me that besides all the spiritual rewards for putting on Tefillin, it was no secret, that if you put on Tefiilin with Mr. Tennenhaus, you would pass French – the subject he taught!
When I found the picture this past Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Bo, the Parsha of Tefillin, it reminded me of my father’s Yechidus on Yud Shvat 5711, which motivated a Chassid to always “be dedicated and work for the Rebbe,” so that in the Rebbe’s words, “for this it was worthwhile to accept the Nesius.”