by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon
The first time when Reb Nissan Nemenov came to the Rebbe was in 5755 (1955), he was asked to farbreng for the bochurim (students) in the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva, in 770.
Obviously with a man of that stature the farbrengen was attended not only by the students of the Yeshiva, but also by numerous Anash (married men of the community) as well.
One of the points he mentioned was, that when he was on the airplane, he realized it was smaller than the previous plane he flew on. So he asked the person who was flying with him, “What is the difference between this plane and the other ones we were on?”
The person replied, “This is a Jet, which by design it is smaller, in order that it can go faster and higher than its predecessors.”
Reb Nissan continued, I thought to myself, the Baal Shem Tov tells us that everything that a Jew sees or hears, is for a reason. And the reason is that he should learn a lesson from it in his Avodas (service of) Hashem. So now that I am not only witnessing it, but actually experiencing it, there must be something to learn from it, and I pondered on it for a while.
After thinking it over for a while, I came to the following conclusion; It is well known that we feel that in so many ways, we are not as good as the chassidim of the previous generations. They truly davened at length with tremendous intensity, as all the Rebbeim desired, they not only understood Chassidus but they lived Chassidus and had exemplary Anavas achim (love for another chossid and Jew), etc.
We, like the Jet I flew on are smaller than them in those and other aspects. However, at the same time we are not to forget that a jet can go higher and will arrive at its destination faster than its predecessors. That is telling us, our “smallness” can be used for our advantage. Notwithstanding our shortcomings, never-the-less, we can soar higher and accomplish things much faster than the “Bigger” chassidim of yesteryear. All that is expected from, is to use our “diminished” abilities to their fullest; we should make sure to daven with pirush hamilos (understanding the meaning of the words of the tefillos).
Rabbi Leibel Groner related that the following morning when he entered the Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe inquired of him if he participated in the farbrengen of the previous night. When I replied in the affirmative, the Rebbe requested that I repeat to him some of the thoughts that the mashpia, Reb Nissan addressed.
When I repeated this thought, the Rebbe said, “I also think so!”
So let us “small people” do what we are capable of and soar to great heights and accomplishments.
P.S. In response to the numerous inquiries about the source of last week’s story, I took it from Igros kodesh of the Frierdiker Rebbe volume 7 pages 20-21.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech in the United Lubavitch Yeshiva on Ocean Parkway and is available to farbreng in your city. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.