Weekly Story: Our Conversations

by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon

Last week was Tes Kislev, the date of the Mitteler Rebbe’s birth and histalkus, as well as Yud Kislev, the day the Mitteler Rebbe was freed from his house arrest. In this weeks’ column I will like to share a story that I said in 770, on Tes Kislev, that was Boruch Hashem well accepted.

As is known, the Mitteler Rebbe expressed; that his wish is that when two chassidim meet, their discussion will be on the concepts of Yichud Ilu’lah and Yichud Tatu’ah – the concepts that describe how Everything in the Universe is truly G-dly or at least that we should understand that the existence of everything is dependent upon Hashem.

Some or many may say, to be holding by these concepts, tnd especially to the extent that that is our daily conversation, one has to be truly lofty and extremely spiritual themselves. However, sadly to say, I personally am not as of now, holding by that level. So how is this saying and request of the Mitteler Rebbe relevant to me?

Allow me to answer with the following incident.

When I was a student in 770, I heard the following from older bochrim. There was a bochur, whose father was not a chossid, yet he enrolled his son(s) in 770. The other students wanted to know, what was his connection to Lubavitch or the Rebbe and they asked their classmate, if he is willing to share with them, what brought him to Lubavitch.

The boy said as follows:

You all know my father, He is a respected Litvishe Rov. When it came for me to be enrolled in a beis hamidrash, my father had a question, which Yeshiva is best suited for me. Although he is extremely learned, he is a modest person and he said, who am I to test and decide which Rosh haYeshiva gives a better class? Each and every one of them has his own strengths, in which he surpasses the other. One can give a better shiur in one mesechta, and the other gives a better shiur in a different mesechta. So who am I to choose amongst these giants? In my eyes they are all giants.

But at the same time, he wanted to choose a Yeshiva for me.

So he decided to go from one Yeshiva to another, and see who are the boys with whom I will be spending my days with. And he began touring various Yeshivos. But no, he didn’t go into the Beis hamidrash (study hall) and listen to their learning, he went to their dining room and listened onto their conversations.

In one yeshiva, the conversation was about worldly current events, in another it was about governmental politics (maybe it was election season), and in a third it was about sports and so on. Obviously he wouldn’t entertain a thought about a Yeshiva where the students spoke about something that one should not discuss, but here all of these topics are permissible ones to discuss and sometimes are even proper topics of discussion. But he wasn’t happy. He kept on saying, I am not sending MY SON to learn those subjects. I want his conversation to be Torah!

A few weeks passed and he wasn’t sufficiently satisfied. He knew that he had to make a decision, but it wasn’t what he wanted. One day a friend of his asked him, how is the search going and he replied, not too good. So the friend asked and why don’t you check out Lubavitch?

My father looked at him incredulously. I am a Litvak, what connection do I have with Lubavitch?

The friend noticed the look and understood the question, and said, If you are truly looking, you have to look all over. If not, that shows that something else is bothering you, and it is not the students conduct.

Hearing thee words of truth, my father recognized the truth in them and came to our ‘grand dining room’. I don’t have to tell, he was not pleased with its looks, but he said, I am here only to hear the conversations.

Sitting down at one table, he took out his pen and paper as if he was writing a letter and waited. The boys entered, greeted him and started to talk amongst themselves. One boy said, guys I heard last night from so and so a phenomenal story that the Rashbatz once said. After he concluded talking another boy said, I will pay you back and relate to you a story I heard in the name of Gronem (the first mashpia in Tomchei Tmimim).

Hearing this and the other boys reactions and comments on these two stories, my father said: If this is their conversation on their own time, I am positive that their conversation in the Beis hamidrash is also a superior one, and that is how I became a student in the Rebbe’s yeshiva.

So yes, our everyday conversation reflects who we essentially are, and when we discuss a sicha or mammar of the Rebbe, or our shiurim in Chitas, Rambam as well as the mesechta we took upon ourselves in Chalukas hashas for this upcoming year, and whatever other shiurim we have, or if we are talking about mivtza Chanukah and chassidishe stories etc., that my friends is Yichud Ilu’lah and Yichud Tatu’ah and we are fulfilling the Mitteler Rebbe’s and all of the Rebbeim’s wishes.

We are holding onto the klamkeh, the Rebbe’s doorknob!

Being that today is chof Kislev, the day the Alter Rebbe was truly liberated. (While he was informed on Yud Tes (the 19th of) kislev, that the Czar had declared him innocent of all charges and he is free, he was mistakenly, or as we say by hashgaco protis, taken to the house of one of his opponents, and only some hours later did he gain his freedom. In fact the Alter Rebbe said that the torment of those few hours was greater than the preceding 53 days.)

I take the opportunity to wish all of the readers and indeed all Anash, a gut yom tov, lshana tova tikuseivoo b’limud hachassidus u’bidarkei hachassidus.

Rabbi Sholom Avtzon is a veteran Mechanech and author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com.


  • 1. Thank you Rabbi Avtzon! wrote:

    A beautiful, deep story. I hope your readers, including me, internalize it!

    • 3. Really? wrote:

      A father wants a good environment for his son and apparently the son wants the same, and your reaction is to exclude him? Brush up on the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings about spreading the wellsprings of Torah, not to mention ahavas Yisroel. If, in theory, we have “our own” that don’t want to learn, we should provide kosher alternatives for them to learn a trade. Not everyone is cut out to be Av Bais Din or Rosh haYeshiva.


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