Weekly Story: Renewable Energy

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

Reb Menachem Mendel Dubravsky was known as an illuy (Torah genius,) and shortly after his marriage he was asked to become Rov in a certain town.

Before Pesach (of that year or a subsequent year), he received a letter from the office of Tomchei Tmimim. The letter stated that the Yeshiva is looking for a Gemara (Talmud) melamed (teacher) for one of its younger grades.

Reb Mendel said to his wife that although the letter was written in a manner as if it was a public announcement, the fact that the Rebbe’s son sent it to me, expresses the message that the Rebbe [Rashab] desires that I accept the position. I am positive that the Rebbe’s son, despite being the menahel poel (executive director) of the Yeshiva, doesn’t do things as this on his own accord, and he definitely asked or consulted with his father, the Rebbe, if he should send this notification to me. Since the Rebbe either said that this letter should be sent to me or he allowed it to be sent to me, that shows that the message within applies to me. Simply put, the Rebbe wants me to accept the offer and become that melamed

Reb Mendel then informed the community that he will be leaving them after Pesach. After Yom Tov he traveled to Lubavitch and became the melamed for a class of boys under bar mitzvah.

As noted, the Frierdiker Rebbe was the menahel poel of the Yeshiva and wanted to know the level and progress of every student in the Yeshiva.  In general, this was accomplished by the weekly report each melamed and mashpia wrote to him regarding the students. This was the way he appraised the situation in Zhembin and the other branches of the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim that were not in Lubavitch. However, when it came to the students that were learning in Lubavitch, in addition to the reports he received, he also personally listened into the classrooms from time to time.

One summer day, the students in Reb Mendel’s class noticed that the door was slightly being pushed open. They realized that either someone is about to enter, or that the Rebbe’s son was behind the door and listening in. so they began glancing constantly at the door.

Observing that the students were being distracted, Reb Mendel stopped speaking for a moment and also glanced towards the door. Seeing that the students knew he was listening in, the Frierdiker Rebbe entered the classroom and listened to the remainder of the class.

When the class was over and the boys went home, the Frierdiker Rebbe discussed with Reb Mendel the students’ progress and other points. During their conversation, the Frierdiker Rebbe also asked Reb Mendel about his own well-being.

One of the points Reb Mendel mentioned was that the situation is exhausting and draining him of his strength.

The Frierdiker Rebbe replied that the Navi (prophet) [Yeshayahu 40:31]  states, “Vi’kohvei Hashem Yachlifoo Koach.”

Author’s note: the simple translation is that those who place their trust in Hashem, Hashem will reward them by refreshing their strength. [Some commentators explain that they won’t tire and others say it is stating that when Moshiach comes, they will be granted tremendous strength. However, the Frierdiker Rebbe explained it according to the literal meaning of Yachlifoo which means to exchange:

He explained that those who place their trust in Hashem and do His work [of educating His people in the teachings of the Torah], will have their strength that they invested into their work exchanged for Hashem’s unlimited strength which He will grant them. Therefore, you should realize that you are granted this power and vigor and shouldn’t tire.

I heard this vort from Reb Peretz Feigenson and Reb Dubrowsky (relatives of Reb Mendel) and I thank them for sharing it with me.

I chose to post it this week, as part of the farbrengen of Gimmel Tammuz. For many, these twenty-four years are daunting and may have the ability of weakening our stamina and resolve. However, we should invigorate ourselves knowing that by continuing to fulfill the mandate that the Rebbe gave us of spreading Torah and Mitzvos and thereby bringing the purpose of the creation to fruition, where everyone will see that Hashem created and directs the world, not only will we be granted back our strength, but we will be infused with the strength of the meshaylayach as well as the unlimited strength of Hashem, to finalize the last details that we are required to do in order to usher in the era of Moshiach. May it be speedily in our days.

P.S. In response to the question of what is the equivalence to tzitzis as it would apply to women to last week’s story, please see Di Rebbe Redt Tzu Kinder Parshas Mishpotim, page 113.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He is available to speak or farbreng in your community and can be reached at avtzonbooks@gmaih.com


  • 1. Thinking Chosid wrote:

    Just to be clear: He took a job as rov of a certain city, right? Which means he committed to the community to serve as their rov, right? yet that same year or the next year he gave up his position as rov and became a melamed.

    • 2. Anonymous wrote:

      Let us think together
      A manager hires and appoints a person to a certain position and everyone in that division likes the workers dedication etc.
      Then the manager transfers that accomplished worker to a different position
      Now what was your question?

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      A rov is not a slave. He committed to the community to serve as their rov for as long as it suited him. Suppose he’d been offered a more prestigious shtelle somewhere else; would you have any objection to his leaving?! Of course not. Everyone understands that if their rov is offered a better job he will take it and they will have to look for a new one. Or what if he left because he won the lottery and no longer had to work for a living? Or because he decided he was too old for the work and wished to retire? So how is it different that he left to be a melamed, or a taxi driver?

    • 4. K from BMG wrote:

      Indeed, poel yochol lachzor bo afilu bemtza hayom (a worker could resign even in mid day), so he is permitted, but tere is still the breach of his promise/commitment and the abandonment of his responsability to the community. If a replacement is easily and readily found (of similar stature as this Iluy – which might be challenging), then he has no latches to the community. However, keeping one’s word and comitment even when non-enforceable is vital. Chazal established a Mi Shepara for those who break their unenforceable commitments! We can be dan l’kaf zchus that all was done k’das u’k’din, but there is a need to clarify that one cannot simply abandon commitments. Imagine a Rebbe/teacher quitting his job mid-year because he got a better position elsewhere!!

  • 5. Der Herr wrote:

    When Milhouse comments, I always wonder…it’s never straight, there must be a twist in his logic .

    • 6. Milhouse vs K wrote:

      Notice that they sound the same: both are radical to the extreme. I wonder if they are the same person arguing with himself?!

  • 7. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

    When I and hopefully others write a story, obviously the objective is to transmit a message. Sometimes it is to the community at large other times it is a targeted audience.
    The question mentioned has validity if the situation was the he signed a multi year contract.
    However, we don’t know what the agreement was or what arrangement was made.
    Reb Mendel was a baal halacha (as was his son in law Reb Zalman Shimon), so I assume that there was a discussion with the communal leaders etc.,
    However, being that those details of over one hundred years ago were not recorded, I will be doing a disservice to all the readers to make it up. Nothing then is credible.

    So yes I let it open, for interpretation.

    However, I was taken by the question as it ignores a vital point.

    If the story is that Reb Mendel or any Rov for that matter heard about a more prominent and promising opportunity and he jumped for it, you have a right to question his decision.

    But here the change was because the Menahel poel, who happens to be the Frierdiker Rebbe and he did it with the haskama of his father the Rebbe Rashab.

    The Frierdiker Rebbe said that by the time his father was bar mitzvah his body was trained to act in accordance with shulchan aruch.

    Yet because I omitted details that I am unaware of, aspersions are being cast not only on Reb Mendel but on two Rebbeim.
    Don’t you think that they were aware of the halachos that we know.

  • 8. Renewable Energy??? wrote:

    “Renewable Energy” and picture
    i was sure it was about ……”Renewable Energy”

    • 9. Obvious wrote:

      The “renewable energy” is obvious. It does not get depleted (used up), on the contrary, the more that is used, the more energy one gets:

      “…those who place their trust in Hashem and do His work, will have their strength that they invested into their work exchanged for Hashem’s unlimited strength which He will grant them…”
      -quoted from above article.


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