Weekly Dar Torah: A Propitious Day and A Time of Divine Grace and Beneficence
Hey Teves, the fifth of Teves, the Rebbe declared as the holiday of the books, an auspicious day, יום סגולה ועת רצון = a propitious day and a time of divine grace and beneficence.
There was a challenge to the ownership of the holy library of the Frierdiker Rebbe, as to whether it was private property and part of an estate to be shared by the inheritors, or is it a holy library of books belonging to the Chassidim.
Those who witnessed the pain that the Rebbe suffered over the 18 months since the beginning of the trial of the Seforim, realized that this was not a fight about a treasure of precious books. It was obvious that this was about a much deeper challenge on the essence of a Rebbe. The Rebbe’s victory in court made it clear that this was a major victory and breakthrough to benefit Chassidim and Chassidus.
When the Rebbe explained to us Chassidim why this library is so precious, and why it belongs to Chassidim, he gave us some very powerful insights regarding the Frierdiker Rebbe’s eternal life.
1) Books are the Rebbe’s life, and that he lives in his books, so if you take away some of his books you are tampering with his life.
2) A Rebbe’s life is not a life of flesh. His life is of Torah and Mitzvos and connection to G-d, and this life never ceases and continues to live forever.
3) A Rebbe is all about self-nullification, he is completely selfless, and he is totally subjugated to his mission to lead his flock to be devoted to Hashem, and he does so by setting a living example.
4) A Rebbe is absolute, he is the personification of absolute truth.
5) The Rebbe, even after his passing lives on, in and through his Chassidim, and he continues to thrive and to be more active than ever before.
6) The Rebbe has no personal existence but that he is all about his Chassidim, and just like the Rebbetzin testified, he and his belongings belong to the Chassidim.
In the court ruling which decided the case in favor of the Rebbe, the judge highlighted the fact that a Rebbe is the absolute personification of truth. The judge also recognized that the Rebbe and his possessions belong to Chassidim.
Why was it relevant to teach all these aspects and qualities of a Rebbe?
At the time in 1985/6 we had a Rebbe who for 35 years was successfully leading us his Chassidim, and through us he transformed the Jewish scene all over the world. The Rebbe was teaching us the deepest concepts of Torah. Technically speaking he was a very charismatic leader who had so much success in whatever he was doing as Rebbe.
So, why did the Rebbe feel it important to tell us all about a seemingly absent Rebbe that he continues to live on 35 years after his passing?
I venture to say that the Rebbe was talking about the future. The Rebbe foresaw that there will come a time when Chassidim will look back to the golden years and wonder what happened. The Rebbe knew that a new generation will be born, and they will ask “why don’t I have a Rebbe?”
The Rebbe gave us the tools to deal with such a difficulty, he explained to us that the Rebbe continues to live on and that he is present in our lives. He also showed us how to connect with, and relate to the Rebbe’s presence, by studying his books.
Being that the Rebbe is a Neshama Klalis, an all-encompassing soul, which is bonded with the souls of all the Jews of his generation, every one of our souls feels and experiences the Rebbe even now. These are ideas that we will find when we study the books which are part of his life.
Also, since his life is about spirituality which never ceases to exist, our souls connect because he is the leader of our generation, and he is our communal soul. And since he personifies the absolute truth, his word is the absolute truth.
In summary on Hey Teves we celebrate the fact that even if it’s 28 years since we last saw the Rebbe, and it’s 30 years since we last heard the Rebbe, he lives on and continues to lead us. And he guides us to follow in his ways, and he blesses us to continue doing what he instructs us.
L’chaim Chassidim, we have a Rebbe who on this auspicious day blesses us with divine grace and beneficence, all we need to do is connect and we will be blessed.
Have a blessed and joyful Shabbos,
Rabbi Yosef Katzman