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The Rebbe Rashab: Salvation for the Bold

מאת לא ידוע - Chabad Library:, שימוש חופשי,

Rebbe Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson, (the Rebbe Rashab) the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, was the founder of the Lubavitch yeshivah network, Tomchei Temimim, and was called ‘the Rambam of Chassidut.’ He was born on the 20th of Cheshvan in 5621 (November 1860) and passed away on the second of Nissan, 5680 (1920). He was laid to rest in Rostov, Russia.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe related a story he had heard from his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe Rashab’s son:

Once the Rebbe Rayatz was in his father’s study. The Rebbe Rashab took all the letters that he had recently received and scanned them. The Rebbe Rayatz saw that there were letters that his father read quickly, while he would spend a long time reading others. When he asked his father the reason for this, he answered: “I scan the letters quickly to see if there is someone in need of prayer. When I see that all is fine with the writer, I continue on.  But when I see the name of someone who needs prayers, I immediately pray for him.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe related that the Rebbe Rayatz added: “The chasidim do not realize how great was my father’s love for his people; even before they would turn to him, he would already pray for them and take care of their needs.”

The chasid Rabbe Yaakov Landau, the Chief of the Rabbinical Court in Bnei Brak, related that he witnessed the following story:

Once a very important and well-to-do man entered the Rebbe Rashab’s study with a request for the recovery of his only son. The son was very ill and the doctors had given up hope. “Please promise me that my son will be completely healed,” he begged the Rebbe Rashab.

“I cannot promise,” the Rebbe Rashab replied.

The father heard this and he boldly exclaimed, “Rebbe! If it is not in your power to help me, then I have no claim upon you. But if you do have the power to save me, what about the verse, ‘You shall not stand on the blood of your neighbor?’”[1]

Rabbi Landau testified: “I saw the Rebbe’s face turn completely white, and he sunk into deep, holy thought. He then asked the father of the boy to exit the room and wait there until he called him. After some time, the father was called to enter and the Rebbe said to him, “With God’s help, your son will have a complete recovery.”

In the second story, the bold demand of the father caused the Rebbe to bless his son. The story had a happy ending, but from a certain perspective, the father’s question remained hanging in the air: If the Rebbe could have blessed his son, why did he wait for the urging of the chasid? This question becomes even more potent in light of the great love that the Rebbe had for his chasidim, as was depicted in our first story

The answer is that there are many levels within a true rebbe and tzaddik. Not every person meets the rebbe at the same level and with the same intensity. In keeping with the secret of the “image” (צֶלֶם), or tzelem, as explained in Kabbalah, we can explain that the tzelem shines in the tzaddik completely, with the three components of his soul: The letter tzaddik (צ) of tzelem parallels the inner, conscious light of the soul; the letter lamed (ל) of tzelem parallels the tzaddik’s constant state of renewal; the letter mem (ם) of tzelem parallels the power of the tzaddik’s self-sacrifice.

The conscious light of the soul, alluded to in the letter tzaddik, is relevant to the chasidim who approach the rebbe as an ordinary tzaddik, or even as the tzaddik of the generation (and as a result arouse within the rebbe this aspect—as the rebbe mirrors their confidence in him). At this level, it may be that the rebbe can promise nothing. All he can do is feel the sorrow of his chasid.

When the father in our story manifested the level of yechidah in his soul with his boldness, the Rebbe immediately felt that his words were emanating from the inner point of his heart. At that point, a much loftier level manifested itself in the Rebbe.

If the Rebbe was at the level of tzaddik with the letter tzaddik of tzelem, then at the level of the mem of tzelem, he is the Mashiach. But while the word Mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ) begins with a regular mem (מ), the mem of tzelem is at the end of the word and is thus written as a final mem (ם). The two are not the same. There is an amazing explanation for this. In the verse about the Mashiach, “for increased governance and everlasting peace”[2] (לְםַרְבֵּה הַמִּשְׂרָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם אֵין קֵץ), the first word has a final mem as the second letter in the word, which is not according to the rules of grammar. This alludes to the fact that the final mem of the Rebbe is the aspect of Mashiach in him. This itself is the self-sacrifice that he has for his people. [For those who are more familiar with the intricacies of Torah: This dovetails nicely with the fact that according to the Alter Rebbe’s ruling, “You shall not stand on the blood of your neighbor” remains obligatory when there is danger].

When the Rebbe prays to God from the yechidah in his soul, salvation comes quickly and his prayers flow to him easily (as Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa said when he was asked about his confidence in the recovery of an ill person for whom he prayed: “If my prayer flows easily from my mouth, I know that it has been accepted…”[3]). When a rebbe accesses and prays from this deep point in his soul, there are no obstacles in the way. It is possible to ascend infinitely to God and to draw down infinite salvation. When this is the case, it is possible to promise that with God’s help, the child will regain his health.

The secretary of the Rebbe the Rashab [who later was the secretary of his son, the Rebbe Rayatz] said that the Rebbe the Rayatz related that miracles like the story above were commonplace with the Rebbe Rashab. The greatest miracle, however, was that nobody paid attention to them. This amazing fact is reminiscent of the words of the Alter Rebbe regarding his rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch: “In Mezritch, the miracles would be rolling under the table, and nobody had the time to pick them up.” The same can be said for the Rebbe the Rashab, who was similar to the Maggid in many ways.  (Both were named Dov Ber). With the Rebbe Rashab, his chasidim were so engaged in his deep chasidic teachings that they removed their thoughts from the miracles.

In Kabbalistic terms, the story is based on intellect (mochin), in this case, on the teachings of Chasidut that enclothe the light of the crown (the keter)—the yechidah in the soul from which the miracles are drawn down. This type of enclothement creates a connection between the great light and its recipients. It also provides a level of concealment, so that their eyes will not be blinded by the light

 [1] Leviticus 19:16.

[2] Isaiah 9:6.

[3] Mishnah Bקrachot 5:5.

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