Monthly Archives: August 2010

Uman Rosh Hashana

The human side of a Rebbe

With strict confidentiality assured, correspondent could open up their hearts to the rebbe and receive the same response as they would have done in a ‘tete-a-tete’ (yechidut).  Indeed, in some respects, the written had obvious advantages over the personal, or oral, yechidut- advantages enjoyed by both the Rebbe and the Chassid. The advantage to the Rebbe would manifest itself both in term of time and strain.

Originally, the Rebbe devoted three nights a week – literally – to seeing people, most of these sessions lasting almost till dawn. While each audience was limited to several minutes, rarely more than ten, in order to give the maximum number of people an opportunity to see him and discuss their problems, very few of these people realized the strain that was imposed on the Rebbe as the night progressed, with people entering and leaving in rapid succession, each one with his story to tell.

A direct consequent of this was that the Rebbe had first to immerse him in the problem of the individual who had just entered and give his advice and blessing; then, as the party left, divest himself of this stage completely and without so much as a pause, receive the next visitor and go through the same process all over again. Being a man of great sensitivity, he was certainly deeply affected by the anguish of the sufferer, yet he had to conceal this inner state, so as to appear more detached and give the impression that things were not as desperate as they seemed, and encourage the person to have true faith in Hashem and confidence that G-ds help was on the way. In other words, though his natural inclination would have been to weep with the visitor, the Rebbe had to show a smiling face in order to bolster that very vital trust and faith in G-d that a Jew has to have under any circumstances.

The rigors of this process are amply illustrated by the following. The Previous Rebbe’s daughter, who would attend to him after a yechidut session, confided to me on that she had to giver her father a change of undershirt, as the first one was soaking wet!

(The letter and the spirit – Rabbi Nissan Mindel (Personal secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) pg XIII to XIV)