Weekly Chasidic Story #798 (s5773-27 / 29 Adar 5773)
A “Real Rebbe” Criterion
The “Razo” counseled the “Reshab” to make sure henceforth to pray looking at the words in the Siddur prayerbook and not by heart.
Connection: Seasonal–93rd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Reshab
One day in 1866, when the Rebbe Rashab – an acronym for Rabbi Sholom [Dov-]Ber, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe-to-be–was five years old, he and his brother [Shneur-] Zalman Aharon decided to play “chasid and Rebbe.” The Raza [an acronym for Rabbi Zalman Aharon], who was about a year and a half older, would act as Rebbe and the Rashab would be the chasid entering the Rebbe’s room for private audience. The Raza sat on a chair and straightened his hat, and the Rashab belted his waist as preparation for coming to ask him for a tikun-a [soul] rectification.
“For what are you asking a tikkun?” the Raza asked.
The Rashab replied, “This past Shabbos I ate some nuts, and later found out that the Alter Rebbe [their great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe] writes that it is preferable to refrain from eating nuts on Shabbos.” **
The Raza counseled him to make sure henceforth to pray looking at the words in the Siddur prayer-book and not by heart.
“Your advice won’t help, and you’re not a Rebbe!” exclaimed the Rashab.
“Why not?” asked his puzzled brother.
“When a Rebbe answers, he is supposed to sigh. You didn’t sigh, so your advice is no good!”
Retelling this incident, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of our generation (1902-1994) commented that when one Jew helps another, the assistance itself is not enough; what is vital is his sigh, empathizing with the other’s pain. Doing a favor for another for the sake of merit and improving oneself, for the sake of one’s own self-perfection, without feeling the other’s heartache, is not kindness, but the opposite.
Editor’s note: ** Due to technical problems involved in the disposal of the shells-see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 319:9.
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles primarily from Lma’an Yishme’u #122, and from other Chabad sources.
Connection: Seasonal — The 93rd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Reshab falls this Wednesday (2 Nissan).
Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.