Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sweat and all

A young child was looking for his father.

It was years ago, during Shavuos, right outside 770.

A humble corner on Eastern Parkway was packed with people, strollers, and running children. Shul was out, and everyone was waiting to watch the Rebbe leave.

It was a hot day. Sweat trickled down the foreheads of eager onlookers.

But, while everyone was looking for the Rebbe, one young child was lost in a sea of black. He too wanted to see the Rebbe, and his mother had encouraged him to brave the swarms with his father. But now, his father had dissolved into the black mass, nowhere to be found.

All of a sudden, the Chassidim started singing. The crowd got tighter.

Just then, among the rush, the child caught a glimpse of his father. He quickly grabbed onto his kapote. He wasn't going to lose him this time. Now content, but still feeling harried, he used his father's black jacket to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

When he looked up, he saw someone far older than his father. He saw someone that, along with him, hundreds had their eyes on.

The young child had just wiped his sweat on the Rebbe's kapote.

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The young child's mother, who had been watching the Rebbe, was humiliated when she noticed her child. In a letter, she poured out her elaborate request for the Rebbe's forgiveness.

But the Rebbe did not accept her apology.

In a letter, he responded:

"If you only knew the great (spiritual) pleasure that gave me. If only it was this way with the adults ("Ein leshaer godel hanachas ruach, v'halvai hoyo mein ze bagedolim")."

Holding the letter in her hand, right then and there, she was privy to the depths of just how much the Rebbe wanted to be everyone's Tatty.

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The Rebbe's response was a protest to our notions of him as an untouchable holy figure.
A child wiping sweat on his kapote was worth so much to the Rebbe - and certainly more than all the distant veneration.

The Rebbe refused to stay in everyone's mind, stuck in their frame of reverence.

He was constantly saying, "Get closer."

He was saying, "If I'm not a father, than what am I?"

In the Rebbe's simple response lies the whole of our relationship to G-d.

G-d is constantly asking us to bring him closer into our lives, our hearts. Blood, sweat, and tears - he wants it all. Why? Because He wants us.

Just like the Rebbe is more of a Rebbe when we wipe our sweat on him, so too with Hashem...

... you can never get too close.

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So, it was years ago, Shavuos time, right outside of 770.

A young child was lost in a sea of black, searching for his father.

Instead, he found the Rebbe.

But still, it was his father he found.

18 comments:

Israel Krasnianski said...

I don't mean in any way to pour cold water on that beautiful story and wonderful lesson. I just want to add a note:

You write that one can never get too close. true. but it must be in the right way. getting too close by abusing kedusha for self benefit or via the chassidishe nefesh habehamis can lead to ch"v... "b'korvosom lifnei hashem v'yomusu", as is written regarding nadav and avihu beginning parshas acharei-mos. and as is also evident from the many stories of people being turned away from the Rebbeim due to selfish approach.

The Rebbeim and kedusha are a very hot and flaming fire, burning with truth and holiness. One must be careful not to get burned as is written in pirkei avot. If approached properly, the fire will serve to illuminate, warm and ignite one's soul. fire draws fire, soul draws soul.

Anonymous said...

wow mimi thank you again

the sabra said...

right!

Rochel said...

Wow Mimi! I love this post! You have such an amazing talent forwriting, I can totally picture it and feel the emotions! And of course,the message is so powerful!

Keep it up darling!

chaya said...

Beutiful Mimi. Came at a specially good time for me. Was good to have the reminder that 'blood, sweat & tears, he wants it all...'

Shloimy said...

Very touching. I think we all need to wipe a little sweat once in a while!

Anonymous said...

stuck their frame of reverence.
Stuck 'to' (or 'in') their frame of reverence, efsher?

Mimi said...

Sruli: Thanks for that (vital) note. Information like that always escapes me when I get lost in a story.

Anonymous: Apparently proper grammar also does... :-) - Thanks!

Rochel said...

This reminds me of another story my father once said.
In the early years, a man was walking down the street holding two suitcases. The Rebbe was passing by and the man turned to him saying " Yungerman, maybe you can help me out?"
Without a word, the Rebbe took a suitcase from the man. The chassidim around were aghast at what happened and tried to hint to the man, who this "Yungerman" was. Someone finally got his attention, and upon being told of the Rebbe's identity, he quicky took the bag away from the Rebbe apologizing profusely. The Rebbe calmed him saying something to the effect of " How often is it that I get to do another Yid a favor?"

shloime said...

SEE THE REBBE CAN BE A FATHER AND
GENERAL .YOEL KAHAN ONCE COMMENTED WHEN THE MASSES MADE THE REBBE IN TO THE MESSIAH THEY TOOK HIM FROM THE INDEX (IN A BOOK ) OF PEOPLE AND PUT HIM IN TO THE INDEX OF CONCEPTS . THE REBBE IS A FATHER AMONG MANY OTHER THINGS WITH A BIG HEART .

Nemo said...

Shloime, what does that mean?

LakewoodShmuck said...

nice story. come visit for a chat

SHLOIME said...

THAT MEANS WE DEHUMANIZED HIM TO THE EXTENT THAT AFTER 27 ADAR SOME DID NOT THINK HE NEEDED TO HAVE DOCTORS INSTEAD THEY DEIFIED HIM ,AND HE WENT FROM DUST TO DUST.

Nemo said...

It's awkward that this comes up from the thrust of the story. Connection?

SHLOIME said...

THE STORY SHOWS NOT A WONDER NOT EVEN THE HOLY SPRIT .IT SHOWS A HUMAN DRAMA .MAY BE I NEED TO LIVE IN THE NOW AND NOT DWELL ON 2002-2004

Mottel said...

A beautiful post.

Shloime -perhaps you mean 1992-1994?

The Rebbe is a Tatte, he wants to hear from us, he wants our hearts -not be looked at as a statue on a pedestal.
Yet we must also make sure that when we come to the Rebbe, we don't drag him in the blutte, the mud, with us. For this child to wipe his sweat on the Rebbe, it was the ultimate act off love -he did it because for a small child, depending upon a parent for such basic needs is how he connects.

But for an older person to do so would be wrong.

What the Rebbe wants is us to come to him as who we are and let him in . A dancer came to the Rebbe by yechidus and told him that he wanted to give something to the Rebbe -but being a simple Jew, all he could do was his job -to dance.
So there, in yechidus, in gan eden ha'elyon, he danced.
He danced and the Rebbe clapped.
By this simple Jew, dancing was were he was at . . .

There in lies the Rebbe's answer to the worried mother. Not that, ch"v, we should use the Rebbe to clean off our own sweat -but rather each on our own level we must come as a child to his father -for some even a simple act, such as what this child did, is how he comes . . . for others it is like the dancer . . .
We must come to the Rebbe, but we must go up to him, not drag him down to us.

chanahp said...

In response to Shloime
Maybe at this point in history Moshiach is a person, not a concept. We want him, not it! We use our hearts to want Moshiach.
So I don't see a contradiction. On the contrary.
Or maybe the answer to your point of view is takeh that we should do an avodah to bring Moshiach closer to our hearts - than Moshiach is more than a concept, Moshiach is like in this story, we want Moshiach, we want to wipe off our sweat and tears, no matter what my mundane reason for wanting Moshiach is I WANT him!
There's always Avodah to do. Before we "made" the Rebbe Moshiach, and after.
And there's always that balance that we learn about in Chasidus about the Rebbe being a king and a father, the head and the heart.
Whatever words we use for our yearning, let's see the Rebbe now!

shloime said...

yes motty 1992-1994

And belive me we can drag him some strange places but even when we drag him there in a place that may be he doesnt want to be even there put on tefflin on a jew or give a women shabbat candles in the last mammar the rebbe explines how the pepole are moshe's feet the head needs the feet to get places