This article is the third of a four-part series about the life and times of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson נ”ע זי”ע, her passing, and the Rebbe’s call of “והחי יתן אל לבו” – to learn from her life, and organize activities in her memory.
Presented by A Chassidisher Derher, and JEM, marking the special milestone of 30 years since her histalkus. The photos and videos in these articles are courtesy of Jewish Educational Media. Generously dedicated by Dovid and Chanie Junik and family, and COLlive.com.
Beginning today, 15 Shevat, A Chassidisher Derher will also be sending out a daily WhatsApp broadcast with short selections of the Rebbe’s talks about Chof Beis Shevat. To receive these messages, please add 718 305 6859 to your contacts and send a message ‘subscribe’.
The following is a collection of lessons and directives the Rebbe taught us in connection with Chof Beis shevat, as well as a short summary of how the Rebbe observed this day in the years following.
Horaos & Peulos of the Rebbe
Following Chof-Beis Shevat, the Rebbe issued a number of things to be done in connection with the histalkus. Chassidim also took hachlatos and peulos upon themselves, and the Rebbe responded to many of them as well. Some of these from the days, months, and years following Chof-Beis Shevat are presented here:
What To Do on the Yahrtzeit
The yahrtzeit of the Rebbetzin should be marked by increasing in davening, learning Torah, and giving tzedaka. One demonstrates that “zar’ah bachayim,” “her descendants are alive”—and thus “hee bachayim,” “she is alive”—by learning from her conduct and emulating her ways: When the Rebbetzin was in this physical world, she did her avoda as Hashem instructed, in an ever increasing manner, and with mesiras nefesh. These are the ways we should emulate.
Doing so will accomplish that the Rebbetzin will beseech and daven in the World of Truth for everything that is needed—materially as well as spiritually—for long and good life, an abundance of health, children, life, and livelihood.
Time and Space; Quality and Quantity
The first yahrtzeit—the beginning of the second year—is a new tekufa. Therefore, the hachlatos and peulos undertaken must be renewed. This should begin with an increase in Torah and mitzvos in a way that is tied to time and space: Setting aside times for Torah study in every place, and establishing public shiurim—especially in places where they do not yet exist.
Where shiurim do exist, they should be strengthened both qualitatively and quantitatively.
These shiurim should also inspire yiras Shamayim, particularly in regard to davening and keeping the mitzvos, including tzedaka. Tzedaka giving should also be increased.
Thus, the shiurim will reinforce the three pillars on which the world stands [Torah, tefilla, and tzedaka].
Naming After the Rebbetzin
Many mosdos should be built bearing the Rebbetzin’s name and for the Rebbetzin’s zechus, particularly mosdos designated for the three pillars on which the world stands, and especially mosdos to educate Jewish girls. This links the Rebbetzin to the mosad, which is involved in hafatzas haTorah v’haYahadus.
Everyone can prove that “her descendants are alive” simply by emulating her ways. An especially significant expression of this is by naming a child after the Rebbetzin, and educating the child in her spirit. This shows that “her descendants are alive” in the most practical sense of the word.
At the Lag Ba’Omer Parade of 5750, more than a year after the Rebbe said this sicha, a procession of mothers with their baby daughters—all named Chaya Mushka—passed by the Rebbe. The Rebbe gave special attention to this group.
Tzedaka in the Gematriya
Extra tzedaka should be given in connection with the yahrtzeit, ideally sums numbering 470 (also the gematriya of the word “עת”), the gematriya of the name of the nifteres.
The Rebbe’s Appreciation
On the Rebbetzin’s first yahrtzeit, the Rebbe thanked those who had accomplished peulos and fulfilled hachlatos:
Now is the time to express gratitude to all those who told me about various peulos, establishing mosdos, suggestions, and hachlatos. Time does not allow for each person to be thanked individually, but a general public “thank you,” in a place of Torah, tefilla, and tzedaka is even greater than personal acknowledgement, especially since we’re discussing the sum total of all the peulos over the course of the year.
Included in this acknowledgement is the fact that this information was brought to the [Frierdiker Rebbe’s] Ohel, since a daughter has a special connection to her father.
And in connection with this acknowledgement, it is appropriate to remind and encourage everyone to increase in these peulos.
Upon his return from the Rebbetzin’s levaya on Chof-Beis Shevat 5748, and after receiving those who had passed by to be menachem avel following Mincha, the Rebbe called Rabbi Krinsky into his room on the second floor of his home and told him that he wishes to establish a new fund called “Keren Hachomesh.”
The name of the fund spells out the initials of the Rebbetzin’s name, “Harabonis Chaya Mushka Schneerson.” Initially, the Rebbe had said that the money was intended to support causes associated with Jewish women, i.e. hachnasas kallah, taharas hamishpacha, and so on. Later on, the Rebbe allowed the fund to be distributed to all Lubavitcher institutions that applied to receive financial assistance.
On 24 Adar 5748, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Crown Heights for the new Beth Rivkah School Campus. The new facility was to be called “Campus Chomesh,” in memory of the Rebbetzin. Suddenly, during the ceremony, the Rebbe’s car appeared at the groundbreaking site. Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov approached the car, and the Rebbe told him, “Tonight is the Rebbetzin’s birthday. I’m now on my way to the Ohel, and I will also stop at her resting place. I would like to give you a donation on her behalf, along with mine. Enclosed is 470 dollars, the equivalence of the gematriya of her name.”
“Vehachai Yiten El Libo”
After the passing of the Rebbetzin, the Rebbe began to constantly mention the phrase “V’hachai yiten el libo” in virtually every one of his sichos. This is a quote from Koheles, which means that after a tragedy or a sad occurrence, the ones who remain among the living must contemplate what happened and take it to heart, thereby being aroused to do teshuva.
The Rebbe explained that this possuk must be applied in our situation as well. Aside from awakening our souls by the mere occurrence of the passing of a loved one, we must be specifically aroused when thinking into the special qualities of the Rebbetzin, deriving lessons from them on how to act presently, and to increase in Torah and mitzvos. Doing so will help us increase in our happiness as well.
The Birthday Campaign
Another very significant initiative that the Rebbe undertook in memory of the Rebbetzin was the birthday campaign. It was on 25 Adar, the birthday of the Rebbetzin, after the Rebbe concluded davening Shacharis at his home. Many of those who were at the house had already left, when suddenly the Rebbe reappeared downstairs and began to say a sicha at the shtender.
The Rebbe began by speaking about the fact that it was the birthday of the Rebbetzin, and continued by suggesting that everyone should increase in good conduct on their own birthdays to honor her memory. In the sichos during the weeks that followed, up until Acharon Shel Pesach, the Rebbe continued to expound upon the uniqueness of one’s birthday and the proper conduct it mandates.
Immediately following Chof-Beis Shevat 5748, several sifrei Torah were commissioned in the Rebbetzin’s zechus. One was commissioned by N’shei Chabad, one by the “tankisten” in Eretz Yisroel, led by Rabbi Dovid Nachshon, and one by Agudas Chasidei Chabad.
The sefer Torah commissioned by N’shei Chabad was completed on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5749, and the Rebbe spoke about it.
A sefer Torah was also written in Morocco and was completed at the end of Cheshvan 5752. The Rebbe distributed a kuntres in honor of that siyum.
The sefer Torah commissioned by the tankisten was completed on 22 Shevat 5749, and the Rebbe spoke then about the writing of sifrei Torah in the Rebbetzin’s memory:
“A new sefer Torah written in memory of a righteous woman emphasizes the connection to Mattan Torah, and to the ‘new Torah,’ which will be given to us in the future, for regarding both of these, the women precede the men.”
The Years that Followed
In the years following the histalkus the Rebbe always made mention of the Rebbetzin on Chof-Beis Shevat. In 5749, Chof-Beis Shevat occurred on Shabbos. The Rebbe dedicated almost the entire farbrengen to speaking about the yahrtzeit.
The next year, 5750, Chof-Beis Shevat occurred on Shabbos as well. The Rebbe connected every point spoken about throughout the farbrengen to the yahrtzeit.
In 5751, the first annual Kinus Hashluchos took place in Crown Heights on Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, following Chof-Beis Shevat. On Sunday, 26 Shevat, the Rebbe addressed the women who attended the Kinus.
Kovetz Chof Beis Shevat
In 5752, on the night of Chof-Beis Shevat, the Rebbe davened Maariv at the amud in 770 as he would every year. Following davening, the Rebbe ascended upon his bima and began to say a short sicha. Due to the enormous crowd that had come to be with the Rebbe for this day, the Rebbe’s bima was filled mostly with elder Chassidim and only a small enclosed area remained for the Rebbe to stand near his shtender (see picture above).
Speaking about the Rebbetzin, the Rebbe made special mention of the fact that she has the merit of having so many children named after her.
After the sicha, the Rebbe distributed a pamphlet to all of the Chassidim; men, women, and children.
The pink-colored booklet (the color was chosen by the Rebbe’s special request), titled “Kovetz Chof Beis Shevat,” contained sichos and letters of the Rebbe regarding the unique role and special qualities of the Jewish woman, and was handed to each and every individual, along with a five dollar bill and a piece of lekach. The Rebbe stood for many long hours until the entire crowd managed to pass by, eventually distributing by hand a total of over ten-thousand booklets!
During the distribution itself, the Rebbe seemed to be high spirited, and he encouraged the singing in a manner that looked similar to the way he would at kos shel brocha. When a young girl went by and told the Rebbe that her name is Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe responded:
“חי’, זאלסטו לאנג לעבן מיט געזונטע יארן!”
(“Chaya; you should live long and healthy years!”)