By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Raichik was given a set of lulav and esrog by the Rebbe Rayatz, and later the Rebbe, every Sukkos. Though he cherished this gift, he nonetheless encouraged others to use it.
Every day of Sukkos the Rebbe would allow people to say the berachah on his own lulav and esrog set, and a long line would immediately form after Shacharis. Rabbi Raichik would bentch on the Rebbe’s personal set, but do the shaking in all directions, the naanuim, on the set the Rebbe had given him. He would sit in the central sukkah at 770 and permit anyone who asked to use his esrog set.
Even when Rabbi Raichik was frail and it was difficult for him to walk long distances, he could not celebrate the holiday without helping another Jew do the mitzvah of lulav and esrog. He took one of his children to the 71st Precinct police station, a few short blocks from where they were staying, and they found a Jewish officer to make the berachah.
For many years, Rabbi Raichik, along with Rabbi Mendel Futerfas and others, would travel to New Haven, Connecticut, to farbreng with the community in the sukkah of Dovid Deitsch, a wealthy businessman who supported many Chabad institutions. In the early 1980s Yisroel Shemtov would drive the group.
Once, they stopped on the shoulder of the highway to daven Minchah. Rabbi Raichik placed his lulav and esrog on top of the car. After davening they continued their ride. Several minutes later Rabbi Raichik realized that he had forgotten his lulav and esrog on the car roof. “Oy vey, my lulav,” he called out.
R’ Yisroel Shemtov turned the car around immediately.
Eventually they saw a tallis spread out in the bushes. The lulav was there too, but the esrog was not. They looked toward the highway. The bright yellow fruit was clearly visible in the center of one of the white lines on the road.
During a break in traffic, they ran into the street and were able to retrieve it. “There was not a scratch on the esrog,” R’ Yisroel Shemtov said.
Rabbi Raichik thanked him for going back for the set, and never mentioned the occurrence again. Mr. Shemtov, on the other hand, has been telling the story ever since.
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