By COLlive reporter
Photos: Shimon Roumani
Hundreds of descendants of the Alter Rebbe gathered for the annual Melava Malka and an evening of inspiration, making a siyum (conclusion) of his Shulchon Aruch of the Alter Rebbe and singing his nigunim.
Rabbi Shmuel Butman, chairman of the Association of the descendants of the Alter Rebbe and Director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, opened the evening.
He related a sicha of the Rebbe concerning the descendants of the Alter Rebbe, which notes that in the Siddur there is a version “ונהיה אנחנו וצאצאנו וצאצאי צאצאנו,” asking for a brocha for “ourselves, our offspring and our offspring’s offspring.”
“The version the Alter Rebbe chose, however, was “ונהיה אנחנו וצאצאנו,” that we are asking for a Brocha for “ourselves and our offspring.” The advantage of that is that in the first version we are limiting our brocha to three generations – ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
“Whereas, in the version that the Alter Rebbe chose, we are not limiting our Brocha for it includes our offsprings without any qualifications — all offspring without limitations,” Rabbi Butman said, quoting the Rebbe.
“The Rebbe continued that in this one word וצאצאנו the Alter Rebbe put in his son and successor the Mitteler Rebbe together with all descendants throughout the generations,” Butman said.
The Rebbe then said that as the descendants of the Alter Rebbe are having their Melave Malka this Motzoei Shabbos, he will give them a bottle of “Mashke.”
בסמיכות –close by—to Chof Daled Teves.
Rabbi Butman recalled the time, 32 years ago, when the Rebbe spoke that Sicha. The year was 5744, end of 1983. There was a question as to when to make the Melava Malka of the Tzetzoim. Would it be best to make it on the Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Shmos, the Metzoei Shabbos before Chof Daled Teves, or, as Chof Daled Teves was on a Friday to make the Melava Malka on the Motzoei Shabbos after Chof Daled Teves. Although it is after Chof Daled Teves — it is close to Chof Daled Teves.
The decision was to make it on the Motzoei Shabbos that is close and following Chof Daled Teves.
The Rebbe in his Sicha stressed that this is the Motzoei Shabbos that is בסמיכות (“close-by”) to the Yohrtzeit of the Alter Rebbe.
Rabbi Butman concluded that it is also similar this year when כ”ד טבת was on Thursday and this is the Motzoei Shabbos that is בסמיכות closest to that day.
At the Farbrengen that Shabbos, Parshas Voeiro, 25 Teves 5744, the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Yehudah Leib Groner brought a bottle of “Mashke” and placed it in front of the Rebbe near the plate of Mezonos at the beginning of the Farbrengen. After the Sicha the Rebbe gave Rabbi Butman the bottle as his participation in the Melave Malka.
The special Zechus
Rabbi Benzoin Twerski, a grandson of HaRav HaTzaddik Reb Mordechai Dov of Harnasteipel, grandson of HaRav HaTzaddik Reb Yaakov Yisroel of Cherkas, son-in-law of the Mitteler Rebbe, spoke of the great merit of being a descendent of such a great Tzadik and the need to conduct oneself as is fitting for one who is a descendant of such a great Tzadik.
A special guest was one of the descendants of the Alter Rebbe, the Gorlitzer Rebbe R’ Yitchok Dov Jungreis, who recalled spending his youth in Crown Heights where his father had a Shtibel on Montgomery Street, between Brooklyn and New York Avenues. “We understand what a Manhig Yisroel is – we knew the Rebbe.”
The Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Groner, who is a descendant of the Alter Rebbe, told many stories of the Alter Rebbe and the Rebbe. Rabbi Groner said that the Rebbe stressed that “A Yid, every Yid, has to learn Chassidus.” Rabbi Groner concluded that it is the special obligation on those who are descendantsto learn Chassidus, in preparation to the concealed part of Torah to be taught by Moshiach imminently.
A meaningful folder
A great activity took place during the Melava Malka. Special folders were prepared in advance with each folder including a part of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, to be finished by the 24th of Teves 5776.
Many of the decendents were seen going home proudly with many folders each containing a special commitment to learn a section of the Shulchan Aruch. “This is a truly great idea,” said a young descendant taking home several folders. “I know that no one else got the same folder, I must finish it.”
Rabbi Feivel Rimler, Rov in Brighton Beach, also a descendant, made a Siyum and Haschalah – “conclusion and start” on the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Oruch. As this was his birthday, a special presentation was made to him and all gathered wished him Arichus Yomim Veshonim Tovos – happy and healthy long years.
The highlight of the evening was when the descendants sang the ten Nigunim of the Alter Rebbe with great awe and inspiration. One of the young descendants Yosef Zirkind, very ably and inspirationally sang and led the singing with the live accompaniment of Yossi Cohen.
A unique treat was when one of the younger descendants Menachem Mendel Kugel masterfully played on his violin two nigunim of the Alter Rebbe “Kol Dodi” and the famous niggun known as “The Alter Rebbe’s Nigun. “You cannot possibly describe the unique atmosphere that was in the room when the nigun was being sung by the descendants of the Alter Rebbe,” said one of the offspring. “This was a particularly uplifting moment, one was able to truly feel that a Pan (“personal petition”) was being sent to the Alter Rebbe.”
Rabbi Butman thanked his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Butman for organizing the Melava Malka, “May the Zchus of the Alter Rebbe stand him in good stead in all things.”
The descendants ended the evening with the strong feeling that the Alter Rebbe the first of Chabad leaders began the work to prepare the world for redemption and that the Rebbe, the seventh, who explicitly told us that this is the last generation of Galus, will finish the work of preparing the world for the great redemption, speedily in our very own days.