Family, friends and admirers around the world are wishing Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morosow, “Reb Mendel,” a heartfelt Mazel Tov on the occasion of his 100th birthday on Taanis Esther.
Born in 1916 in the village of Lubavitch to his esteemed father Reb “Chonye” Morozov – confidante and secretary to both the Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz – Reb Mendel lived in Russia through the murderous Stalin years and the tumultuous years of WWII.
Always sharp, even as a young boy, he an played an active role in saving his father from the NKVD who had come to arrest him for his efforts on behalf of the Rebbe. Later as a teen and then as a young man, he saw his father arrested twice, the second time in 1938 – tirtzach – never to return.
Reb Mendel and his family lived in the same house as the Rebbe Rayatz in Rostov where as a young child he experienced personal encounters of great kiruv from the Rebbe. Later he lived with his family on the same floor of the Rebbe Rayatz in Leningrad.
After the war he escaped Russia with forged Polish passports on the famous “train transports,” and spent time in both France and Ireland before coming to America in the early 1950’s so he could be with our Rebbe.
When Reb Michoel Teitelbaum founded Oholei Torah, Reb Mendel joined its central Hanhalah, and spent the next six decades helping the Yeshiva, educating and being Mashpia to the bochrim in Yeshiva. Thousands of Chassidim around the world retain fond memories of Reb Mendel farbrenging in his inimitable style throughout the wee hours of the morning – his stories, his niggunim, his witty vertlach.
His father had been asked by the Rebbe Rayatz to record the Alter Rebbe’s ten Niggunim in musical notes, rescuing these tunes for posterity, and Reb Mendel never tires of teaching and singing the handful in the set that are not commonly sung. Reb Mendel sings another Niggun, a stately march, so often that people already call the Niggun by his name (Avraham Fried recorded it on his latest Chabad Niggunim Album).
Some of his witty vertlach include:
* Chassidus teaches that “Olam” means concealment, so why is the next world called “Olam Habo”? Because the next world conceals over our physical world.
*Only those who learn Chassidus know the great worth of this physical world. If so, Chassidim are the only ones who enjoy Olam haZeh!
*No matter how old, how weak, how sick you are in this world, and how much Chassidus you have learnt concerning the giluim (revelations) that are to be had in Olam HaBa, you nevertheless want to remain in Olam HaZeh!
*By Eisav it says “he ate, and drank, and stood up, and left.” From here we see that we should not spend our days focused on eating, drinking, or running around.
*What was a bigger miracle, Chanukah or Didan Notzach? By Chanukah they had oil for one day and it lasted eight. By Didan Notzach, they had Mashkeh to last an entire year and it was consumed in one day.
*How do we know that there is mashke in Gan Eden? Reb Meir Itkin (a chossid who loved to say l’chaim) hasn’t come back!
Absolutely devoted to the Rebbe, Reb Mendel brought up his children likewise. When his daughter was still a very young girl he asked her, “If your father says “yes”, and the Rebbe says “no”, to whom do you listen?” to which she innocently replied, “my father”. “No,” replied Reb Mendel emphatically, “you listen to the Rebbe!” a lesson that remained with her throughout her life.
A repertoire of authentic Chassidic stories, Reb Mendel faithfully transmits these stories to hundreds, vividly relating the lives and events of Chassidim and Rebbeim from times past, and encouraging his listeners to live every day according to the standards of Chassidus. Just seeing the glowing faces of those sitting around him, especially the young, is a testament to his magnetic influence.
This past week, his children and hundreds of grandchildren and great-grandchildren traveled from all corners of the globe for a very special family farbrengen, thanking Hashem for his great kindness and celebrating this milestone with their beloved Zeidy and elter-Zeidy and his devoted wife, their beloved Bobbe and elter-Bobbe.
To this very day, he continues singing and farbrenging, uplifting those around him, and we wish him many extended years of joy, nachas, and good health.