By Rabbi Mendy Deitsch, Director of Chabad of the East Valley in Chandler, AZ
At times, the most meaningful experiences occur when we least expect them and often happen with minimal forethought.
Last summer, that is exactly what happened.
Often I think, what can I do for the Rebbe? How can I show my thanks and appreciation for the life of meaning and for the life lessons and the hundreds of hours the Rebbe gave of his time to spend with us – his chassidim?
How can I show my gratitude for holding my hand since I was a child? Guiding my family and myself to be a better yid and chossid?
To learn, to daven, increase in ahavas yisrael. A house full of seforim, Tefillin under my arm for me and for a fellow Jew, a home filled with guests and lighting up the world with Shabbos candles, these are all indeed ways to give back to the Rebbe – ways the Rebbe showed us and asked of us.
Moving out on Shlichus, enduring the gut-wrenching hardship of sending young children away from home to give them a chance to have a good Chassidishe education, and living far from family and friends in order to be there for another Jew – these are certainly all possible instances of showing the Rebbe how much we appreciate and cherish what he has and continues to give to us on a constant basis.
I still want to do more. I know I need to do more.
The opportunity arrived last year and it happened fast, spontaneous, perhaps even irrational. I joined the charter flight organized by Beis Shmuel Chabad in Crown Heights to the tziyun of the Rebbe’s father – Harav Levi Yitzchok Schneerson in Almaty, Khazakstan.
I was with an incredible group of dedicated chassidim and it was short and quick. Before I knew it, we were back in less than 72 hours but I returned a changed man. Something, a little something, was turned on inside that just felt right.
It’s still hard to put it into words, a feeling of connection was created that was never felt before, something inside made it be just right. By visiting Reb Levik, we got to give derech eretz and show Kibud Av to our Rebbe.
It felt the deep love and hismasrus (dedication) that we have to the Rebbe or the devotion that causes us to dig deeper within and constantly try to find new ways to connect. Showing the Rebbe’s father respect by visiting his Kever on his yartseit was one more way of connecting to the Rebbe.
After hearing the Rebbe share insights into his father’s teachings, after learning the Torah of Reb Levik, after reading the journal of the Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson and the years she spent caring for her husband in Almaty, to finally visit his tziyun was incredible. It made the bond seem closer and the relationship between chossid and Rebbe even stronger.
This must be why each time a chossid goes to visit the Rebbe, we visit Rebbetzin Chana as well. That is what the Rebbe does and a chossid does the same.
This visit was an opportunity to do something for the Rebbe -on my own. Something I knew was meaningful and personal, something completely and totally for the Rebbe. I finally felt that I reached beyond and touched something special – I felt like I was giving the Rebbe a gift – visiting his father – giving Reb Levik the honor and respect he deserves.
May we be zoche to geulah hamitis vehashleima with Moshiach tzidkeinu now Mamash.
Limited seats remain for the inspiring and uplifting trip to the holy gravesite. A private flight will depart from JFK Airport in New York on Monday, August 15th, 18 Av, at approximately 6:00 p.m. and will return Wednesday, August 17th, Chof Av, at 6:00 PM in time for participants to be able to mark the day of Chof Av both in Almaty and at the Rebbe’s Ohel in New York. The private charter flight has only Coach seating left at $3,000 per person. To join the trip, contact Dovid Rogatsky at 917-416-8380.