By Rivky S, student at Ohel Chana Seminary
Ohel Chana Seminary was honored to have one of the Rebbe’s Mazkirim, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, address the students during his visit to Melbourne on the occasion of his grandson’s wedding. We were very excited and eagerly anticipated hearing first hand from someone who was so close to the Rebbe throughout his entire nesius.
Rabbi Krinsky began his talk with some reflections on his own childhood and upbringing. Born in Boston, Massachusetts into an illustrious family, he and his siblings grew up in a Chassidishe environment under the tutelage of their schochet father and devoted mother.
Rabbi Krinsky first came to New York in 1946 to celebrate Hoshana Rabbah in Crown Heights. He saw the Rebbe for the first time during Tehillim that night in 770. “I was utterly smitten by his aura; I had heard so much about him and instantly realized that here was a very special and incredibly unique human being,” Rabbi Krinsky related.
On Shmini Atzeres night, Rabbi Krinsky was part of a group of bochrim in the upstairs Beis Medrash of 770; the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were on the second floor having Seudas Yom Tov. On his way home at 11.30pm, the Rebbe passed by the Beis Medrash and asked the bochrim whether they had done Hakofas. The Rebbe than proceeded to take off his coat and danced Hakofos with the bochrim till 2.00am. Said Rabbi Krinsky: “I didn’t dare put my hand on the Rebbe’s shoulder, but I wanted so much for him to put his hand on my shoulder. My eyes were continuously fixed on the Rebbe. It was an incredibly exhiliriating experience – indeed we saw many special moments on Simchas Torah throughout the years.”
Rabbi Krinsky recounted the extreme sensitivity shown by the Rebbe and reminisced on his own experiences. While working in the mazkirus one day, Rabbi Krinsky had picked up an extremely heavy carton and hurt his back – he would not be able to go to 770 the next day while he recuperated. That evening he received a call from the Rebbetzin. “How are you feeling?” she asked. “Remember the time last year when you took me to the doctor? Now I will reciprocate – I will make you an appointment and take you there tomorrow”.
Rabbi Krinsky responded that he would indeed go to the doctor but certainly did not want the Rebbetzin to take him. Not to be deterred, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka went along with Rabbi Krinsky to the doctor in New Jersey, where she waited in the lobby of the doctor’s rooms like a mother waiting for her child. The doctor instructed him to walk and sit upright and straight. When the Rebbe saw Rabbi Krinsky some time later, he remarked: “I have always said to go B’derech Hayashar.”
Rabbi Krinsky was responsible for addressing public relations issues and liaison with the press, both locally and internationally. He recalled how very early on, when the press requested a photo for their publication, he brought five photos to the Rebbe for his consideration. The Rebbe responded: “I trust you to choose the photo; just please ensure it’s one with a smile.”
Rabbi Krinsky recounted the challenges Chabad faced after Gimmel Tammuz. The opinion of the press and indeed most of world Jewry was that Lubavitch was going to disintegrate and that the concept of shlichus would fade away. How wrong they were – we see today how Chabad throughout the world is flourishing, Chabad Houses are being established wherever there are Jews, even in the most remote corners of the globe, and hundreds and hundreds of young married couples are yearning and searching for Shlichus opportunities in ever increasing numbers.
And today, Lubavitch is the largest Jewish organization in the world. And growing in leaps and bounds.
Rabbi Krinsky recounted those fearful days in Tishrei when the Rebbe suffered a heart attack at Hafofos on Shmini Atzeres. Even though the Rebbe was under severe stress and in great pain, he nevertheless made sure to finish Hakafos before returning to his room where doctors had gathered. The Rebbe was adamant that he not be taken to hospital but rather be treated in 770. At 5:00 am when the situation worsened and the doctors advocated hospital treatment, the Rebbetzin said that the Rebbe till now has always been in control of every situation, and if the Rebbe has made the decision not to go to hospital this view, now too, must be supported and obeyed.
Late on a Tuesday afternoon in 1990, while driving back from the Ohel, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Krinsky if a coin could be especially minted for Lag B’omer- that Sunday. Throughout the next day, they researched the feasibility of undertaking such an endeavor in so short a time, and discovered that the quickest manufacturer would need at least 30 days to do so, which they subsequently advised the Rebbe. The Rebbe blamed himself for not requesting it earlier. This was enough to dramatically stimulate them into doing whatever was humanely possible to fulfill what was apparently a critically important wish of the Rebbe. We identified the different tasks and stages required to mint coins, and approached the various companies that specialized in each particular component of coin minting. That Friday, only three days from the original request, Rabbi Krinsky advised the Rebbe that on the Sunday morning of Lag B’Omer, 10,000 newly minted coins would be delivered to 770. The Rebbe responded: “I bless you with the peace of mind that you gave me by doing this.”
Said Rabbi Krinsky: “I will never forget those sleepless three days and nights. Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkenu.”
Rabbi Krinsky enthralled us when he recounted how he went on Merkos Shlichus in 1957 after returning from a shlichus to E’retz Yisroel. Rabbi Chadakov had discussed shidduchim with him and had said that he would put him on a list of bochrim at shidduchim stage. When several names were proposed, Rabbi Krinsky entered yechidus and presented five names to the Rebbe, who indicated his preference for the daughter of a shochet of the Frierdiker Rebbe who only ate from his shechitah. Said Rabbi Krinsky: ”Her older brother was my chaver in Yeshivah, so I knew of the family.” On erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan that year Rabbi Krinsky drove to her home and when she opened the door, they instantly knew it was a “done deal.”
The date of the Tannaim was set for 6 weeks later on Tes Vav Tammuz in Crown Heights. Many out of town family came especially for the occasion, and everything was all organized. That morning, the Rebbe advised the mazkirus that he would go to Gan Yisroel in upstate New York during the day. Rabbi Krinsky was already driving the Rebbe by then for five years, and wasn’t about to give up this highly unusual and unique opportunity. On arrival at the camp, the Rebbe washed with the campers, delivered a Ma’amar and gave out kos shel brocha. They then visited Camp Emunah and eventually returned to New York at 11:30 pm. when the Rebbe davenned Maariv after which Rabbi Krinsky drove the Rebbe home. During the drive, the Rebbe turned to Rabbi Krinsky and said: “Were you not supposed to write Tannaim today? “ The Rebbe then gave Rabbi Krinsky many brachos for his forthcoming marriage. Said Rabbi Krinsky: “I wouldn’t have traded that for anything in my life!”
That summer, after returning from Merkos Shlichus, Rabbi Chadakov called him in and asked Rabbi Krinsky his plans for after his wedding. He replied that he still felt very much like a yeshivah bochur and consequently had no definite plans! Rabbi Chadakov asked him: “Why don’t you join the Rebbe’s mazkirus?”
Rabbi Krinsky assumed that this was coming from the Rebbe, although he did not want to ask him directly. After voicing his willingness without a moments hesitation, Rabbi Chadakov instructed him to report to the office the day after Simchas Torah. Three days later, alone in the office, the intercom to the Rebbe’s room rings. The Rebbe asked Rabbi Krinsky to come into his room where, seated at his desk, the Rebbe is making corrections to a letter in front of him. The Rebbe handed Rabbi Krinsky the letter to type up and told him: “Don’t be confused. Start from the beginning of the letter and type word by word, line by line. You will see that by the time you get to the end of the letter, it all works out.” This was a lifelong lesson for Rabbi Krinsky – if you do things carefully and methodically, step at a time, it will all work out in the end.
Rabbi Krinsky inspired all of us with his personal anecdotes and life lessons he had learnt from the Rebbe. He spoke about the role and power of Jewish women as it is highlighted in the last maamar of Lekutei Torah; being at the end it is reflective of the entire Lekutei Torah.
Rabbi Krinsky concluded by bentching us with strength and determination in our role as Bnos and IY”H Neshei Chabad, and as a foundation for our future roles as the akeres habayis of our homes and families.
All of us at Ohel Chana very much appreciated this wonderful opportunity of spending time with one of the Rebbe’s mazkirim and learning from his guidance and personal experiences.