“Historic Treasures,” is presented by Rabbi Sholom Ber Schapiro, Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), exclusively for COLlive.com.
Each program shares ‘treasures’ from the archives of Rabbi Schapiro’s father in law, Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel OBM, a prolific writer who served as a personal secretary of the 6th and 7th Chabad Rebbes.
The program uncovers fascinating stories, rare artifacts and precious documents from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
A week before Yud Shvat 5710, the Frierdiker Rebbe (Rebbe Rayatz) called for the nurse Mania and said he wanted to give her a gift in appreciation for her dedication to the family.
He pointed to his dark wool coat that he wore back in Europe and said, “I will not be needing this anymore and I am giving it to you.”
The gesture illustrates how close Mania was with the family of the Frierdiker Rebbe, explains Rabbi Schapiro. In fact, she was part of the entourage when the Frierdiker Rebbe, his family and close members of his staff traveled from Sweden to America in 1940.
Mania was the dedicated nurse of Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah Schneersohn, wife of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneerson, the Rebbe Rashab.
She was considered part of the family and when the Frierdiker Rebbe would give gifts to his daughters, Mania also received one. The Frierdiker Rebbe had a hand in making her shidduch.
Rabbi and Mrs. Mindel, being close to the Rebbe and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, maintained a close friendship with Mania, as well.
This is how it came to be that years later when Mania made aliya, she gave the Frierdiker Rebbe’s coat to Rabbi and Mrs. Schapiro. “We found pieces of cigarettes in the pocket,” he noted.
In 1985/5745, during court case of the stolen seforim from the Agudas Chassidei Chabad Library, the Rebbe spoke strongly about any possessions of the Rebbe that might be in the hands of people who have no right to them, and need to be returned.
Rabbi Schapiro said he took the words to heart and asked his father-in law, Rabbi Mindel, to give the coat to the Rebbe on his next appointed day for dictation of the letters.
Rabbi Mindel handed the bag with the coat to the Rebbe, briefly mentioning the story behind it. But the Rebbe smiled broadly and said, “Not this is what I was referring to and not him! He should keep it, in good health.”
Rabbi Schapiro has been the proud owner of this special coat since that time – knowing that he has the Rebbe’s heartfelt approval and blessings.
“I consider it an honor to share the story with others, going to schools and gatherings with the coat and occasionally lending it to grooms on the day of their wedding to be worn under the chuppah,” he said.