Jan 11, 2018
Take Care of Yourself

Mrs. Chaya Hecht tells of the Rebbe's deep concern for her well being - physically and spiritually.

By JEM's Here's My Story
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My parents were Gerer chasidim from Poland who immigrated to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That is where my father, Rabbi Chanoch Henech Rosenfeld, befriended a neighbor of ours, Rabbi Mordechai Groner, who was a Lubavitcher. And this eventually led to our entire family becoming Lubavitcher chasidim.

There came a time in the late 1940s when I was working for the Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, which was headed by Rabbi J.J. Hecht, a prominent Chabad rabbi. And he decided that I would make a good wife for his brother Peretz.

We got married in 1949, and shortly before the wedding we came to get a blessing from the Rebbe – this was the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, who was wheelchair bound due to the injuries he suffered in a Soviet prison. I remember that he said to me in Yiddish, “A bride can ask for all good things under the wedding canopy, so G-d should give you the wisdom to know what to ask for, and whatever you ask for should be fulfilled.” I remember that, because of his condition, he could barely speak. He had to struggle to express himself and that just broke my heart, so I stood there crying and crying and crying.

That was my encounter with the Previous Rebbe, who passed away a year later, and in 1951, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, his son-in-law, took over the leadership of Chabad as the Rebbe.

After being married for four years, we still had no children, and I came to ask for the Rebbe’s blessing. He said to me, “Did my father-in-law know about this situation?” I said that he did. “Then do what he advised.”

The Previous Rebbe had recommended that I go into a hospital and undergo various tests to find out why I couldn’t conceive. I never did that, but now I did. And I became pregnant – news which my husband joyfully reported to the Rebbe.

“How is she doing?” the Rebbe wanted to know. “She is doing fine,” my husband replied. “She is shopping, she’s traveling on buses, she’s washing the kitchen floor, she’s doing all the things a good housewife has to do.”

The Rebbe listened carefully to my husband and then had his secretary call me to say, “The Rebbe doesn’t want you traveling on buses right now. And he doesn’t want you to wash the floor anymore.” He was so concerned for me, for my health, now that I was pregnant at last. In fact, he had the secretary call several times to make sure I was taking care of myself.

This just goes to show you how much the Rebbe cared about every little incident in the lives of his chasidim, and that how he was like a father to all of us.

Later, when I was pregnant another time, the doctors told me that I was past due and the birth would have to be induced. I wasn’t sure if this was the right course, so I asked the Rebbe. He said, “What’s the problem? G-d is still waiting!”

The baby was born normally a month past the due date, and I understood that sometimes it’s better not to listen to the doctors but to listen to the Rebbe. So what if the baby was taking its time – that only meant that G-d was waiting, so we had to wait too.

After I was already a mother of several young children, I recall him asking me, “Do you pray every day?” I answered that I say the Shema every day and also the Morning Blessings, but I do not recite the entire prayer service because I am busy caring for my children. “I need to be in tune with them so I don’t have any time when I can concentrate properly on prayers.”

He said, “If you would ask me if you should pray, then I would tell you that yes, you should pray every day, from beginning to end. The best way is to do it a little bit at a time, and to add more each day until you are able to finish all the prayers. Do that every day. Don’t be concerned with the children when you are praying – find somebody to watch them for that amount of time.”

Hearing his words, I said to myself, “This is going to be my new life and my new outlook.” And, from then on, I made sure I prayed every day. And this had a strong impact on my life.

The Rebbe also had a very strong impact on my husband’s life.

You have to understand that my husband was a loyal chasid – he was close to the Rebbe in a spiritual way – but he never wanted to bother the Rebbe with mundane matters. He always said “The Rebbe is too busy; he’s got big things to think about. You don’t go to him with minor details about this or that.”

He worked part-time as a teacher in the Tomchei Temimim yeshivah, but we needed more income and so, finally, he asked the Rebbe if it was okay for him to learn how to be a printer.

The Rebbe approved and my husband went to learn all the aspects of printing. He was good at it and was offered a partnership in a printing shop. Again, the Rebbe approved. But then the partnership broke up. My husband asked the Rebbe, “So what do I do now?” The Rebbe said, “You buy out the other partner. Now you be the one to own the partnership.”

That was a big thing for my husband – to be the owner and to run everything – but he succeeded at it. And in all the years that he was in business, he would say, “I can feel the Rebbe with me every single day that I am on the job. I can see him sending me customers. I can feel him working along with me.”

Even after he retired, he would never cease to be amazed. “Where did it come from that I should become a printer? What did I know about it? And yet I was good at it and I loved it. I got an account with one of the biggest organizations and they were impressed with my work. But I felt that it was the Rebbe’s blessing that kept me going throughout all the years I was in business.”

I could say the same thing. I felt that the Rebbe always had me in mind. He made sure I was taking care of myself physically and then also spiritually, when he urged me to pray every day and be connected to Hashem. He set my life in front of me. And that kept me going through all the years that I’ve been on this earth. I will never forget the times that I had the privilege of speaking with him. None of that has left me. Not to this day.

Mrs. Chaya Hecht (1931-2017) lived in Brooklyn, New York and worked as a preschool teacher for over fifty years. She was interviewed in February of 2015.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
This was the lives of our parents
Seeking counsel from the Rebbeim and being an example of it. Miss you both!
(1/11/2018 12:04:24 PM)
thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It gives me such chizuk
(1/11/2018 1:11:18 PM)
Such a regal woman
BH. She merited the Rebbe’s direct concern but there are lessons here for all of us.
(1/11/2018 3:05:06 PM)
Thank you for publishing this wonderful article!
(1/11/2018 4:38:26 PM)
The Hecht's Z"L
Our firm was zocheh to have Reb Peretz do work for us, and I can attest that every facet of his work day was a Kidush Shem Shomayim. He did kiruv by just letting people observe the way he spoke and his attitude to people; anash as well as others, even under stress.
Y'hi Zichro Boruch!
Ruvane Federman
(1/11/2018 7:10:51 PM)
Very touching!
(1/11/2018 7:18:28 PM)
miryam swerdlov
mrs. hecht was beautiful inside and out!!!
(1/11/2018 8:27:02 PM)
family member
How timely. This week, Rebbetzin Hecht was zocheh to have a great-grandchild born (less than 3 mos. after she was nifter) Chayeh Yettie bas Esther Miriam the exact name. WOW
(1/11/2018 9:30:09 PM)
Important addition to the story inserted
After being married for four years, we still had no children, and I came to ask for the Rebbe’s blessing. The Rebbe looked at my parents A"H and said "Ich Zeh Nisht Farvos Ir Kent Nit Huben Kain Kinder" (I Don't see why you can't have any children).

My father was in total awe how the Rebbe who just became the Rebbe was able to "see" that there was no problem.

Yisroel Hecht

(1/11/2018 9:32:38 PM)
to # 9
(1/11/2018 10:19:18 PM)
Articles like this
Keep me going!!!
A woman of valor! I was so fond of Rabbi Peretz and Mrs ( Rebbetzin for sure) Hecht! True examples. Whenever I saw her.. at a simcha or on the street... our few minutes conversations were always deep! They said a nice meaningful word of sense or encouragement! They are both missed. They are a rare couple today. Thank you for this special uplifting post!!
(1/12/2018 7:14:22 AM)
Joshua Leiba's
A very interesting account. Especially as this edition of MY STORY also brings together events of this dynamic Chabad Couple that provides "teachings" for Brides, Pregnancy, Husbands, Sustenance, Power of Prayer by Neshei Ubnos Chabad, etc ... One of the most instructive and informative ever. Please keep this great series going. Its appreciated!
(1/12/2018 12:51:37 PM)
very inspiring
thank you for publicising this story
that is so amazing the way the Rebbe insisted on davening and a full davening
for all mothers it is a challenge to daven
but now i read this it sets the standar we shpuld have
(1/13/2018 4:30:11 PM)
She also made sure to daven Mincha and if I recall correctly Maariv too!
(1/13/2018 9:46:35 PM)
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