By Yanky Kramer
A Lubavitcher, by definition, loves the Rebbe. We learn from him, follow his instructions and strive to live up to his expectations.
Our relationship with the Rebbe naturally spills over to others. We feel that it’s only fair that we share our Rebbe with the world, for in truth, the Rebbe is, by all classifications, everyone’s Rebbe.
Great steps in sharing the Rebbe have been undertaken lately, including the publishing of several biographies of the Rebbe, each attempting to transmit the Rebbe to broader audiences. To share the wealth. And undoubtedly, many a reader will be inspired.
However, here’s the issue.
My son brought home a copy. Now, while he purchased it as a gift for someone on his mivtzoyim route, I found him reading it on the couch, cover to cover.
The results were immediately apparent. He began talking of the Rebbe’s charisma, of his character and sterling personality. How could I put it into words? It just felt wrong.
In frustration, I sat down to pen this letter.
My dear son,
I spent three years learning at 770, and many more months visiting. I have spent thousands of hours at the farbrengens, learning the Rebbe’s sichos and reading his letters. The Rebbe is my source of life.
Nothing could be more important to me than you having that same relationship. It is for this reason that since you were born I hung a picture of our Rebbe in your crib, and as soon as you could comprehend, I told you stories of the Rebbe.
Therefore, it pains me to watch your understanding of the Rebbe get tainted.
Sure, it’s important to share the Rebbe with the world. But in such a book – if the author does his work well – there is a depth, a clarity, which must be compromised. The Rebbe himself is veiled in modern language and stylish trimmings.
Let me say it bluntly: This is not the Rebbe I knew.
The books cannot give you the fire; the kedushah. The battle for only the most pure yiddishkeit, chinuch al taharas hakodesh, growing a beard, America iz nit andersh, shleimus ho’oretz, the emunah in Moshiach.
It cannot convey the Simchas Torah, pure, hecher-fun-velt dancing; the tzomah lecho nafshi; the choked plea for Geulah, the austere tone of the maamor – divrei elokim chayim.
It’s just not it.
So why should you make that compromise for yourself?!
You might say that you will distill this from the sichos, and no harm is done by reading a book. you might also add that since you are reading it with knowledge that its not for you, your perspective will not change. But my son, that’s simply not true. While outwardly you may feel you are getting closer to the Rebbe, in truth you are slowly distancing yourself.
Please understand. When you read the Rebbe’s name without the appropriate titles, over and over, you undoubtedly become desensitized. When you read descriptions of the Rebbe in worldly language, you are getting a worldly version.
When you read impressions from distant people, there is no way their words will not carry some of that distance in them.
Your mind is not made of rubber. Once it has been impressed, it’s impossible for it not to be affected. You are forever denying yourself of having a healthy, pure, chossid Rebbe relationship.
I know I haven’t really conveyed my feelings. There is much more. Oh, how I wish to transmit this to you.
Because our Rebbe, to me, is not a genius, mystic or social revolutionary. That’s not who I handed my pan to. That’s not who I said l’chaim to. That’s not my life inspiration.
To me, our Rebbe is a Tzadik, a Torah Yid, a servant of Hashem.
Better said, to me our Rebbe is a Rebbe. The Rebbe.