On Chai Elul, the staff and talmidim of Yeshivas Lubavitch Toronto enjoyed an uplifting and inspiring evening.
During the event, which combined a celebration of Chai Elul with a welcome to the new group of shluchim, the bochurim heard from a number of the talmidim hashluchim, as well as from the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Akiva Wagner and mashpia Rabbi Avrohom Mann.
The highlight of the evening was a special guest speaker, Mr. Berel Fuerst, one of the prominent members of the Toronto Jewish community. Besides having been active in the local mosdos for decades, Mr. Fuerst is a Tomim, who learned in Tomchei Tmimim for a number of years, and shared some fascinating recollections with the spellbound crowd.
Following are some excerpts of his speech:
“I studied in Tomchei Tmimim as a child, for a number of years. When I was about 14, the Rebbe sent a message to my father that he wished to speak to him and me on Shmini Atzeres. We lived in Williamsburg, so we walked to Crown Heights to meet with the Rebbe. My father waited in the Rebbe’s Sukkah, and sent me to the Rebbe’s room, to inform the Rebbe that we had arrived.
When the Rebbe joined us in the Sukkah, he asked my father: ‘Are you satisfied with your son’s learning in Lubavitch?’
My father replied: ‘I am, because otherwise he would no longer be learning in Lubavitch’.
“in that case’, the Rebbe said to him, ‘I would like to suggest that your son, together with 13 other bochurim, attend the new Yeshiva “Achei Tmimim”, in Pittsburgh.
“My father was taken aback, and said to the Rebbe: ‘I am not the only partner, I need to get the consent of my wife’.
‘Of course’, the Rebbe replied, ‘but please tell her that if she agrees, I promise her that she’ll have nachas from all of her children’!
‘In that case’, my father immediately declared, ‘there is nothing to consider, we both of course agree’.
In fact I went to Pittsburgh as part of a group of 14 bochurim to strengthen the Yeshiva there. (My father did make 2 conditions, to which the Rebbe agreed, and one was that on Shabbos I would daven in a nearby shtibel rather than in Yeshiva”).
“During the subsequent years I frequently consulted with the Rebbe about a variety of issues, and his advice and guidance were priceless. In 5724 I was engaged to be married, and went to the Rebbe to inform him. The Rebbe asked me the date of the chasuna, and I told him that it was set for Yud Tes Kislev. “Yud Tes Kislev?!” the Rebbe exclaimed. He suggested that I schedule it for a week later, and, of course, I acquiesced. The Rebbe then asked me if I will be by the farbrengen on Yud Tes Kislev, so I said that I would.
During the farbrengen, I received a bottle of mashkeh from the Rebbe for my chasuna, which I locked up, and still have today” (see below).
“Some time later, I came one year for kos shel brocho after Pesach. When I saw the huge crowd I was going to leave, because it looked like it would be a wait of a few hours, but an acquaintance saw me, and brought me straight to the front of the line.
When the Rebbe saw me, he asked me how long it’s been that I haven’t been here. “Eight years”, I replied.
The Rebbe said to me “Ich bleib nisht kein baal choiv”, and proceeded to give me 8 bottles of wine!
(I struggled to find enough pockets etc. in my bekeshe to hold them all, but – with the crowd and the pushing – by the time I reached the door I was left with one bottle in any case).
Rabbi LT, whom I knew from Yeshiva, was visiting Toronto, and I invited him to join me in my house for supper. He declined, so I told him that if he would come I had a surprise for him. This convinced him. After we ate, I took out the bottle, and showed him the mashkeh that I still had, that the Rebbe had given me for my chasuna. He became very excited, and asked me for a little bit. He told me that he had a daughter in England who did not yet have children, and he wanted to send her some.
I was happy to comply with his request, but subsequently I forgot about the entire incident.
About 8 months later I received a call from Rabbi LT, informing me excitedly that his daughter was due in two months!
After his speech, Mr. Fuerst distributed the mashkeh to all in attendance, and everyone had the great zechus to say l’Chaim on the Rebbe’s mashkeh!
The event was followed by a chassidishe farbrengen by the members of the hanhalah, that was joined by a number of anash from the community, and lasted late into the night.
All left the evening recharged and refreshed and uplifted.