By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Rosh Yeshivas Lubavitch in Cincinnati, Ohio
On Wednesday morning, I woke up early and very excited. After much work and effort, we were able to arrange for a group of local Yidden to come to the Rebbe for a day in preparation for Yud-Shevat.
When I boarded the plane at 7:00am, my heart was soaring. By the time I landed at 9:00am, my heart whole body was shaking.
I had just heard the news, from my brother: Our dear uncle Rabbi Yonah Avtzon was called to translate the Sichos in shamayim…
The rest of the day has been a daze, going through the motions and trying to give myself, and others, some perspective. I do not know, or attempt to explain, the cheshbonos of Hashem. I just want to share with you, the deep connection of my uncle Yonah to the day Gimmel Shevat:
On Gimmel Shevat 5752, the Rebbe said a heart-wrenching Sicha. He spoke of the pain that the Frierdiker Rebbe went through at the end of his life and that “his speech was in Galus”. The Rebbe said, that just as Moshe Rabbeinu, who could not speak well, has an Aharon that translated for him, we need to be the Aharon of the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation.
Dear Friends: In the course of the Nesius of the Rebbe, even when we could clearly hear the Rebbe, there were thousands of people that felt that for them “The rebbe’s speech is in Galus”.
This was the English-speaking crowd of people that wanted to learn the Rebbe’s holy Torah, but could not. That was until one person gave up from himself to be the Aharon for these thousands of people. Rabbi Yonah Avtzon singly-handily founded and directed Sichos in English, thus making the Rebbe’s Torah available to all. We all owe him a debt of gratitude as well as a reminder of our Job – given on Gimmel Shevat – to be the Aharon for our Rebbe.
My uncle Yonah lived with Moshiach. In the 1980’s he prepared a book of the Sichos of the Rebbe about Moshiach, and as excited to print it. The Rebbe did not let, as it was not yet the time.
After the famous sicha of 28 Nissan 5751, where the Rebbe said it was our job to bring Moshiach, and later explained that the way to do that is by learning about Moshiach, Reb Yonah asked the Rebbe again if now he can print it. On Gimmel Shevat, the Rebbe returned the sefer with the permission given to print. Klal Yisroel has Reb Yonah to thank for the sefer Megola LiGeula – From Exile to Redemption.
My uncle always spoke the truth, that he felt, to people. There is no doubt in my mind that he is demanding from the Rebbe and Beis Din shel maalah, in a way that only he can say, “Dalai Galus” and I can’t wait to once again hear the question: “Reb Gersh, what’s new in Cincinnati?”