Together, even if not nearby

Friday, 24 November, 2017 - 11:22 am

Last weekend I, along with thousands of my colleagues, attended the annual Kinus – conference of Shluchim. It was a very inspiring few days. One evening I attended a farbrengen (gathering) with some of my classmates. At the farbrengen, one of our friends brought in a sheaf of papers that sparked our interest. Apparently some of our mothers had been classmates as well, and while in Seminary in 1970 they were publishing a newspaper for the students of the school. The newspaper came out every other month and my mother was one of the editors. Each edition was submitted to the Rebbe before publication, and to their surprise, they were honored that the Rebbe often edited the articles, correcting them for accuracy and even language (English) and syntax.

The papers that my friend brought were copies of the articles from the Kislev edition with the Rebbe’s edits. I would like to share the edits on one of the stories which I believe is very instructive.  

The Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi) had a daughter Rebbetzin Freida. She was quite learned and very beloved by her father, so much so that he recited Chassidic discourses just for her. Her brother (R’ Dovber, the second Rebbe of Chabad) would give her questions to discuss with their father for which only she would get answers.

When she neared her passing she called in the elder Chassidim and told them that she wishes to be buried in very close proximity to her father in the cemetery of Haditch (Russia).

Here is where the significant edit was made. Originally the girls wrote that “the Chassidim were faced with a dilemma because in their tradition the men and women were not buried together.” The Rebbe crossed out the word “together” and added “in the same row.”

The story continues. On her deathbed, the chassidim heard her reciting the passage from the morning blessings, “"My Gā€‘d, the soul which You have given within me is pure. You have created it, You have formed it, You have breathed it into me, and You preserve it within me..." When she reached the next words "You will eventually take it from me..." she lifted her ten fingers heavenward and cried out, "Father, wait, I'm coming!" With those final words, her soul departed from her body. They then realized that her worthy request should not be disregarded and she was buried to her father’s immediate right.  

My friends and I were discussing this and one of them pointed out the possible significance of the Rebbe’s edit. It is entirely conceivable to be together even when not on the “same row.” In other words, not always is the lack of close physical proximity an indication of separation. This reflects an axiom that the Rebbe cites in Hayom Yom, “Chassidim don’t take leave of each other because they are never truly apart.” This is an important lesson in life. We can and must remain “together” even if there is some sort of physical distance or perceived partition between us.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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