#320 (s5764-11/ 8 Kislev)
Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch
said, "Now I will tell you secrets of the Torah which have never been revealed.
The journey of the
second Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Dov Ber, to Haditch was unusually somber.
The Rebbe, on his way to pray at the grave of his father and predecessor, Rabbi
Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was not merely meditative, but reclusive.
only refrained from delivering the accustomed Chasidic discourses for which his
disciples thirsted, but he showed no interest or desire to converse at all with
the chasidim who formed his entourage. When he wished to commit some of his Torah
thoughts to paper he was unable to do so, and he indicated to his close followers
that he felt the approach of some impending harsh judgment from Above.
even intimated that he felt his own end approaching. He related to his chasidim
that at the time of the arrest and imprisonment of his father, two alternatives
had been offered from Above: suffering or death. Rabbi Shneur Zalman had chosen
suffering. "It seems that he left the other for me," concluded the somber
Reb Dov Ber.
When the entourage arrived at Haditch the Rebbe prayed at
great length at his father's grave. He also delivered a number of Chasidic discourses
in the study hall which had been erected at the site. One day, after having prayed
for many hours, the Rebbe appeared to his followers, his face beaming with happiness.
"My father has given me his promise that they will release me from my position
as Rebbe," he told them.
The chasidim had long been aware of the
Rebbe's desire to journey to the Land of Israel, and they understood his words
to mean that he had finally decided to make the journey. "Rebbe," they
cried out, "how can you leave us like that, like sheep without a shepherd?"
But the Rebbe just turned to them and said, "Don't worry, you will have my
son-in-law, Menachem Mendel, and he will be a faithful leader for you."
the visit ended, the party began the homeward journey, passing through the town
of Niezhin. But upon his arrival, the Rebbe fell ill and was unable to continue
traveling. The most experienced physicians that could be found were called in,
but none could cure the Rebbe.
They ordered complete bed rest, and even
proscribed the Rebbe from delivering his customary talks to his chasidim. This
advice was the most bitter for the Rebbe. For the very essence of a Rebbe is to
give of himself to his chasidim. The relationship between Rebbe and chasid is
a symbiotic one in which both benefit physically as well as spiritually.
condition deteriorated steadily, until he finally lapsed into unconsciousness,
evincing no apparent life force. The doctors were at a loss, when one of them
said to another, "Do you want to see something very strange? If we permit
the Rebbe to deliver a discourse to his followers, you will see him regain his
The scene which followed was truly amazing, as the Rebbe,
fully vibrant, sat in his bed and spoke to the chasidim who crowded the house
to hear his words. In the course of the talk, the Rebbe said, "Now I will
tell you secrets of the Torah which have never been revealed." But just as
he was about to continue, a chasid leaning forward on a bench behind the Rebbe
fell. The tumult interrupted the Rebbe's thoughts and he remarked, "It seems
that Heaven doesn't wish these things to be revealed."
condition worsened on the night of the ninth of Kislev to the point that he could
not be revived. People flocked to the house to be near the Rebbe. Suddenly the
Rebbe sat up in bed, smiling and said, "I heard a voice saying, 'What need
has a soul like this for this world?'"
The Rebbe requested that he
be dressed in white garments. And then, for the first time since he had been so
ill, he delivered a discourse in which he praised the Jewish people for doing
mitzvot with such devotion. He bade his family and chasidim to be joyful,
for joy breaks through all boundaries and bitterness. Then he continued revealing
deep Chasidic philosophy. All those present were overjoyed to see that their Rebbe
appeared to have recovered his strength.
The Rebbe then turned to one
of his disciples and told him, "While I am speaking, watch out that I don't
fall asleep. If I do, just touch me with your hand and I will wake up."
continued delivering his discourse in a greatly heightened mental state, asking
several times whether it was yet dawn. He expounded upon the words, "For
with You is the source of life," and when he had finished saying the word
"life" his soul left his body.
It is seen in certain select
great tzadikim that the days of their lives are measured exactly to the
day. Rebbe Dov Ber passed away, as did Moses, on the exact day of his birth, thus
indicating complete fulfillment. He was 54 years old when he passed away, exactly
the same age as was his father, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, when he was incarcerated
in Petersburg and agreed to accept the yoke of suffering upon himself.
by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#244).]
Rabbi DovBer Shneuri [9 Kislev 1773 - 9 Kislev 1827] was
the eldest son and successor to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of the Chabad movement.
The author of numerous deep, mystical texts, he is known in Lubavitch circles
as "the Mittler (Middle) Rebbe."
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of
Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He
has hundreds of published stories to his credit.