# 412(s5766-01/3 Tishrei)


His father the Rebbe was in favor of the match, but his grandmother, Rebbetzin Rivka Shneersohn, had other plans.


When the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, reached an age appropriate to marry, he was faced with having to choose between several prospective brides. One of those suggested was the young Rebbetzin Nechama Dina, daughter of Rabbi Avraham Schneerson of Kishinev, the son of Rabbi Yisrael Noach Shneersohn, who was the Rebbe of Nezhin and son of the Tzemech Tzedek, the third Chabad Rebbe.

The prospective bridegroom's father, the Rebbe Rashab [Rabbi Shalom Dovber, fifth Chabad Rebbe], was in favor of this match (which eventually did take place), but his mother, Rebbetzin Rivka, wife of the deceased fourth Chabad Rebbe, had other plans.

The Rebbe Rashab said to his mother, "Let us follow the advice of the Torah, and ask the boy himself what he wants to do." They called in the young Yosef Yitzchak, gave him the names of all the possible matches and told him to make the decision for himself.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak replied, "When Abraham sought a wife for his son Isaac, he sent his servant Eliezer to his own kinsmen to find a suitable match, saying, 'But you shall go to my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son.' "Evidently, he had decided to marry his third cousin, Nechama Dina.

Now in those days, the custom of Rebbetzin Rivka was to distribute honey cake to everyone in the community on the day before Yom Kippur. Her son, the Rebbe Rashab, would be the first to receive a piece, after which all the Chasidim and townspeople would file past her and be given a piece of cake and her blessings for a good and sweet year.

That year, during which the match between Yosef Yitzchak and Nechama Dina was arranged, the Rebbe Rashab came to his mother as usual for the honey cake before Yom Kippur. On that occasion, however, he asked for her forgiveness, as the match had not been made according to her wishes.

Rebbetzin Rivka responded with the following story:

There was once a Jew living in an isolated settlement with few Jewish neighbors, who wanted to spend Yom Kippur in a nearby town in order to be able to pray properly with a minyan. Many such isolated Jewish families would relocate before the High Holidays in order to be able to celebrate together with their brethren. The man informed his wife and family that they would be making the trip into town on the day before Yom Kippur, and asked them to ready themselves for the journey.

When it came time to leave, however, he was the only one ready. The rest of the family had not yet finished packing and making preparations.

He tried to hurry them, as it was Erev Yom Kippur, but it was obvious they would not be leaving for some time. The man therefore suggested that he start out on the journey himself, walking slowly, so that they would later be able to catch up with him. The entire family would meet at a particular tree and continue on their way together.

The father set off alone and soon reached the location where they were supposed to meet. Tired by his long walk (and by the drink of schnapps he had downed that morning), he decided to rest in the inviting shade of the tall tree. Lying down on a comfortable spot not visible from the main road, the man soon fell asleep and dozed for many hours.

Meanwhile, the other family members were hurrying along, trying to reach town before sundown. By the time they reached the tree near which their father was fast asleep they had quite forgotten about their agreement, and passed him right by.

Towards evening the man woke up from his nap. Seeing the advancing shadows, he realized that he would never be able to reach the town before it got dark, nor would he be able to return home without transgressing the holiest day of the year. He would have to spend Yom Kippur where he was, in the middle of nowhere, under the open sky.

Lifting his eyes to heaven, the man cried out, "Master of the Universe! My children have totally forgotten about me! I hereby forgive them; now You must forgive Your children who have forgotten about You!"

Rebbetzin Rivka finished her story with the following words addressed to her son, the Rebbe Rashab: "May G-d forgive all of us the same way that I have forgiven you."

[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from various Chabad sources.]

Biographical note:
Rebbetzin Rivka Schneersohn (1833- 10 Shvat 1914) a granddaughter of Rabbi DovBer, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, at age 16 married her first cousin, Rabbi Shmuel, who later became the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Surviving her husband by 33 years, for many years she was the esteemed matriarch of Lubavitch, and chasidim frequented her home to listen to her accounts of the early years of Lubavitch. She is the source of many of the stories recorded in the talks, letters and memoirs of her grandson, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe). The Beis Rivka network of girls' schools are named after her.


Yrachmiel 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.

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