Weekly Chasidic Story #986 (s5777-03
/ 14 Tishrei 5777)
Preferable to Silver
He explained his community's desire to honor the Lubavitcher Rebbe
with an impressive gift, but his own reluctance to do so if it should be against
the Rebbe's wishes.
Connection:Seaonal - Sukkot
Preferable to Silver
My father-in-law, Zalman
Jaffe (of blessed memory), born in Manchester, UK, was a proud descendent of
Chabad Chassidim. He and my mother-in-law Roselyn were introduced to the
[Lubavitcher] Rebbe in the early days of the Rebbe's leadership. Eventually
this acquaintance developed into personal friendship, and each year my in-laws
merited regular visits, especially during Shavuot, which were recorded and published
annually in my father-in-law's popular diary, the "My Encounter with the
It was during one of those
annual visits that my wife Hindy got a peek at the Rebbe's ornate silver menorah.
In spite of its size and beauty, the Rebbe didn't use it. He preferred a small
and simple one for the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles.
My father-in-law, remembering
the sight at farbrengens of the Rebbe being handed a plain bottle of wine in
a paper bag for the kos shel brachos (the "cup of blessings"-from
which the Rebbe would personally distribute small cups of wine to whomever filed
by him), decided that something more fitting was needed. Therefore, for the
Rebbe's 80th birthday -- 11 Nissan 5742 (4 days before Passover 1982) - he wanted
to present the Rebbe, on behalf of the Manchester community, with a lovely silver
But worried the Rebbe wouldn't
use it, my father-in-law first wrote to the Rebbetzin (the Rebbe's wife), explaining
his community's desire to honor the Rebbe with an impressive gift but his own
reluctance to do something if it would be against the Rebbe's wishes. He asked
the Rebbetzin to consult with her husband and promised to call a week later
for the answer.
A week passed. Then, courageously,
my father-in-law phoned the Rebbetzin.
The Rebbetzin replied said
that the Rebbe had not reacted. However, a day or so later, my father-in-law
received a letter from the Rebbe, at the end of which lay the Rebbe's response.
P.S. Mrs. Schneerson told me about the request about the bottle and the paper
bag. Forgive me, but while we will accept the thought as though it actually
happened, I prefer a bottle with a paper bag more than a beautiful, silver bottle.
The Rebbe added:
There are many reasons, but I'll tell you one of them that I hope you will
understand. I do not want to make a barrier between my way of life and the way
of life of those around me.
He gave an example:
I have many silver esrog boxes, but I prefer to use a cardboard box.
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from a 2013 email of the Avner Institute
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
l.o.o.g. [11 Nissan 5662 - 3 Tammuz 5754 (April 1902 - June 1994 C.E.)], became
the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law's passing on
10 Shvat 5710 (1950 C.E.). He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish
leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant scholar in
both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and
scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and
concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated
to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his
teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.
Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor
of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories
to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells
them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.
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