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In Lieu Of Introduction: A Letter By The Rebbe

The Rebbe's Preface To The Hebrew Edition

Translator's Introduction To The English Edition

A Brief Biography Of The Honored And Holy Rebbe, Light Of The World, The Crown And Glory Of Israel, Our Saintly Lord And Master, Rebbe Shmuel

Biographic Chronology

For The Public Benefit

His Schedule And His Special Talents

His Descendants And His Seforim

From The Sichos Of The Rebbe Maharash Nshmoso Eden

From Sichos Printed Elsewhere

Her Husband's Crown

Her Ancestors

Reb Sender And The Informer

Reb Moshe, Leah Golda, And Reb Aharon

Her Mother, Rebbetzin Sarah

Rebbetzin Sarah's Children

The Rebbe Maharash's Marriages

Eishes Chayil

The Great Fire

After The Fire

Her Final Illness

Rebbetzin Leah Golda: Six Stories

Founders Of Chassidism & Leaders of Chabad-Lubavitch

Glossary

Sefer HaToldos Admur Maharash
A Biographical Sketch Of The Rebbe Maharash,
Compiled By The Rebbe From The Sichos And Notes Of His Father-In-Law,
The Rebbe Rayatz Nshmoso Eden
With Supplementary Material, Including A Newly Discovered Biography Of Rebbetzin Rivkah


Chapter 9
After The Fire

Translated by Shimon Neubort

Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
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  The Great FireHer Final Illness  

At the time [of the fire], there was a house with a surrounding estate, which was the property of the (non-Jewish) landowner of the whole city. It was right on the outskirts of town. The nobleman himself did not live there, and the person who managed the city in his name suggested to the Tzemach Tzedek that he should come and live on the estate until he could rebuild his own house and his sons' homes. The Rebbe had no choice but to accept the offer, for there were no other houses in town that were fit to live in, besides a few tiny shacks belonging to the very poor. Having no other choice, the Rebbe agreed.

My grandmother the Rebbetzin told me that when he first moved into the Courtyard[1] he was in a deep depression, causing everyone great apprehension. But later, when he had been there for about two weeks[2] his mood changed completely and he became very joyful. He recited much Chassidus, and he wrote much Chassidus. In the Courtyard there was a large unheated barn with no windows. They immediately put in windows, but they made no other alterations. It was there that he said Chassidus.

The Courtyard also had several other buildings, one of which was quite large. The Tzemach Tzedek and the Maharash lived in one story of this building[3] and some of the other sons lived in the other story. The remaining sons, their children, and their families lived in the other houses. There was also a small bathhouse[4] where Maharil's son Reb Schneur Zalman and another family lived.

While they were living in the Courtyard, the Rebbe purchased an additional plot of land for the Maharash, next to his burned-down house, parallel to the house but closer to the street. When he built the house for himself, he also built a house for his son, my grandfather the Rebbe Maharash.[5]

The Rebbe Maharash, who possessed outstanding knowledge of construction work, designed a wonderful plan for building his home. It had very large and spacious rooms with unusually high ceilings.[6] His father the Rebbe paid generously for whatever was needed; in fact, none of the Rebbe's other sons merited such favor, to live together with the Rebbe in such proximity. When the buildings were finished they moved in and lived there. The Rebbe Maharash's home was right opposite the Rebbe's home, in the very same yard.[7]

Inside, the Rebbe Maharash's house was decorated far more lavishly than was usual in those days. The floors were paved with colored tiles, the walls were covered with embossed wallpaper, and the windows and doors were inlaid with white panes. The furniture - chairs, tables, and sofas - was also after the manner of the very wealthy. All these features distinguished the Rebbe Maharash's home from the homes of his rabbinical brothers.

And just as the household furnishings and other external matters were distinguished from the rest, so too - and even more so - was this home distinguished in its inner features. This was in keeping with the verses, "...As the glory of a man to dwell in a house,"[8] and "A woman of valor is her husband's crown."[9] In this home only glory and delicate beauty were known, and only soft voices were heard - no outrage, no shouting, no imprecations, no oaths; only stillness and serenity, blessings and prosperity. This was also largely due to the fact that the Rebbe Maharash's house was in the same courtyard with that of the Tzemach Tzedek.

The good and pleasant ways that prevailed in their home had its beneficial effect upon the children's education and upbringing. Now all children are beautiful in appearance when they are young, but the beauty of these children was exceptional. And beyond external beauty, these children were very different from their contemporaries. For the care that was taken with the household, and the pleasant atmosphere of honoring their father and mother that prevailed in their home, had a powerful effect upon the children, their attitudes, and their intellect. Thus, they all lived a tranquil, honorable and glorious lifestyle, on the highest level.

After the fire, my great-grandfather the Tzemach Tzedek set himself to copying what remained of the library. Most of it consisted of handwritten manuscripts; the chassid from Radomysil told me that some of them were written by the Alter Rebbe's own hand. He related that once, when the Tzemach Tzedek instructed him to clean the seforim during the days before Pesach, there were five large bundles [of manuscripts] stored in chests. This corresponds correctly with the list that I discovered, in which the Maharash himself wrote an inventory of what he owned. He wrote, "eight large chests..." and then he listed many more seforim and bound manuscripts. Now much of this was burned,[10] and not even a copy remained.

The reason [that there were no copies] was that he guarded them carefully, and never lent them to anyone - not even to copy. Because of this, he now did not even have a copy of a single maamar.[11] And he claimed that repeating the work [of writing down the maamarim] would require thirty years. He said, "What I accomplished then in a single day, I am unable to accomplish now in a whole week."

Therefore, he now set himself to copy all the manuscripts he possessed, so that [if anything should happen to the originals] there would still be copies. These copies were for my grandfather the Rebbe Maharash, and so, he gave him the manuscripts to copy. In this, too, he treated my grandfather the Maharash differently from his brothers. To them, he would lend one of his notebooks of Chassidus only on a rare occasion and with great difficulty. The Maharash hired four or five copiers who copied the manuscripts for him. He paid them handsomely; some were paid for each copied booklet they produced, while others were paid by the week.

The honor and glory of my grandfather the Rebbe Maharash's position in the family was also manifest by the very many transcriptions [of maamarim] that he produced in those days. Besides their great quantity, they were also superior in substance, for in this too, the Tzemach Tzedek distinguished the Maharash from his brothers. From the time he had begun to manifest his superior intellect, his father had recited special maamarim for him privately. Some of these were biurim on maamarim he had delivered in public, and some were on maamarim he had recited for all his sons. There were also brand new maamarim that he had never recited at all. He would also repeat maamarim he had heard from his grandfather the Alter Rebbe, in the exact same words, leaving out not even the slightest nuance. I myself possess [a copy of] a maamar beginning with the words "On the twenty-fifth [of Kislev] on Chanukah..." on which the Maharash had written a notation that it is the Alter Rebbe's maamar, and that his father had repeated it for him privately.

The Tzemach Tzedek's schedule was as follows: for Shabbos[12] he would deliver a public lecture on Chassidus. Then, his sons and some of the prominent chassidim would repeat the maamar verbatim, all night long, and all day on Shabbos.[13] On Shabbos between Minchah and Maariv[14] he would deliver biurim on the maamar he had originally recited. Only his sons and a few of the special prominent chassidim[15] were allowed to be present when the biurim were delivered.

These were completely new maamarim that he had never before recited. He also repeated for him the maamarim he had heard from his grandfather the Alter Rebbe.[16] [He repeated these maamarim] verbatim in the exact wording, omitting not even the minutest detail.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) That was what everyone called the place - "the Courtyard."

  2. (Back to text) As it got closer to Rosh HaShanah.

  3. (Back to text) In adjoining apartments.

  4. (Back to text) This was quite common in a courtyard in those days.

  5. (Back to text) It is the place where I myself now reside.

  6. (Back to text) In contrast to the usual construction of those days.

  7. (Back to text) The Tzemach Tzedek's home was in the large hall opposite where I now live.

  8. (Back to text) [Yeshayahu 44:13.]

  9. (Back to text) [Mishlei 12:4.]

  10. (Back to text) I.e., those that had been stored in the Chief Rabbi's house.

  11. (Back to text) [Of those that had perished in the fire.]

  12. (Back to text) I.e., Friday afternoon after [immersing in] the mikveh [ritual bath].

  13. (Back to text) He was strongly opposed to anyone adding his own remarks or explanations when repeating a maamar he had heard. In my diary for Sunday, 8 Elul of the present year [printed in Sefer HaSichos - Toras Shalom, p. 208ff.], I record a story regarding this, told by someone who was present.

  14. (Back to text) In place of the usual Third Meal.

  15. (Back to text) E.g., Reb Hillel [Paritcher] and the like.

  16. (Back to text) In fact, I have in my possession [a manuscript of] a maamar BeChaf-He...BeChanukah about which my grandfather the Rebbe Maharash wrote that it is a maamar of the Alter Rebbe, which [the Tzemach Tzedek] had repeated for him privately.


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