As you may recall from a previous weekly email, my family recently enjoyed a relaxing vacation Upstate. In addition to some great hikes, boating, bonfires and roasted marshmallows, we also had occasion to visit with our friends and colleagues Rabbi Mendel & Raizy Rubin, at nearby Chabad of the University at Albany
Rabbi Mendel and Raizy have literally and figuratively built a large and warm Chabad House. In addition to eating (of course!) and “talking shop,” Mendel also shared with us a story that he heard from Rabbi Shmuel Lew, a senior Chabad representative in London.
The Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneerson had an only child, who was later to succeed him as Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok. When Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok was younger he had a close friend named Rabbi Elchonon Morosow (Morosov), who was also his father’s secretary.
Now, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok had three daughters, one of whom – Chaya Mushka – was later to marry Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who became the Rebbe after Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok’s passing in 1950. Another daughter, Shayna, was killed by the Nazis ym”sh, and a third daughter was named Chana (Gourary).
His friend Rabbi Elchonon had daughters of similar ages, and they often played together. One time, the children were playing “blindfold.” One child would be chosen to be blindfolded, and then she had to search around the room, attempting to touch another person, who was hiding somewhere in the room. When she touched someone, they would become “it,” and would don the blindfold.
On one occasion, Rabbi Elchonon’s daughter Leah (who was actually younger than all the others) was chosen to be blindfolded. She searched and searched, but to no avail – the other children had “bent the rules” and were moving from place to place as they saw her approaching.
In walked Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, who immediately detected what was taking place. He stood prominently in the middle of the room, and in no time, Leah touched him.
“You’re it!” she shouted.
Removing her blindfold, she was shocked to see her father’s close friend standing there.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok’s daughter Shayna said to her father, “You can’t do that!”
“Because fathers can’t play this game!”
“How would you feel,” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok addressed his daughter, “if someone told you that your father was a cheater?”
“Ah, just like you wouldn’t like it, I also wouldn’t like it to be said that my children are cheating,” and he proceeded to don the blindfold to continue the game.
At that moment, Rabbi Elchonon entered. He had been asked by the Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber, to call his son, and had been having difficulty finding him.
“Yosef Yitzchok! Your father (i.e. the Rebbe) is calling for you to come, and you are playing with children?!”
Quipped Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok: “My father is looking for his children, and I am looking for my children!”
From this story we can derive an important lesson regarding the priority of connecting to our children. Moreover, it was not a study session, but a game. Recreational time is a wonderful occasion to bond, and to teach life lessons to our children. It is truly an opportunity to seize (and to seek). Cherish every moment.
This email is dedicated to the memory of Leibby Kletzky a”h.
Wishing you much happiness and a great Shabbos!