The Usual Blessing

Shalom Aleichem!

This email will have two parts: 1. An “ask” for your end-of-year financial support; 2. A story about the first Chabad Rebbe, in honor of his yahrzeit today.

First, the “ask:”

I have named my end-of-year campaign “13 For 13” — the goal is to get 13 new monthly donors for 2013; that’s one per month of the Jewish year 5774! Click here to participate. Thank you to Reuben Stauber ’07, Eilon & Yael Even-Esh, and Roee ’08 & Michal Lax for joining! Your monthly donation of any amount will help us start 2014 on the good foot!

If you are unable to commit to a monthly donation of any amount, you can also make a one-time donation online or by sending a check.

* * *

Chassidim always treasured the opportunity to have a private audience with their Rebbe. It was a chance to ask for blessings, receive sage counsel, and get inspired.

There was once a chassid who after each audience with Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, would conclude by asking for a blessing to merit to see him yet again. Rabbi Schneur Zalman, commonly known as Der Alter Rebbe (literally, “the Old Rabbi”), would respond with his blessing that the chassid should merit to see him again.

One time, the chassid came to visit the Alter Rebbe, and requested his usual blessing at the conclusion of their meeting, but the Alter Rebbe did not give it.

Understanding the implications behind this, the chassid pleaded that the Rebbe give him his traditional blessing.

The Rebbe demurred.

Not giving up, the chassid petitioned with tears in his eyes, until the Rebbe finally gave the chassid a blessing that he would indeed merit to see him again.

Leaving the Alter Rebbe’s presence, the chassid was elated. I can imagine him doing a little dance of celebration, as if his life had just been granted to him as a gift.

As soon as he had closed the door behind him, he realized that he had left his handkerchief on the Alter Rebbe’s desk. Without thinking, he turned around, went back into the room, took the handkerchief and set out on his way.

A short while later he realized what had happened, and burst out crying.

Oy gevald! What have I done!? When I re-entered the Alter Rebbe’s room to get my handkerchief, that fulfilled the blessing to see him again……”

The chassid passed away later that year, never seeing the Alter Rebbe again.

* * *
What is the point of this story?

I’m sure there are different ways to look at it, and perhaps one meaning is that you can’t stop the inevitable. If it’s meant to happen, then it will. This does not, of course, exempt a person from hard work and doing his or her best to improve a situation which is less than desirable.

Rather, I think that this approach can lend a sense of ease to any tense situation: Strive to improve things, and know that what’s meant to happen, will surely happen.

Shabbat Shalom & l’chaim!