"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hei Teves: Celebrating our victory

On Hei (the fifth of) Teves every year, chassidim celebrate the day that the secular court issued the verdict that the seforim (holy books) of the Previous Rebbe’s library should be returned to their rightful owners, Agudas Chassidei Chabad, after a large number of these priceless works had been stolen. Chassidim dubbed this the day of Didan notzach, which means literally “victory is ours.”

But why should we be so happy, as if celebrating a
personal victory? After all, we weren’t there. Many of us (such as the writer of this post) were little children when this whole saga occurred, and others hadn’t even been born. And even of those who were adults at the time and remember the events clearly, how many were directly involved? Yes, some went to the trouble to sit in the court during the case, but most didn’t even do that.

In fact, this question strikes to the core of what it means to be a

At first
chassidim didn’t understand why the theft mattered so much; however, they witnessed the simple fact that the Rebbe was deeply distressed over the situation. So first and foremost, chassidim were distressed on account of that very fact: Since chassidim share a deep, personal, loving relationship with the Rebbe, when something distresses the Rebbe, chassidim are distressed too.

But for a true
chossid, that is not enough. Just as when a close friend is suffering, one wants to know why this is so, and seeks to help him out, so is it with a chossid and his or her Rebbe. When the Rebbe is in pain, the chossid wants to understand why, to share that feeling with him, and to do whatever is in his or her power to remove that pain.

This is the meaning of
didan. Didan means ours. The Rebbe’s joy is our joy, and the Rebbe’s pain is our pain, because we’re his chassidim. But this bond can’t come automatically. It requires Avodah, hard work at self-refinement, so that instead of only thinking about ourselves—whether selfish indulgences, or even our legitimate physical needs (and may all Jews be blessed with abundant prosperity)—we think about Hashem, and what matters to Him. And then we realize that we should consider and connect with the holy wishes of the Tzaddik that He sent us to reveal His Will to us and His expectation of us. That the Rebbe is the source of our Neshamos, and so we need to connect with that source in order connect with Hashem.

Then his pain is our pain ... and his joy is our joy, his victory is our victory. To suggest a little interpretation: When we have
didan—the identification with the Rebbe, then there will also be notzach—the identification with his victory.

In this case, the joy of
Hei Teves—of which chassidim said, “One who didn’t see the joy of Hei Teves, never saw joy in his life”—was a direct and natural result of empathizing with the pain of the Rebbe during the period before the verdict was issued. When we in our time develop our bond with the Rebbe in general, and reflect upon the pain that the Rebbe suffered over the debacle of the stolen seforim in particular, we will be able to truly share in the Rebbe’s joy on this day. Or, in the words of Tehillim, “Those who sow in tears, shall reap with joy” (Tehillim 126:5).


1 comment:

  1. I would like to add what I believe the essence of this day is all about. Barry, among others, was unhappy from day one that the Ramash, as he was then called, was chosen by chasidim and not his father, the holy Rashag, to succeed the FR. Hei Teves was his, and ultimately their, effort to disprove the legitimacy of the choice.

    At the end of the day, this day is about celebrating not just the Rebbe's simcha, and the seforim themselves, but that the Rebbe is indeed the final link in the chain from the Baal Shem Tov.


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