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

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reciprocating for the Rebbe's blessings

Reciprocating for the blessings
Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

A chossid once wrote a letter to the Previous Rebbe, eagerly conveying the good tidings that the Previous Rebbe’s blessings to a whole list of people had been fulfilled. The Previous Rebbe replied with a demand:
In response to your second letter, in which you convey at length all those whom Hashem helped, and for whom the replies [of blessing from the Previous Rebbe] brought them success, and the blessings were fulfilled; our great, honorable, and holy Rebbe[1] stated clearly in words of the holy of holies in his holy letters concerning requests for advice in worldly matters.[2] The honorable and holy Tzaddik, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Horodok, of blessed memory, once replied to one of his chassidim who asked him for a blessing for children, that in reward for his faith in Tzaddikim, he deserved the blessing of Heaven for healthy children.

The success of the responses and the fulfillment of the blessings that, with Hashem’s help, and in the merit of our holy ancestors, we [the Rebbes] respond to those who ask, and that we bless them, depends upon the hiskashrus [bond with the Rebbe whom they consult] and personal conduct of those who present the request, and upon their faith—a skilled faith[3]—in the words of our holy Rebbes, of blessed memory.

Faith in the words of Tzaddikim and hiskashrus with them cannot be merely verbal, or an emotional resolve, to declare, “I am a chossid, I am a mekushar [one bound with the Rebbe].” It must express itself in one’s actions, every man and woman according to their abilities and character, by fixing times for Torah study, caution in observing Shabbos, family purity, educating one’s sons and daughters, and the like.

This was the way of the original chassidim. Yes, they would encourage their acquaintances to become chassidim, but they would also encourage them to consistent good deeds, for on this account, those who would present requests [for blessing] would merit that Hashem assist them and grant their wishes. And as a result of Hashem granting their wishes, they increased further in their striving for fine conduct.

I greatly enjoyed your letter, in which you wrote in detail about those whom Hashem blessed, and their every request was fulfilled. However, I would like to know, also in detail, how each and every man and woman, may Hashem bless them, whose requests were granted—how did they express their gratitude to Hashem by increasing their efforts in their divine service in order to repay Hashem?

Igros Kodesh Admur HaRayatz, Vol. 17, pp. 201-202.
[1] I.e., the Alter Rebbe.
[2] Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh ch. 22.
[3] In the original, “be’emunas eimun.” See Tanya ch. 42:
“.'וזה נכלל ג"כ בלשון אמונה שהוא לשון רגילות שמרגיל האדם את עצמו כמו אומן המאמן ידיו וכו”
In my own words:

1. True, an essential part of being a chossid is simply identifying as a chossid within oneself and to others. This identification is essentially a public declaration of one’s faith in the Tzaddik and of one’s commitment to follow that Tzaddik’s guidance, and this is all very worthy and noble. However, this identification is only the beginning; in order to be meaningful, it must be accompanied by an appropriate change in behavior.

2. Likewise, when one lovingly encourages a fellow Jew to enter into the relationship of a chossid of the Rebbe—among many other reasons, due to the tremendous spiritual and material benefits that this relationship stands to bring him or her—one must stress (along the lines, perhaps, of the way one would speak to a prospective convert) that this also includes undertaking a great responsibility, for becoming a chossid means genuinely committing to follow a higher standard of behavior, and in an ever-increasing manner.

3. When one approaches a Tzaddik and requests a brachah, its fulfillment depends largely upon the efforts and spiritual state of the one approaching the Tzaddik. Through deep faith in the Tzaddik and consistent adherence to the commandments of Torah in general, and the Tzaddik’s instructions in particular, the brachah has the vessel for fulfillment. (On this topic, see also here and here.)

4. After the brachah that one received comes to fruition, with Hashem’s help, it behooves one to reciprocate for the blessing by “giving back” to Hashem and the Rebbe, by increasing still further in good deeds. One should also encourage others who have seen Hashem’s blessings in general, and the fulfillment of the blessings of the Tzaddik in particular, to reciprocate in this manner, and also report these extra good deeds to the Tzaddik who blessed them.

5. Now, too, after Gimmel Tammuz, nothing has changed. Chassidim or non-chassidim can and do write to the Rebbe—whether by sending the letter to the Ohel, placing it inside one of his holy books, or the like—and receive his blessings in accordance with the efforts they make to be worthy of those blessings. And once the requests for blessing have been fulfilled, one should reciprocate by intensifying still more one’s efforts in Torah and Mitzvos in general, and one’s fulfillment of the Rebbe’s directives in particular.

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