The Rebbe Never Rests


My birthday wish came true last week when the view statistics kept rising and I got a blogbuster. People’s comments are always the icing on the cake, but they’re usually from people I know. Not that I don’t appreciate all my friends’ encouragement, but I’m thrilled when I receive a comment from a total stranger. That’s when I see the power of the written word, and of course, the power of the internet to fulfill the Rebbe’s mandate to spread G-dliness everywhere in this world in order to bring Moshiach. That’s the good news. The bad news, at least in this case, was that the person was clearly troubled by what I wrote.

To backtrack: I wrote last week how I write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe (there’s an APP for that) asking for assistance in “reaching the right person or people to bring Moshiach NOW.” I questioned whether or not to include that piece of information, but decided that it set a grateful tone for my birthday post. As they say (well, as I say, anyway), I’ve lived half my life without the Rebbe’s guidance and lived half my life with the Rebbe’s guidance, and trust me, living life with the Rebbe’s guidance is better.

But the idea of writing to the Rebbe bothered this particular person. He commented, “you aren’t allowed to ask the dead for anything…not to mention FOR ASSISTANCE!”

He didn’t mention the family picture or even wish me happy birthday. He just seemed to be accusing me of being a necromancer (still one of my favorite words). But I can thank him for giving me this week’s blog post inspiration. And I hope he keeps reading.

The notion of asking for assistance from the righteous who have physically departed is as old as the Torah, which details how Yehoshua and Calev went to Hevron to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs before the spies went into the land of Israel. Since then, we have been praying at graves everywhere. As Jews, we are supposed to be connected with a leader who serves as our spiritual conduit to G-d. This notion is as old as the Torah, too, starting with G-d and Moshe.

(If that sounds strange, here’s something to ponder: Did you ever ask yourself where you got your information about what it means to be a Jew? Were your teachers well-informed? Inspired?)

As G-d would have it, my big birthday trip concluded with a visit to New York, where we went to the Ohel, the Rebbe’s resting place. (The Rebbe’s predecessor, his father-in-law, is buried next to him.) There’s some Ohel protocol (giving tzedaka beforehand, not wearing leather shoes at the actual kever, grave site), but the main objective is to write what’s in your heart and ask for what you need. Or just want. (In short, “for assistance”).

At the actual resting place, people from all walks of life communicate in the language they know best. Then, they tear the words they’ve written, tossing them onto the grave. The white pages cover the site like a blanket of large snowflakes.

What happens after a person writes to the Rebbe, I don’t know. I just know that, for me, it’s been a very good thing to do.

About the Author
Lieba Rudolph, her husband, Zev, and their young family returned to observant Jewish life when they were both over thirty. Now, after spending equal time in both worlds, she shares the joys and challenges of her journey, answering everyone's unasked question: why would anyone normal want to become religious?
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