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Memoirs of Rebbetzin Chana - Part 34

Memoirs of Rebbetzin Chana - Part 34

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My son visits me every day
Evening following Shabbat Kedoshim [5711-1951]

My son, long may he live, about whom I have written above, has just left my home. He visits me daily—may it do me no harm to mention it, as women are wont to say—and twice on Friday. He makes my life much better and, as they say here [in America], makes me feel better.

The Rebbe with his Mother (Paris, 1947)
The Rebbe with his Mother (Paris, 1947)

My apartment where I am now1 is not very large. It so happens that during the time he sits here with me, the room seems to be much bigger!

During his visits, I don’t at all feel many things that I find unpleasant, and under the inspiration of his noble devotion and sublime greatness, I manage to live with them until his next visit 24 hours later.

It pains me only to notice when he doesn’t feel well and is very fatigued, although he tries very hard to conceal it from me. First of all, he works very hard. Besides that, he often experiences issues on which his pure sincerity of character is incapable and unwilling to compromise, troubling him greatly and disturbing his calm disposition. Only his great mind enables him to overcome these feelings.

I pray to G‑d to strengthen his health for long life.

Appointed “Minister of Culture”

The Rebbe with his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe
The Rebbe with his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe

I recall the time before our son left home.2 It was almost twenty years before I saw him again.

The Rebbe,3 of sainted memory, who later became our son’s father-in-law, immediately recognized his special qualities. [After meeting him4] he almost never let him out of his sight, always calling on him to come to him for some important purpose or another. The Rebbe said he was appointing him as his “Minister of Culture” and he delegated to him many issues that called for Torah scholarship and secular knowledge to bring to fruition.5

“I won’t find such a son-in-law there!”

When the Rebbe was permitted to leave the USSR in 1927,6 he submitted a list of those for whom he requested an exit visa to accompany him. The list included my son, M.M., long may he live. For each one on the list individually, the Rebbe gave a reason for his request—a reason the Soviet government officials had to find satisfactory.

When they came to his request for our son, however, they asked the Rebbe why he needed him. He replied that he wanted him as a son-in-law, to marry his daughter.7 “Do you really need to bring even a son-in-law from here?” they asked, to which the Rebbe replied firmly, “I won’t find such a son-in-law there!”

The passing of Rabbi Shalom DovBer in 5680 (1920)
2 Nissan, 5712 [1952]

This day always reminds me of memories of something or other. It’s already 32 years, I believe, since the passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch, of blessed memory.

Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch (1860 -1920)
Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch (1860 -1920)

I remember when the news arrived. Generally, contact by mail or railway was very poor. Nevertheless, in this instance, we learned about it that same day.

I have no words to describe the impact of this news. It felt as if our whole life had stopped. That’s how it was in our home, and for those who were close to us, and particularly among members of the Lubavitch community. My husband, of blessed memory, wept aloud, something he almost never did.

All those mentioned here found out immediately—I don’t remember how. Right away, more than twenty of them came to our home and brokenheartedly sat shivah, weeping intensely.

I recall how an engineer named Y. L. Koren, came in. He was a freethinker and thoroughly irreligious. Nevertheless, seeing how everyone, young and old, together with my husband—whom he described as having an exceptionally stalwart character—were all so brokenhearted, he wept with them together.

He told me that although he was such a total freethinker, nevertheless, when he learned that the personage who held such a sacred position among Jews, and to whom his followers were so devotedly attached, had passed away, he felt compelled to weep with them together, feeling their same sense of loss. Even when he left our home, he couldn’t calm down and cried hysterically in the street.

11 Sivan, 5712 [1952]

I recorded this date here, but wrote nothing else. It was 52 years since my wedding. There was something on my mind prompting me to pen some recollections, but I didn’t actually do so.

27 Tammuz, 5712 [1952]

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944)
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944)

Yesterday was the Shabbat when we blessed the month of Menachem Av, on the 20th day of which will be eight years since the passing of my husband, of blessed memory. The more time passes, the more I feel the weight of my loss.

My son, may he be well, does whatever he can, perhaps even more than he can, to improve all aspects of my life and to make me feel good. Nevertheless—and I make every effort to ensure he doesn’t sense this—all is not right.

The eve of Tisha B’Av [the fast of 9 Av]

I am reminded, unintentionally, of an eve of Tishah B’Av [the fast of 9 Av] when many guests were present at our pre-fast meal [in Yekaterinoslav], which was held in such a friendly, intimate atmosphere.

In contrast, I recall another such occasion, when just my husband and I were alone in our mud hut,8 where conditions were very far from good, but we didn’t feel any loneliness.

Now, however, that my son—long may he live in good health and accompanied by success—is becoming increasingly busy with more responsibility, I don’t have the heart to take up his time. And other than him, I have nothing.

FOOTNOTES
1.

At the time, the Rebbetzin was living at the corner of Kingston Avenue and Lincoln Place, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

2.

At the end of Tishrei, 5688 (October, 1927).

3.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe.

4.

In .

5.

See also Sefer Hasichot 5680-5687, p. 282, fn. 4.

6.

See The Heroic Struggle (Kehot, 1999).

7.

Rebbetzin Chaya Moussia (1901-1988).

8.

In exile in Chi’ili—see above, p. 000.

From the memoirs of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson (1880-1964), mother of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.
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