In addition to the subjects that R. Bentcha taught us, we absorbed a wealth of Chassidic values during his farbrengens. One time, during one of these community gatherings, One of the local Chassidim, spoke harshly of another Jew who was forced to join the Communist party and whose religious observance had since cooled off. He referred him to as a gentile.

R. Bentcha, as sharp and impassioned as ever, immediately retorted, “What do you wantOne of the local Chassidim spoke harsly of another Jew from him? When eight million soldiers—referring to the Russian soldiers—stand facing him with drawn rifles and don’t allow him to put on tefillin, and he still perseveres and puts them on, is he not a tzaddik, a truly righteous man?!”

Often, the discussion at these farbrengens would turn to profound issues, exploring the Chassidic perspective on life, and its sense of priority. When R. Bentcha would try to describe the futility of getting too invested in the more temporal, material aspects of life, he would say, “I was once in Moscow, in the Red Square, and saw thousands of people were rushing here and there. In my mind, I asked them: ‘What are you so enthusiastic about? One hundred years ago none of you were here, and in another hundred years none of you will be here, so why the emphasis, and the excitement about matters of this world?” For R. Bentcha, there was far more than the life of this physical world.

When he would hear people engage in idle chatter, or when he would want to demonstrate the unimportance of some issue people were droning on about, he would approach them and begin searching for something on the table or floor. Finally, he would locate some scrap of paper, and he would ask them, “Does this have any value? Your words are worth even less.”

“Know that life is like a fair,” he would repeat to the youngsters. “At a fair, one buys, sells, and engages in business. Life is full of all sorts of so-called achievements and goals. When young men such as yourselves are setting out for the fair; they think, ‘I can do this and I can accomplish that; my life is ahead of me. I will be successful and show everyone what I’ve got!’ My dear friends, believe me, when I was young I also had similar notions. I am now older, and I'm getting ready to come back from the fair. I've realized that these thoughts lead absolutely nowhere; all these wild ambitions and dreams are are merely fantasies. The main thing is to be a loyal Jew who follows the ways of the Torah. Everything else in life is trivial.”

After saying l’chaim on a few shot glasses of vodka, he loved to sing a Russian lullaby in which a Jewish mother tells her son to remain a faithful Jew in all of life's circumstances. He loved emphasizing the part of the song in which the son is told that even when great sorrows befall him, he should still remain loyal to G‑d. He would sing it with gusto as he knocked on the table with his finger.

Years later, my brother Berel sang this song before the Rebbe, at a public farbrengen. To his surprise, however, the Rebbe didn’t encourage the singing as he often would, asHe would sing it with gusto as he knocked on the table with his finger though he disapproved of it. My brother understood that the Rebbe didn’t want to encourage the words of the mother describing the calamities that would befall her son.

R. Bentcha was a close friend of R. Boruch Duchman and R. Eliyahu Paritcher—those “soccer-playing” community elders—and would address them with the informal Yiddishdu’. To us boys their casual friendship seemed a little odd because while R. Boruch and R. Eliyahu were older, stately Chassidim, R. Bentcha always struck as being somewhat younger. He was a classy fellow, sporting a neat beard, a tie, and a stylish walking stick, and the way he strolled around with his boots and erect posture made him seem to be of another generation. R. Bentcha noticed our surprise and commented, "We learned together back in Lubavitch!"

During one farbrengen, he spoke about Reb Eliyahu Paritcher with his typical vitality. It turned out that R. Eliyahu had been one of the select few students of the Rebbe Rashab appointed to memorize the Rebbe’s teachings delivered on Shabbos. Since this was the only way the teachings could be recorded and transmitted, this was an enormously important role. “You see him as a short man but you should know that after R. Shilem, the main Chassidic mentor in the early days of Tomchei Temimim, he was the main reviewer for the Rebbe Rashab! As the Rebbe was delivering a lecture, each of them would focus in his own way; R. Shilem would sway back and forth, while R. Eliyahu would stand quietly in his place and listen.

“Can you picture it? On Shabbos morning, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would come to shul for prayers after immersing himself in the mikveh, and R. Eliyahu here would jump on the table and review the lecture for theCan you imagine such an amazing scene? Rebbe from the night before! Can you imagine such an amazing scene? And did you ever hear what the Rebbe Rashab once said about R. Eliyahu’s balding head? That his hair fell out because of how deeply he would meditate on Chassidic concepts before prayer!”

This was how R. Bentcha constantly shared with us the chassidic warmth he was blessed with, as well as a proper chassidic mindset and outlook on life.