For the first twenty-five years of his leadership, the Rebbe would receive his Chassidim, as well as men and women from all walks of life, at yechidus, or private audience, three times a week.

The audiences, held on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, would begin shortly after nightfall and extend through the night; some nights, the last of the scores of visitors would depart well after daybreak. Many of those people came with problems and difficulties; it was anxiety and anguish that had brought them to the Rebbe. Others had questions concerning faith; still others sought guidance and direction. Most shared only a few short minutes in the presence of the Rebbe, but all would come away with the feeling that in their time with him, however brief, the Rebbe was with them with his entire being, wholly and exclusively focused on their individual concerns.1

A Look of Healing

It was not merely that the Rebbe listened patiently and enabled people to unburden themselves. A deeper spiritual process is involved. As the Torah relates,2 when a person had a tzaraas blemish, he would have to appear before a kohen to have the blemish inspected and ultimately be declared pure. On one level, the kohen was watching the internal process of purification. On a deeper level, he was causing it. Every time he looked at the blemish, he imparted spiritual energy to the blemished person that enabled him to be purified.3

A similar process occurs when a person bares his heart to the Rebbe. He is given energy to heal his difficulties, be they spiritual or material.

A Wellspring of Life

To explain the above dynamic: The core of a Jew’s soul is “an actual part of G‑d,”. See Tanya, ch. 2. an infinite source of goodness, perfection, and vitality. In most instances, this essential potential remains hidden, surfacing only on occasion. However, because of a blend of Divine providence and their own unique Divine service, there are certain souls who have been found worthy of revealing this inner potential in an ongoing and perceptible manner. They serve as spiritual lighthouses, beacons radiating G‑dly light to others.

Moreover, they are not merely examples of realized men: they are comprehensive souls4 who energize others to reveal their own spiritual potential. Simply put, when a person comes into contact with such a soul, the inner G‑dliness he himself possesses is inspired to surface.4 This is the fundamental process initiated by meeting a Rebbe.

But the process does not end there. As the person unfolds his challenges, successes,5 and failures before the Rebbe’s eyes, he invites the Rebbe’s influence into these areas and he is empowered to be healed, to grow, and to prosper in all aspects of his material and spiritual endeavors.

Still Shepherding His Flock

As myriads of people attest, visiting the Ohel, the Rebbe’s resting place, affords an opportunity for the above process to continue. When a Jew comes to the Rebbe and invites his assistance, the Rebbe finds a way to respond

This process can happen spontaneously — and often does. A Jew comes to the Rebbe and opens his heart. Nevertheless, as its name implies, Chabad6 Chassidus seeks to filter spiritual experience through the intellect so that it will be internalized and have a longer-lasting effect.7 Accordingly, to explain and facilitate the spiritual process of visiting the Ohel, we have compiled the present reader comprising three texts: (a) a passage from the Zohar that appears in Maaneh Lashon;8 (b) Kuntreis HaHishtat’chus, a maamar attributed to the Mitteler Rebbe;9 and (c) an adaptation of talks from the Rebbe dating from Yud-Shvat, 5714 (1954).10

The passage from the Zohar provides a background for the practice of praying at a cemetery. The Mitteler Rebbe’s maamar explains the uniqueness of praying at the grave of a tzaddik who was one’s spiritual mentor, and the Rebbe’s talk highlights the uniqueness of visiting the grave of a tzaddik who possessed a comprehensive soul as spoken of above.

“And the Living Shall Take To Heart”

At times, events occur that shock one to the core. At such a moment, a chassidthinks of his Rebbe, because he lies at the core of every chassid’s being. On Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh, 5769 (2009), the holy soul of Levi Yitzchak Wolowik returned to its Maker.

As a response — and as a personal expression of appreciation for the ongoing dedication and efforts of Levi Yitzchak’s parents, Rabbi Zalman and Chani Wolowik, shluchim to the Five Towns — Mayer and Henny Preger were inspired to publish this reader. It was a spontaneous feeling; they felt something had to be done.

As the community closest to the Ohel, the Chabad community of the Five Towns possesses a unique distinction, as the Rebbe states in the above talks:

Even merely being close to the Rebbe’s resting place is significant. As our Sages state,11 when a person has a loaf of bread in his breadbasket, he does not hunger as easily.

Similar concepts apply with regard to the yetzer hara, the Evil Inclination.When the yetzer knows that a Jew has a way to rebuff its lures — he can visit the resting place of a tzaddik and particularly, that of a nasi with whom he shares a spiritual bond — it will not bother that person so strongly, because it knows that he can break it entirely [by visiting the Rebbe].

The Rebbe concluded the above-mentioned talk:

The desire of the nesiim was — and remains — for their influence to be felt in one’s day-to-day life, in thought, speech, and action. In this way, their shlichus can be carried out without obstacles and with abundant success in material and spiritual matters.

May this text help bring these goals to fruition and lead to the time when we will no longer need to visit the Ohel, the time of which it is written,12 “You who repose in the dust: Awaken and sing joyful praises!”

Sichos In English

27 Adar, 5769 (2009)