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The Believer

by Mrs. Geulah Cohen

  

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Translator’s note: the following are translated excerpts from an account by Israeli activist, writer and former Knesset member Geulah Cohen of her meeting with the Rebbe. The original Hebrew version was published in the Israeli daily, Maariv, December 18, 1964. 

I’ve met wise people, I’ve met scholars, I’ve met artists, but to meet a believer is an altogether different experience. After meeting a wise person, you remain what you were before—wise or stupid; after meeting a scholar, you remain what you were before— learned or a boor; after meeting with an artist, you remain what you were before—artist or artisan. But when you take leave of a believer, you leave his presence different than you entered it. For even if the believer’s faith does not infect you, it affects you. For the believer believes in you, too.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the spiritual leader of the international Chabad movement, is a wise man, a learned man, but above all, he is a believer. And if faith is the art of truth, he’s also an artist. A particularly creative artist. His creation: an entire army of believers whose commander-in-chief he is. The faith army of Israel, dedicated to the G-d of Israel and the people of Israel.

When you take leave of a believer, you leave his presence different than you entered it. For even if the believer's faith does not infect you, it affects you. For the believer believes in you, too
***

The Midrash does not anywhere describe how the supernal angels are received in audience before the divine throne. But were it to describe this, it might well take its cue from the manner in which one is received by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Of course, there is a secretary, a line, and reception hours, as with every human being. Here, however, the secretary doesn’t ask what you wish to discuss with the Rebbe—your questions to the Rebbe are between you and him. Here, though it might be necessary to wait weeks or months for your turn, anyone who so desires can be received by the Rebbe. And here, the reception hours are not during the daytime, but at night—all night long.

“Eleven in the evening?” I repeated in amazement when Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s secretary, notified me of the time of my appointment with the Rebbe.

“Tomorrow night at eleven,” came the clear reply through the phone from the Rebbe’s Brooklyn headquarters.

“Why not during the daytime?” The Chassid to whom I addressed this query gave me a look as if I had asked the most bizarre question in the world. “During the day the Rebbe studies,” he stated with finality.

Instead of asking why the Rebbe doesn’t study at night and receive people during the day, I found myself thinking that, perhaps, this is as it should be; that perhaps at night the hearts speak more freely and the heavens are more open to listen.

***

When I read a book, I always skip the introduction. But the long introduction that preceded the moment of my meeting with the Rebbe taught me that there are introductions that should not be skipped, for the simple reason that in them the story really begins. The Rebbe’s Chassidim are a part of his personality, just as Chassidism believes that all of humanity is part of G-d’s personality. My audience with the Rebbe began when I arrived at his headquarters and met his disciples.


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Chassidism » Rebbe » "The Rebbe"

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Chassid
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, spiritual leader of the worldwide Chabad movement.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.