Stories of Tzadikim / 14 a Jew eventually comes home
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
A gut voch everybody, I’ll tell you a maaseh, I think it was in the early 1920’s. The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, the rebbe Rayatz made a short trip to Eretz yisroel. There’s an interesting story that took place when he was there. When he was staying in Yerushalayim for about a week or so, he stayed at a particular hotel and that was his home base while there.
It happens to be that there was a yid who was living in Yerushalayim in that time who knew the Frierdiker Rebbe. This yid, let’s call him Yankel knew the Rebbe, he grew up in Chabad going to the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivos and at some point something happened in this guy’s life, he took a turn and he was no longer connected at least in an outer way from Torah and Mitzvos. Very far from Yiddishkeit, being a Chassid. But he was in Yerushalayim and he heard that his old Rebbe the Rebbe Rayatz was in town. He had fond memories of him and didn’t have personal issues with him. This jew didn’t want to go visit him, to bring that up again. He was comfortable in his life, just wanting to close the chapter of his old life in Europe and continue on.
His mazal was that the street he had to travel by to get to work he would pass by that hotel. He was always concerned that as he passed by, maybe the Gabbaim or the chassidim might recognize him. Or even if they don’t they’d invite him in. What this Yankel does is he dresses in the opposite of his finest. Wearing short shorts, sandals, a tank top trying to be as opposite of a chassidishe yid as possible. To the point that all the chassidim would assume that he doesn’t want to visit the Rebbe.
The first day he passed by, went unnoticed and it was great. The second day the same thing happens but he thinks to himself maybe he should go say hi to the Rebbe. The days go by and no one is inviting him in, but he himself is finding a part within him to go to the hotel and say hi to the Rebbe and that’s what he’s fighting, himself. On the last day that the Rebbe is in Eretz Yisroel, as he’s passing by the hotel in his non-chassidish clothes. He knows that since it’s the last day he can’t hold himself back anymore and decides to go see his Rebbe. He goes in, opens the door and all the chassidim see this guy come in without a head-covering or anything pushing to go see the Rebbe.
The Rebbe is in the room by himself, despite the gabbaim’s best efforts to hold him back he opens the door and goes in. He sees the Rebbe Rayatz in all his glory. The Rebbe looks at him and has a big smile on his face. He says Ah, Yankel he recognized him. The chassid looks at him and says yes Rebbe, I’m here. The Rebbe looks at him and begins to cry. He says that sometimes we go in circles and circles but eventually we come home.
A few years later the Rebbe Rayatz passed away and throughout Eretz Yisroel they all made gatherings to share divrei hesped. There was one particular gathering in Yerushalayim where chassidim got together and out of nowhere this chassid comes out with a beard, a kapote is pushing his way up to the front. He takes the mic, begins to talk and says this story about the israeli guy who passed by the hotel, and saw the Rebbe. He told him we go in circles and circles, but eventually we come home. And that was me. The moment the Rebbe said that sentence, that alone completely changed my life around. That’s why I am who I am now, because of that story.
That’s the story of yidden, the story of klal yisroel in Galus, we go around in circles, go like this, go like that and eventually we come home. It’s true for klal yisroel and it’s true for each and every one of us. We know what we're supposed to do, we know who we’re supposed to become, it's a matter of getting there. Of going home to the place we’re supposed to go.
Hashem should bless us with a mazaldik voch, a lichtigeh voch a geztuntike voch.