THE SWEETNESS OF YOM KIPPUR | Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

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Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

We are all complicated, and what works for one doesn’t necessarily help his neighbour. Each Neshomah carries its own tikun and therefore has a set of emotional tools that will facilitate its fulfilment, whilst others have different characteristics which accord to their own task.  There are however moments that touch every soul, perhaps in slightly in different ways, but they cling nevertheless.

Yom Kippur is the birthplace of many such moments, its combination of spiritual ingredients creates a perfect composite for searing experiences.

Allow me to share just such a snapshot that has stayed with me and gives me chizuk close to sixty years later.

Bobov in those days was a much smaller, more intimate place, peopled mostly by Sh’eiris Hapleitah with the youngsters born shortly after the Churban, many in DP camps. I was a Yankee born kid from Queens, and through a combination of incidents gently orchestrated by the Eibishter, (as all life is) I had the zechus to be drawn close to the Rebbe, HaRav Shlomo Ztl.

The Rav had a neshoma that flowed like a river of love for every Yied. You could not daven a weekday Shacharis with him without being stirred by his fire and devotion for the Eibishter clothed in a cloak of aristocratic majesty. Came Yom Kippur and the fire exploded into a burning cauldron of spiritual elixir.  As the holy day began, The Rav would enter the shul dressed in the whitest kittle I have ever seen. It had a bit of silver trim, and together with the silver Atorah of his tallis, you just knew that a Malach was in our midst. Before Kol Nidrei, which was led by the Rav, he would circle the bima holding a small Sefer Torah. The crowd of weeping Yidden pushing close to kiss the Torah, the Rav crying, sighing Oir Zoruah LaTzadik… suddenly the Rav stops, Reb Alter stands in the path, the olam pushing, all those taleisim, all the white cloaked survivors from another world. Reb Alter, sweet Reb Alter, a survivor who rebuilt his life and was a well-respected business man, was once the master of a booming voice but was now voiceless, his throat ripped still by a cancerous invader. His eyes, painfully beseeching, look to the Rebbe, the Tzadik breaks out in a heaven piercing cry, wraps his arms around Reb Alter, the sefer Torah gluing the two neshomahs as one… Reb Alters voice hangs unheard in the air, wrenched with only a hoarse gasp, the Rav articulates and captures what can’t be spoken in all its holiness, and the heavens weep with us all.

That moment, the sight of the Rebbe enveloping that broken neshoma with his entirety, bringing comfort and hope, is engraved in my heart. Those moments were a gift Hashem granted us. I enter every Yom Kippur with the image of the Rav in all his grandeur yet utterly humble, giving his entirety at the holiest moment of the year to another stricken soul. As I type this words, my eyes still mist up, even after all these years, and I am humbled. I was blessed to be there, and even more, to share it with you all. There in that tableau of caring, time stood still. Malochim gathered and caught the tears of Reb Alter and The Rebbe.

Klall Yesroil has always been blessed with great neshomahs who, without thought of their own dignity or standing, sought to throw others a life line of support no matter where or when.

COVID 19, never mentioned, never known before, has ripped into our lives creating pressures and anxiety never experienced in our long golus. There have been other plagues, in different times and places, yet this is so much more, this time it’s gone global. Shuls tremble with each added mispallel, when we cry Mi Yichiye U’Mi Yomus it grasps our hearts in a tightening grip.

Every day new rumours, different rules, lives put on hold, nerves shattered.

Then the memory of the Rav comes to me with his balm of love. It will be soon better, we will get past this because Hashem loves us. Those tears of generations bring a cure to the soul.

My son is the Senior Rav of Scotland and as such, he was recently called upon to speak to a large audience about the ethos of our people and our attachment to Hashem. He shared the Story of Reb Alter from Bobov. He told how he heard it from his father and it had now become his story, his chizuk, his uplifting tale.

Our stories mean something, Reb Alter’s neshoma still brings us illumination even now in our darkness.

How do we go forward despite all that we are suffering? We see the light of our Tzaddikim, and this draws us closer to the Bashefer.  We tell our stories and invoke the sweetness of those special Yidden.  Our strength comes from this attachment and this will be the prescription for forgiveness and a positive future. The Eibishter grants us glimpses of light to get us through the murky times, those special neshomahs gave of their inner energy, and they stand by us despite the passage of time.

Chassidim always shared stories of Tzaddikim, it was this energy that kept us together throughout the turbulence of our golus.

Be gabentched dear friends, hold onto those stories and let them lead us to true teshuvah, ahavas yisroel,  and a kesivah vachisma tovah,


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