The Ramash

Published on 15 January 2023 at 21:16

After the Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn passed away, Rabbi Yitzchak Dobov a elder Chassid from Manchester did approach Rabbi Menachem Mendel during the Shiva of his father in law, as did his friend Avraham Pariz in Tel Aviv and Rabbi Bentzion Shemtov, the leader of the Chabad community in London, in a letter sent to the Ramash declaring him the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, as did many Chassidim around the world.

In New York they begun to treat  the Ramash  differently,from the usually reserved for a Rebbe, like refushing sitting in his presence, not taking his hand, even addressing him in the formal third party in Yiddish. They already started to turn to him for personal, but also communal issues, and whenever there was a knock on the door, he always would find the time for everyone. Rabbi Shmuel Levtin told a few months after the passing of the Rebbe, his students,  "The fact the Ramash answers questions about issues of Spiritual service that this doesn't proef he is a Rebbe" he went on saying " That he could have learned this and the fact that he is willing to give advies on worldly issues, or questions of health, that was a sign of accepting the position of Rebbe. There were a few Chassidim who strangly felt that the eldest son in law of the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary would be the right choice, but it didn't get much support.

It was a few weeks before the first yahrzeit of the Rebbe, when a group of senior Chassidim met with the Ramash, they had been loyal followers of frierdiker Rebbe and even to his father the fifth Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer. There were around thirty accompanied by community elders, when they entered the office, it was a very emotional moment when they presented him with a Ksav Hiskashruth, which is a pledge of loyalty from the community , hundreds of Chassidim had signed this and asking the Ramash to accept leadership and that they will be loyal to him.

When they entered the office  and gave the Ramash the letter, he read the first line, closed the letter and begun to cry, he ask them leave. Throughout that year the Ramash, time and again turned down the request  of the Chassidim. Historian Rabbi Yosef Greenberg  explains: " Throughout Chassidic history it had taken the urging of others potential leaders to accept the position of Rebbe. Even the founder of Chassidim, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov was reluctant to take on communal leadership, for six years Rabbi Adom Baal Shem, a leader of the secret fellowship of Jewish mystics, implored Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov to begin spreading the principles of Chassidim, before he finally began to teach in public.

According to Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, until this point the Ramash was able to dedicate himself to Scholarship and personal spritual developement, but first he had to immerse in mundane aspect of leading a community. The Ramash was a reserved and a privated person and a public leader was the oppersite of his character.

Later that week, the Jewish newpapers reported, that Chassidim presented the petition and accepting the Ramash as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, when this reached the Ramash he told his assistent Rabbi Hodakov, to notify the papers that this was incorrect. It was before calling the media knowing how important this moment was and Rabbi Hodakov informed the Chassidic elders, Rabbi Shlomo Aaron Kazarnosky, Shmuel Levtin and Israel Jacobson, and told them that he could leave it for a few hours before calling the press, and told them to intervene with the Ramash, they then rushed into the office and urged the Ramash not to make a public retraction, as he already had made a formal public statement that he was not accepting the position of Rebbe. Rabbi Shmuel Levtin argued with him, that the papers did not say that the Ramash did accept the position, but that the Chassidim  had presented him with a letter, they all begged the Ramash not to place a retraction in the papers and told the Ramash " All the statement says, that the Chasdidim are accepting him as Rebbe and their leader. Eventually the Ramash agreed.

Awaiting the yahrzeit, the Ramash had issued a letter to the Chassidic community, encouraging everyone to learn specific teachings of the Rebbe, visit his grave in prayer, light a yahrzeit candle and observe in Jewish memorial. As customary on a yahrzeit, the Ramash would lead a Chassidic Farbrengen, this is a event of joy and celebration. The Ramash would give a series of talks, from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, the topics could be a deep explanation of the concept of Torah, Talmud or Jewish Mysticsm, and in between talks the Chassidim would sing and make a toast the Rebbe, L'Chaim! As the right hand and directive of his father in law, the Ramash began leading Farbrengens, this was shortly after his marriage to Chaya Mushka in 1928. When he arrived in the US in 1941, he started this monthly by request of his father in law.

Rabbi Yitzchak Groner recalled, the arrival of the Ramash in New York in spring 1941, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Jacobson to lead the delegation of the prominent Chassidim and students to welcome his son in law. The Rebbe describing his son in law, knowing the entire Shas, which are the six volumes of the Talmud, the commentory of Chassidic works, and all the codes,all of the students of yeshiva went  to greet him, a few days later, the Chassidic community organized a formal welcome, Rabbi leibel Groner attended with his father and for two hours the Ramash took the obligation of giving thanks accourding to the Talmud, and for another two hours he explained the Chassidic perspective on the Talmud, finally he connected it all together, showing how to apply these idea's to one's personal service to HaShem. The elder Chassidim were in awe of the depth of Scholarship and also his ability to putting together various dimensions of Jewish learning, and how to apply this in everyday life.

Early on the day of the yahrzeit, a delegration of Chassidim from various communities met with the Ramash, and again presented the same request for him to become Rebbe.

When the Ramash entered the Shul at 9.45 p.m, the room was packed and there was barely room for him, a chair on a small podium in the front of the room, with the elder Chassidim positioned around him, as it was cold, but they didn't feel it as hundreds of people stood there on the floor, on tables, and benches, no one felt the cold, they all were very excited and trying to get a glimpse. Chassidim didn't had a formal ceremony to appoint a new leader. The Farbrengen would be more or less a venue. A Farbrengen led by a Rebbe was unique, it would highlight by a Maamar, a Maamar explores the philosophical depths of Chassidim philosophy and is only developed by a Rebbe. Traditionally the Chassidim stands when a Maamar is presented and sings the special melody of the Maamar Nigun. Everyone in the room wondered would there be a Maamar? If so, it would mean that the Ramash had finally accepted the position of Rebbe.