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A Farbrengen is a Chassidic gathering in which the participants inspire each other to lead an exemplary Jewish life. In the spirit of true Ahavas Yisroel (love for one’s fellow Jew), the participants encourage each other to study Torah diligently, to fulfil Mitzvos in the best possible manner, to improve one’s character-traits, and to spread Judaism to others. These messages are all shared through a unique blend of Torah explanations, stories and Chassidic melodies; at times poignant and at times exuberant. No wonder that "What a Hasidic farbrengen can achieve, even the angel Michoel cannot achieve!"

Iyar 5771 - June 2011

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Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie is Executive Director of North County Chabad Centre (California), President of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County and Long Beach, and a board member of the Jewish Federation of Orange County. At a recent Farbrengen at the Rabbinical College, Rabbi Eliezrie shared the following:

Back in 5725 (1965), a group of teenage boys made the overnight journey from Montreal to Crown Heights in an old school bus that kept breaking down along the way. The trip had been arranged by the high school in Montreal, in order that the boys spend Yud Shevat and attend a special Yechidus (private audience) with the Rebbe.   

One of the high school students, a fourteen year old, stood out with a funny little hat that he wore just above his “Tchup” (fringe). He was not familiar with 770, and when he arrived on Sunday (or Monday) night for Maariv, he found the Zal already packed with people. He tried all the different entrances, but there was simply no room for him to enter. The boy wasn’t aware of the protocol, and when the Rebbe emerged from his office to enter the Zal for Maariv, the young boy decided to walk in right behind the Rebbe.

Rabbi Hodakov held the Zal door open for the Rebbe, and he signalled the boy to stay behind, being that it was inappropriate for the boy to walk in right behind the Rebbe. When the Chassidim in the Zal caught sight of the boy behind the Rebbe, they also began signalling him to stop. The Rebbe noticed the commotion, and turned around to see its cause. Just at that moment, Rabbi Hodakov began closing the door in an effort to keep the boy out.

The Rebbe motioned Rabbi Hodakov to leave the door alone, and he beckoned towards the boy. That Mariv, the boy stood right behind the Rebbe. That boy was me, and the attention that the Rebbe afforded me when I was just a confused kid is a memory that always remains with me.

The lesson: Even when one is busy with important things, one should nevertheless take the time and effort to shower attention on others – especially when they need it most.

Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie shared many more of his experiences with the students, including his son’s bout with leukemia, which you can read about here and here.

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