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Last week, we talked about the beautiful Tish experience, where the Chasidim stare at the rebbe while he eats. A beautiful tradition that kills the rebbe's dinner arrangements with his family. I argued with the Chasidim at the Tish and told them to 'let the rebbe eat.' Instead, they were staring at him and taking his food. Truth be told, I got involved in taking the food as well. Once I realized I didn't have to pay for it, I scarfed down a lot of potato kugel.
As I followed my Chassidic friends again this week, I learned that the rebbe is constantly followed; not just when he's eating. They follow him to work, when he's shopping, on holidays. There are always tons of Chasidim around the rebbe. And for good reason. Here is more of what I learned of the beautiful tradition of following the rebbe.
You Follow the Rebbe To Learn
They learn from every one of his actions. He purchases a hat, they all try to get that hat. He picks up Cabernet Sauvignon, that's what they're all making Kiddish on. He goes for a walk, all Chasidim are getting exercise. Which is why rebbes are suggested to go on walks by health professionals. For the health of their community. He's sleeping, they're there. 'How does the rebbe sleep?... He snores. I need to start snoring.'
I heard of one rebbe who cared very much for his Chasidim. The opthalmologist gave him a new prescription and suggested he change his frames, and go for a new style. Rebbes can be very stylish. The rebbe said, 'I can't change my frames. I can't do that to my Chasidim.'
I heard that the rebbe was followed into the hospital as well. That might have been because the Chasidim wanted to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, visiting the sick. However, there were three hundred of his pupils in the room. They had a Tish around the rolling table.
The Amazing Site of Chasidim At the Kotel
Before the Tish, earlier on Erev Shabbat, I saw the Chasidim following the rebbe at the Kotel. That's how the evening of Shabbat starts. I saw the rebbe walking and the Chasidim running after him. If it was my congregants, I would've been yelling, 'They're following me.' I would've went straight to Kotel security, and told them to deal with their questions.
Upon seeing the sea of Chasidim following the rebbe, I noticed the greatest miracle of all. The rebbe was walking, and all the Chasidim were speed walking and running. And yet, somehow, they were all in the same place. How that works is a miracle. It just shows how great the rebbe is. The rebbe walks at a leisurely pace and the Chasidim are running, and yet, they're always catching up. And his legs are not very long.
The Relationship Never Stops
I went to the previous rebbe's Kever (gravesite) and there were tons of Chasidim there too. First, they're by their rebbe when eating, and now at the Kever. Even at his grave, they're asking him to talk to Gd for them. They never give him a break. I was telling them, 'Let the rebbe sleep.'
As I said, 'Let the rebbe sleep. Let him have some peace,' I noticed some of the Chasidim writing notes and placing them in the Kever. They were worried he lost his hearing.
No Sleep For the Rebbe
The life of the rebbe is one of giving to the community. It starts with the loss of privacy, where they're knocking on your door and asking you questions, while you try to deal with taking out the trash. It then goes to them following you wherever you walk. It leads to not being able to get in a decent prayer meditation at the Kotel. Then, they're showing up to your dinner, and eating your food. And finally, they're at your grave, still asking you questions. The giving never stops.
If I learned anything, the relationship with the rebbe is eternal. And at the Kever, I noticed them eating sponge cake. I believe one of them had leftovers from the Tish.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.