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A Tish is a table, a Rebbe's table. I'm not a rebbe. Though, I am a rabbi, and I can tell you that pupils can be very annoying. They follow you everywhere. Ask you questions at the weirdest times. There's a cost to being the spiritual leader. I was once asked a question about my pupil's garden in the middle of a funeral service. No boundaries. I told them tomatoes are a nice addition, and I continued with Bernie's eulogy.
I wanted to see how Chasidim followed their rebbe. So, I joined a Friday night Tish. It was an experience, and I respect the rebbe for putting up with his pupils. A great rebbe.
The Tish Began
They were all looking at the rebbe. Staring at him. He was sitting at the table and they were watching him the whole time. They brought out the food, he started eating, and they all kept on staring at him. I was bothered. I felt bad, and I told them, 'Let the Rebbe eat.'
It's impossible to be sitting at your table, enjoying your food, with everybody looking at you. Have you ever tried eating with people staring at you? You can't. You chew and you're asking yourself if you chewed wrong. A bit of privacy and you can enjoy the Kishka. Here, they're looking at him the whole time. Attentively looking at him. He spills and he knows that's what they're going to be talking about for the next few months. All the Chasidim saying, 'The rebbe's Becher is too big.'
The rebbe is stuck eating tiny bites of Challah. He knows the Chasidim will be talking, 'Did you see the huge bite? He must've been very hungry today.' This rebbe couldn't do anything without them watching.
Every Move The Rebbe Makes is Important and Analyzed
The rebbe, the spiritual leader he is, all of his actions are holy. So, the Chasidim take each move to heart, and analyze it. The rebbe trips, 'Why did he trip?... It must be something you're supposed to do on Shabbis Mevorchim, when we bless the new month. It's tradition. You trip when you're blessing the month of Elul.' Every move is important. The rebbe goes for a dental appointment, it's what the Chasidim are talking about. The dentist is booked for half a year. They're arguing, 'I told you that clean teeth are important. As a community, we have to start flossing more. It's what the rebbe wants.'
At the Tish, you could hear them whispering to one another, 'And the rebbe is walking to the table... He is now sitting... And he is washing his hands. The crowd is silent.' I heard some of the Chasidim next to me doing a play-by-play, 'The Rebbe is cutting the Challah... Now. He's pouring the salt.' The other guy was commentating, 'He poured too much salt. He has a bad heart. He has to watch it.'
Watching the rebbe really is an event. It's kind of like being at huge sports event. That's why they have bleachers and a play-by-play.
They had the big table, with the rebbe at the front, and a bunch of the head Chasidim sitting around the table, and then huge bleachers all around to watch the spectacle. Around a thousand fans watching the rebbe, from the bleachers.
The Chasidim love watching it, as each move of the rebbe is holy. Even the rebbe eating. I know this, as I heard, 'And they're now bringing out the fish forks. I believe it's gefilte fish tonight.' The next guy shouted with excitement, 'It is gefilte fish. Holy fish.'
The Rebbe's Cup
That's an expensive cup. I was wondering where the community monies go to. It goes to the Becher.
The Chasidim Take His Food Too
They call it Shiraim. This is where the food becomes holy and the Chasidim steal it from the rebbe. The rebbe's taking in some boiled chicken, and they're all reaching for it, 'The rebbe's eating chicken.' Kugel comes out, they're all reaching for it, yelling, 'It's Lokshen Kugel.'
He took his first bite, and bam, all the Chasidim are reaching for his food. They're not just staring at his food. They're taking it. One Chasid hurled himself at the table, yelling, 'He touched it. It's holy.'
This is why the guy was excited about the rebbe eating gefilte fish. He wanted to grab at the grounded up carp.
I'm just happy that the holiness didn't cause a scuffle in the bleachers. My hands didn't move fast enough to get any Kugel. My Tish reaching abilities are undeveloped.
The Most Beautiful Songs
That's what I noticed it was all about. Holiness and a shared spiritual Shabbat experience.
The rebbe is a conductor. He lifted his hand, and they got louder. He banged the table, and the zeal of the Chasidim shined.
The dancing was amazing as well. The step forward step back in a non-moving line, with intertwined arms is a beautiful staple of the Tish. It was modern Israeli dancing at its best.
It became more lively as the evening went on. When the rebbe started banging, the Chasidim were announcing, 'He wants us to sing with more enthusiasm.' And the singing became even more beautifully intense. Some even started doing the backhanded Shabbat clap, where you clap the back of your hand with your palm, to make it different from a regular clap (which you can hear), due to musical instrument laws on Shabbat. In the end, the dancing line turned into Davening. I think they were praying. They were definitely shuckling.
The Rebbe Reacts
I heard the rebbe talking, as the Chasidim did. I went near him, as he started banging more. I wanted to know what he was really saying, as the Chasidim became more committed to the songs and prayer dance. He was banging and saying, 'Where is My Tzimis? Who took the Tzimis? And where is the Kugel? It was here a second ago. Was it Yankel? He always takes my food. That was a good Kugel. Who took it?!'
His hands went in the air, and I as I approached closer, I heard, 'Where’s my wife? Did they kick her out? We were supposed to eat together.' And then he banged again, 'That is not how you harmonize!!! Get the harmony down!!! You don’t sing like that... And clapping with the back of your hand doesn't work. You don’t clap like this!!!' And the Chasidim were still all singing. With one more hit of the table, the Chasidim sang with more fervor, and the rebbe yelled out, 'Where are the napkins?! You've all taken my food with your hands, and there are no napkins.' At which point, the sponge cake came out and the rebbe didn't even get a chance to touch it, before the Chasidim took it.
It was Yankel who stole it.
To sum it up, it was a beautiful Erev Shabbat. The respect the Chasidim have for their rebbe is admirable. My congregation wants me fired. I believe the rebbe appreciates that his pupils don't want him to have any downtime. They look up to his every action.
The rebbe loves his Chasidim. I just believe that at this Tish, he wanted some of his food for himself. It's just sometimes hard for the rebbe to get a decent meal, without being bothered. I am just happy my congregants are a bunch of heretics.
Next week, we shall focus on how the Chasidim follow the rebbe, and don't let him rebbe sleep.
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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.