Saturday, February 09, 2013

Rabbi Sherer's Change of Mind

There was a time when, no matter what the Rebbe spoke out about, Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z”l, the head of Agudas Yisrael, came out against it. That's why, when he showed up one day in 770, chassidim couldn't believe their eyes. They asked him why he came. He said, "To asked forgiveness (מחילה) from the Rebbe." They asked for an explanation and this was his story:

Rabbi Sherer's son had a friend who was married for 10 years and the couple was childless. They cared very much for each other but went along with the Jewish law to divorce because of their predicament.

Only two weeks after the divorce, however, the x-wife was found to be pregnant. This was what they had yearned for for so long. Now, it happens to be a mitzvah to remarry the divorced wife. Only in this case this new situation became a severely distressing situation because the x-husband was a Kohen and therefore he could not remarry his x-wife. Distress turned to panic. He went to many Rabbis to determine where a loophole could be found but it seemed they could find no way around the law. He was at his wits' end and didn't know what to do.

Another friend of the x-husband suggested the latter bite the bullet and, inasmuch as he was in new York now, go visit the Rebbe of Chabad because maybe he could find some way out of this mess. That a "Litvishe" Jew had to compromise his mindset to visit the Rebbe was bad enough, but, because he was desperate, the Jew decided to go ahead and take the advice he got.

He waited hours in a Sunday "dollars line" to meet the Rebbe. When his turn came, he spilled out his story to the Rebbe. The Rebbe gave him a dollar and told him, "Go talk to your mother about it."

This Jew's life was shaken to the core. If until now he felt distress, henceforth he could hardly breathe for lack of composure. Inwardly, he was laughing at the Rebbe.

He went to Israel and in Jerusalem visited Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. He told the Rabbi his story, including his visit to the Rebbe. Rabbi Auerbach now perked up his ears and asked, "What did the Rebbe tell you?" He told him what the Rebbe said in a mocking tone. Rabbi Auerbach then told him he must do precisely as the Rebbe said because every word of the Rebbe is holy; And to further make his point, Rabbi Auerbach told him never to come see him again unless he follows the Rebbe's advice.

The young man then went to his parents' home.

He told his mother what the Rebbe's reply had been. He kept repeating it. He said he went to the Rebbe for advice how to resolve his plight. He never wanted to go in the first place and now that he did he felt extremely slighted. Not only did the Rebbe not discuss his situation or ask about details, but the answer was like that given by some unlearned person who could come up with nothing better than something that to him sounded like ridiculous advice - "Go talk to your mother!"  His mother noticed her son's agony and finally could no longer hold herself back.

The mother stayed silent a moment and then said, "If the Rebbe could see what happened then I must tell you. As you know your father, a"h, and I are holocaust survivors. As a result I could not have children. We decided, then, to adopt a child, and that was you. For some reason we withheld this from you. Because father was a Kohen, you too were raised as one, and treated by the congregation as a Kohen. But now that the Rebbe saw this, it's best that I tell you."

When Rabbi Sherer found this out, he came to 770. He realized that not only was the Rebbe a true prophet in that he, and none else, could see the truth behind this situation, but the Rebbe also had the prophetic "Moshiach's sense of smell" to know that this young man was not a Kohen even before he married, otherwise he'd not have given the fellow the said solution.

(As told to me by a good friend, a long-time, devoted chassid and talmid chochom, Reb Menachem Nissim.)

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