Wellspring Part 4
(Click here for Part
the Scenes at
the Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos
Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan
did the Rebbe decide to start editing the Likkutei Sichos again
in 5733 (1973)?
whole year that the Rebbe didn’t edit sichos was very hard for
us. We didn’t know how we should continue to operate in general. Then
we decided that if we “shook up” the staff of Vaad L’hafotzas
Sichos, perhaps the Rebbe would agree to continue editing the sichos.
that point several new people came on board: Rabbi Nachman Schapiro,
Rabbi Leibel Schapiro, and the late Rabbi Leibel Kaplan. To show the
Rebbe that we were really serious, we prepared a number of sichos
for his approval. The whole month of Elul we sat and edited Likkutim from
Parshas Bereishis until VaEira.
gave them in to the Rebbe just before Rosh HaShana and informed him of
the new make-up of our staff. But we got no answer, neither positive nor
negative. All we could do was wait. It was a very tense time for us. We
consoled ourselves that at least the Rebbe hadn’t responded
negatively. Before Hoshana Rabba, we submitted another three sichos
for the Rebbe’s approbation.
Motzaei Simchas Torah, the entire staff of Vaad L’hafotzas Sichos
approached the Rebbe during kos shel bracha. The Rebbe looked at
each of us individually and gave us all a broad smile. He then gave
Rabbi Shalom Jacobson a bottle of mashke and said, “This is for
the new Vaad.”
the Rebbe’s reaction we assumed that the Rebbe meant that he was
agreeing to edit the sichos. The next day, when we didn’t get
the sichos back, we were very disappointed. But our
disappointment didn’t last very long. The following day we were
requested to resubmit copies of the sichos on Parshas Bereishis.
It turned out that during all the commotion of the month of Tishrei, the
original copies had been misplaced.
days after Simchas Torah we merited to receive the edited sichos
from the Rebbe. That night everyone was dancing in 770 as if it were
Simchas Torah again!
5733 the seifer Kesser Shem Tov was published by Vaad
L’hafotzas Sichos. What was behind this unusual circumstance?
Kislev, Rabbi Shalom Jacobson got married. To make sure that the wedding
festivities wouldn’t interfere with our schedule, we prepared a number
of sichos in advance. Then Rabbi Hodakov told us that the Rebbe
was so pleased by our rapid pace that he was asking us to prepare a new
edition of Kesser Shem Tov! The new version would contain an
addendum of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings that had previously appeared
in other s’farim.
then, Kesser Shem Tov had never been printed by a Lubavitcher
publishing house. Our version, of course, contained many haaros
of the Chabad Rebbeim, including a number of special hosafos from
the Rebbe. After we started working on it, the Rebbe asked if we could
get it ready for Chaf-Dalet Teives.
the end of that year both Rabbi Leibel Kaplan and Rabbi Leibel Schapiro
had left New York, and Rabbi Yaakov Leib Altein took their place.
Incidentally, all of the Likkutei Sichos dating from this period
came out in Hebrew, because we thought this would render them accessible
to a wider audience.
two years later everything came to a halt. What happened?
5735, the Rebbe again announced that he would no longer be editing the sichos.
Unlike the first time, the announcement wasn’t made at a farbrengen.
Since the Rebbe refrained from publicly elaborating on his reasoning, I
cannot go into it. All I can tell you is that at the time a rumor was
circulating that the Rebbe didn’t want to have a three-year chazaka
of editing sichos.
any event, the Rebbe gave us permission to publish Likkutei Sichos
that he did not edit. These Likkutim had the official logo of
Kehos and the Rebbe’s title page, but clearly indicated that they were
as in 5732, there were many instances in which the Rebbe edited a sicha
after it was printed. But the Rebbe did not consider these Likkutim officially
edited, and they remained bilti muga.
long did this situation continue?
one year. In the beginning of 5736 we asked the Rebbe to start editing
again. We also wanted to switch back to Yiddish; it was difficult to
translate the Rebbe’s language into Lashon kodesh precisely.
The Rebbe agreed, and from that point on the sichos were edited
on a weekly basis.
happened two years later when the Rebbe suffered a heart attack on
Sh’mini Atzeres 5738? Did the Rebbe continue to edit the sichos?
tell you the truth, we had been very worried that the Rebbe would stop
even before then to avoid a chazaka. But two days after Sh’mini
Atzeres, the Rebbe said to Rabbi Leibel Groner, “The Likut
still has to be done.” That week, Parshas Bereishis, the Likut
came out after Shabbos, in the middle of the week. That had not happened
5738 until Shabbos Parshas VaYakhel 5752, the Rebbe edited the sichos
every week with almost no exceptions.
5748, we switched back to Hebrew. We did this because more people among Anash
are fluent in Lashon Kodesh than in Yiddish.
were some specific instructions the Rebbe gave you regarding Likkutei
time we had prepared a Likut that was extremely complex,
requiring a great deal of knowledge of Chassidus in order to understand
it. The Rebbe told us that the Likkutei Sichos were intended for
everyone, even someone who had never learned in Tomchei Tmimim
and had only a superficial background in Chassidus.
that point on, whenever we had to choose a sicha, we always tried
to find one that would appeal to non-Lubavitchers, as well. The Likkutei
Sichos are like the written Torah – accessible to every Jew, while
at the same time revealing greater depth the more they are studied. The
Rebbe’s sichos can be understood even by someone who lacks a
high level of formal Torah education. The talmid chacham may
derive more, but even the simple Jew will find them comprehensible.
unbelievable depth of the Likkutei Sichos can be seen in the
footnotes. Many of the greatest geonim of our generation have
expressed wonder at them. There were instances when the Rebbe wrote long
letters of explanation in response to a question about the footnotes.
time we weren’t sure that we understood what the Rebbe meant in a
footnote. We wrote it in our own words, and asked the Rebbe if we were
correct. The Rebbe replied: “I meant several things…”
be continued -- click here.)