A Lubavitcher Remembers Reb Moshe Wolfson

A Lubavitcher who lived near Reb Moshe Wolfson in Boro Park and had many opportunities to interact with him shares some of his poignant memories of this great chossid.

By: A Lubavitcher from Boro Park

Over the years, I had the merit of witnessing the strong connection Reb Moshe Wolfson zt”l had with the Rebbe. He had a very pnimiusdike connection with the Rebbe; a chossid who really lived with the Rebbe’s horaos and Torah.

I recall the first time the Rebbe spoke publicly about making Hakhels, it was a very new idea for people. It was a revolutionary concept at the time, even in Lubavitch. At that time, Rav Wolfson had already entered his new shul on 16th Ave., which was a bigger building than the one he previously had on 14th Ave. He then called a hakhel for men, women, and children on Yom Tov and invited everyone in his kehila. He didn’t wait to see if the idea would be acceptable in his circles in Boro Park. As soon as the Rebbe spoke about the importance of Hakhel gatherings, he went straight ahead and arranged one on a full scale.

As is now well known, when Rav Wolfson had a medical condition with his heart that required surgery, he went to speak to the Rebbe about it. The Rebbe benched him and said that he has a heart for all of Am Yisroel, and he speaks from the heart and teaches Chassidus, that he should have a Refuah Shleima.

Something that was very important to Rav Wolfson was the annual Yud Tes Kislev Farbrengen here in Boro Park. It’s been going now for 27 years, and always takes place on Motzei Shabbos with a festive Melave Malka. Rav Wolfson always attended the melave malka. He would wash and join the meal for a Yud Tes Kislev Yom Tov seuda, and he would tell people that for Yud Tes Kislev he goes to Lubavitch. Although would have lengthy shalosh seudos at his shul where he spoke for many hours, late into Motzei Shabbos, the week of the Yud Tes Kislev program he made sure to end early so he could come on time to the melave malka.

Even as he got older, and it became more difficult for him to attend the event, he still came. When he was 97, he stopped attending his grandchildren’s simchos, but to the Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen he came. In his second to last year, he was too weak to speak, but he requested that they sing the niggunim of the Alter Rebbe. Sadly that was the last Yud Tes Kislev melava malka that he attended.

Every year ahead of Yud Tes Kislev, Reb Leibel Altein would visit him to formally invite him, and he would talk about the Rebbe and Yud Tes Kislev. He was very mekushar and went every month or so to the Ohel, he gave shiurim in Tanya and wrote sefarim on it. On his sefer on Tanya, he wrote that he is publishing it just in order to make a hisorerus for avoda.

Another event that he would attend yearly was the Boro Park Lag Baomer Parade organized by Rabbi Aaron Ginsberg. He would go onto the stage and say Shema Yisroel with all the thousands of children gathered. Even last year when he couldn’t attend in person, he addressed the children from his home via live hookup.

It is noteworthy that the only two public events that he attended were these two Lubavitch events: the Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen and the Lag Baomer parade.

In his first years when he moved to Boro Park from Williamsburg, I lived nearby and had the chance to witness him often. He is an example of how Chassidus is not about geonus and haskala, but about the emeskeit of Torah. He felt clearly the emeskeit of Torah, of Moshiach. He viewed everything that happens in the world with the Rebbe’s perspective that it’s bringing us closer to Moshiach.

In Tof Shin Nun Aleph, he spoke very much about the Rebbe’s sichos on Geulah U’Moshiach, how Torah is the real perspective and that’s how he lived.

Yehi zichro boruch.

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  1. A true and dedicated angel, an Askan from Williamsburg related to me yesterday, the famous story of rabbi Wolfson by the ohel, that he had just heard after the Petira of the Rov. Once he went to the Ohel to be mispalel for a procedure he was soon to commence with for his heart. Just as he entered the 1st room, a video of his receiving the Rebbe’s Brocha for his heart, was playing there. He was astounded that here he had come to pray for the very same thing, yet evidently he was still receiving, exactly as he had from Rebbin years earlier.

    I told the askan that this was taka a beautiful maaseh, the lesson being that the Rebbe was still looking out for Rav Wolfson, and being poel lemaala; yatir d’becahyuhe..and as mentioned above, that the Rov was mekushar to the Rebbe and always looked out how he could spread the Rebbe’s vision.

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