Panel Discusses 50 Years Since The Rebbe Sang the French Anthem

A historical panel, including four of the original participants, got together in Paris to share the events that led up to the Rebbe singing the French national anthem to the words of Ho’aderes V’hoemuna.

By: reporter

Photos by: Mordechai Lubecki/

The Yeshiva in Paris hosted a panel with four of the chassidim who were part of the original group that was in 770 when the Rebbe sang the French national anthem during hakafos.

The panel leaders included Rabbi Yitzchak Gabai, Rabbi Binyamin Margi, Rabbi Chaim Nisenbaum, and Rabbi Eliyahu Azulai. They were all part of a group of students who traveled to New York from Paris in 5734 to be with the Rebbe during Simchas Torah.

The group retold the surprising events of that night. The shliach, Rabbi Shmuel Azimov, led the group. At the fifth hakafa, the Rebbe called up Rabbi Azimov and told the crowd that everyone who came from France should come up for the hakafa, even if there aren’t enough Torah scrolls for each person to hold.

The students were amazed at the special attention they were receiving and they were propelled forward by the crowd to join the Rebbe up front near the bima. Once there, the Rebbe began a niggun that no one was familiar with.

“The Rebbe is singing the Marseillaise!” one of the students said excitedly. Everyone around him hushed him, but after a few moments it became clear to all the students that the Rebbe was indeed singing the familiar French national anthem and they joined along in the melody.

After hakafos, the group of Frenchmen became the heroes of 770 as everyone ran towards them to ask them about the special new tune. The next day, at the farbrengen, the Rebbe once again gave special attention to the group and had them come close up to say L’chaim.

The Rebbe then spoke to them in French and said, “The revolution in France to fight the Yetzer Hara,” and added that it should be as soon as possible. “We will then be zoche to greet Moshiach Tzidkenu.”

The Rebbe then invited them to sing the anthem again, but this time with the words. The students didn’t yet know all the words to Ho’aderes V’hoemuna, so the Rebbe gave a big smile and motioned to the crowd to pass them siddurim, and they were able to sing along.

The niggun is a source of pride to all the Lubavitchers in France, who feel it is a gift they got from the Rebbe. The niggun is sung all over at every shul and Chabad house across the country.

To listen to the panel recording, click here.

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