“I Will Now Ascend to Heaven…”

The story of the Rebbe Rashab’s passing was meticulously recorded by R. Moshe Dovber Rivkin in Ashkavta D’Rebbe and is now presented in English for the first time.

The story of the Rebbe Rashab’s passing, and the months preceding and following it, was recorded in the sefer Ashkavta D’Rebbe. The book was written by Rabbi Moshe Dovber Rivkin, a tomim who was the Rebbe’s personal attendant during the time leading up to the histalkus, who recorded in great detail the Rebbe Rashab’s conduct and sayings.

The story has not been translated for the first time by Hatomim Hashliach Shmuel Kesselman of Yeshiva Gedolah Melbourne in honor of 100 years of Beis Nissan. The following is a preview of a comprehensive kovetz which will be published in the coming days.

For part one, click here.

For part two, click here.

To download the English booklet, click here.

To download the Hebrew original, click here.


Shabbos, Parshas Vayikra, 1 Nissan.

The Rav of the city, Rabbi Y. Berman, announced that every member of the Jewish community of Rostov must gather in their respective shuls that afternoon to recite Tehilim and beseech Hashem to have mercy on the Rebbe. So it was, Jews of many affinities came to shuls and prayed for the Rebbe. Being that all the Jews of Rostov, chassidim and not, trembled at the mention of the name of the Rebbe. However, alas, all our prayers were to no avail.

Early morning: I noticed that the Rebbe was sweating profusely, and I pointed this out to Dr. Rabinowitz and Dr. Lazinski. They were on duty at that time but had both dozed off. They measured his temperature, and it measured 37.5c, which was lower than his average of 38.5c. I saw their expressions denote fear so I asked them, “Why is he sweating so?” They answered, “We don’t know, but it might be a good sign.”

8:00 AM: Prof. Zavadksi and Dr. Landa arrived. The professor interpreted the recent change as being negative and his prognosis was dire indeed. In his opinion, all hope was lost and it was a matter of time. Dr. Landa was more optimistic and he said, “We will see over the next hours if the sweating is a good sign. If his temperature rises, we will know that it is a step in the right direction.” [His words calmed us slightly. In truth, Dr. Landa already knew that the end was imminent. However, he did not want to break the spirits of the Rebbe’s family and the chassidim, so he pretended to be doubtful.] The professor’s words spread throughout the chassidim and had a strong impact on them; their faces fell.

It was very difficult for the Rebbe to speak. His breathing was weighty also, as if his throat was blocked. It was hard for him to even drink a bit of coffee. A few times during that day, the Rebbe asked me the time. He received many injections that day, camphor, caffeine, etc. almost every half an hour another injection would be administered.

2:00 PM: The Rebbe asked me, “Have you davened?” I answered that I had, and then he asked, “What about everyone else?” I answered, “There are probably some chassidim that have not davened.” [I did not want to tell him directly, that it was late in the day, and almost all the chassidim had already davened.] A few moments later, the Rebbe turned to me and said, “Please gather a Minyan to daven and read the Torah here, and have Yankel Landau (who was the regular Ba’al Koreh) join them. I will listen in, after all it is Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh and Parshas Hachodesh. The doctors are trying to prevent me from doing anything, but their rules and limitations must also be bent a little.” I said, “I will go and see if I can find a Minyan who have not davened yet.” I did not go gather the Minyan, I remained near his bed and he did not mention the Minyan again.

2:15 PM: The Rebbe turned to me and mumbled, “I want you to recite the first Bracha of Birchas Hashachar with me.” I asked, “Al Nettilas Yodayim or Hanosen lasechvi?” he did not respond, and I did not know if he heard me or not. I did not persist because every time he wanted to speak he had to muster all his energy and it clearly exhausted him. I decided to begin reciting Hanosen lasechvi because I did not want him to recite Al Nettilas Yodayim, for that would require him to wash his hands which would strain him. A moment later, he indicated that he wished to wash his hands. I wet his hands slightly, and led him in reciting the Bracha. Even though that day he spoke with great difficulty, to the surprise of everyone around, when he recited the Bracha his voice boomed clearly. He then laid back to rest, and I remained at his bedside.

5:00 PM: I walked out of the Rebbe’s room and Reb Tzvi Hersh Gurary took my place standing near the Rebbe’s bed. Tzvi Hersh noticed that the Rebbe’s face had changed and its appearance was frightening. Tzvi Hersh came running out of the room to call me. I immediately reentered and noticed that indeed the Rebbe’s face was burning red. His gaze rested upon us and we were shaking in our boots, we did not know what to think or do. The doctors noticed and did all they could, using whatever medicine and treatments they could get their hands on, irrespective of cost or energies used. They monitored his pulse constantly. The doctors did not inform us of the goings-on, but at that point they all knew that naturally there was no hope for the Rebbe to make it out. They later told us that most of Shabbos the Rebbe’s pulse was almost non-existent, by that stage the injections bore no results. The chassidim who were all gathered, understood that the situation was dire indeed.

Towards evening, the entire community of chassidim in Rostov gathered in the Zal, (the big room at the left side of the complex where the Minyanim took place), they did not enter the part of the complex where the Rebbe’s house was, so as not to disturb the Rebbe. They all said Tehilim and begged Hashem for mercy with incessant tears.

Motzo’ey Shabbos, 2 Nissan.

Immediately following Shabbos: The doctors instructed that much water be heated to warm the Rebbe’s feet which had begun to go cold.

Dr. Landa called over the community leaders, Shmuel Gurary, Tzvi Hersh Gurary and Reb Avrohom Boruch Poizner and he revealed to them that naturally there was no hope for the Rebbe’s survival. He asked them to relay this information to the Rayatz, in case he had any final matters he wished to ask his father, the Rebbe. However, none of the chassidim agreed to be the one to relay the awful news. They decided that the next time the Rayatz would ask Dr. Landa for an update, Dr. Landa would begin to break the news to him slowly. A few minutes later, the Rayatz did indeed ask Dr. Landa how things are progressing, and the doctor began to slowly try and give the devastating news over to the Rayatz. The Rayatz listened but did not internalize the harsh reality, (his mind would not let him), all he gleaned from the doctor was that the situation was critical. [In truth, it is difficult to describe what was going through our minds at that time. It was absurd, everyone knew and understood that the Rebbe was on the verge of Histalkus but our minds refused to grasp the facts. Even at the moment of Histalkus when all the chassidim cried out Shema Yisroel in one joint voice, our minds would not accept the reality that our Rebbe had departed from among us.]

9:00 PM: The Rebbe spoke indiscernible words, the only few words we could hear were, “The unification of Yichudah Ila’ah and Yichudah Tata’a.” His speech was heavy and difficult, he spoke softly and seemed to be talking to himself.

10:00 PM: The Rayatz did not move from the Rebbe’s bedside for even a moment, he stood bent over near the Rebbe’s bed.

The Rebbe suddenly turned to the Rayatz and said,

 “איך גיי אין הימל, די כתבים לאז איך פאר אייך נעמט מיך אין זאל וועלען מיר זיין אין איינעם”

“I am going to heaven. I am leaving my writings for you. Take me into the Zal, we will be together.”

Understandably, when the Rayatz heard these words addressed to him he was shocked to the core.

When the Rebbe saw that the Rayatz was so deeply moved and emotionally affected, he said,

 “!…התפעלות …? התפעלות …? מוחין …! מוחין”

 “Excitement…? Excitement…? Intellect…! Intellect…!”

It was evident to all of us standing around watching the interaction that at that moment, with his holy words, the Rebbe removed the Rayatz’s natural emotion of excitement and placed into him great intellectual powers. It was blatantly evident; from that moment onwards the Rayatz become calm and calculated, he engaged the events with powerful intellect. It was incredible to see how from that moment, the Rayatz stood by the Rebbe’s side until the Histalkus dressed in his Gartel and his Shabbos hat. He stood for those few hours in the same position that he would stand when he would face the Rebbe during Maamorim. It is impossible to describe the scene, how much more so, to put it down on paper.

We carried the Rebbe in his bed up into the Zal – the room where he had always sat learning and davening, the room from which he spread his great light to the whole world – we placed the bed at the eastern wall of the Zal, his head towards north and his feet towards south. [The Rayatz led the davening for the following year from exactly that spot.] The bed was a small distance from the wall, enabling people to stand around on all sides. The doctors were all at hand, administering injections every 20 minutes or so and keeping the Rebbe’s feet in warm water.

The Rebbe began speaking and requested something, it was difficult to understand exactly what it was he was asking for. Yaakov Aizik suggested, perhaps the Rebbe wanted to wash Nettilas Yodayim, and some water was brought. The Rebbetzin asked the Rebbe if he would like some milk or coffee, he indicated that he wanted coffee. When the cup of coffee was brought near his mouth, his lips were moving and it was evident that he was reciting Havdolah, [reminiscent of the Alter Rebbe who was also Nistalek on Motzo’ey Shabbos and recited Havdolah on coffee]. He drank some coffee, and laid back. His lips were moving and the Rayatz leaned in and heard him reciting the second paragraph of the Shema. Most of the time, his eyes were closed, and his breathing was difficult and heavy. It was obvious that he was suffering terribly, and each breath escaped with a deep sigh crushing the body and spirit of every chossid present.

12:00 AM: The chassidim remained in the Zal reciting Tehilim with heart rendering sobs praying that Hashem lengthen the life of the Rebbe. They decided to add the name “Chaim” to the Rebbe’s name. The chassidim formed a Beis Din of three members, (Reb Shmuel Gurary, Reb Zalman Havlin, Reb Yisroel Nevler), and in their presence many chassidim came forth and pledged to gift the Rebbe with years from their own lives. The three members of the Beis Din themselves each donated half a year to the Rebbe. The Rebbetzin approached the Beis Din and with bitter tears donated 10 years of her life to the Rebbe. The Beis Din did not deem such an extensive period as appropriate and they encouraged her to donate half a year or a full year, but she persisted. Eventually they agreed that the Rebbetzin would give 2 years. I, too, donated half a year. Following the Beis Din scene, the chassidim continued saying Tehilim and davening intensely.

The Rayatz walked out of the Zal for a few moments and stood in the hallway near the stairs. He stood, wearing his Gartel, bent over, deep in thought. He was reciting some words of tefilah or Tehilim, crying deeply, and singing a nigun with great dveykus. The nigun he sang was the well known nigun of the Alter Rebbe that the Rebbe used to sing while davening on the high holidays. The Rayatz went back to the Zal and called in his daughters to come join him near the Rebbe’s bed, he wanted the Rebbe to see them.

2:00 AM: The Rayatz stood next to the bed with his head bent. Suddenly the Rebbe lifted his hand and began to move his lips, the Rayatz understood that the Rebbe wanted to bless him. The Rayatz lowered his head and rested the Rebbe’s hand on his head, and the Rebbe’s lips continued to move. Following which, the Rayatz arose and said, “Tateh, father, here are the children, Chanah, Mushkah, Sheindel.” One by one, they each bent down and the Rebbe’s hand rested on their heads as his lips continued to move.

The Rayatz asked all the chassidim to leave the room, just the family should remain. Within seconds the room emptied, even the doctors walked out. [I, too, walked out but later the Rayatz recounted to me what had occurred]. The Rayatz’s eldest daughter, Chanah, stood before the Rebbe. He looked at her face and lifted his hand. The Rayatz assisted him to place his hand on her head, just as he blessed them on Erev Yom Kippur, and this time his words were clear. He said Yevorechecho and some other tefilos, and they could hear him say the name Chanah. So it was with Mushkah and Sheindel, they received the same Bracha, and both heard their names being mentioned. The Rebbe then placed both his hands on the Rayatz’s head and said Yevorechecho, as well as many more tefilos and Brachos. [Later, when the Rayatz recounted the events, he told me that he could not determine many things the Rebbe had told him. However, I suspect that he understood a lot more but did not want to reveal them.] The Rayatz clearly heard him recite the Possuk, “May Hashem be upon him, and may he be elevated.” A certain young man was called into the room, and the Rebbe blessed him too. It was the Rashag, (at that time he was not yet engaged to the Rayatz’s daughter, Chanah). The doctors and chassidim all returned.

The Rayatz walked out of the Zal again and sat on a bench in one of the nearby rooms. He sat crying and davening with a soft nigun. I followed him and sat down in that room, also. He paced the room, walking to and fro, and then walked over to me and grabbed me by the shoulders. He screamed at me, “Gevald !!! Gevald !!! We have stone hearts.” He continued crying, and then turned to me again and said loudly, “Berel, what do you say?” I had no idea what to answer. I said, “Hashem Himself can help us.” He returned to the Zal and stood in the same position as before. The Rebbe was lying with his eyes closed, sighing deeply with each difficult and heavy breath. Every few moments it would seem as if he stopped breathing, and the Rayatz would cry out, “Tateh, Tateh.” When those standing around heard the cries, their hearts were torn to shreds. Each time it happened, and it did happen a few times, the same story would repeat. Each time the Rayatz would cry out, the Rebbe would open his eyes and stare at the Rayatz.

This continued until about 4:00 AM, when it became clear to all that these were the final moments. The Rebbe’s eyes were closed and he had almost stopped breathing, the Rayatz cried out, “Tateh, Tateh,” and the Rebbe opened his eyes wide and smiled at the Rayatz. He closed his eyes again and it seemed as if he had stopped breathing, the Rayatz again cried out, “Tateh, Tateh.” The Rebbe’s eyes opened and he looked at the Rayatz, two tears streamed down the Rebbe’s cheeks, and his breathing grew weaker. A few moments[1] later, he drew in his hands and feet and turned his head upwards (until then he had been lying slightly to the side, facing the Rayatz and the chassidim), his face contracted[2] and it was clear that his breathing had ceased. Every person in the room cried out in unison, “Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.” The people screamed, cried and wailed bitterly. Many candles were immediately lit. The doctors tested the Rebbe’s breathing using a feather beneath his nose, but alas it was to no avail. The hysterical screaming and wailing intensified from all the chassidim and Anash standing there. They immediately covered his face and his holy Neshomah ascended to heaven in holiness and purity, leaving us behind to grieve and sigh


Chassidim who had been to Mikva on Shabbos morning were requested to come forth. Reb Zalman Havlin, Reb Yisroel Nevler, Reb Avrohom Boruch Poizner and Reb Tzvi Kutman came forth, as well as a few others. They lifted the Rebbe’s body and placed it upon the floor, near the entrance to the room, his feet facing towards the door. The Rebbe’s body was covered in his silk Shabbos clothes. At that point, many chassidim ran to the Mikva, while the remaining group completed the Tehilim in the Zal.

The members of the Chevrah Kadisha arrived. A group of chassidim left to the cemetery to choose a plot for the Rebbe, they were: Reb Shmuel Gurary, Reb Nosson Gurary, Reb Tzvi Hersh Gurary, Reb Zalman Havlin, Reb Yisroel Nevler, and myself. We chose a spot and returned to the Rebbe’s home. Reb Shmuel Gurary then took the Rayatz to the cemetery to show the Rayatz the spot we had chosen and get his consent. They returned about an hour later. By that time the news had spread like wildfire, the entire community of Rostov began to come to pay respects.

The Rebbetzin and the Rayatz immediately handed the keys of the Rebbe’s office to Reb Shmuel Gurary instructing him to search if the Rebbe had left a will with instructions regarding the burial. Reb Shmuel Gurary and the Rashag went looking in the Rebbe’s office and immediately came across the will in the top drawer of the Rebbe’s desk, he had clearly placed it there with the intention that it be clearly visible and easily found. They also found a personal letter from the Rebbe to the Rayatz near the will. However, the will did not contain instructions regarding the burial or anything of that sort.

Reb Shmuel Gurary and the Rashag also gathered all of the Rebbe’s handwritten books and binders that had been in his office, and brought them down to the Rayatz’s house. By that time, almost all the chassidim had been to Mikva and returned, as well as many other community members.

The Bimmah used only on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, as well as the Shtender that the Rebbe used everyday in the Zal were dismantled to use the wood for the Rebbe’s coffin. A few more Shtenders from the shul were dismantled to create a platform/bed for the Rebbe’s coffin to be carried on.

Before the taharah began, the Rebbetzin walked into the Zal and requested that everyone leave. She stayed inside alone, and from the outside we could hear her crying profusely and speaking many heartfelt words.

Sunday, 2 Nissan.

1:00 PM: The taharah began. Two announcements were made, a) anyone that had not been to the Mikva should not enter the room, b) only temimim and a few of the older chassidim should be involved in the taharah process. [Understandably, every chossid wished to have a part in the great Zechus of performing the taharah. However, there was a collective understanding that those that served the Rebbe so faithfully during his lifetime, should have this merit. Other chassidim assisted in other ways, by bringing the equipment and supplies etc.]

A large table (that later became the table that the Rayatz would sit at while he said Maamorim) was brought into the Zal and placed in the middle of the room. They placed the table at a slight angle and lifted the Rebbe’s body onto the table. A certain Polisheh chossid who was well versed in the process of taharah stood near the table instructing the temimim how it should be done, he himself did not touch the Rebbe’s body.

Many bochurim that were Kohanim also did their part in joining the taharah. Some of them did not even ask the Rabbonim if halachically it was permitted, they simply felt that they had to. Others asked the Rav, R’ Rafolevitch, and he answered from amidst an overwhelming emotional turmoil, “Of course it is permitted, the body of a Tzadik does not become tamei.”

The Rebbe’s body was washed with linen. The linen was an inheritance passed down from generation to generation within the family of the Rebbe’im. These very strips of linen were the ones that were used for the Alter Rebbe’s taharah, as well as all the other Rebbe’im until that point. The Alter Rebbe’s handkerchief was also inherited through the generations in the Rebbeim’s families and that was used to wipe and clean the Rebbe’s body also. [Astonishingly, a mere few weeks before the Histalkus, the Rebbe had asked the Rebbetzin if she knew where the linens and handkerchief were kept.]

Before the taharah began, Reb Zalman Havlin and others were appointed in charge of dividing up the taharah between the bochurim, so that each bochur would receive a fair share. I washed the Rebbe’s hands and face. Following which Reb Shmuel Gurary and myself were given the Zechus of pouring the water over the Rebbe.

The Rebbe’s body was then clothed. The shirt was one that had belonged to his father, the Rebbe Maharash. The hat and pants were sewn from new linen, this too was done by the temimim. The Kittel was the Rebbe’s own, that he would use on Yom Kippur. The Rayatz then stepped forward and wrapped the belt/Gartel around the Rebbe’s body, and then he tore Keriah.

During the taharah, we were amazed to see that the Rebbe’s face was radiant, it seemed alive. Until the moment that his face was covered for the final time, he had a hint of a smile on his face.

The Rebbe’s body was wrapped in his Shabbos Talis, (the Talis mentioned above, the one he used while davening during the final few days). An additional layer of linen shrouds were wrapped around the Rebbe’s body over the Talis. Moments before the Rebbe’s body was about to be carried out, the Rebbetzin and the rest of the Rebbe’s family approached the table and ripped Keriah.

The body was then transported to the cemetery. After the Rebbe’s body had been lowered down into the grave but before it was covered, the Rayatz appointed 3 chassidim (Reb Avrohom Boruch Poizner, Reb Eliezer Karasik and one other) as a Beis Din and declared that the Rebbe was being buried there on the condition that it would be permissible to relocate the Rebbe’s body to Lubavitch in the future. Following that, the pit was filled and the Rayatz said Kaddish.

When everyone returned from the funeral, the Rayatz and the Rebbetzin entered the Rebbe’s office and removed their shoes as per the halachah. The meal following the funeral took place there, too. The rest of the community returned to the house also, and they too removed their shoes and sat on the floor.

The Rayatz was chazan for Mincha and Maariv, and he davened at great length crying deeply throughout. Afterwards, many of the chassidim went home. A select few chassidim including myself, remained at the house and slept there for the duration of the week of Shivah.

Following Maariv, when most of the chassidim had went on their way, I remained in the Rebbe’s office with the Rayatz. We spoke for quite an extensive period of time and amongst other things he said to me as follows, “Now, I look back and I can see that the Rebbe was preparing for this event. Over the last few months he told me many things that were a “will” of sorts. I did not dream that this was his intention in telling me these matters.” The Rayatz raised his tone and in a broken voice said, “Gevald Gevald, where was my intuition?! The entire winter the Rebbe had been telling me so clearly and pointedly that the Histalkus is coming, and I did not realize it.”

In the forthcoming weeks, the Rayatz was chazan for all of the tefilos and he recited Kaddish. He davened at length, with great fervor, devotion and flowing tears. His tefilos caused all those surrounding him to feel a spiritual awakening and an emotional connection to Hashem. When he davened, all those davening with him felt like one would feel on Yom Kippur. The Rayatz later mentioned that during the year of mourning he davened with the intentions spelled out by the AriZal in the books of Kabbalah. The tune in which he davened was identical to that of the Rebbe.

Shabbos, Parshas Tzav, 8 Nissan. (The Final Day of Shivah)

Between Mincha and Maariv: The majority of the chassidim present were in the Zal waiting for Maariv time to come. The Rayatz was alone in the Rebbe’s office and he summoned me into the office. I entered; he began to speak with words that bespoke a broken heart, he said, “My father instructed me to teach Chassidus to the community, but who am I? How can I bring myself to stand before the chassidim and teach Chassidus?” His great humility drove him to continue bemoaning the fact that he was not worthy or befitting of saying Maamorim, however, I was not too interested in hearing him speak negatively about himself and I told him that. He continued, “But my father instructed me to teach Chassidus, therefore, I want to recite a Maamor to you, thereby I will fulfill my obligation to heed my father’s instructions.” I obviously agreed. He did not want to sit down, rather we walked about to and fro and he repeated the final Maamor of the Rebbe, “Reishis Goyim Amalek” that the Rebbe had taught at the Purim Farbrengen. He repeated the Maamor verbatim and added many words of his own explanation.

He finished, and as I was about to walk back from the office to the Zal, he asked me not to tell a soul what he had just done. I asked, “Why not? I would love to tell everyone,” (I was sure that the chassidim would be overjoyed to hear that the Rayatz had begun to say Chassidus, which is a sign of being a Rebbe.) However, he persisted in his request.

As I walked out, I turned to Reb Shmuel Gurary and secretly told him what had happened. He, who had not been warned about the privacy, went ahead and excitedly told as many chassidim as he possibly could. Very soon, all the chassidim knew about the Maamor, and many were comforted by the knowledge that sooner or later the Rayatz would take over the mantle of leadership of the Lubavitch dynasty.


Introduction[3]: The year was 5708/1948. A member of the Chabad community of Rostov successfully escaped the clutches of communism that gripped the Soviet Union and regularly did not allow its citizens exit. Upon his arrival to democratic Paris, he penned a letter to the Rebbe Rayatz, who was then living in the USA.

In the letter, he describes in detail an event that had transpired in the month of Adar, 8 years prior, [5700/1940]. In that year, the chassidim and temimim of Rostov displayed much Mesiras Nefesh and performed the illegal task of relocating the Rebbe Rashab’s grave. They removed the grave from the old cemetery which had received government permission to be demolished and industrialized. The Rebbe’s body was then reburied in the new cemetery of Rostov and the Ohel was built around it. [That Ohel stands to this very day.]

The letter is out of order and vague, the terminology used is awkward, however there is enough information there for the reader to understand the intention of the author, and to appreciate the extent of the Mesiras Nefesh involved.

For obvious reasons, I have excluded sections of the letter as well as the names of the chassidim involved[4], (their merit is great and their names deserve to be engraved among the righteous for generations to come).

The following are the excerpts:

… When Reb A. returned from the city of Charkov, he informed us that he had received a letter from the Rayatz with instructions to relocate the Rebbe’s grave. Immediately following that, Reb M. L. travelled to Yekaterinoslav to consult Reb Levi Yitzcok Shneersohn[5] for instructions on how to go about the task of relocating the holy remains of our Rebbe.

Reb M. L. returned and gathered a Minyan, they were, Reb T. K., Reb M. K., Reb M. Sh., Reb Y. K., Reb M. V. L., Reb Ch. Y. E., Reb N. L., Reb A. from Charkov, Reb Y. A. and me. We all accepted upon ourselves to fast that day, and to pour 9 Kavin of water on ourselves[6]. We gathered in the house of Reb M. Sh., and we fashioned a sturdy, smooth bed built with no nails or screws.

Late that night, we went to the cemetery. The darkness was heavy and unusually thick, the skies opened and it was pouring with rain, and there was still snow and ice remaining on the ground. We neared the grave and all individually asked forgiveness from the Rebbe beginning with Reb Y. K. and Reb T. K.. We dug around the grave and sent three members of our group down, Reb T. stood near the Rebbe’s head, Reb M. K. stood near the middle of the Rebbe’s body, and I stood at his feet. Reb M. V. remained above the hole instructing us how to proceed.

The Talis was intact and covered his face and beard; the head, body and feet were all complete. There was one slight “injury”, one of the heels was bent out of shape and slightly cracked, Reb T. corrected this. We lifted the holy body together with three Tefochim of earth from inside the grave, brought it up and placed it on the bed.

The daughter of Reb N. L. gave us 12 meters of linen sheet, and I brought a large new material covering [tarp] with which to cover the bed. Originally we had intended to carry the bed from the old cemetery to the new one, but we quickly realized that it would be impossible. The bed, body and earth together were too heavy and we were all weakened from fasting that day. Additionally, the heavy foggy darkness combined with the rain made the job of carrying it on our shoulders physically implausible. We realized that the only possibility was to procure a hearse, but without a permit that too seemed impossible.

An idea was raised, to contact a gentleman, the son of Reb Y. L. who had deserted the path of Yiddishkeit and had joined the communist party. He, as a government employee, was in charge of and had access to the hearse we sought. I went to his house, and with tears in my eyes, I begged him to lend me the hearse so that I could use it to bury someone. Obviously, I did not dare tell him who it was I wished to transport and bury, for if he would have known the truth he would have instantly banished me from his house and no amount of begging would help. He was an ardent communist and fiercely opposed to any sort of religion. For that reason, I hid the truth and told him that a family-member of mine needed to be buried. He refused. I begged and pleaded, and I said, “I will not leave your house unless you accede to my request.” After much nagging, he finally bent to my pleas and feeling bad for me, agreed. He made a phone call and arranged the hearse to be given to me.

I returned to the old cemetery with the hearse, and it was with great difficulty that we managed to move the body and the earth into the hearse. We then all entered the back of the hearse and created a human wall around the casket so that the driver would not see what was inside.

We arrived at the new cemetery, but the hearse could not drive in, from there onwards, we carried the casket. We began carrying it to the designated spot where we had already dug a grave, and it was with great difficulty. Many times along the way we had to stop and rest as the weather and our physical state both contributed to making it even harder of a process.

When we arrived at the spot, we did everything precisely as per the instructions of Reb Levi Yitzchok, in a manner befitting of the honour of the Rebbe. . . [Parts of the letter are cut out at this point.]

The following day, the son of Reb Y. L. discovered that we had used the hearse to transport and rebury the Rebbe. Reb Y. L. informed us that his daughter-in-law, was terribly afraid that this illegal business would be discovered. She was sure that were that to happen, her husband would lose his job and would suffer terrible punishments from his employers. I returned to their house to calm their spirits, and I said, “You have done a noble and holy deed, I promise you that the merit of the Rebbe will protect you from any harm.” So it was, Thank G-d, the job was done without having been noticed. Within a few days, Reb T. K. also relocated the remains of Reb Shmuel Gurary and Reb Nosson Gurary. He gathered their remains, bought graves, transported them to the new cemetery and placed them in the same order as they had been laid in the old cemetery.

Reb M. L. travelled to the city of L. to visit the chassidim there and collect money to construct a new Ohel using the stones from the old Ohel. The new Ohel was slightly smaller than the old one and we used the extra stones to build a Mikva in the home of Reb N. L.. I would visit the Ohel periodically to keep it in shape, recently, not many people have been coming to the Ohel but many letters are sent there, Reb N. L. and I would receive the letters and place them in the Ohel.

After Hitler (may his memory be obliterated) and his armies were defeated, I returned to Rostov. I returned to the Ohel and found the door broken, I borrowed money from … and fixed the door. I then wrote a letter to Reb L. in Moscow who gathered money from the chassidim there, to repay me; he himself also paid a handsome sum. I constructed a spiky metal fence around the grave so that no foreign hands will touch it. I also placed an eternal candle in the office of the cemetery. I spoke with Mr. S. and he agreed to oversee the upkeep of the Ohel, and in return, I promised to mention his name to the Rayatz.

Many of those who helped bury the Rebbe were themselves later buried within a few meters of the Ohel.

May the merit of the Rebbe grant us the opportunity to see the Rebbe Rayatz very soon with the coming of the righteous Moshiach.


[1] According to the record of Reb Avrohom Boruch Poizner: The Rebbe first drew in his hands and feet and then 2 tears fell from his eyes.

[2] According to the record of Reb Avrohom Boruch Poizner: The Rebbe face contracted just as it would when he blew Shofar on Rosh Hashonah.

[3] This introduction was written by Rabbi Rivkin at the time that this Sefer was first published.

[4] Seemingly, the intention here is to maintain the safety and security of some of these chassidim who at the time of the printing of this Sefer remained under communist oppression.

[5] Our Rebbe’s father.

[6] A lesser form of purification, in situations where a Mikva is unavailable.

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