Stories Rabbi Groner Told: Usually, when chassidim emerge from a yechidus, they rejoice, having left their worries, troubles and doubts behind. But after Reb Nissen’s yechidus, he leaned against the wall, and cried even more than before.
Stories Rabbi Groner Told: The following stories were related by the Rebbe’s mazkir Rabbi Leibel Groner at a Yud Beis Tammuz farbrengen in 770 – Ramat Shlomo, Yerushalaim. They were transcribed and translated into English by Rabbi Mendel Moscowitz of Chicago, IL.
Special thanks to Rabbi Moscowitz for providing the stories, and to Rabbi Yossi Groner of Charlotte, NC, for reviewing the stories for accuracy.
Rabbi Groner recounted:
Once, Reb Nissen Nemanov came to New York and asked for a yechidus as late at night as possible. I told him to come on a Thursday evening at 12:30 A.M.
He arrived at 770 at 9:00 P.M. and went to the end of the hallway of Gan Eden HaTachton and began saying Tehillim with bechiyos atzumos – buckets of tears. He stood that way until 12:30 A.M. I approached Reb Nissen and said, “It looks like you’ll be going into the Rebbe in about 15 minutes.”
“What?!” he exclaimed. “Without preparation? Could I possibly have a little more time?”
“Not more than half-hour,” I said. The line for yechidus inched forward, and the last person before Reb Nissen had already entered the Rebbe’s room.
I went to Reb Nissen and said, “I apologize, I have no choice. There can’t be any gaps in the line. When one person exits the Rebbe’s room, the next person must immediately enter. So please stand by the door of the Rebbe’s office.”
Reb Nissen replied, “Nu, what can I do. I guess I have to go in without preparing myself…”
Now usually, when chassidim emerge from a yechidus, it is much cause for jubilation, after having had their worries, troubles and doubts lifted from them. But after Reb Nissen’s yechidus, he left the Rebbe’s room, leaned against the wall, and cried even more than before.
After he calmed down, I said, “Reb Nissen, what happened?”
He answered, “I asked the Rebbe the following question. The Rebbe Rashab said that one mustn’t change the goal, mission and purpose of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim. Wherever Tomchei Tmimim winds up, it must identically follow the principles of Tomchei Tmimim in the city of Lubavitch. One must speak to the bochurim about iskafiya, what one is permitted to look at, what one is forbidden from looking at, what to eat, and what not to eat, etc.
“When I was in Russia and I spoke about these inyanim, the bochurim understood. In Brunoy, where most of the bochurim are French, I mention the concept of iskafiya, they ask, ‘What’s that?’
“I answer that when you walk in the street, and there are inappropriate pictures and billboards, you should face the other direction. And they don’t understand why. When it comes to food, I explain not everything that is tasty do you need to eat. You have to have iskafiya. And they don’t get what I’m saying.
“So, I am caught between a ‘rock and a hard place.’ If I don’t address these issues, I would be altering the goal of Tomchei Tmimim. And when I do speak about it, the bochurim can’t relate to it!
“The Rebbe answered, ‘You should learn from my example!’ I didn’t understand what the Rebbe meant, so he explained, ‘When I think of a new directive, I consider who my followers are. If half of them are capable of putting the directive into practice, I speak of it.’
“I’m crying,” Reb Nissen continued, “because of those directives the Rebbe withheld because he thought that less than half of his chassidim could follow them. Who knows what they could have been?”