“A joyous and wide Good Yom Tov.”

Thursday, 17 September, 2015 - 3:43 pm


Dear Friends,


My grandmother’s great-grandfather was named Zalman Szerbinner. He was a Chabad Chasid who lived in the town of Szerbin, which was close to the town of Lubavitch.

There was a Minyan in his town, but from the beginning of Selichot until after Yom Kippur, Reb Zalman could be found in neighboring Lubavitch. He would go to the Rebbe.

Once, on the morning before Yom Kippur, Reb Zalman came into the room of the Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, the fifth Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty, and said “Gut Yom Tov” with great fervor, or, as his greeting is quoted in a book: “A joyous and wide Good Yom Tov.”

The Rebbe, who was then in a very serious mood, completely absorbed in the book he was learning from, responded:

“True, it is a holiday today, and a holiday is a time of happiness. But it is the day before Yom Kippur, and one should be awakening Teshuva (repentance) in oneself. Teshuva is expressing regret for the past and making resolutions for the future.”

In other words, the Rebbe was telling him that this was not the time for “a joyous and wide Good Yom Tov”, and that he should “cool it,” as one would say today.

Reb Zalman, who was a veteran Chassid, plucked up the courage to answer:

“Rebbe, we are soldiers. Hashem Yitbarach (may He be blessed) said that the morning before Yom Kippur is a holiday, and he commanded us to be happy. In the afternoon we will have to Daven (pray) Mincha, and say ‘Al Chet’, and repent.” Then, he concluded his statement by saying, “Rebbe, give me some Lekach” – the custom was to ask for a piece of honey cake on the day before Yom Kippur.

The Rebbe was very pleased with Reb Zalman’s answer. He gave him a piece of cake and said, “I am giving you a piece of cake, and Hashem Yitbarach should give you a sweet year.”

“There is a time for everything,” said Kohelet. There is a time to be serious, and maybe even to feel bitter and pained, as one takes account of one’s life and repents during Aseret Yemei Teshuva (the Ten Days of Repentance, from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur), and there are times when the bitterness and the seriousness move aside, leaving room for joy and a trusting feeling that we will be written for a good, long life. There is also a time for heart-to-heart wishes, and I wish everyone a “joyous and wide” wish, from the depths of my heart: Gmar Chatima Tova, and a good, sweet year!



Zalmen Wishedski

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