The Rebbe’s Smile

The Rebbe’s Smile

It’s worth the schlep just to see the Rebbe’s smile.

Every Lag Baomer morning I take my kids to the Slonim shul in Meah Shearim in order to watch the Rebbe cut the first snip from the 3-year-old Upsherin boys.

My kids love the orange Superdrink and chocolate rugelach that they can gobble up to their heart’s content as their mother stands there distracted and enchanted by the Rebbe’s smile….

Slonimers are often called the most Litvish kind of Chassidim… Serious, intense, even heavy. And while I’ve seen the Rebbe multiple times over the past 5 years since my husband started davening there, I have only witnessed the Rebbe smiling on 3 occasions. The first smile was when he took a snip of my Yoel’s hair 3 Lag Baomers ago. And the second and third smiles were on my annual visits to Slonim every Lag Baomer morning since then.

Yesterday, as I watched the Rebbe smiling with joy at long-haired boy after long-haired boy, I wondered how often I smile with that much intense pleasure at my own children?

“Stop climbing on the baby’s crib!”
“You absolutely cannot wear that stained shirt out of the house!”
“Stop yelling this moment!”

How often do I see my own children? Really see them… these precious Jewish souls, with a rebbe’s eyes?

Yesterday morning, before I left for Slonim, I posted a video my husband took of 3-year-old boys on their fathers’ shoulders as they danced around the Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Lag Baomer bonfire. When I arrived home a few hours later, I saw that the video had reached 1500 people on facebook. By this morning it had reached almost 8500…

What’s all the buzz about? What’s the the big deal? The big deal, I think, is that when we watch this video we see each child like the Rebbe sees him. So cute, so precious, so beloved, so holy.

Reb Yossel Friedenson, who passed away this past Shabbat Zachor, married in the Warsaw Ghetto and barely survived a series of concentration camps. After the war he became a leader of the US Jewish community as a journalist, community activist, and a popular speaker about the heroic acts of kindness and faith of the Holocaust’s millions of victims.

Having grown up in a family of Gerer Chassidim, during a trip to Israel Reb Friedenson was honored at the Rebbe’s tisch with a seat at the table near the Rebbe.

After the tisch, the Rebbe’s gabbai jokingly told Reb Friedenson, “You aren’t a real Gerrer Chassid.”

When he asked “Why?” in surprise, the gabbai responded…”Because you’re sitting a few feet from the Gerrer Rebbe, where thousands of eyes are fixed on him…and you’re looking at the [Chassidim]!”

Mishpacha’s Yisroel Besser reflects, “It was true. Reb Yossel had sat there transfixed by the walls of Chassidim rising all around him, his eyes moving up and down, right and left….

“But should eyes that had seen masses of Jews led onto trains, Jewish bodies mutilated and strewn at the side of the road, not feast upon images of tens of thousands of Chassidim at their Rebbe’s tisch? Was this not proof of the Jewish people’s eternity?”

Reb Friedenson saw his fellow Jews through a Rebbe’s eyes.

And my dream, JewishMOM, is to have eyes like that too.


  1. Very very moving video.

    We watched the live Crown Heights Lag Baomer parade (my children and I). When the upsherin truck went through, with all the fathers and 2 year old sons with long hair, it just made me cry. Watching them all wave to the crowds…

    B’ezrat Hashem we will be celebrating our own first upsherin this year too:)

  2. Amen. Jenny, you do….

  3. Sima Leah

    I know I get the feeling I am really seeing my kids when they are a sleep – and not distracting me. Is that awful? I do try to
    “zone in” completely when each one walks in the door, but even then it’s hard sometimes’ I’m on the phone, trying to finish up something on the computer, or three of them walk in at one time.
    But there really is something to watching them sleep…..

  4. Thanks for the video Chana Jenny. Another winner..

  5. Hadassah

    Just a question – Is the entire video only 29 seconds or is this a short version?
    very sweet.

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