Friday, June 14, 2013

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The Tzaddik’s Wife

via Lma’an Yishme’u

Rebbetzin Shaina, the wife of the Mitteler Rebbe, the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch and son of the Baal HaTanya / Alter Rebbe, was born to a poor melamed (Torah teacher), a chossid of the Alter Rebbe. Her father told the Alter Rebbe of his poverty and his inability to find proper shidduchim (matches / marriage partners) for his daughters. The Alter Rebbe assured him that he would make a shidduch (match) with one of his children, after which the chossid would have no problem finding appropriate spouses for the rest of his children.

Two grandchildren of the Mitteler Rebbe and Rebbetzin Shaina, daughters of Rebbetzin Sara, were orphaned from both sides at a young age. The two orphans, Rivkah and Gittel, were raised in the home of the Mitteler Rebbe. When they reached marriageable age, Rebbetzin Shaina suggested to her son-in-law the Tzemach Tzedek (the 3rd Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, grandson of the Alter Rebbe via his daughter, nephew of the Mitteler Rebbe) to take one of the women as a shidduch for his son, the future Rebbe Maharash (4th Rebbe). The Tzemach Tzedek told her, "A shidduch from Liepli (a town in modern day Belarus, White Russia) has been suggested with a dowry of twenty thousand ruble. What kind of dowry will be given here?"

The Rebbetzin replied, "Eishes chaver kechaver (The wife of a tzadik is equal to the tzadik himself)! I will give the chosson forty years of eishes chaver kechaver!" The Tzemach Tzedek agreed, making a "kinyan" (a Jewish legal form of property transfer) with Rebbetzin Shaina to transfer this zechus (merit).

The Tzemach Tzedek chose the younger of the two ladies, Rivkah, to be the wife of his son, later known as the Rebbetzin Rivkah. In lieu of the older daughter who relinquished her first-born zechus and marriage priority, the Tzemach Tzedek made sure that she marry a worthy chosson as well.

On the day of the chassuna (wedding), the Tzemach Tzedek instructed his son, the Rebbe Maharash to receive a bracha (blessing) from Rebbetzin Shaina. The chosson found his grandmother in the kitchen, busily preparing of the festive seuda (wedding meal). The Rebbetzin answered offhandedly that the day was long and she would bentch (bless) him at the time of the chupah (wedding canopy). Unsatisfied with the response, the Tzemach Tzedek instructed his son to go back and ask to receive her bracha now.

Rebbetzin Shaina, paused when she saw that her grandson had returned. Realizing that he would not give up, Rebbetzin Shaina washed her hands and in front of two witnesses put her hands on the chosson's head, "May it be HaShem's will that you should be blessed with all the powers that I have inherited from my husband!"

When the Tzemach Tzedek later heard the blessing, he was exceedingly pleased.

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