Hey Teves, What Happened?


The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe when he left Russia and Poland during the Second WW, with great miracles, and came to the United States, managed to guard his extensive Judaic library which included thousands of holy books and hand written manuscripts many of which were ancient and extremely valuable.

These books and writings were kept in the basement of the Lubavitch shul known as 770.

Following his passing, the Rebbe acquired the building next door to 770 and it became the official Lubavitch library belonging to Agudas Chassidei Chabad, the official arm of the Lubavitch movement, began in Europe by the Previous Rebbe. The Rebbe received added numerous new books to the collection, and today it is one of the largest collections of Judaica in the world.

In the year, 1985, it was noticed that books were disappearing from the library. After much searching and investigating, it was discovered that a family member of the Previous Rebbe’s household, was selling some of the precious books to book dealers at very high prices.

When he was asked to return the books, he argued that the library does not belong to the community, but is the private property of the Previous Rebbe, and he therefore deserves to be given a part of it as his inheritance.

The Rebbe spoke about this publicly in a pained voice in the month of Tamuz 1985, and instructed that all books purchased should be returned and they would be reimbursed.

At some point it became necessary to go to court in order to clarify that the library is not a private collection, but rather to the Chabad movement!

The court case was designated to the Day of Liberation of the first Chabad Rebbe, Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Alter Rebbe, the day he was released from Russian prison, Yud Tes Kislev. It continued for three weeks, until the 8th of Teves, 1986. Many witnesses were called to the stand to verify the position of the Rebbe, that the library was never considered personal property. During this time, the Rebbe’s wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, z’l, was asked: Do the seforim belong to the Rebbe or to the Chassidim? She answered in a wise and special manner:

“The Rebbe (referring to her father) and the Seforim belong to the Chassidim!”

During the time of the court case, the Rebbe traveled daily to the Ohel of the Previous Rebbe, and prayed for success. The Chassidim around the world, also prayed that G-d help that the judge should recognize that the library belongs to Agudas Chassidei Chabad.

Exactly one year later, on the 5th of Teves, 1987, the verdict came out clearly stating that the library belongs to the Chassidim under Agudas Chassidei Chabad of the United States. The news spread quickly, and within a short time, a large crowd gathered at 770 that burst out in song and dance, joyously celebrating the victory, which became known by the Talmudic expression, “Didan Nozach”.

To everyone’s great surprise, following mincha services, the Rebbe began to say a Chassidic discourse.

In the sicha, the Rebbe emphasized that especially now, it is incumbent on each one to increase in the study and spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus, with great joy and enthusiasm. The main thing being that it should be done! The joy continued for a full week. Each day the Rebbe merited us with a holy talk, during which he explained the lessons we can learn from the victory of the books and from the Torah portion of the week.

It took another year due to appeals by the other side, until the final verdict came in on the 28th of Cheshvan, 1988, that all books removed from the library were to be returned. Those which had been sold, were purchased back by Agudas Chassidei Chabad. On this day the Rebbe emphasized that the true happiness of the books, is learning them!

On this day, the Rebbe traveled to the Ohel, and before going he requested that a number of the books which were returned should be brought to him at the Ohel. The next day, in the morning, the Rebbe chose one of the three books which were brought to him, and instructed that it should be reprinted so people can learn from it as soon as possible.

To this day, Jews around the world celebrated the day of ‘Hey Teves’ as the Holiday of the Books, and call it by the name of ‘Didan Notzach’!

Subsequently, the Rebbe strongly suggested that every Jewish community establish a Jewish library; and where one already exists, to expand it.

From “Chayolei Hamivtzoim” by Rabbi Shmuel Bistrizky Pg 94-96

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