October 26, 2006

The Biala Rebbe’s Gabi for a Day

Filed under: deep reflections — Reb Moshe @ 4:27 am

Well yesterday I drove to Bnei Brak to be the Biala Rebbe of New York’s Gabi, assistant for the evening. It was his nieces wedding and I was to care for the Rebbe or as we would put it in layman’s terms, I was his bodyguard. Well standing only at 5-6 and 150 pounds, you might wonder what Reb Moshe could really do to defend the Rebbe from Chassidim.

In the Chassidic world, outside the large dynasties which have thousands upon thousands of followers, a gabi to a Rebbe means to drive him, take appointments, make sure the Rebbe is not being taken advantage of, help him to use his time for study, and so on… Without a good gabi, the Rebbe is not able to use every moment for Torah and Hashem. Constantly the Rebbe is trying to attach himself to higher worlds and deep study but frivolous matters of this world try to distract him. It was my job this one night to make sure the Rebbe could be all that he can be.

So here is how the night began… I walked with the Rebbe into the wedding hall and then chassidim began to run over for his blessing. As a good gabi, I immediately excused myself to take care of personal business, if you know what I mean. When I returned, the other gabi asked me if I understood that I am there to always be next to the Rebbe… I said I did understand that. Okay, not off to a good start… I had left the Rebbe to be trampled upon. Well, that wasn’t actually the case as the Biala Dynasty is only a few hundred. If I was gabi for the Current Gerer Rebbe, well, you don’t want to know what would have happened during my little break. Lots of people running to get a blessing from a short cute 70 year old Rabbi. Ah…

I accompanied the Rebbe to his seat at the head table and I stood behind him. People came from left and right over his shoulder to receive his blessing but within reason. Some were bold and began a long conversation with the Rabbi. Having just come from Ben Gurion airport, I should have used a old kung fu technique on the imposture so the Rebbe could have a moment to breath. Instead, a few minutes later, the Rebbe tried to explain to me the importance of his piece of mind. Only with piece of mind will I be able to see the holy Avos, our forefathers whom the Zohar says, “gather under the chupah at every wedding of a Jewish couple”. Immediately upon hearing this, I used the full nelson technique of twisting the imposture’s leg so he would no longer bother the Rebbe. Okay, maybe not. I began to speak to the Rebbe and slowly distract the person from talking to him. The Rebbe taught me this zohar and then someone announced the time to pray was near.

The Rebbe stood up and turned around to pray. I moved the chair behind him so he would be able to sit during the appropriate times. Finally, a good move from the Rebbes bodyguard. I had finally gotten the idea!

After prayers, we walked upstairs to the chupah. When someone started bothering the Rebbe, I tried to interrupt them. After-all, he had explained to me the importance of this moment of chupah. I had reminded him, though unneccesarily, that this is the greatest tikkun, rectification the world. That of Malchus and Keter as taught in the Kabbalah. The woman representing Malchus and the Man Keter.

The Rebbe invited me to go up with him under the chupah when he would be called up for a blessing. He told me that… (maybe another time, hehe) I accompanied him up to the chapah. It was like being the usher at Radio City Music Hall. I was able to be close to all the other Rebbes and stars of the night.

I couldn’t help myself, I felt the tension of how difficult it is to be a known Rebbe. I decided that I must crack some jokes to the Rebbe to keep his spirits up when at every moment he is being watched and observed by his chassidim.

The night had still only begun. I followed the Rebbe to the master table to eat. The big sharks of Biala and other Chassidic Rebbes began to show up to pay their respects. I was right there only inches from a half of dozen Rebbes. Behind each one stood their gabi, shoulders upright and ready to serve. Throughout the evening, on and off, the Rebbe and I were discussing things like my website, family and we had a deep conversation about the Friday night meal. It was my fault, I had poured him a glass of selzer stopping 3x as is the custom for pooring wine on Shabbos into the Kiddush cup. Then we both smiled as you only do that for Kiddush, not for seltzer! I knew this, I was joking and it then opened up the question I have had for awhile. Why three times on Shabbos! 

The pouring three times, is bringing down the Sefiros of Keter, chachmah, Binah…or  Chochman Binah Daat.. It is Bringing the lights of the mind and higher wisdom down to us. Okay Rebbe I remarked, that is pretty cute but what about the challah in the salt!

Numerical value of  



YKVK=Holy name of Hashem (Yud=10,Hay=5,Vav=6,Hay=5) 26 x 3 =78

Because we dip the bread in salt 3x. Okay Rebbe, these Gematiras of the words is great but why, why, why!

He asked me, what is salt… Chesed or Gevurah, Kindness or Judgement?

I said, Gevurah, Judgement

What is Bread? Gevurah

We are dipping the bread in the salt 3x with Hashem’s name in order to soften judgement and draw more chesed!

ding ding ding… wow!

So here I am trying to allow the Rebbe time to breath from distractions and he just set a match under me with this amazing Torah. Okay Rebbe, I stated, “How about the Bread”! We both smiled knowing that he had already fed me plenty of meat. Speaking of meat, as a gabi, there isn’t much time sitting. Does anybody have any Tylonal I began thinking! My feet hurt; my back hurts! I’ve been standing for hours! This is what I asked the other gabi later in the evening. How do you do it. What kind of shoes do you wear for this job? This is hard work!

I will end this story as follows. When the evening first started, the Rebbe didn’t ask me to serve him at all. Only when he was in front of the Chassidim did he motion to me to open the car door and care for him. For him it was all acting a part in order to give the people strength so they would rely up him. In his own heart, he wanted no dignity or respect at all. This was very clear to me.

These Rebbes have to sit for hours at Weddings many times a week. They sit down and see people for hours a day. People show them little respect. So many people were climbing over his shoulder the entire night in order to speak with him. Most didn’t ask me, his gabi, permission first. The Rebbe asked me to stand directly behind his chair so people wouldn’t lean over him. He also asked me to help him have the space he needed. Well, he was asking the wrong guy. When I saw the pain on the peoples faces, I couldn’t bare to push them away. After-all, I’m the little Reb Moshe who sees these brokenhearted faces all day. This is why I am blogging at 3am. So my friends, if your looking for a gabi, I’m not your man, if your looking for a Rebbe, well, I can’t sit down for 20minutes, let alone three hours at a wedding. But if you want a friend, I can do that! I think I can handle it. Maybe they should call me the “Yedidya Rebbe”, The Friendship Rabbi.



  1. OH MY WORD!!!!! Moshe that is AMAZING! Such an honor for you! I am seriously freaking out over here because you gave this over so wonderfully I felt like I was there. Gave me such chills thinking about all that a rebbe must do, what he SEES and the torah that is in his head. OY!!!
    I think you underestimate yourself though. I think you could do it and I think you should if you are offered the opportunity again. It is good to strike a balance in all things, no? Don’t let your compassion overwhelm you. I think if you hone your skills more you would be able to sense life and death issues that NEED the immediate attention of the Rebbe and those who Hashem would say ‘just wait a minute longer’.
    I know you have more to share on this…c’mon give it over!

    Comment by phillyfarmgirl — October 26, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  2. wow!!!!! oh wow!!!! you did excellent!!! now for your poor feet……GEL…with DR. Scholl’s GEL inserts for your shoes. that will help some. you go boy!!!!! and it doesn’t matter if you are short or tall. you did the job!!!!

    Comment by dreidel — October 27, 2006 @ 12:39 am

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