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G-d is in the couch crumbs

Wednesday, 20 April, 2016 - 9:49 pm

By: Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman
Peabody, MA

Today I spent the Rebbe's Birthday like I never did before. This is a day on the calendar when all those who consider themselves students/chassidim of the Rebbe, behave a little differently. A little "hecher," a little "higher" than usual. Followers who have dedicated their lives to spreading the message of joy, beauty & happiness of Judaism with the world, as he did, spend their times in study, good deeds, prayer, and an extra dose of spreading of light to the world. However this year, I feel like I honored his birthday, perhaps in an even greater way than I ever had before.

You see, today, I did a couple loads of laundry, I washed the dishes, I vacuumed out the couch, even got on my hands and knees, and helped vacuumed out the baseboards in the kitchen. Let me back up here a second. Last night one of my children woke up with a stomach bug, and I spent a bleary eyed few hours doing what you do and cleaning up what you do when your child has the bug. This morning the fun continued. I got a call first thing in the morning from our nanny/cleaning woman/babysitter our everything's husband, that she was ill as well and was not going to make it.

In nearly a decade of knowing her, I don't recall her ever missing a day due to illness.

So, my wife on her way to work, and a sick child at home, my plans for the day were over. I was not going to go to New York to visit the Rebbe's resting place. I wasn't going to continue distributing Shmurah Matzah, I wasn't going to put on Tefillin with people, I was going to spend the day at home with my son, getting ready for Pesach, until my wife returned from work, and we'd continue to do together whatever our cleaning help wasn't going to do.

This is that time of year, where the nanny/cleaning lady gets many many hours of overtime as we get ready for Passover.

Whether I liked it or not, and whether it was the Rebbe's birthday or not, Passover was still on its way, and I was still stuck at home and there was work to be done. So after throwing a tantrum, and gulping down a few coffees, I accepted my fate. Today was going to be a cleaning day. First by myself, and then joined by my wife when she got back home a few hours later.

As we found crevices in the cushions of the couch that we never even knew existed, and as I found dried food potentially from a decade gone by, I asked myself, is this the way to be spending the Rebbe's birthday?

I which point I realized, something I had read recently at one of the classes, fit perfectly at this moment.

In that talk, the Rebbe explains, that when one is engaged in the holy work of HaShem, bringing down the divine light of the Shechina down here on earth, then a mother preparing food for her family, or closing the windows so that there should not be a draft (for a sleeping child); This person is at that moment a Kohen, a Priest doing service in the Beis Hamikdash - the Holy Temple. Not simply "an excused absence" rather such a person is considered to have attended, and sitting front row in the class. A Kohen doing service in the Temple.

Believe it or not, cleaning and removing Chometz, (leavened foods, bread crumbs an cake,) and with a family of 6 children, that is not in short supply, is a mitzva. And climbing in small places to remove these offensive items, as preparation for Pesach, counts as work of Priest doing service in the holy Temple.

So, I didn't run around and distribute much matzo, and I didn't pray for an extended period of time as I had hoped to, I didn't study the holy works of the Rebbe, or even prepare for my Seder by pulling out books on the Haggadah or Pesach.

But by golly, did I ever celebrate the Rebbe's birthday.

I did it in a way far differently than I had ever done it before, but I did it in the way that one might say, perhaps, is more holy than ever before.

The holiness of making a dwelling place for the Divine, down here, in the lowest level possible, right down here on earth, beneath the cushions of my couch.

Happy Birthday Rebbe!

Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman 

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