Rejuvenation at the Ohel

Thursday, 30 October, 2014 - 7:36 am


Rabbi Levi Shemtov, accompanied by a group of community members, spent last Shabbat, October 24-25, at the Rebbe's Resting Place. We asked a few members of the group to share their experiences here.


Permit me to take the liberty of putting pen to paper (or index finger to screen) and sharing my thoughts with you all. I needed a couple of days to decompress in order to put into some sort of perspective before writing …

But the experience we eight shared together this past Shabbos, what I imagine we would each agree, from the individual perspective that is uniquely our own, something unlike any of us might ever have done before.

Very comfortably unified as a group, seamless, ego-free, without familiar comforts of home available to divert attention from what we sought to do: in the presence of the Rebbe, share Shabbos meals together, daven, learn, enjoy camaraderie - enveloped in the broader community of Chassidim who are utterly devoted ...

Not once in 24 hours did I notice any of these 20-something year old yeshiva boys indulge in anything except utter dedication to their learning, either with a Sefer directly or via the embrace of the community of chassidim.

Rabbi Shemtov, the ease you bring to bear makes your unadulterated message so warmly acceptable and thus so perfect: Love of fellow Jew, cleave to a higher message, strive for the spiritually achieving Jew that is innately each of us. In your warm way you make it the most obvious take away - not a burden, but a pleasure!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to live Chassidus for a full 24 hours!

I would not suggest we do this again if I did not feel like among a band of brothers together. We are blessed to have a community as we do in Riverdale. 

Thank you again Rabbi Shemtov for the selfless commitment to ensure that the Rebbe's shul exists in our hometown of Riverdale. We have tremendously gained from its - from your - presence ...

Wishing us all a fall season imbued with ongoing spirit.


I had the most amazing Shabbat at the Ohel. It was both uplifting and inspiring to share a Shabbat with people from all corners of the world who all have a shared vision of spirituality and love of Torah.


The third meal of Shabbat, Seudah Shlishit, was electrifying as we all sat together and listened to inspirational stories and life lessons delivered by the Chabad Rabbi of Thailand.

I will focus on two parts to his speech that resonated with me most. As a Chabad Rabbi in Thailand, he would come across many different kinds of people, from all different walks of life and levels of religiosity. The message was always the same: when you start an exercise regime, the important thing is to take small steps and gradually build momentum. The same with Judaism. The Rebbe always placed great emphasis on the importance of putting on tefillin as a way of igniting a spark within a Jew. 

Other words of wisdom related to parenting. Always be aware of how you behave, and what you say, in front of your children. You may think there will be no consequences now to your children, but in their future, as they become adults, they will have absorbed many of your habits, behaviors, and ways of talking - and that consciousness will keep you aware of the deep impact of your behavior. 

As the rabbi spoke, more yeshiva students joined us at the table to listen to him. The dynamic at the table changed as we all sat together, students and community members alike, absorbing the words of holiness.

The rabbi had made the difficult trip from Thailand to New York because he felt a deep need to be at the Rebbe's Resting Place. He was even considering being there for Simchat Torah, but his community in Thailand needed him, and that is where he needed to be. But after the chagim were over, the Rebbetzin told him to go. For the two days we were there, we were removed from the mundanities of everyday life, and were absorbed in prayer and Torah study - an experience that was awe-inspiring. 

I enjoyed a wonderful experience. What could be better than being surrounded by such spirituality, away from home, at the Rebbe's Resting Place? The atmosphere was tremendous. It is a memory I will cherish. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this past weekend that I spent at the Ohel. I didn't know what to expect but it definitely surpassed anything that I could have imagined. Spending time with Rabbi Shemtov and other members of the Riverdale Chabad family was very enjoyable and meaningful. If my wife didn't make me promise to come home right after Havdalah we would probably still be there right now sitting at a Farbrengen and making l'chaims. Looking forward to the next time.  

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