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Full Glasses

Dror Cohen was a relative newcomer to Chassidic life, but that didn’t hold him back from starting a Chassidut class of his own. At the time this story took place, over 20 years ago, Dror lived in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem. There was a Chabad synagogue in the neighborhood, founded by Chassidim who had been driven out of the Old City during Israel’s War of Independence. Dror chose that synagogue as the location of his class.

The topic of Dror’s class was Tanya, the fundamental work of Chabad Chassidism, written by the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalmen of Liadi, founder of Chabad. Of all the different streams of Judaism that Dror had explored, Chabad spoke to him the most. He felt that he had to impart some of that inspiration to others.

The synagogue that Dror was using wasn’t very active, as there were not many Chabad chassidim who lived in the neighborhood. Thus, he felt a responsibility to infuse some life into the neglected walls of the synagogue.

Dror hung up signs announcing the class, and spread the news via word-of-mouth. However, when he came to the synagogue for the first class, nobody showed up. But Dror was not the type to be easily discouraged. He said to himself, this week I will study alone, and by next week surely more participants will come...

But the next week the same story repeated itself, and the week after that. It seemed that nobody was interested in the class that Dror was offering.

In those years, the Rebbe would often give a talk (“sichah”) at night after the evening prayers. These talks were broadcast all over the world via telephone hook-up, and, naturally, in Israel as well. Due to the time difference between Israel and New York, it was often in the wee hours of the morning that chassidim in Israel would gather in their synagogues to hear the Rebbe’s live address.

Dror also made a point never to miss any of these talks, despite the fact that he had to get up early the next morning to go to work, and despite the fact that the Rebbe spoke in Yiddish, a language he did not understand. His fellow chassidim who did know Yiddish filled him in with the meaning of the Rebbe’s words.

During one of these live broadcasts, Dror was especially tired. He simply could not keep his eyes open any longer. This was the first time Dror had ever dozed off during a talk of the Rebbe.

As he slept, Dror dreamt that he was in the Rebbe’s synagogue in New York. The Rebbe approached the Aron Kodesh, the ark, and removed three glasses. Suddenly one glass disappeared and only two remained – both filled with some kind of sparkling, bubbly liquid. At that point Dror woke up.

The dream was very vivid, and Dror was determined to find out its meaning. He approached a learned chassid who offered an explanation, but it did not satisfy Dror.

Meanwhile, Dror went back to offering his weekly lectures, despite the fact that nobody took advantage of them. One week, though, a young man studying in a non-Chabad yeshivah entered the synagogue and told Dror that he was interested in learning Tanya. Dror happily informed him that he gave a regular class. The young man began to study with Dror every week.

The following week, Dror spent Shabbat in Kfar Chabad, at the home of the rabbi who had first introduced him to Chabad. On Shabbat afternoon, he went to the central synagogue in Kfar Chabad, and met two young men from Jerusalem who were looking for an introductory class in Tanya. Naturally, Dror invited them to join his class.

The next week, Dror’s weekly Tanya class had four participants: Dror, the first young man, and the two additional students who joined. The tenor of the class shifted as the young men brought up various questions about the Chassidic way of life. Soon it became a class focused on the Rebbe’s unique interpretations of Tanya and his guidance and direction for daily life.

After a while, the first young man dropped out of the class. Only two young men remained. But these two young men went on to study in Chabad yeshivot and became full members of the Chabad community. Finally Dror understood his dream – there were three glasses originally, and now two remained, sparkling and bubbly.


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