Photo Credit: Jewish Press

On 17 Cheshvan, we lost a wonderful Jew, HaRav HaChasid HaTamim Reb Sholom Dovber ben HaRav HaChasid HaTamim Reb Schneur Zalman Gansburg, and we just observed the shloshim of his passing.

Over the years, the Rebbe sent him to me several times to help him with what he needed. Baruch Hashem, I had the zechus of helping him and of getting to know him up close.


Getting to know him was a privilege.

Reb Sholom Ber Gansburg was the kind of person who was the personification of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham. When Eliezer introduces himself to Rivka’s family in the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah, he says, “Eved Avraham Anochi – I am an eved to Avraham.” Chassidus explains that an eved does not have his own desires. All an eved wants to do is the will of his master, the one who sent him – nothing for himself.

In relating that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away, the verse says, “Moshe passed away there,” and then the Torah gives us a one-word description of Moshe Rabbeinu, and what word does the Torah use? “Eved ” Hashem – the servant of Hashem.

Volumes could be written about Moshe Rabbeinu’s greatness. But here the Torah wants to encapsulate it in one word. “Eved Hashem” means he did not have any wants of his own. All he wanted was to do what Almighty G-d wanted.

It can be said about Reb Sholom Ber Gansburg that he did not have any wants of his own. All he wanted to do, as I witnessed, was what the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin wanted, and to be a faithful servant to the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin.

Pirkei Avos lists, among the qualities with which the Torah is acquired, “v’eino machzik tova l’atzmo – he claims no credit for himself.” Reb Sholom Ber did not attribute any credit to himself. He didn’t think, “You know who I am? I am the Mashamesh BaKodesh of the Rebbe.” This never entered his mind. He never thought of himself as anything. All he wanted was one thing: to serve the Rebbe and Rebbetzin as best as he could.

Perhaps Reb Sholom Ber represented the inner meaning of “v’eino machzik tova l’atzmo.” Not only did he not claim any credit vis-à-vis someone else, even “l’atzmo – for himself, in his own eyes, Reb Sholom Ber was a non-entity! He didn’t feel importance in his own self. He viewed himself as nothing other than to serve the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin.

Our sages say concerning a person who has departed, and Rashi brings it in his commentary, “Woe is to those who are gone and are no longer here.” At first glance, face value, the second half of the phrase seems redundant. If someone is gone, then he’s not here. Why the double expression?

Perhaps the explanation is that “not here” means there is no one else like them.

It can be said that Reb Sholom Ber took with him to eternity this unique quality of being an eved Avraham, a true servant, never thinking of himself, only thinking about what the master wants.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. As the Rebbe said to you “Vu ich vel zain vestu zain – Wherever I will be, you will be.”

On you it could be said, “Ma lehalon omeid umeshameish af kan omeid umeshameish (Sotah 13,b) – Just like there he did the service, here he does the service.”

Just as you served the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin “here,” you will serve the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin “there.”

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at [email protected].