Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The wedding of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin took place on the 14th day of Kislev, 5689 (1928). Their marriage was celebrated in Warsaw, Poland.

On the day preceding the wedding, thousands of Jews flocked to the railway station in Warsaw to welcome Chaya Mushka’s father, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the Rebbe Rayyatz, and his family. During that period, a multitude of chassidim hailing from all of Poland, Lithuania, Russia and other places arrived for the historic wedding.


Hundreds of miles away, in Dnepropetrovsk (Yekatrinaslav), Russia, another wedding celebration was taking place. The Rebbe’s parents, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and Rebbetzin Chana, unable to attend in person, organized a festive meal and farbrengen in their own house, to which hundreds of local Jews flocked.

On the 14th of Kislev, 5714, 25 years later, the Rebbe said: “This is the day that bound me to you, and you to me…”

Escaping the Nazi onslaught, in 1941, the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin boarded the Serpa Pinto and set sail from Lisbon, Portugal for the United States of America.

On the 28th of Sivan, 1941, they arrived safely on the shores of America.

It is well known that in 1950, upon the passing of the Rebbe Rayyatz, leadership of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement passed to the Rebbe. Less well known is the fact that despite the Rebbe’s initial adamant refusal to accept the mantle, it was his wife, the Rebbetzin, who, notwithstanding the great personal sacrifice on her part that this would entail, finally prevailed upon him to accept the position with all its public and private hardships. She was steadfast: It is simply unthinkable that her father’s 30 years of total self-sacrifice and accomplishment should, G-d-forbid, come to naught.

As a born princess, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka carried the mantle of her revered and exalted position in a most humble and unpretentious fashion. All her life she fulfilled the ideal of the Psalmist, “The entire honor of a king’s daughter is within.” When calling the Rebbe’s office at “770,” or calling a high school girl ill in her dormitory, she always referred to herself simply as: “Mrs. Schneerson from President Street.”

The Rebbetzin saw her role as one wholly devoted to the Rebbe. Even when the Rebbetzin relayed advice to those seeking the Rebbe’s guidance through her, she would repeat the words with precision, making sure that it was understood exactly as the Rebbe intended.

To put it simply: The Rebbetzin was the Rebbe’s first and greatest chassida.


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