Take a trip back in time, to a place of yesteryear. Come to Skvere, a hamlet that takes you back to bygone days, to the days of the shtetl, where life is lived on a different sphere. This past weekend, Parshas Beshalach – February 10, approximately 40 Lechu V’Nelcha girls from all over the tristate area and well beyond, including Denver, Boston and even Australia, had a most unique experience when they spent Shabbos with the wonderful people who make up the town called Skvere.
Friday afternoon, the girls arrived in New Square and were directed to the Community Room on Buchanan Lane. There they were greeted with toameha and beautiful welcome packages laden with treats and gifts, marking the start of a very memorable Shabbos indeed. They benefited from a shiur given by Mrs. Esther Baila Schwartz, who spoke beautifully about the importance of elevating each action with the intention of doing it l’shem shamayim. Doing any mitzvah with the proper thoughts automatically raises its value exponentially. The girls also took the opportunity in the hours before hadlakos neiros to visit the bais hakvaros and daven Mincha at the kvarim of the alter Skverer Rebbe and Rebbetzin, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kaplan, and other tzadikim and tzidkanios of note.
After hadlakas neiros, they visited with Mrs. Holtzer, who gave them the historical background to shikun Skvere, where she is a resident of note, being that hers was the first in-town shidduch! The girls then had the special zechus to meet with the Skverer Rebbetzin, and each of them had the opportunity for personal gut Shabbos wishes.
The first Shabbos seudah was replete with delicious food and lovely zemiros, including a LVN trademark, “Kah Echsof.” After all the participants had the chance to introduce themselves, Rebbetzin Fink expounded on the three strands of this auspicious Shabbos – Shabbos Shira, Parshas Beshalach and Tu B’Shvat, tying it all together in her uniquely remarkable way. After the seduah, Mrs. Dina Breiny Smith inspired her listeners as she described her father’s incredible emunah and bitachon in the face of his tremendous nisyonos.
Going to the tish was the perfect way to end an amazing evening. Watching the Skverer Rebbe truly live Shabbos, each move a calculated action intended to elevate Shabbos to an entirely different level, brought home the message that we can enhance our lives spiritually with our every action.
Shabbos morning, after davening and participating in 14 (!) aufrufen k”ah, the girls returned to the community center for the second seudah, with another delicious menu and a thought-provoking dvar torah offered by Esther Naomi Horowitz. The girls also enjoyed hearing from Rebbetzin Fink about the meaning behind the Kel Adon tefillah. The message she imparted about the gadlus of Hashem, of how Hashem takes personal care of each and every one of us, resonated with all her listeners. She stressed the responsibility we have of focusing on our internal growth, since the Borei Olam values internal, rather than external success. The highlight of the seudah was the Tu B’Shvat feast, where everyone made sure to taste 15 fruits, daven the 15 Shir Hamaalos, and use the power of the yom to daven to be zoche to their own peiros, im yirtze Hashem.
Another beautiful shiur was given by Mrs. Danziger, who discussed the value of doing mitzvos with simcha. She explained that the time of Mashiach is called ikvesah d’mashicha, which aptly describes our generation, where we unfortunately no longer fully utilize our minds or hearts when serving Hashem, but DO have the ability to use our feet, to really “walk the walk.”
Everyone then enjoyed a new twist on Broken Telephone, with the added bonus of getting to know one another, where each girl transmitted three pieces of information about themselves to their neighbor, with the final message being clues for the others to identify the girl being described. Then the classic Lechu V’Nelcha card game entertained one and all.
Following shalosh seudos, they headed to Tinkel Tish, where they had the chance to share a time of hisbodidus with the Rebbe and his devoted chassidim, who end Shabbos together each week on a truly high spiritual note. The darkened bais medrash is lit up at the close of Shabbos, a symbolic message of darkness in galus leading toward the glow of geulah, heartening and inspiring everyone who was lucky enough to be there.
After havdalah, the girls had a relaxing interlude, where they painted pottery and enjoyed the buffet-style melaveh malkah. But the climax of the Shabbaton was yet to come – the zechus to meet with the Skverer Rebbe himself. The Rebbe spoke to them warmly, encouraging them to be mechazek themselves specifically in the area of tznius in machshava. He then made a donation to LVN, and gave all the Shabbaton participants a bracha to be zoche to build their own bayis ne’eman.
One can’t discuss a Shabbos in Skvere without making special mention of the hostesses and the unbelievable way in which they extended themselves to ensure that their guests were as comfortable as possible. Whether it was the constant offer of delicacies to tempt the palate, the beautiful accommodations so graciously prepared, or the warmth and the ready smiles with which they did it all, everything about Skvere hachnosas orchim speaks volumes about their total dedication to the performance of the mitzvah.
A Shabbos such as the one experienced by the girls of LVN in Skvere is one that is overflowing with memories and inspiration, each one a treasure, sure to give the participants much motivation to keep striving, to keep endeavoring, to give nachas to Avinu Shebashamayim. And that is the trademark result of a Lechu V’Nelcha event!