The Year Between - A Story For 7 Teves
Excerpt from The Great Maggid by Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet:
The succession had to be resolved by itself to preserve the structure and propagation of Chassidism. The disciples thus appointed Rabbi Tzvi, the only son of the Baal Shem Tov, to succeed his father even while assigning certain organizational tasks unto different members of their group. This appointment was as much a temporary compromise as an act of piety and posthumous respect to the great master. Rabbi Tzvi was an interim leader only. His leadership was not a reign but a regency. In spite of his personal merits, Rabbi Tzvi was not the right man. He did not have the personality and qualifications required for that taxing office in those crucial times when the very life of the movement hung in the balance. Moreover, he could not possibly overlook the strict advice of his father who two years earlier cautioned him:
"For G-d's sake, Heaven forbid that you should occupy yourself with leadership; pursue but business and therein you shall thrive and succeed. Remember, just remember, how I told you already that ever since that bitter day in which I was revealed I have cried daily over my bitter lot. If I had not been pressed from Heaven..."
Rabbi Tzvi's term in office lasted for one year. For Shavuous 5521 (1761) the Baal Shem Tov's senior disciples gathered in Mezhibuz to observe together the first anniversary of their master's passing. On the second day of the festival Rabbi Tzvi sat as usual at the head of the table and delivered a Torah discourse. Immediately upon concluding he rose and said:
"Today my father appeared to me and informed me that the Shechinah and Heavenly Assembly that used to be with him have gone over this day to Rabbi Dov Ber; therefore my son, transfer to him the leadership in the presence of the Chevraya Kadisha (Holy Society). Let him sit in my place at the head of the table and you, my son, sit in his place."
Rabbi Tzvi then removed his white robe, the robe which had belonged to his father and symbolized the office of leadership, and he placed it upon the shoulders of Rabbi Dov Bear, while wishing him success in his new task.