|A story of the Rebbe #70 - The Marseillaise, Uforatzto and Vesamachta|
On Shemini Atzeres, 5734/1973, before the fourth hakafa, the Rebbe'stood on the edge of the bima and began to sing "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to the tune of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." That year, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah fell out on a Thursday and Friday, followed immediately by Shabbos Bereishis. Whenever this order fell out, there were two farbrengens. One was the regular farbrengen for Shabbos Bereishis and Shabbos Mevorchim. The other farbrengen took place an hour later, and it made up for the Simchas Torah farbrengen as that particular festival had fallen on Friday.
That particular Simchas Torah, after the farbrengen, kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv,the Rebbe began to sing "Vesamachta" on his way out of the shul. However, he did not sing it to the regular tune, but to the tune of "Uforatzto." Although there may have been some who thought this was simply a mistake, it was obviously intentional.
Sure enough, during the farbrengen on Shabbos Bereishis, the Rebbe'spoke about why he had sung "Vesamachta" to the tune of "Uforatzto" and "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to the tune of "La Marseillaise."
The Rebbe explained that on the one hand, although it was already after Maariv on Motzoei Simchas Torah, as that night was Shabbos, the idea of "Vesamachta" still applied. On the other hand, as it was actually the end of Simchas Torah, the idea of "And Yaakov went on his way" was also applicable. Since this relates more to "Uforatzto," the Rebbe decided to link these two concepts, which was why he sang the words of "Vesamachta" to the tune of "Uforatzto."
Similarly, regarding the Rebbe's rendition of "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to "La Marseillaise," this related to the concept of "Napoleon's March," when the Alter Rebbe took the theme of victory from the March.
It is also interesting to note that that year, the French President Georges Pompidou, who was known for his anti-Israel stance, died that year, which was also when the French national anthem was changed.
Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine