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Does anyone know the source of the custom of reflecting on the Rebbe's face during the krias shema al hamita Someone told me about this "minhag" is there a source for this one. what then should be the thoughts during reflection?

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  • Looking for a source for a practice and asking generally about thoughts during reflection are two separate questions. Please choose one for this post.
    – magicker72
    Jun 13, 2023 at 22:10
  • I have a vague recollection of learning once that it's good to picture a tzadik's face when falling asleep. Not Chabad-specific.
    – msh210
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:11

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There's a concept of remembering the Rebbe and connecting to him by picturing his face or looking at a picture of him. The Rebbe spoke about it with respect to his father-in-law and predecessor, the Rebbe Rayatz, and chassidim extrapolated to the Rebbe himself. I'm not aware of a custom to do it specifically during the bedtime Krias Shema, but it's reported that the Rebbe encouraged it as a daily practice, and he implies in a letter that it can help alleviate nighttime fears.

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  • There is nothing in Sefer HaMinhagim about such a practice in regard to the recital of Shema. The idea about picturing the face of the Rebbe, or any Rebbe pertains to the concept of Nasi (Nitzutz shel Yaacov Avinu) and that Yaacov Avinu didn't die. Picturing the face of the Nasi and vis-versa emphasizes the unbroken & uninterrupted love, connection & caring of the Nasi for every Jew. This is discussed in several ma'marim of the Rebbe in the first 2 years after the histalkut of the previous Rebbe. It can also be found in Likkutei Dibburim of the previous Rebbe when he pictured a chasid's face. Jun 14, 2023 at 17:26
  • The letter from the Rebbe that you link to emphasizes the same point, namely that after all the regular advice that the Rebbe gave to the individual with paranoid thoughts (check tefillin & mezuzot, say bedtime Shema with extra intention, learn Tanya & the Gate of Trust in Duties of the Heart, etc.), if after all that, if that individual is unable to relieve his worries & bad thoughts because he feels he is alone, he should look at the picture of the previous Rebbe (to remember that he is not alone and the previous Rebbe, like always, is with him to help him. Jun 14, 2023 at 17:32

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