סיון תש"ל - ר' זלמן יפה (אנגלית)

מתוך Yomanim

קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש

תוכן עניינים

Yechidus On Arrival

It was nearly 11:00 p.m. when we arrived at 770 on Monday night, Iyar 19, 5730 (May 25, 1970). I immediately went to see Rabbi Chodakov to ascertain the earliest possible moment when we could see the Rebbe.

“Well,” he said, “yechidus is on Thursday, and I will try to fit you in; but, if you wish to see the Rebbe sooner, then you can go in straight away. Rabbi Gutnick of Australia is now with the Rebbe; as soon as he leaves, you can enter the Rebbe’s presence.” Of course, if I accepted this offer for tonight I should not be allowed in again on Thursday; so, “Which day do you prefer?” What a question to ask!

Leaving Roselyn at the apartment (which the Rebbe had kindly loaned to us), together with our grandsons Yosef Yitzchok and Menachem Mendel Lew, I rushed to 770 and took my stand outside the Rebbe’s door. It was now midnight and, as Rabbi Gutnick had been with the Rebbe since 11:00 p.m., I expected to enter at any moment.

Suddenly the door opened. I was caught unaware as Rabbi Gutnick emerged. I looked at my watch, it was 2:00 a.m. I had been waiting for two hours.

It looked liked Rabbi Gutnick had some tough issues for the Rebbe, as the Rebbe looked very tired and perhaps even sad. Nevertheless, the Rebbe gave me a lovely smile of welcome. He remarked that I must be tired because, by my English time (which was five hours later), it was now 7:00 in the morning, and I had been up for twenty-four hours. I admitted that before I entered the Rebbe’s sanctum I was indeed tired, but now the Rebbe had certainly made me wide awake.

“How are your children and grandchildren and daughter-in-law? It is the first time I have seen her.” The Rebbe was referring to earlier this year, when my son Avrohom, and his wife Susan, and their children, visited the Rebbe. I wondered what the Rebbe meant, when he said it is the first time he had seen her, as she had been here before that.

“Yes,” replied the Rebbe, “but she was not your daughter-in-law then.”

I took this opportunity to tell the Rebbe that my daughter-in-law, Susan, wished to send special warm regards to our Rebbetzin and to say how impressed she was with her grace and charm, as she made Susan, Avrohom and the children so welcome at the time of their visit for Purim.

The Rebbe remarked that he had deliberately refrained from telling me to come on that Purim flight. “I took no chances, in case you would not come for your regular Shavuos visit.”

The Rebbe was very upset and perturbed when he heard that there were rabbonim leaving Manchester’s 35,000 Jews hefker (devoid) of adequate rabbinic leadership whilst they removed themselves to Israel for personal benefit. It is against the din, against the Shulchan Aruch, to leave a community without first seeking and obtaining a replacement. The Rebbe was surprised that a great posek, such as a leading Rabbi of Manchester at that time, should ignore the din because it suited him. The Rebbe was also offended at the nerve of another Rabbi, who requested that the Rebbe send a replacement from America to work for less money in a small community whilst he cleared off to Israel.

What can the Rebbe now answer people like our Lubavitcher shochtim in Manchester (who have begged the Rebbe to allow them to leave, but are being restrained because the Rebbe would not allow Manchester to be left without adequate kosher meat) when they see their so-called superiors leaving the town without compunction? I remarked that one of these rabbonim was over retiring age.

The Rebbe interjected “Rabbonim do not retire at any age. Moshe Rabeinu did not retire. It was a disgrace to give rabbonim five-year contracts.”

The Rebbe took great exception to people asking for a brocha for something that they had done or decided upon, without even first consulting the Rebbe regarding its legitimacy.

The Rebbe then requested me to provide a Rashi kashe (question) for the following Shabbos. I reminded the Rebbe that this year we came especially for Shabbos mevorchim, as the Rebbe himself had requested last year. So why should I have to work for an extra farbrengen, since on Shabbos mevorchim the Rebbe would hold a farbrengen in any case? Well, the Rebbe still persisted that he would like a Rashi question from me.

I was happy to inform the Rebbe that our mikvah in Manchester was very nearly ready. But I was not too pleased, as I only used the mikvah on special occasions. If we now have a beautiful mikvah on our own premises, it would not be right for me to pass by without using it. I would have to arise earlier in the morning and change my routine.

I delivered the message from Manchester Lubavitch that we wanted Rabbi Chaim Farro to assume the leadership of all Lubavitch activities in Manchester as soon as possible.

“But not before Yud Beis Tammuz”, said the Rebbe. “It would be cruel.”

The Rebbe went on to say that because an extra family was coming to Manchester did not mean that the rest of the workers could take it easier. Avrohom is still rov of the shul and is to carry on as hitherto. All must continue to work as hard, if not harder, than at present.

“Chaim Farro’s job is to see that everybody works HARDER!”

The Rebbe said he was pleased that __ had been helping at the Lag b’Omer parade. He hoped she would continue her efforts for Lubavitch, and that her daughters would support us, too.

The Rebbe was keen to hear about the progress we were making regarding printing the bilingual edition of the Tanya, containing the original Hebrew together with the English translation.

The Rebbe was obviously disappointed that four of our young friends in Manchester had still not arranged shidduchim yet.

We discussed business matters for a few minutes and the Rebbe had a jolly good laugh when I explained to him that Avrohom took off a whole day from business to arrange the Lag b’Omer parade.

In honor of this past Pesach, as was the usual practice before special days in the calendar, the Rebbe sent us a cable. The identical greeting would have been sent to all Lubavitcher communities around the world. At the end of the cable the Rebbe conveyed that there should be “niflous” (wonders). For some reason, the cable that arrived for Manchester said, “nifleee niflous” (which in Hebrew actually means “wonders of wonders”). I brought the cable with me to New York and I now showed it to the Rebbe.

The Rebbe laughed and said it was a brocha from the post office!

Last year I was told to bring Yossi with us to Brooklyn on this trip. I therefore reported that, “as requested, we have carried out the instructions and brought Yossi with us.”

“You mean Yosef Yitzchok,” said the Rebbe.

We also brought along Shmuel and Hindy and their other four children: Mendy (4), Yenta Chaya (3), Golda Rivka (1) and baby Pinchas.

By now it was 3:05; I had been with the Rebbe for an hour and five minutes. Before leaving, I presented the Rebbe with five bottles of mashke that the Rebbe could distribute at a farbrengen. The Rebbe wanted to know “at which one.”

I replied, “Any one. It is for the Rebbe to give to whomever he wishes.”

“Is it from Manchester?”

“No,” I replied, “from me. Surely the Rebbe can find some deserving person or cause to whom to give the mashke.”

The Rebbe admitted that he had stopped giving mashke at the farbrengen because it “got out of hand.”

I told the Rebbe that though I appreciate receiving from the Rebbe’s cake, the mashke lasted longer and was easier to distribute back in Manchester, as the cake became hard and stale after a week.

The Rebbe wanted to know if there was any special reason I had brought five bottles.

“Not really, but the U.S. Customs allows us to bring in five bottles free of duty.”

“What will I do with five bottles?”

“Take them home.”

“But I don’t like vodka,” answered the Rebbe.

Once again, the Rebbe then showed his humility by saying, “Mr. Jaffe, I thank you for coming to see me!” What a wonderful and unique Rebbe we have. That such a great man and Tzadik should actually thank me for coming to see him was so unheard of that it left me speechless. The Rebbe then actually offered to take me home in his car.

I believe that the Rebbe looked very much happier and more sprightly than when I entered an hour before. Rabbi Chodakov told me to wait a moment whilst he went in to see the Rebbe. He came out beaming and said, “You put the Rebbe in such a good mood!”

“Thank G-d for that,” I said to myself.

Incidentally, the following Thursday evening was the last official yechidus for two weeks (until after Shavuos). The Rebbe had over seventy yechidus appointments, ending at 5:00 in the morning.

Preparations for Yom Tov

That Shabbos, Iyar 24 (May 30), was Shabbos Mevorchim Sivan and Parshas Bechukosai. We commenced Tehillim at 8:30 and finished at 9:55 – one hour and twenty-five minutes, fantastic! The farbrengen started, as usual, at 1:30 on the dot and went on until 5:30.

One of the main themes of this farbrengen was the disturbing issue of “Who is a Jew?” In a particularly lengthy sicha, the Rebbe made reference to the recent development whereby the Israeli Government began to recognize so-called converts to Judaism: those who are not converted according to Jewish Law as taught by the Torah and by our Sages.

The Rebbe was in obvious pain, as he criticized the intention to form a “fifth column” comprised of gentiles. “If we want peace and less tzorrus (troubles) in the land,” said the Rebbe, “we first need to love our fellow Jew, and then we must unite in our opposition to this terrible development, and we must ensure to scratch this law from the Law Books.”

After this particularly strong and effective sicha, the Rebbe sat with his head sunk and bowed down, seemingly very dejected, not looking up at anyone at all. Meanwhile, my grandsons Yossi and Mendy Lew, were standing up straight and together, each holding a cup of wine and waiting to say l’chaim to the Rebbe. The Rebbe did not notice them. For very many minutes (which seemed like hours) they stood in dead silence, whilst everyone waited and wondered when the Rebbe would look up and shake off his seriousness.

It was already getting most embarrassing; so I stood up and in a very loud, clear voice said “L’chaim” to the Rebbe.

The Rebbe looked up and replied, “L’chaim v’livrocho.”

I then pointed to Yossi and Mendy still holding their glasses and standing so straight and upright. The Rebbe’s face became transfigured by a lovely smile as he replied to their brocha of l’chaim.

The Rebbe honored me by giving me a bottle of mashke to divide amongst those present.

A great many people told me that this was a definite highlight of the farbrengen. It made the Rebbe so happy after his display of such sadness. Someone told me that the Rebbe’s office ought to pay for my ticket to come once a month to make the Rebbe freilich! You do such a mitzvah, Mr. Jaffe; you make the Rebbe happy.

On another note, one Lubavitcher once asked Roselyn, “What mishpocha have you in Brooklyn, Mrs. Jaffe?”

Roselyn answered “The Rebbe!”

Women’s Convention

The following day, Sunday, was the annual convention of N’shei Chabad. 500 women were present. Roselyn and Hindy sat at the top table as honored guests from England. Rabbi Gutnick from Australia was the chief speaker, but there were many other speakers too. It took place at the Venetian Manor, Brooklyn, and commenced at 11:30 a.m. with brunch, greetings, reports, discussions, dinner, presentation, a film show and other entertainments that followed in quick succession.

All the ladies and girls were supposed to be at 770 to meet the Rebbe at 7:00 p.m. Why couldn’t our organizations be punctual for a change and take an example from the Rebbe? The Rebbe’s address to the women was due to be broadcast live to Australia, Canada, England, Europe, Israel, South Africa and all over the U.S. The whole world and our dear Rebbe had to wait for the women (mainly the organizers) nearly one-and-a-half hours. It was extremely rude. Following the sicha, there was still the usual “line of yechidus,” and our exhausted Rebbe did not leave for home until four in the morning! I considered it unfair to make the Rebbe wait so long. Their punctuality could have allowed the Rebbe to leave for home at two-thirty in the morning, instead of four. And, for people in England and Israel etc. who were waiting near their telephones from midnight until 1:30 a.m. for the Rebbe’s message, there was also the extra financial obligation this entailed.

I subsequently met delegates to this convention from Chicago and other cities, as well as from Brooklyn. One told me that she had not had yechidus for eight years. Another was going to settle in Israel and had tried for many months to see the Rebbe. A third woman had tried for three years. They were told to join the line and get a brocha from the Rebbe. I am really a very fortunate and lucky person to be able to see our Rebbe so often.

On Thursday, Iyar 29 (June 4), which was Erev Rosh Chodesh, the Rebbe went to the ohel to pray, say tehillim and plead for all Jews. The Rebbe fasts the whole day anytime he goes to the ohel, except for one drink before he leaves 770. (During the three weeks we were in Brooklyn, the Rebbe went to the ohel three times.)

It was 8:40 p.m. when the Rebbe returned, looking terribly tired, hot and really worn out. What the Rebbe does for us Jews! Shmuel, my son-in-law, has yahrtzeit this date, and davened mincha with the Rebbe’s minyan as the chazan.

For maariv, which was at 9:20, I was asked to daven before the omud. A chazan is supposed to be asked three times before he accepts. I took no chances and accepted straight away.

As the Rebbe was still fasting I davened extremely quickly. No one objected at all; but, instead of going straight home to eat something and perhaps rest a little after maariv, the Rebbe had yechidus with Chief Rabbi Dreyfus of Belgium!

Mikvah News

By trial and error I had now found a reasonably good mikvah in Crown Heights. The ‘Rebbele’ who owned the one I had used for the past few years had moved to the Borough Park neighborhood. I was told that the mikvah opposite 770 was now beautiful, clean and spotless and had constant hot water! The one I decided to patronize was quite good and I paid my subscription for the whole three weeks in advance. When I went on Friday, about two-thirty, I was the first one to use it. It was really lovely and clean but… NO WATER!

The Rebbetzin

Friday afternoon, Sivan 1 (June 5), at 3:00, was one of the highlights of our trip to Crown Heights, a visit to our charming and gracious Rebbetzin, the Rebbe’s wife, Chaya Mushka. It is something to which we always look forward and we always make certain that we are not one second late.

We were privileged and honored this year to be allowed to take with us Hindy, Shmuel and their five children. (Yossi and Mendy were very shy, Golda Rivka and Pinchas were good, but Yenta Chaya was terrific. She was singing niggunim for the Rebbetzin all the time). We had nice fruit juice, cream cake and so forth. After half an hour, Hindy and Shmuel left with the children. We stayed for two hours altogether.

We had a very good, enjoyable and happy afternoon, laughing and joking and occasionally being serious, too.

The Rebbetzin talked about Susan and Avrohom, who had visited her last Purim. She had “watched Susan waiting for Avrohom outside 770 for hours!” She adored their “lovely children.” We informed the Rebbetzin how impressed Susan had been with the friendliness and courtesy of the Rebbetzin, and how much “at home” one was made to feel.

We told her that we were thinking of attending the dinner on the occasion of the opening of the new Lubavitcher yeshiva. The Rebbetzin insisted that we go and that we come back the following Sunday and report to her what happened.

On Sunday, Sivan 3 (June 7), at three, we had the delightful pleasure of visiting with our beloved Rebbetzin again. We went alone this time; so we had tea instead of fruit juice.

We all agreed that it was a pity that the yeshiva boys and the men did not take an example from the Rebbe in cleanliness, tidiness, punctuality and doing everything with a “seder,” (orderly manner). Also, the Rebbe was the perfect gentleman. He still greeted Roselyn with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” and touched his hat whenever he met her in the street. We had a jolly good time for two and a quarter hours and the Rebbetzin asked us to come again next year, please G-d.

Here is an abridged version of the report I gave, and at which the Rebbetzin laughed uproariously!

We received the official invitation to the yeshiva dedication dinner. The following names were on the invitation: Rabbi S. Gurary, Chairman; then the Dinner Chairman, followed by twelve Honorary (or Honorable?) Chairmen, eight Co-Chairmen, fifty-nine Vice-Chairmen, one Toastmaster and forty-five Committee Men. In addition, there was a guest of honor and a guest speaker. A total of 129 men. If they all came with their wives, we were certain of at least 258 people at the dinner. A good nucleus. The building was supposed to have cost $3,000,000 (without the land). It had three floors, and every available space was being used (not as in Manchester and London). The building had already been in use for nine months (and looked it) and an opening dinner had already been held a few weeks previously. Today was the dedication dinner and in a few weeks time was to be the grand opening, which Governor Rockefeller was due to attend. We walked around the premises: fifteen dormitories on the top floor with four beds in each, for sixty students. Everything else was nice and modern.

After the inspection, we partook of the reception before the dinner. It was marvelous, wonderful, plenty to eat and drink, hot and cold meats and fish, desserts, and so forth. I did not want to eat too much as it would spoil my appetite for the dinner. If the reception was so elaborate, one could imagine what the dinner would be like!

We then sat down to dinner. 450 people were present. My mechutonim, Mr. and Mrs. David Lew, were also there. My wife and Mrs. Lew did not sit with us. They were at a women’s only table very far from us. David Lew and I were given seats at a very nice table, near the top, but we sat with other women and their husbands. Rather peculiar, to say the least.

Two nice jolly gentlemen approached me and asked me how I was and wished me well. I was taken aback! This was the first time I had met such friendliness from total strangers in New York in all the years I have been coming. I learnt afterwards that they were politicians and wanted me to vote for them. Then the Chief of Police arrived, a huge tough guy, a six-footer and broad-chested. (I thought to myself that I would not like to meet him in the dark). I suddenly realized that it was my old friend, Rabbi Gutnick, dressed up in his Australian army chaplain blue uniform.

Dinner was called for 6:30 and, when the Chairman introduced himself at 6:45, I remarked that it was very good timekeeping for Lubavitch. Unfortunately, we had a very long wait in prospect before we tasted food. It seemed from past experience that when dinner was served first, NO ONE stayed for the speeches or for the appeal. So we were to have the speeches first. At this function half of the people, knowing of the new arrangements, arrived two hours later, still missed the speeches and came in time for the dinner.

At only six tables plus the top one (out of forty-two tables), were the men and women seated separately. Bernard Deutch, the Dinner Chairman, dressed in a very light blue dinner suit with a vivid royal blue frilled shirt and a similar colored tie, spoke for twelve minutes. He introduced the Chairman, Rabbi Gurary, who introduced the guest of honor, who introduced the guest speaker - anyway, we will come to that later.

The Rebbe’s message was read by the Rashag, who added his own commentary for fifteen minutes. Mr. Gruss, the guest of honor, who had presented the land as a gift, and also furnished the kitchens, dining hall, science lab. etc., spoke for ten minutes.

Rabbi Lockstein, the guest speaker, addressed us for forty-five minutes. A little fellow and a wonderful speaker, with slow delivery like an actor, he would do well on stage. He was president of Bar Ilan University in Israel. He said Lubavitch attracts the youthful intellectuals as well as all types of people. Holding the microphone, which he barely topped, turning from left to right and then back again, he said, slowly, and through grated teeth:

I - offered - a - professor - aged 32 - a job - in - Bar Ilan. What - did - he - reply, - this - young - man? ——- very long pause. He - must ask the Rebbe! I met a hippy - in Israel - who had been round the world - looking - seeking - searching - frustrated - who was going back home - to study gemora. Why? - the Rebbe had told him so! Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the masses.” Michelangelo was a sculptor and a painter. He made a picture of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. We hold - the Ten Commandments – (a great pause and then shriek) —— IN - OUR - HEARTS!! And we gave the Torah to the world!! In the sedra it says, “Va’yehee” (it was) when Moses finished the Mishkan, and “Va’yehee” always prefaces something bad. What can be bad about “finished the Mishkan?” There are various Midrashic explanations. But, [he says] it is bad because we are then left with the large mortgage to pay off! Once, the baalei battim used to have their own bench or seat, their own “bank” in the shul. [In Yiddish, a bench is called ‘bank’]. Today, we have the shul… in the Bank.”

Rabbi Weinberg then made the Appeal. Four people gave a total of $65,000. The grand total from forty people was $100,000. We were offered the opportunity to be made a Torah Ambassador for $10,000; no customers! A Life Time Governor for $5,000, no clients!

At last, at eight-thirty dinner was served. And what an anti-climax this was. Excluding fruit hors d’oeuvres, there were three courses; soup, meat and sweet. There was no choice of anything. Take it or leave it! In fact, the sweet course on our table was left out entirely.

Then we started a new theme. Presentations of plaques to guest of honor, guest speaker, guest this-and-that and so forth. Eight altogether.

At ten it was decided to bentch. The bentching was offered to a dozen rabbonim, who all refused as they had not washed for bread (had they eaten?). Then they even asked me but I wouldn’t accept. At last, someone volunteered. We heard him say the words introducing the bentching, “Rabboysie mir vellen bentchen, etc.” and then he had a relapse.

While he was presumably bentching, everything was so quiet that one Rabbi announced that whilst those people were bentching he would carry on with more speeches. Ridiculous! Incidentally, this Rabbi is prone to exaggeration. He introduced Rabbi Gutnick as the Chief Rabbi of Australia (Rabbi Gutnick denied this in his speech). He referred to Maurice, my brother in Israel, as Colonel Jaffe and, of course, I am Rabbi Jaffe. I have s’micha from 500 boys at 770 but not from one rov!

The next day I went as usual to Rabbi Dvorkin’s shiur but found no one there. They had all gone to a wedding. I met Rabbi Gutnick in the office. He said, “You look like a cheerful soul.”

I replied, “Wouldn’t you be, too, if your Rabbi had gone to a wedding and there was no shiur?”

Shabbos Bamidbar Farbrengen

Shabbos parshas Bamidbar, Sivan 2 (June 6), I had an aliyah in the Rebbe’s shul thank G-d. At 1:30 the Rebbe held a farbrengen that went on until six.

During the second niggun, the Rebbe got so excited he jumped up to dance and waved his arms, conducting the tempo. When the Rebbe stands, all stand. Everybody standing, singing and jumping and the tempo getting faster and faster. It was impossible to keep up. Yet the Rebbe is egging me on, faster and faster.

During the course of this farbrengen, I had already said l’chaim to the Rebbe three or four times, yet, the Rebbe leaned over the head table and said, “Say l’chaim” and added, “Du bahalst zich unter dem tish!” (you are hiding under the table).

Again a sicha on “Who is a Jew?” The Rebbe said:

When it came to the test, no Jew would give up his heritage. As we find in the Prophets about the wicked Jewish king Achav, who had all the Jewish prophets murdered; but when approached by a gentile, the king of Aram, who wanted to buy his sefer Torah, he refused. Ultimately he went to war over that, a war he thought he would certainly lose, but on no account would he give up his sefer Torah.

The problem is with those who want to register goyim as Jews. The goy may not mind being registered as a Jew for now but sooner than later, he too will regret it.

Some have suggested that we need the goyim to live in Israel in border towns, on vast stretches of land that are empty now. We don’t need non-Jews to fill up empty parts of our land. Jews don’t need to rely on any other nations; we have everything that we need.

In fact, there is a tribe of non-Jews in Israel called Druzim, (Some are descendants of Yishmael (Moslems) and some are Christians.) They live right on the borders where it is most dangerous, fighting for Israel. They have been doing this for twenty-two years and many of them have thus been killed.

Dining and Singing

Shavuos was now approaching and, once again, I had the zechus of being invited to partake of Yom Tov meals with the Rebbe.

The seating arrangements and the food were similar to the past few years. The routine was the same too. But this year I had a good helpmate in my endeavors to make the Rebbe freilich. Rabbi Gutnick took my advice, followed my lead and a good time was had by all.

I remarked that Her Majesty the Queen was well represented, from Canada, from Great Britain and by Rabbi Gutnick who was a chaplain in Her Majesty’s forces in Australia. The Rebbe said that Rabbi Gutnick had an even higher title - a Kohen. Rabbi Gutnick told me after Yom Tov that it was the most enjoyable and memorable Shavuos he had ever spent.

Another interesting guest was Rabbi Laizer Nanness. He has been residing at Shikun Chabad in Jerusalem for the past four years, after spending twenty years in Russian jails, mostly in Siberia. He was sentenced to death for teaching yiddishkeit. This sentence was then reduced to ten years’ imprisonment. After serving this sentence in full (only a thief receives remission for “good conduct”), his sentence was extended for another ten years. After these twenty years of hard labor, which killed most of the prisoners, he was released. He then waited ten years for permission to travel to Israel. All this time, for thirty years, he had tasted neither meat nor poultry. (Incidentally, on the Rebbe’s directives, when he traveled back from New York to Israel, he visited us in Manchester for one day, )

At the outset of the first meal - the first night of Yom Tov - and recalling that the previous year I had earned good commission from the Rebbe for suggesting that we should continue to sing “ho’aderes veho’emuna” at 770during davening, just as all Lubavitcher branches all over the world were still doing on Yom Tov, I declared to the Rebbe that I would like to discuss some business matter.

The Rebbe agreed to hear my proposition, but said I must not talk in English but in Yiddish, for many of the dozen or so guests could not understand English.

I asked why do we not sing “hu elokeinu” here at 770 during davening. The Rebbe said that he had not seen this song being sung at the previous Rebbe’s shul.

So, I asked “Did they sing it in Lubavitch?”

The Rebbe pointed to another rabbi who had been in Lubavitch. He said that they had not sung it in Lubavitch.

I offered, “That was Lubavitch of yesteryear, but today we live in a moderna velt (modern world) where we need happy niggunim. Anyway, the entire world learnt to sing that song from here, like in Manchester and Israel, but here they don’t sing it?”

The Rebbe confided that even though he had not heard “ein k’elokeinu” being sung in his father-in-law’s shul, “When I was in Berlin the first time, I did hear this song.”

Of course that was a misunderstanding, as I had not been asking about “ein k’elokeinu,” but “hu elokeinu!”

“Still,” I added, “I have been here now for two weeks and have not heard them singing hu elokeinu!”

The Rebbe said, “That is your fault.”

“I am only a soldier,” I protested.

“If so,” I am ‘commanding’ you to sing it,” said the Rebbe.

I figured I would also put in a word for singing “kalie atoh” during davening, so I said, “In Manchester we sing “kalie atoh” at the end of Hallel.”

The Rebbe mentioned, “It is a song of the Alter Rebbe.”

“So why is it not sung here?” I asked.

“Tomorrow, we should sing this song too,” said the Rebbe. “And those who are here now, if they will be there tomorrow, should help you.” So it was settled and I was to be allowed to commence singing during davening tomorrow.

I did very well, I must admit. In the event, I started the first tune on Shavuos morning. I felt like Nachshon ben Aminodov who was the first to jump into the Red Sea before it split. The congregation hesitated quite a while before they joined in. Later, one fellow severely reprimanded me for singing in shul without the Rebbe giving the signal. I explained that the Rebbe had already given me permission previously, and I certainly would not do anything against protocol. He apologized profusely.

During the meal of the first day, I thanked the Rebbe “for helping me with the niggunim, but it was difficult.”

The Rebbe commented that it would be much easier on the following day and indeed it was.

The trouble was that I was then inundated with requests to sing various other niggunim. Obviously, I had to decline. One cannot, or should not, overdo a good thing. I was quite satisfied with what was achieved. I still continue the custom of starting to sing a niggun when the Rebbe leaves the shul, so the Rebbe is sung out; but, instead of helping me by joining in and being freilich, I get blank stares and a few smiles of approval and even disapproval. Fortunately, my old friend, Rabbi Shemtov, and my new friend, Zvi Fisher, had pity on me, and we danced and sang together for the Rebbe.

Well, to revert back to meals with the Rebbe. Every meal was freilich. I sang many niggunim and told a few good jokes. I had just concluded what I thought was a good joke, when the Rebbe remarked that he did not like the joke at all, as I had related something detrimental about the Jewish people. Therefore, I must immediately express something good about Jewish people, now and at once. This I did, and the Rebbe raised his glass and wished me l’chaim. At a subsequent farbrengen I thought of something very good to say about Jews. This time the Rebbe made me say l’chaim in a very loud voice.

At the first meal I was given the honor of bentching, which I very much appreciated, and I hope, the other guests did too.

At one point during the meal on the first day of Yom Tov, the Rebbe said to me, “You have to sing a niggun.”

I proposed, “Bli neder tonight I will sing two niggunim.”

“Sing now at least a halbeh niggun,” (half a niggun) said the Rebbe.

So off we went with another song.

When we finished singing, the Rebbe said to me, “And now say a complete l’chaim.”

I then asked the Rebbe a question on Rashi. The Rebbe always stresses that Rashi wrote his commentary so even a five-year-old can understand. I have yet to find a five-year-old who could answer this question:

G-d commands the kohanim: “So shall you bless the children of Israel ‘omor lohem’ (say to them).” [Bamidbar 6:23] In Rashi’s commentary of this verse, he gives three explanations to the words of ‘omor lohem’. But, instead of including all three explanations in one entry under a shared heading, as Rashi usually does when having more than one interpretation, there is a separate heading for each of the three explanations.

The Rebbe promised to discuss this question at the next farbrengen on Shabbos.

At the last Yom Tov meal, I told the Rebbe that Rabbi Gutnick wanted to give me an answer on the Rashi; but I did not want to hear it because I prefer to hear the Rebbe’s answer.

The Rebbe said, “It is not a contradiction. Especially as Rabbi Gutnick is himself a kohen”. Rabbi Gutnick gave an answer, but it seems that the Rebbe had something else in mind.

This last meal on Shavuos had a very happy atmosphere.

We sang the words from the final verses in the Rebbe’s perek of Tehillim (Psalms 69:36-37) to the tune of “Dayenu.” The Rebbe had been quoting these verses at every farbrengen this year, “kee Elokim yoshiya tzion” (For G-d will save Zion, etc.)

The Rebbe was exceptionally pleased with this new song and, his face beaming, asked whose inspired idea this was. Someone explained that some of the yeshiva boys had hit on this brilliant idea.

The Rebbe said, “They are very appropriate words.”

Rabbi Gutnick said that since the tune was from “Dayenu” which means “enough”, I am asking of the Rebbe at this auspicious time that it should be dayenu to all tzorrus!

The Rebbe answered, “Amen, kein yehi rotzon.” (So should be the will.)

In due course, this niggun became “top of the pops.”

By the way, we always saw that the Rebbe takes a lot of salt with his food. Once, someone asked him why he uses so much salt. The Rebbe replied, “Ess is gishmack.” (It is enjoyable.)

I am very sorry to hear that the Rebbe has now discontinued joining his chassidim at Yom Tov meals.

The Rebbe wrote to me about this some months later, in a letter dated the 3rd of Nissan, 5731 (March 29, 1971):

...in line with various changes which took place lately... there does not appear a likelihood for joint seudos on Yom Tov, at which I could join you and other Chassidim...

I hope I am not to blame for this cessation. Maybe the Rebbe noticed that I did not eat too much at that last meal. Instead of the usual gefilte fish I was served a fish head - the first time in my life that I had this “delicacy” on my plate. The fish continued to stare at me with cold but appealing eyes. I did not have the heart or the courage to disturb it. The next course was the soup. It seems that by the time I really got started on my plate of soup the Rebbe had finished, so that was that! Normally, the Rebbe was very particular to see that everyone had finished the course before he put down his spoon or fork. I was unlucky this time. Then the meat arrived. Everyone had meat except me! I once caused a great commotion by asking the boys to exchange that day’s meat choice, beef tongue (which I do not like), for chicken. Maybe they think I only eat chicken. So, for the fourth consecutive meal, I had to eat chicken and look as if I was enjoying it

Shabbos Nosso Farbrengen

Our last Shabbos at 770 this year, the Shabbos after Shavuos, was Parshas Nosso, Sivan 9 (June 13). Again, we had the zechus of a farbrengen with the Rebbe, from 1:30 prompt until five, thus keeping up my reputation of there being a farbrengen on almost every Shabbos I am present at 770.

It was extremely freilich. At one point, even though I had already wished the Rebbe l’chaim twice, the Rebbe stated that I was not yotze (had not fulfilled my obligation) with the l’chaims of my grandsons.

Then the Rebbe started with the “question” on Rashi which I had presented to the Rebbe at the meal.

20 Questions - One Rashi

Actually – and typically of the Rebbe – I had asked but one question on this posuk, but the Rebbe had many more questions on that same Rashi.

The Rebbe began by saying that one question had been asked on a Rashi, “But when the Rashi is learnt as a five-year-old should learn it, we will see how many questions there are.”

The Rebbe started on the questions. When the Rebbe got to question number eight on this same posuk, he stopped to ask me, “How many questions is that?” I answered correctly. At eleven, again, “how many?”

At fourteen, I answered, “fourteen,” but somebody else shouted, “fifteen.”

The Rebbe said, “We will have an auction, does anybody say sixteen?” (My answer was correct.)

And so the Rebbe kept on asking more questions on the same posuk until he had asked twenty unique questions on that one Rashi! Then the Rebbe started on ONE approach to the Rashi, which answered all twenty questions – brilliant! One of the twenty questions on this Rashi:

Why was omor “lohem” (say to them - the Kohen to the people) in the plural, whilst yevorechacho (you shall bless - the Kohen shall bless one Jew) in the singular? The answer the Rebbe gave was that the kohen had to concentrate with great kavono to feel that he was blessing each one individually and collectively.

(I later told the Rebbe that this was no chiddush (nothing new) as the Rebbe had told me many years ago that he spoke to everyone individually at a farbrengen. This remark pleased the Rebbe.)

The Rebbe then spoke very strongly once more on the theme of “Who is a Jew?” He mentioned a Reform Rabbi who made conversions which consisted only of a certificate. This piece of paper, which was given to the applicant straight away without any formal instruction, stated that this man was now a Jew. Even a bris was not required, or indeed performed, as this Reform leader did not believe in shedding blood, and he had pity on this poor fellow. So this man’s children or grandchildren would in time,

G-d forbid, be able to marry one of your children or grandchildren while they were not even Jewish. We must also consider them and the future.

During the farbrengen, the Rebbe handed me a bottle of vodka. “A little for now, a little for the plane, and the rest for Manchester.” Shmuel also received a bottle to “give to students.”

We did very well indeed.

In the Rebbe’s Presence

I found a Tehillim in 770 which, on the front piece, was inscribed, “The gematria of Beis Moshiach is 770.” I showed it to the Rebbe who laughed heartily.

One Shabbos, Yossi (6) and Mendy (4 ½) were standing at the doorway of 770 when the Rebbe arrived. He said “Good Shabbos” to Mendy, who gave the Rebbe his hand to shake whilst answering “Good Shabbos.” The Rebbe also shook hands with Yossi. A large argument and debate ensued on whether the Rebbe had given his hand first or if the boys were rude and had stuck out their hands. Was it correct or was it wrong, and so on. Well, the following day we had just returned to 770; we were all standing at the doorway of 770 when the Rebbe happened to be coming along. The Rebbe touched his hat, smiled at Roselyn and me, and firmly and smartly shook hands with Mendy and Yossi. (Near the end of Chapter Eight, I have included a unique picture of the Rebbe shaking my grandson Yossi Lew’s hand two years ago.)

One afternoon we took Yossi and Mendy with us to Utica Avenue. I went to a bank to cash a traveler’s check. What a performance! I thought I was going to be arrested! The bank manager said that he had never seen an English traveler’s check and I should go to Wall Street. I told him a few home truths: that even in the most primitive parts of India, I have been able to cash English banker’s checks; but here in New York, the so-called center of commercial civilization, when every hour or less we could hear on the radio the temperature, humidity and degree of air pollution, we were taken for forgers and thieves! When he explained the troubles he faced in Brooklyn with gangsters, with racial problems and slum conditions (even in the better areas, rubbish lined the streets every day of the week), I had to sympathize with him - as long as he gave me the money.

It was getting late for mincha. I didn’t want to miss the Rebbe’s mincha at 770, but my foot was giving me trouble. So we all dashed down into the subway and caught a train, just in time! It was the express train. (In New York, the slow, or “local,” trains, stop at every station but the “express” trains skip some stations.) Unfortunately, this train went flying right past Kingston Avenue - the whole station vibrating and the train screeching - to the great delight and amusement of Yossi and Mendy.

Ultimately it stopped at Franklin Avenue, the third station, and we had to wait twenty minutes for a train back. We were late for mincha!

On the subject of trains in New York, one day Berel Futerfas invited me to accompany him to see a client somewhere near Jamaica, in Queens, New York. His friend promised to take us by car, but then let us down.

We arrived at station “P”, and it was like a country village. Quiet, silent and dead. Even the station booking office was closed. No one was about anywhere. The town was miles away. Mind you, it was a glorious summer day.

Ah, civilization, a telephone! And just for us, a card advertising a taxi service stuck on the wall. We phoned the number and were told that there was no taxi at this moment, but we should be getting one in twenty minutes. After half an hour we phoned again, and were assured that within ten minutes he would be there, we should wait. Wait? Nebach, where could we go?

Within half an hour the taxi arrived. The driver was very indignant that we called him, and where did we get his name? We explained about the card. He told us that he’d come from miles away and it would cost us double the ordinary taxi fare. Now we were mad!

When we returned to the station we boarded a lovely train back to Brooklyn, all air-conditioning and modern. Berel and I were traveling very nicely and relaxed, except when the conductor would be shrieking “blarty, blarty, blah.” I remarked to Berel that one could never understand a word these people said. Pity, because we should have changed for Brooklyn at the next stop, instead of which we arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan!

Kinus HaTorah

Here is an abridged version of my address at this year’s kinus haTorah:

First of all, a thank you to Rabbi Mentelik, and also a couple of topical jokes.

The Rebbe’s theme over the past months has been, “Who is a Jew?” The goyim, l’havdil, here in New York, have realized the dangers of pollution in the air, atmosphere and water, and were taking immediate steps to safeguard the health of the nation. In Israel, they are trying to pollute the whole spiritual existence of the Jewish nation – deliberate pollution – by injecting goyim into our midst.

Thank G-d we have a leader who realizes these dangers to klal Yisroel. The peculiar reaction of some Jews is that the Rebbe has no right to interfere.

They forget that the greatest Jew who ever lived was Moshe Rabeinu, our teacher. He, under the guidance and instruction of the Almighty, took the Jews out of golus in Egypt, away from the cruelty and slavery, and made them into one - a united - nation. He taught them laws - the Torah - and made them into the world’s first decent and civilized nation on earth. He led them until they reached Israel. Even though he could not personally enter into Israel with them, he left the Jewish people with further instructions on how to conquer and divide the land amongst themselves. But, unfortunately, he never entered or lived in Eretz Yisroel.

Can anyone imagine Yehoshua telling the Jewish people that they did not intend to be influenced by Moshe because he never actually lived in Eretz Yisroel? That they were going to keep the second day of the week as the Day of Rest instead of the seventh, as directed by the Almighty through Moshe? Every generation has a tzadik, and today we have our Rebbe, who receives Divine inspiration and guidance on urgent problems affecting us all.

I told the yeshiva boys that they were living so near the mountain they could not visualize the impressive greatness and inspiring dominance of this great mountain unless they are many miles away from it. The same applies with the Rebbe. We, in England, Australia, Israel and all over the world, can see full well and realize the greatness of our Rebbe much more easily than you living next to and near our great leader.

Could anyone have visualized fifty, or even twenty, years ago that our Lubavitcher Rebbe would be celebrating a Purim farbrengen with 3,000 chassidim in Brooklyn, whilst thousands of chassidim in almost every continent of the world would be listening to the Rebbe’s words at the same identical moment? Do they appreciate what the Rebbe is doing for them and for all the Jews with mesiras nefesh? The Rebbe never leaves his office, works almost twenty-four hours a day, takes no holidays or vacation. Erev Yom Tov the Rebbe is kept busy with farbrengens. This Shavuos season alone, there were fourteen hours of Torah! This all must need terrific preparation. Where could anyone find today, or at any time, such a brilliant brain and scholarship in one man who cannot only find twenty questions to ask on a couple of words of Rashi, but can also find and give the answers too?

The Rebbe told me to speak only good about Jews! So I cannot tell you how badly most of you behave by going about with glum and miserable faces. When you have a chance to help me by singing for the Rebbe’s enjoyment and pleasure, you just turn the other way and grumble and mumble. All of you seem obsessed with your own secret sorrow. Where are all the happy faces and smiles we used to see here years ago?

Most of these happy faces belonged to students here, just like you, who are now doing the Rebbe’s work, and doing it well in many different countries over the world and going from strength to strength. The Rebbe does not need thanks, but everybody wants a little appreciation.

I will conclude as last year. Please G-d, don’t make me a tzorrus chossid. Give me the merit and opportunity to write good news to the Rebbe every week or so. You do the same with a happy heart and manner and so put our beloved Rebbe into a happier and more joyful frame of mind.

I was gratified to receive a tremendous amount of applause and acclamation. Rabbi Mentelik said, “Zayer gut (very good), Mr. Jaffe. You have given a big chizuk to the bochurim.”

Rabbi Chodakov said he heard laughing during my speech, and another older Rabbi said he didn’t understand a word but, “Alle hoben gelacht hob ich aich gelacht! (Everyone laughed, so I too laughed.)”

Unusual time for Yechidus

Monday night, Sivan 11 (June 15), the climax of our visit had arrived. At 9:40, Roselyn and I entered the Rebbe’s room for yechidus.

Initially, our yechidus with the Rebbe was to be on Sunday, Sivan 10 (June 14). However, there were so many people coming to see the Rebbe this time that the following night, Monday, was also declared a yechidus night! This was extremely unusual, two consecutive nights! I had never heard of such a thing.

Shmuel, Hindy and the children went in on the first night. The Rebbe gave siddurim to Yossi, Mendy and Yenta Chaya. They were with the Rebbe for four minutes. Moshe Stuart (four minutes) and then Naftali Cohen, excited, worried and nail-biting - his first yechidus ever - four minutes. Results: fantastic, marvelous and unbelievable!

So we had our yechidus on Monday evening. Roselyn and I had very rarely been lucky to enter so early. Four or six in the morning, yes, but before 10:00!

Actually, some people were delayed so we took their turn. We received a splendid greeting from the Rebbe, who remarked with a twinkle in his eye that we had come well prepared with pads and pens. I replied that we had come thousands of miles for this interview and every word of the Rebbe was so important that we could not afford to miss anything.

“Are you needing to write 1,000 lines or 100 lines?” asked the Rebbe.

“No,” I replied, “but why should I take any chances?”

I relayed to the Rebbe what I had spoken about at the kinus haTorah. The Rebbe was very pleased, but said I should tell that bit about Moshe Rabeinu only to those who come from Lubavitch. (The report of my address to the kinus haTorah appears earlier.)

The Rebbe requested that I keep writing to him every two weeks as hitherto. Since we were leaving from 770 for home the next night at 9:30, I asked whether we would miss maariv.

The Rebbe told us that he would be visiting the ohel again, so mincha would be at 8:30 and maariv ten minutes earlier than usual. “My wife will be delighted to see me ten minutes earlier,” added the Rebbe.

The Rebbe mentioned that he had not answered every one of the twenty Rashi questions. He would give these later on. The Rebbe advised us to come next year again for Shabbos mevorchim, “because you are always wanting a farbrengen.”

I told the Rebbe that “A chossid must have no pity on his Rebbe, and not give in, if it concerns Torah.” I pointed out that the Rebbe had spoken for fourteen hours over the Shavuos period, “That is a great deal of Torah.”

“Ah,” said the Rebbe, “You say that after the event, not before.”

I admitted that I could not understand everything at a farbrengen.

“Yes,” said the Rebbe, “They are not words one uses every day in business.”

(This reminded me of the time I told the Rebbe that in the English translation of his Pesach - or other - messages, some English words were so difficult to understand that one needed a dictionary handy. The Rebbe said that, “The purpose of my letters is not for the study of English.”)

We then discussed the apartment where we were staying, which was on the top floor of the Kollel building.

During Shavuos it was like Grand Central Station. Yeshiva boys from all over the US arriving at all hours of the night, sleeping here, there, everywhere, even on the floor. In spite of “PRIVATE” notices all over our place, one boy actually tried to come into our own bedroom; he wanted to sleep in “his” usual room.

Even normally, some boys would be learning in a lovely, but loud, clear voice until 4:30 in the morning, when the next shift would arrive and give us, at least, the feeling of safety and security. Otherwise, we might have been afraid of strange passers-by. Now and then we seemed to have a number of chazonim and choirs practicing their whole repertoire from 3:30 until 5:00.

The Rebbe said that next year the apartment would be better.

As my landlord had again refused the rent, I offered the Rebbe this money as bikurim, an unexpected windfall of profit.

“Who is your landlord?” asked the Rebbe.

“A very nice and exceptional gentleman, who likes to remain anonymous,” I answered.

The Rebbe said he had received a nasty letter from Israel, “some of my best friends are Lubavitchers,” complaining about the money wasted by teleconferencing the Rebbe’s farbrengens to Kfar Chabad. It would be better to buy Phantom jets!

I told the Rebbe that I thought that person had a chutzpa to write that to the Rebbe! Besides which, it probably only costs a few pennies for each person who enjoys the farbrengens in Kfar Chabad. And in any case, our victories come about, lo bechayil v’lo b’koach, ki im beruchi omar Hashem! (Not by might nor with power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts -Zechariah 4:6) I said that the farbrengens were received exceedingly well in London (in Manchester, too, now) except that the Rebbe was not there in person and also that it was an awkward time, 2 a.m. until 9 a.m.; otherwise it was very nice indeed, with comfortable chairs and tables, refreshments, no crush, etc.

“Shah”! said the Rebbe. “Don’t tell anyone here; they will all want to go to London for the farbrengen! Still”, the Rebbe added, “it is a pity I keep everybody up all over the world.”

The Rebbe said he was very pleased with my grandsons, Yossi and Mendy Lew, who had attended every service at 770. I remarked that, while here, a great impression had been made on them that will last them all their lives.

“No, no,” said the Rebbe. “They will come plenty of more times.”

The Rebbe said that I should herewith continue to write my diary next year, but not about Moshe Rabeinu at the kinus haTorah. And, next year at the kinus HaTorah, I should also speak in Yiddish.

“Oh, no, I cannot. Let us say half-and-half.”

“Okay,” said the Rebbe, “but the year after that, all Yiddish.”

The Rebbe informed me that there were a few letters hanging about his office for me. “Never mind now,” I said. “I do not need the answers right now.”

“But,” interjected the Rebbe, “you won’t object to receiving the letters?”

I told the Rebbe that Rabbi Chaim Farro was complaining that he had a headache, but I had told him not to worry because we will give him a bigger one when he comes to Manchester.

The Rebbe stated that the Shavuos trip must go on. If the Purim flight interferes, then cancel the Purim flight.

After a stay of one hour and ten minutes, we left the Rebbe’s presence.

One friend from England, Hershel Peckar, went into yechidus after we left. He came out flushed and excited. The Rebbe had given him $100 to buy his wife (whom he had left at home in London) a gift!

Taking Leave

It was now time to leave for home. The bus arrived at 770, but the Rebbe’s car was parked outside. The Rebbe had been to the ohel and the car would be required to take him home. The bus, therefore, parked further up the street.

I was again given the honor of davening maariv at the omud. Again very quickly, as the Rebbe was fasting. The time was 9:35 and we were running late. We had very little time to spare in order to catch our plane. I rushed out as usual, and had great difficulty in getting the passengers onto the bus. Everyone wanted to be the last one on. In addition to being late, I also hate to keep the Rebbe waiting to see us off; more so in this case, since he was fasting, too.

The Rebbe had expressed his wish to say farewell to us from the steps of 770. The Rebbe normally gave us this honor, but it still could not be taken for granted. At last we were all in the bus, which then moved towards 770 and the Rebbe standing about 100 yards away. Then, a terrible calamity! The driver refused to open the door so we could see and wave to the Rebbe.

“Not whilst the bus is moving,” said he, but he also refused to stop. “Not allowed to stop on this road,” he said.

Although we could see the Rebbe’s farewell, he couldn’t see us because of the tinted windows.

The plane left for home about midnight and took six hours and twelve minutes to Manchester. Per the Rebbe’s instructions, we drank some of the Rebbe’s vodka during the flight.

Shacharis we davened at 4:00 a.m. and, at 600 mph, I would say it was a “speedy” davening. Also, kedusha at 35,000 feet was a true “haicha” kedusha.

Thank G-d, we all arrived home well, but tired.

I subsequently received the following letter from the Rebbe, dated Sivan23, 5730 (June 27, 1970). It was almost worth being held prisoner by the bus driver in order to get such a wonderful letter from the Rebbe:

I was a little disappointed that on coming out to see off your group (as I usually do standing on the steps outside until the buses disappear from view with the party of visitors, especially your group), and hoping that you would come out, even if your were in the bus, so as to send you off again with Tzeischem l’sholom, I did not see you. But no doubt “Gam zu l’tovo,” for it is perhaps more fitting that after a Shovuos’dige visit the leave-taking should be at a chassidishe farbrengen, as it was indeed this Shabbos, rather than on an ordinary weekday and in the street.

At any rate, there can be no doubt but that your intention was good and my intention was good, so it is to be hoped that each and every one will have derived the fullest benefit from the visit.

Just received the cable of the safe landing.

May G-d grant that you should always have good news to report, including also about the transmission of a report of the visit to all who are interested. You will easily guess, of course, that I do not mean a superficial report, but a meaningful one, containing the matters and messages spoken here, and transmitted by words coming from the heart which penetrate the heart., etc.