סיון תשל"א - ר' זלמן יפה (אנגלית)

מתוך Yomanim

קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש

תוכן עניינים

Stay Home for Shavuos?

Just after Pesach I received a lovely long letter from theRebbe dated the 3rd ofNissan, 5731 (March 29, 1971), full of profound words of Torah, and:

...Wishing you and yours a kosher and happy Pesach, as well as Mazel Tov on the birth of your grandchildren on the side of your son and daughter respectively, and wishing you and Mrs. Jaffe true Yiddishchassidish nachas from all your offspring, in good health and happy circumstances.

Very, very nice indeed. Then, I found enclosed an extremely long postscript. From my past experiences I have become rather wary of the Rebbe’s post scripts. I certainly was not “disappointed” in this instance. (I subsequently wrote to the Rebbe that I always look forward to his most welcome and lovely letters; but sometimes, I did wish that he would omit these postscripts! I did not relish these at all.) The Rebbe wrote:

P.S. I refer to the subject of the problem of accommodation in our area, which you mention in your recent letters, as experienced last Shavuos when you were here, and the inconvenience connected with it. – I have, of course, kept in touch with the situation to see if there has been any improvement. I cannot say that I am quite satisfied, all the more so that it is difficult to speak for another person, especially if that person is also not very certain. On the other hand, it is certain that no Jew should have inconveniences at any time of the year, least of all during Yom Tov, when all aspects have to be with joy, and especially such a Yom Tov as Shavuos, the Yom Tov of matan Torah, when all the [other] Yomim Tovim were instituted.

In addition to the above, there is another factor to be considered, namely that in line with various changes which took place lately, and as was also the case on this pastPurim, there does not appear a likelihood for joint seudos on Yom Tov, at which I could join you and other Chassidim (except yWuh htmun [at Yom Tovs end]).

In the light of all that has been said above, and although it would have been a real pleasure to see you here on Yom Tov during the davening and farbrengen, there are the overriding considerations of the physical inconveniences mentioned above, especially during the days of Yom Tov andShabbos (adding also the fact that the (newborn) grandchildren could not accompany you), and also the fact that there would be no mutual Yom-Tov’dige seudos, it would seem advisable to defer the pleasure of your visit. Moreover, it appears from your letter that there is also a serious doubt whether there would be sufficient co-travelers to reduce the financial cost.

All this adds up to the conclusion that it would be best at this time to take the thought for the deed, and defer the pleasure for a more suitable time. Consequently, this letter is sent to you by special delivery, in order to halt registration for the flight and avoid further inconveniences.

To me this seemed like a definite invitation to “stay at home.” But, I recalled four years previously when I had decided not to come for Shavuos to the Rebbe and instead stay in Manchester, when two days before the chartered flight was due to leave I received the following cable from the Rebbe:

Very surprised your writing about changing longstanding good custom spending Shavuos here. Confident your presence here Shavuos as previous years b’simcho vtuv levov [with joy and gladness of heart] Blessing all family = Menachem Schneerson.

That year, I had plenty of reasons and arguments for not wishing or indeed being able to travel to Brooklyn, but there just was no time to write or contact the Rebbe to explain, as the flight was due to leave almost the following day. So having no option, I went. (Subsequently, the Rebbe told me that this was the whole idea why he had not written to me earlier to this effect.)

Since that time, the Rebbe had told me more than once that my z’man (time) for visiting 770 was Shavuos, and that I must always come with my wife.

Additionally, last year, at our final yechidus, the Rebbe told me that “next year you should speak at the kinus haTorah in Yiddish,” (we agreed half-Yiddish and half-English) and that he would see me next year.

So why had the Rebbe now ordered me to stay at home?

The answer is simple and so typical of the Rebbe. Knowing full well the difficulties and inconveniences which we had experienced in the Union Street apartment the previous year, and realizing that matters had still not improved, the Rebbe was giving us a loophole, an excuse, for not coming this Shavuos.

I knew quite well that the Rebbe was only thinking of us, our comfort and our convenience. He considered it most unfair to ask us to stay again at that apartment.

Well, we were thinking of the Rebbe too, and therefore we would certainly not break this seven year chazoka and tradition.

I immediately wrote to the Rebbe to this effect and pointed out that for many years, before staying upstairs in the kollel, we had stayed with Mendel and Sarah Shemtov who had always made us feel extremely welcome and comfortable. Although, thank G-d, their family had now increased and it might not be so easy for them as in the past, we know that they would be delighted to put us up for a week or so.

Naturally, we would rather not impose on others and we preferred to stay by ourselves at the apartment. So, I decided to phone Brooklyn and ascertain the exact position.

I dialed 770 and within seconds Rabbi Binyomin Klein answered the phone. I asked for Rabbi Chodakov and I was told to try again in half an hour. At my next attempt I was very lucky, for Rabbi Yudel Krinsky answered this time. He was the very person I wanted, because he was in charge of the Rebbe’s apartment.

When I asked Yudel if we could once again stay in the Union Street apartment, he wanted to know “Are you asking a shaileh whether to come to New York or not?”

“Not at all,” I replied, “no question about our coming; just simply to find out where we may stay, either with friends or on our own in the apartment.”

Yudel informed me that the Rebbe’s usual apartment in Union Street had been redecorated, painted and made fully self-contained. New doors and locks were fitted all over, and the place was made 100% secure. We were very happy to hear this and we asked Yudel to please reserve this for us. He replied that he would be delighted to do so. We told him he should be expecting us in a few days time at 4:00 p.m in 770 to give us the keys and further information.

Journeying to the Rebbe

We had arranged to travel by way of London as Hershel Gorman had a large pile of papers, filled with technical details regarding the printing of the New English/HebrewTanya, which I was to take to the Rebbe for his consideration and decisions.

On the Wednesday beforeShavuos, Sivan 2, 5731 (May 26, 1971), we duly arrived at London Airport where we met Hershel Gorman and we were also introduced to an unexpected traveling companion, none other than our friend Menachem Mendel [Max] Katch.

Our hand luggage was searched and we were frisked by policemen and we were ready to board the plane. We were informed that a bomb may have been planted on our plane. There would now be a delay whilst the aircraft was thoroughly searched. Meanwhile every passenger was asked to come forward and identify their own suitcases and luggage which had been unloaded from the plane. All this took one hour. Three suitcases were left on the tarmac as they had been left unclaimed.

We all stepped into our jumbo jet, which was the very latest model to be delivered to TWA, and what a pleasant surprise! It was like entering a large and beautiful hotel lounge and very high and roomy. There were two large aisles; what a wonderful time our charter passengers would have had, walking around and around two aisles.

After lunch blinds were drawn and a film was shown; free to everyone but, if one wished to hear the sound too, one had to pay £1. Mendel Katch refused to pay and sat watching the film. He laughed uproariously – at all the wrong places.

Mr. Katch was going to New York, as he wanted to see the Rebbe very urgently. He always asks the Rebbe for advice on what furs to buy. The Rebbe had previously told him which lots to purchase. He bought some other lots, in addition to those, which he himself rather fancied. Well, he had sold all the “Rebbe’s” goods, but could not, on any account, sell his “own.” Now he needed a good brocha to find a customer for those furs, too.

Lounging in my comfortable seat, with barely a shudder from the plane, it was difficult to believe that we were 35,000 ft. above sea and traveling 600 mph in a 350-ton plane with accommodation for 344 passengers (only 112 were on this trip). The journey to New York would take less than 7 hours, where we ultimately touched down like a feather.

I could not help recalling and comparing our earlier charter trips.

Like our second charter flight, when we were delayed for six hours as the plane had insufficient seats. We had to wait for more seats to be brought from Madrid. These then had to be bolted to the floor of the airplane while we were all waiting.

Our first charter flight, ten years ago, was the most memorable. The flight alone took nineteen hours, which included stops at Ireland and Canada. I was at first refused permission to board, as my passport had expired. What a job I had! We certainly knew and felt that we were on a plane, packed tight, and no room to walk about, plus the air conditioning was broken.

The twelve rabbonim aboard that flight all vied with one another to provide us with words of Torah, tefilas haderech and just plain sermons. In the nineteen hours, we had plenty of time to listen to everyone.

And then came the most wonderful climax of all, when our beloved and revered Rebbe met us at 770 at 3:30 in the morning and held a farbrengenfor our passengers.

And, on the return journey, every male put on tefillin and davened in the aisle; some cried, as it was their first time putting on tefillin since their bar-mitzvah. One of the passengers, an old man, said “Mr. Jaffe, you deserve a treat for all the wonderful work you are doing, and I am going to give you one.”

“No, no,” said I.

“Yes, yes,” said he. “I will SING you a song through the microphone entitled “Der Tallissel.” My mazel!

What a contrast when we arrived today. Roselyn, Mr. Katch and I made our own unheralded and unobtrusive way to 770. We arrived at 5:15 in the afternoon. The place was almost deserted, with one exception: our dear Rebbe was in his office working.

We decided to wait and greet the Rebbe with shalom aleichem. An hour later we had our opportunity. The Rebbe emerged at 6:15 and saw us standing at the door; but before we could say a word, he had wished ussholom aleichem and accompanied these words with a glorious smile that lit up his whole face and the whole room. What a wonderful smile our Rebbe has!

He seemed really pleased to see us and asked how our children and our ainiklach were.

“How is business? You must have closed the business already for Yom Tov. Do you have any deigoz (worries)?”

I replied that “The Rebbe once gave me a brocha, that I should only have Lubavitcher deigoz. I am now glad to say that, thank G-d, I had plenty of those, but boruch Hashem not any others.”

The Rebbe wished us all a frailechen Yom Tov and he then left for home.

I then asked Rabbi Chodakov if it would be possible to see the Rebbe before Shavuos, as I usually have the merit of a short yechidus immediately upon our arrival. Rabbi Chodakov replied that normally we arrived from England much earlier than two days before Yom Tov, and as the Rebbe was extremely busy and under great pressure, the Rebbe would see me after kabolas haTorah. He added that if the Rebbe wanted me, “he knows your address.”

I was a little disappointed because I wanted to make arrangements to sing in shul on Shabbos and Yom Tov. I therefore wrote a letter to the Rebbe asking if we may sing “hu Elokeinu”, “ho’aderes veho’emuna” and “kaileeatoh”. I also enclosed my Diary, Volume 2 (of the previous year).

Rabbi Chodakov and Rabbis Simpson and Mentelik – and all my friends whom I met afterwards – seemed surprised indeed to see me. They had heard on the grapevine that I was not coming this year. However, they were all very delighted to see me and said they were now assured of a very freilichen Yom Tov. Very nice of them to say so, and indeed it was! Especially as they, and everyone, seemed certain that there would now be a farbrengen on Shabbos.

Rabbi Krinsky arrived with the keys to our apartment and took us on a guided and conducted tour. I will admit that they had done a grand job. The whole staircase was now blocked in, the doors locked, and there was absolutely no possibility of any unauthorized person trespassing or forcing an entry. This was excellent and Roselyn’s fears and worries were completely allayed.

We enjoyed our stay at this apartment; it was quite satisfactory. Roselyn wrote a letter to the Rebbe thanking him for all the trouble he had taken to save us inconvenience and worry.

The morning after we arrived, Thursday, Sivan 3 (May 27), I had an aliyahand bentched gomel. (A special brocha recited as thanksgiving to G-d for emerging from a precarious situation, such as crossing the ocean.)

I am always reminded of the time when Rabbi Dubov had an aliyah by the Rebbe’s minyan, but before bentching gomel he stated that he would “yotze zein” (recite on behalf of) everyone else who was a chiyuv to bentch.

The Rebbe turned around, looked surprised and exclaimed “Far vos?”

A Belzer Mincha

That evening the Rebbe did not return form the ohel until a quarter to nine. It seemed to be already dark, but Rabbi Chodakov pointed out that this was at the time of a “Belzer mincha.”

Maariv was at 9:10, but at 10:30 when I left, the Rebbe was still at 770. He had not yet been home and was still fasting!

An outstanding feature this year was the very nice, new aron hakodesh. It was cleverly handmade by Yankel Lipsker. This new aron hakodesh was built completely around the old one and so it solved the problem of the disposal of the old one.

Another very noticeable improvement this year was nice gardens bordering 770. Neat, tidy green grass and beautiful flowers. Our friend, Gershon Lawrence, deserved every credit for achieving such notable results.

Diary is a Hit

I had not been, as yet, criticized or reprimanded by the Rebbe about my diary, so I took a chance and distributed copies to our Rebbetzin, Rabbi Chodakov, Leibel Groner, Yudel Krinsky and two friends. I was extremely gratified to receive the following complimentary comments.

“It was wonderful, so easy to read and it paints such a vivid picture.”

“Marvelous zichronos; keep writing.”

“I have learnt quite a lot which I did not know before. It’s history.”

“Don’t wait till next year, but send it to us straight away. I must have a copy for the library.”

“How can you write so much about such a short stay?”

“Ha ha, the train didn’t stop at the station. How very funny.”

Actually the main reason for writing these diaries is so that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, will, after 120 years, be able to read how their Bobby and Zaidie spent their time with the Rebbe in Brooklyn, and to learn of the great humility, humor and humaneness of our most wonderful Rebbe. (The whole world knows already, of course, of his renowned and extraordinary scholarship and learning.)

We met our friend Rabbi Shemtov. He looked fine. He was busy printing the Rebbe’s sichas. He is the typical and ideal chossid, and he has only good to say about people.

(I have a movie of Rabbi Shemtov and Dayan Golditch on a see-saw at the American Lubavitch Summer Camp. I laughed, it was so very comical. But Rabbi Shemtov remarked that one should learn a lesson from everything and everyone. In the instance of the see-saw we are taught that if one wishes to elevate another person, one must be willing to first lower oneself.)

Shabbos Bamidbar

It was now Friday night, Shabbos Bamidbar, Sivan 4 (May 28), and I took my usual stand behind the Rebbe’s chair for maariv.

After davening, the Rebbe gave us all a nice smile and wished us a “guten Shabbos.” I then immediately commenced singing a niggun. As usual, no one except Rabbi Shemtov and Tzvi Fisher helped me. We concluded with a joyful dance.

During kesser on Shabbos morning we all sang “hu Elokeinu,” with the Rebbe beating his podium with his fist as a sign of encouragement and participation. So I thought, well, the Rebbe has accepted the suggestions as outlined in my letter and we will be singing “ho’aderes” and “kaileeatoh” on Yom Tov, too!

Singing in the Shul

On Shavuos night we were informed that the Rebbe had now discontinued the practice of saying a maamar at 3:30 in the morning, a practice the Rebbe had continued for quite some time now. So, officially, no one had any excuse for being late for the Rebbe’s shacharis. Before we commenced shacharis, I approached the chazan, and informed him that we would be singing “ho’aderes veho’emuna.”

Well, the moment had now arrived. The Rebbe was leaning against his shtender with his arms folded and was seemingly engrossed in a sefer. The chazan was waiting and turned around and looked questioningly at me. I took a deep breath, and a deep plunge. (I can now well realize and understand how Nachshon felt, when he plunged into the Yam-Suf (Red Sea), ahead of everyone else.)

The first two lines I sang alone, amidst complete silence and wonderment. The Rebbe was still not responding and he was studying his sefer, arms akimbo and body slightly inclined away from us all. It seems that I had made a bad blunder. I had just decided to retire gracefully and end my solo when I heard a deep croaking behind me. I suddenly realized that Tzvi Fisher had joined me, and it was now a duet. Good old Tzvi! He had not let me down! And, what wonderful croaking this was! I felt a lot better, and in spite of the Rebbe’s seemingly cold shoulder, we concluded to the last verse with a number of men and boys joining us in the singing. My ego was slightly restored.

Later in the davening we also sang “kailee atoh.”

Once again, the Rebbe seemed to show his disapproval by not reacting to the singing and, therefore, of course, so did all the congregation.

The following day I was in a dilemma. Why should I push myself forward and be made to look foolish? The Rebbe had shown, in no uncertain terms, that he is not interested in this singing. Really, I suppose it was also a chutzpa on my part to continue such. On the other hand, as Tzvi Fisher had also pointed out, I was doing the correct thing, because the Rebbe himself had told me to sing on Yom Tov; so the Rebbe must have been pleased, but I could not see that.

By the time the chazan (a different one this time) had reached “ho’aderes,” I was sill not sure if we should again sing. But then, without warning, without giving me a chance, the chazan started dashing off the “ho’aderes veho’emuna.” He was a quarter of the way through when I suddenly jerked to life. I am normally a stubborn and obstinate fellow, and here was another fellow – the chazan – ignoring me completely and treating me with every contempt. A chutzpa! So, off we go with “ho’aderes veho’emuna,” in a strong, purposeful voice and Tzvi and many others joining with gusto!

At “kailee atoh,” I did not even hesitate. We all sang again. During both of these “repertoires” the Rebbe had once again completely ignored us and his arms were kept folded just as the previous day. After the davening, I received a good telling off by the chazan. He emphasized that no one had the right to sing when the Rebbe had his arms folded.

Yechidus

After Yom Tov, we were privileged to enter our firstyechidus. About fifteen minutes into the conversation, I complained that the Rebbehad not yet asked me his usual question of how I had enjoyed Yom Tov!

“How did you enjoy Yom Tov?” asked the Rebbe.

I replied that “It was terrible. I had a terrible time doing all that singing by myself. A person was moser nefesh(self-sacrificed) for something, and he was literally on the floor, and all that was required was for the Rebbe to raise his little finger, to raise an eyebrow, or nod his head, and this fellow would be lifted to great heights. Why did the Rebbe not help me in my dire distress when I sang in shul?!”

The Rebbe rebuked me very sternly. He said he considered it a “groser avleh” (big offense) for me to even ask, and he was deeply offended by my asking by letter whether I should sing or not. (I felt relieved to notice that little twinkle in the Rebbe’s eyes.) The Rebbe continued, “Indeed, it is a glaiche zach (appropriate) to sing in shul. We sang last year and in the previous years.” The Rebbe continued that he is now “putting it down in his book that we must sing every year, un far aibick” (and for always).

I should also tell this chazan that the Rebbe wants to know why he fails to do what the Rebbe tells him to do. The Rebbe and I can manage our business okay and without outside interference!

For two consecutive years, we had applied for a grant from the Salford City Council to enable us to extend the building of Lubavitch House in Manchester. The figure arranged was £20,000. The first year, the grant was rejected by the ministry in London because of a shortage of money. The following year the new Government had decentralized all these matters, and so this time the Salford Council refused the grant for the same reason.

The Rebbe had said that we should therefore now apply for double that amount, that is for £40,000. To my mind this was too ambitious and had no real foundation or reasoning. Our original figure of £20,000 was arrived at by careful calculation of the site area and extra people we anticipated to join our Youth Club. £20,000 seemed to be the limit!

I recalled after a certain experience I once had, I told the Rebbe that a person should always do what the Rebbe tells him, no matter how far-fetched it seems to be. So, I now added, “I believe it is important to do what the Rebbe says.”

The Rebbe nodded in agreement and said “so do I.”

We therefore formally applied for the £40,000 grant! And I am delighted to state that at this time of writing, February 1972, we have been officially given a grant of 75% of the £40,000!

In my office I have a very remarkable list of the many people whom the Rebbe has helped with advice and brochos.

Friends of mine, a couple who had been married for eight years without being blessed with children, now have a lovely family of two boys and two girls. Another couple, after seven years of childless marriage, have also been blessed with a family.

Practical advice on medical cases and advice and instructions regarding shidduchim are being given constantly by the Rebbe to the extreme benefit and amazement of the recipients. Unfortunately, the Rebbe only hears from most of these people when he is needed to help solve their problems. They sometimes do not even pay the Rebbe the courtesy of informing him when these matters have reached their successful conclusion.

Another constant source of irritation (my words!) is when people take a certain course of action, on their own initiative, and then beg the Rebbe for a brocha when things don’t work out.

A case in point: a certain shochet who had, without discussing the matter even with his friends, resigned from his job not even telling the Rebbe. Now he needed a brocha for parnoso or for a return to his old job! When I am asked to write for a brocha to the Rebbe for “Reuven” who is ill, it is only fair and correct that the Rebbe should be given a full report of his symptoms, what the doctors have diagnosed, and the proposed treatment. I know personally of many cases, where the Rebbe has advised a certain treatment in direct contrast to the advice given by the doctors and the Rebbe has always been proved right.

At this yechidus, I had a question to ask on behalf of a friend of mine who had failed an exam. He, thank G-d, had good parnoso and he wanted to know whether it was worth his while to take this exam again. The Rebbe’s answer was that he should take this exam once more, but he must study really hard for it and then he will be successful. On no account must he rely solely on the Rebbe’s brocha.

The Rebbe asked me whether Avrohom gave a sermon every Shabbos in shul and whether he spoke well. I replied that he spoke nearly every Shabbos and, if he prepared it, then he did speak well.

The Rebbe could not emphasize enough the importance of preparation. (I suppose, then, that the Rebbe himself does prepare his material when he has to speak for six and seven hours at a time. I once asked the Rebbetzinabout this but, although agreeing with me, she admitted that she had never actually seen the Rebbe do his preparation.)

The Rebbe then told us a story about his father-in-law, of blessed memory.

He was once traveling and stopped over Shabbos at a strange town. In the shul he was called up for maftir andhaftorah. He told them that he would accept this mitzvah only if he could retire into an anteroom and look over the haftorah first. This, in spite of the fact that he had read the maftir every week for twenty years. It was a definite ruling that no person should perform a public service, whether preaching or layning and so forth, unless he had prepared it.

We had now opened a gemach (free loan society) in Manchester, because the Rebbe had said that Lubavitch organizations in every town should have one. Wherever these were started, the Rebbe contributed $200. I told the Rebbe that we had not yet received this donation.

“Have you asked for it?”

“I had understood that this would be sent automatically.”

“Nothing is automatic; the least you can do if you want something is to ask for it.” Then the Rebbe advised me to write officially to Rabbi Chodakov and we would receive this $200 by return. (I did write and we did receive it.)

I explained to the Rebbe that, as usual, I had been invited by Rabbi Mentelik to speak at the kinus haTorah and I had spoken half in Yiddishand half in English as I had promised the Rebbe to do. The Rebbe had also told me I should speak the following year wholly in Yiddish...

“You can also mix in a few English words,” added the Rebbe.

The Rebbe then told me that the Israeli President Shazar had spoken recently at a huge public function and he had spoken in Yiddish. Everyone had loved it, although quite a large proportion could not understand!

We then discussed the “misunderstanding” which had arisen regarding the Rebbe’s recent letters to me. I told the Rebbe that I loved and looked forward to his letters. It was the postscripts which worry me.

The Rebbe repeated that he wanted me to be comfortable and happy on Yom Tov. I had hinted in my letters that it was just not possible in the Union Street apartment, as it was not secure nor safe.

I reiterated that I was only concerned about making the Rebbe happy!

“Even if you are not comfortable on Yom Tov?” questioned the Rebbe.

“Yes,” I countered “If Union Street would not have been ready, we would have stayed with friends.”

“But would you have been comfortable?”

I said no and the Rebbe gave a hearty chuckle. The Rebbe emphatically denied that his letters were a suggestion for us to stay at home on Yom Tov, but he could not have offered us “Buckingham Palace.”

Incidentally, the Rebbe told us that when he received the letter from Roselyn, thanking him for going through all the trouble to make the apartment so much nicer and secure, he showed it to his Rebbetzin who was extremely pleased. She had also been rather worried about Roselyn’s comfort and peace of mind.

We discussed the Manchester shechita board. I had served as an honorary officer for the past sixteen years including four years as president. The Rebbe had said that I should always keep my connections with this Board. So, I was now serving another four-year term, this time as honorary treasurer.

One time during 5722 (1962), the Manchester Bet Din together with other Northern England Botei Dinim had decided that we should deprive Reform Jews of kosher food at their simchas. The Rebbe had written me a strong letter at that time pointing out that even if one Jew wished to keep the mitzvah of eating only kosher food then it was our duty to supply this. It was a mitzvah of the Torah, and the fact that a person did not keep many other mitzvos did not make any difference to his keeping this important one.

We discussed various aspects of Lubavitch work in Manchester.

I then asked the Rebbe, on behalf of Shlomo Levine from South Africa, who was shortly to be married to Linndy Rosen, also of that country, if he would give me a bottle of mashke to take for them to be enjoyed at their wedding and distributed amongst the guests. The Rebbe replied that he does not give mashke to everybody who requests it; but in this instance, as long as Shmuel Lew (my son-in-law) would “keep an eye” on them, he was prepared to send through me a special bottle of mashke for their wedding.

One of our workers was a very bad time-keeper. I wanted the Rebbe to state categorically that this fellow should daven with the minyan. The Rebbe told me that it was impossible to order, or even to tell, a man to daven with the minyan. The person should know himself the importance oftefilah b’tzibur, and if he has some work to do he should force himself to be ready. On the other hand, some people require longer preparation for davening than others, and if they were not yet ready to daven, then the Rebbe could not and would not tell them that they must be ready.

Another worker had made “secret” donations to our funds, as much as £120 recently. I maintained that this fact should be made public, in order that our members look upon him with greater esteem. The Rebbe said that if this fact became known, then the members would want him to work for nothing.

I showed the Rebbe the sample pages of the new English/Hebrew Tanyaand asked for his decisions on various outstanding technical matters. The Rebbe then gave me a list of requirements and instructions regarding the copyrights, that it have two book ribbons, types of paper and cover, dust cover, numbering of the English pages, how the English and Hebrew pages should be arranged, single edition, double edition, proof reading and so on and so forth. I should “ask Hershel Gorman to check that everything was in order.”

The Rebbe concluded that the words “Made in England” should be prominently displayed, “as everybody will want to buy the best.” If the publication would be ready for Yom Tov, the Rebbe would be very happy indeed. Additionally, at that time there would be a great demand for them as gifts.

Incidentally, the Rebbe pointed out to me that he considered it most important that the chassidim of each country publish the Tanya in their respective countries. To date, the Tanya has been printed in about seventy distinct editions. Obviously, it is much cheaper and easier to get copies directly from Brooklyn; but it is a wonderful achievement, especially in regard to the spiritual realms, if the Tanya would be printed in each country; especially in a place like Djerba, Tunisia, where all the typesetting was done by hand.

Roselyn and I were with the Rebbe at this yechidus for over two-and-a-half hours. We discussed mostly Manchester’s communal and Lubavitch issues and problems.The yechidus ended at 3:50 in the morning.

As usual, everyone wanted to know “What did the Rebbe tell you?” This reminds me of the story I heard, when a certain gentleman was asked this question. He answered that the Rebbe had told him not to tell anyone what the Rebbe had said.

“Ah,” replied the other with a knowing look and nodding his head, “now I know what the Rebbe told you!”

Shabbos Nosso Farbrengen

On Shabbos, Sivan 12 (June 5), the farbrengen was most enjoyable. The previous week the Rebbe had given as a moshel that the darkest place in a room was directly under the lamp. (Confirming what I always say; that the people in 770 are too near the Rebbe to appreciate his terrific greatness. We from afar can appreciate the Rebbe much more.)

I had a good practical example of this. My seat is normally right at the first row, bellow the dais where the Rebbe sits. This year, for some reason, they had widened the Rebbe’s table and so from where I sat, I could see absolutely nothing. I immediately changed my seat to a more central position.

The Rebbe was in good form. I cannot think of any famous conductor who could get the same spontaneous reaction from his musicians as the Rebbe does from his cast audience; and with a barely perceptible movement of his hand. The sheer ecstasy, the jumping and dancing whilst roaring theniggun when the Rebbe waved his arms, was unbelievable. When the Rebbe actually stood up and danced and urged on everybody to sing, well that scene is beyond any description!

The Rebbe handed to Mr. Katch (of London) and me a bottle of vodka each to distribute at this farbrengen, but warned us that there should be “no competition between London and Manchester.”

At one point during a sicha, the Rebbe paused a little to allow a fellow to finish yawning. The Rebbe is always considerate. He also remarked that a few people were sleeping and he did not want to awaken them!

As usual these days, the Rebbe was very perturbed about the “Who is a Jew?” law enacted by the Israeli government. He spoke very strongly against it at every possible occasion. All the Rebbe wants is that the words “al pee Halacha” (converted according to Jewish Law) be inserted in that Law. Meaning that only someone converted the Jewish way - the halachic way - should be recognized as a Jew by Israel.

I told the Rebbe that earlier this year, when I was in Israel, we had a family sheva brochos at the home of a Cabinet Minister; Dr. Warhaftig inJerusalem. During the sheva brochos I discussed the “mihu yehudi?” (Who is a Jew?) problem with him and he told me he was now afraid to visit the Rebbe, as he normally does when in the US.

The Rebbe told me that Warhaftig should not be afraid to visit, as the Rebbe understands that though he is a Cabinet Minister, the “mihu yehudi” problem is not in his department and he could not speak against his colleagues in the Israeli Cabinet.

Two Visits with the Rebbetzin

We were again privileged and honored to be received by our dearRebbetzin at the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s home on President Street. We spent over two and half hours with the Rebbetzin. The Rebbe is generally not at home during those visits; he is hard at work in 770.

The Rebbetzin seems to gain in stature and charm every year. She receives regular letters from our daughter-in-law, Susan. She said, “Susan is a very wonderful, wonderful girl.” (She once referred to her as a “wonderful kid” and explained to me that this is an American term!)

I told the Rebbetzin how disappointed I was that the Rebbe had discontinued having his Yom Tov meals with his chassidim. I missed those “private and homely gatherings.” On the other hand, I was extremely delighted for the Rebbetzin’s sake: after all those years she, finally, had her husband with her for Yom Tov. It must have been a real mesiras nefesh(self sacrifice) for her all those years, all alone without her husband (her Rebbe) at her table.

The Rebbetzin always asks about our grandchildren. Susan had sent photographs for her, too, which were very much appreciated.

The Rebbetzin told us (what the Rebbe had already told us at theyechidus) that the Rebbe had brought Roselyn’s letter about the apartment home, to show her. The Rebbetzin said she was very pleased that Roselyn had written such a nice letter to the Rebbe.

The time passed very quickly, but we had the pleasure of visiting the Rebbetzin again for another hour or so before we left for home.

Just before Shabbos, there was a knock on the downstairs door of our apartment. When I opened the door, there was Mr. Halbershtam. (Even he had tried to gain access into our flat. This was a real test of security. If Mr. Halbershtam could not get in, then no one could.) There he stood with a parcel. It was a Shabbos gift from the Rebbetzin, a lovely cream cake. It looked delicious and as sweet as our dear Rebbetzin. It was very gratifying to be reminded that someone was thinking of us. It really made our Shabbos perfect. We did think of taking this cake home for our grandchildren, but we could just imagine little Pinchas, aged one-and-a-half years, welcoming us with open palms and face, and our other grandchildren going around their houses with their little fingers and faces full of creamy and sticky cake. We would surely get no thanks from Hindy and Shmuel, nor from Avrohom and Susan. So, we had a good time and ate it all by ourselves. It was delicious.

Shabbos Farbrengen

On Shabbos Parshas Behaaloscho, Sivan 19 (June 12), we were again fortunate to have a farbrengen.

My son-in-law, Shmuel, has impressed upon me the importance of quoting at least some of the Rebbe’s words of Torah in my Diary. So, here goes. I will give over some of what the Rebbe said during the Shavuos farbrengen and on the following two Shabbosim:

On many occasions, the Rebbe stresses the importance of women’s roles in Judaism. The Torah really considers them much more important than the men. The husband is traditionally out working all day, making a living; the wife is left to look after her household and children, kashrus and chinuch (education).

At the giving of the Torah, the Almighty addressed the women first, and only afterwards the men: “ko somar l’beisyaakov.” This means: say to the women, and only then, “v’sageid livnei yisroel,” speak to the men.

The Rebbe appealed to the ladies, first, to insist that their husbands study for an additional amount of time each day. However, the study itself should be like yeshiva bochurim, meaning concentrated learning for this extra time. This time should also be approached like business hours; so if the telephone rings, do not take the call. If it is important, those calling will phone again. No loss of trade will ensue. (In any case, people always phone to suit their own convenience.) The men, however, need the selfless inspiration, prompting and encouragement of the women. The Rebbe relies implicitly and confidently on the n’shei (women) to provide this stimulus so that the men will learn more and better.

As mentioned, the Rebbe spoke many times about conversion and that, according to the Jewish teachings and way, it must be done in a certain manner: namely, according to the halacha. This way is delineated in the Torah itself. The Rebbe said:

Many Jews have the custom to read the book and story ofRuth on Shavuos. There are many reasons for this book being read especially on Shavuos. Her grandson was King David and he was born and also passed away on Shavuos. Another reason given is that Shavuos is the period of harvesting and the story of Ruth took place at harvest time. A third explanation is that becoming the Jewish nation, to receive the Torah on Shavuos, can be compared to a gerus (conversion).

The Rebbe explained that the story of Ruth, being part of the Torah which is eternal, is a lesson even for today about the ideals and methods of gerus.

At the time of Ruth, just as today, there were two gentile girls who had married Jewish boys outside of Israel. After a period of ten years their husbands died and the girls proposed to their Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, that they should all go and live in Eretz Yisroel.

What could be more straightforward? In their opinion, they were Jewesses. However, Naomi replied that the matter was not as simple as that. In order to be Jewish, they had to be converted according to the Jewish law.

One of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, Orpah, refused to undergo the conversion, and so she returned to her roots inMoab. The other daughter-in-law, Ruth, accepted Naomi’s condition to convert properly.

Being that Ruth had no prior knowledge of Judaism, she could not start by saying, “Your G-d is my G-d and your people are my people.” Instead, she first said, “Where you will go, I will go, and where you will sleep, there I will sleep.” Ruth was prepared to live and work as a Jewess, learn and keep the 613 mitzvahs. Only then, after all that, was she able to say, “Your people are my people and your G-d is my G-d.” The result was that Ruth had a grandson who became our great King David, whereas Orpah married a Moabite and her grandson was Goliath, the wicked enemy of the Jewish people.

If people enter Israel like Orpah, even if they have an utterly meaningless certificate stating they are Jewish, they are not! And their children and children’s children, who will ultimately resent the lie perpetrated by the so-called Rabbi, will eventually become angered enough and will become enemies of the Jewish people.

The main essential point is that all converts to Judaism convert only according to halacha. Then we will be assured of peace and plenty in the land of Israel.

Kinus HaTorah

The following day, Sivan 20 (June 13), was the kinus hatorah. Rabbi Mentelik had again informed me that he expected me to address the yeshiva boys as, at the Rebbe’s instigation, I have been addressing them every year for the past five years. I could not think of a reasonably good excuse for not speaking this time. (Except the usual one, that I cannot see how I fit in with all the roshei yeshivos and great talmidei chachomim (Torah scholars) who give such interesting pilpulim and droshos (talks).) Still, the boys always seem to appreciate my little funny stories, and my speech certainly gives them a little light relief from the “heavy stuff.”

I enumerated to them quite a long list of men who were doing the Rebbe’s work all over the world and who, only a short time ago, were studying in770, “just like you are doing today.”

This was uforatzto in the true sense of the word. Thank G-d, every year scores of students were leaving Brooklyn with their families and spreadingLubavitch doctrines everywhere.

The Japanese invented a system of self-defense. They called it ju-jitsu or judo. If someone attacked them, they were so well trained that they could throw their assailants by means of a flip of their hand. To show their proficiency they are given colored belts. Presenting them with a black belt marked the highest standard that they could achieve. A chossid had worn a black belt - or, as we call it, a gartel - for hundreds of years. This gartel is a sign that he had given himself over entirely to the Almighty, and G-d will look after him. This is the best form of self-defense.

I concluded with the hope, which I always express, that the students will never be tzorrus chassidim, but will write regularly to our Rebbe, always including good news.

At a farbrengen during this visit, the Rebbe said that in England, the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in Parliament actually received a large salary for opposing the government. “We have an Englishman here who can confirm this,” the Rebbe said in a loud voice and looking at me.

On Shabbos I had an aliyah in the shul. It was the best one - shviee. I got to remain on the bimah during the Rebbe’s reading of the haftorah. I could follow the Rebbe’s finger in the chumash and I could also hear it well. Afterwards, I was also ensured a safe and speedy return to my place, near the Rebbe, by following immediately and literally in the Rebbe’s footsteps.

My brother Moshe, who lives in Israel, once asked Israeli President Shazar why doesn’t the Rebbe, who had so many scores of thousands of chassidim as well as yeshivas, schools and three villages in Israel, not come himself to see the country even just once.

Shazar replied, “Moshe, the Rebbe is a much more clever man than you or I and he will come in his own time.”

The Rebbe also remarked to my brother Moshe recently, “Don’t you realize that my heart aches just to daven even a small mincha at the kosel.”

Farewell Yechidus

The day for our departure had now arrived. I had told the Rebbe that we would be leaving from 770 at about 6:20 p.m. The Rebbe had graciously honored us by stating that we may call and see him to say farewell at 6:00 p.m.

Just a few minutes to six, Rabbi Chodakov phoned the Rebbe and told him that we were here and waiting to see him. The Rebbe said that the appointment was for 6:00 p.m. and it is only three minutes to six now. But, in any case, we could now come along.

During this yechidus we again discussed communal matters, and again the Rebbe asked about various people in Manchester and even in Israel. The Rebbe thanked me for traveling to Israel at his behest, for my nephew’s wedding. The Rebbe has “spies” in Jerusalem, who informed him that I had fulfilled my shlichus and made everyone freilach at the wedding and at the sheva brochos of the following days.

The Rebbe had heard that at a recent concert in England, a Jewish opera star had sung a piece which the Rebbe considered to be not in good taste. “Ah, yes,” said I, “but he wore a yarmulke.”

“The Pope – l’havdil – wears one too,” retorted the Rebbe.

The Rebbe then handed me three notes of £5 each: one for Manchester Tzach (youth), one for Glasgow and one for N’shei Chabad in Manchester. The Rebbe said I should give this one to Roselyn. I joked that it was unusual to take English money from America to England.

“You can have five one-dollar bills instead,” interjected the Rebbe. Serves me right!

Roselyn then said to the Rebbe that we have, thank G-d, spoken to the Rebbe on this trip a total of nearly three hours. We have discussed everything and everyone, but we have not asked for a brocha for ourselves, and we would like a brocha for health, parnoso and so forth for us and for our children and grandchildren.

The Rebbe said “iber dem kop” (over the head), and at the same time raised his hand over his head, showing us literally what he meant.

This was a nice brocha and a nice gesture, and with full and happy hearts, we took leave of our dear Rebbe.

We knew that as usual, we would, please G-d, be back here again in no time.