סיון תשל"ב- ר' זלמן יפה (אנגלית)

מתוך Yomanim

קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש

תוכן עניינים

Arrival to CommUnion Street

Roselyn and I arrived at 770at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Sivan 4 (May 17), the day before Shavuos. Everyone was delighted to see us and gave us a warm welcome.

It seemed like only yesterday that we were standing here in 770 with Rabbi Krinsky, worrying about the condition of the apartment on Union Street. A year had now passed and we were once again standing in the office at 770. This time we were complaining, but not to him as we could not find him – he had taken the Rebbe to the ohel.

We had been to the apartment and found that it had been taken over by hordes of “squatters.” They were busy cooking their own meals in the kitchen and the stove was black with old grease and oil. No one was interested in cleaning up the apartment; each one left it to the others.

Rabbi Binyomin Klein told me that someone approached him many weeks ago and begged him for permission to stay there for one night only. How could he refuse for one night? He therefore gave them the key.

The following day, Mr. Weinstein from the hardware store was kept busy all day long making duplicate keys, as brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and acquaintances were all invited to join this new commune in Union Street. They were very friendly and actually invited us to join them too, the fridge was full, but we would have to partake of our own meals in the bedroom.

Rabbi Klein was very pleased that we had now arrived, because until now, they had refused to budge, in spite of entreaties, pleadings and threats. Rabbi Leibel Groner and Binyomin, in the absence of Yudel, were indeed helpful and things started moving. The first things to be moved were the squatters themselves. Some were soon fixed up at various houses, whilst the others promised to leave the next morning. We were left to tidy up the place (a gross understatement).

We were pleased to notice that the worker had made a start to clean up the apartment. He had filled the bucket with clean water and had not been seen since. Maybe he became discouraged by the squatters and left the job.

Being the next day was Yom Tov, we were now fighting against time. I rushed to Weinstein’s and purchased another bucket, mop and plenty of powders and detergents. When I arrived back I found Roselyn already scrubbing and cleaning and – a miracle – the worker had also returned and was helping too. By the time Rabbi Krinsky brought the Rebbe back from the ohel at 8:00 p.m., the place was looking a great deal cleaner and better.

Rabbi Chodakov had heard of our predicament and complaints, and even our sleeping arrangements had not been finalized. He consoled me by saying that Jews did not sleep at all on this night. Yes, I replied, that is all right for one night, but we would be here for twelve nights!

Surprise Farbrengen

After mincha, Rabbi Chodakov rushed into the main office from theRebbe’s room and said, “Zalmon, the Rebbe is making a specialfarbrengen immediately after maariv at 9:30; it will probably be a short one.” Well, this was an unexpected windfall, a wonderful surprise and pleasure! A farbrengen on Erev Shavuos! This was certainly something new.

I was not sure whether I had heard Rabbi Chodakov correctly and whether he had said the Rebbe was holding a farbrengen especially for me. Subsequently this was confirmed. There seems to be - thank G-d - no end to the wonders of the Rebbe for me.

I dashed to our apartment – which was not a minute away – and found Roselyn already in bed. She was absolutely exhausted and “all in.” Besides, for us it was now 2:30 in the morning, so she was entitled to be tired, with so much traveling and then the clean-up effort.

She was also entitled to be at the farbrengen. So within a few minutes we were again at 770. The Rebbe was due to arrive in about ten minutes. The shul was already filled to overflowing – packed – jammed tight. I tried to force my way through the solid mass of students and men, in order to get to my usual place. It was just impossible, especially as I was also rather tired. I needed to be at the peak of my physical condition to make any headway. I had to give up, admit failure and stand at the rear of the hall.

At 9:45 the Rebbe arrived and almost immediately commenced a maamar! So, instead of having this maamar at 3:00, early on the morning of

Shavuos, we were listening to it at a “reasonable” hour, on the evening before Yom Tov. Perhaps we were being present at a new innovation. Incidentally, last year the Rebbe omitted the pre-Shavuos maamar altogether.

After the maamar, Leibel Groner and others who had noticed me standing at the back, made active and aggressive signals and signs to me that I should go and sit in my usual place. So I did, by climbing onto the table and walking on hands and heads, belonging to others, of course. (As it happens, Leibel was right, I should have gone to my usual place at once (!?), because Rabbi Dvorkin asked me the next morning, why I came so late to the farbrengen and even missed the maamar!)

We then sang a couple of niggunim and the Rebbe said a sicha about the humility of Moshe Rabeinu. He was such an onov (humble person) he felt that with all the help and guidance he had received from Above, he should have done much better. In fact, he maintained that someone else in his place, with the same opportunities, would have indeed done better than he!

The whole farbrengen took one-and-a-half hours. Roselyn said it was wonderful and just long enough, too; for in another five minutes she would have been sound asleep!

The next morning, Sivan 5 (May 18), which was a Thursday, I was fortunate to have hagbah at the Rebbe’s minyan right after I bentched gomel.


On the first night of Shavuos, maariv was at 9:00. I had told Tzvi Fisher and Lou Teifenbrun (from London) that after maariv, as the Rebbe was leaving the shul, I would sing “v’somachto b’chagecho,” and I was counting on their help.

Everything went over better than I had planned. As soon as I sang the first note, my friends joined in and in less than no time, about a hundred of us were singing and dancing in a huge circle. Happily, it went on for quite a while.

When I entered 770 the next morning some of those men who had been dancing and singing with me the previous evening, asked me in Ivrit “od paam?” (another time?). Last night was “tov meod,” said another one, kissing his fingers. I learnt that they were Russian Jews from Georgia (Russia) and only spoke Russian and Ivrit.

They and their friends had been sustained spiritually by the Rebbe throughout these many years, and had remained devout and pious Jews with the encouragement of the Rebbe. After leaving Russia with their families, they had settled in Nachlas Har Chabad, in Israel. They had now taken the very first opportunity to come to Brooklyn and to thank the Rebbe personally for all his help, material and spiritual, over the past many years. It was no wonder that they so spontaneously and joyfully joined with me in singing, dancing and rejoicing together with our wonderful Rebbe.

Quite a number of these Russians had settled in Brooklyn, too. At one place, I saw twenty young Russian boys learning and studying. I was told that ten others had already been integrated into the normal day school. Most of them are good scholars. A boy of eleven, who two years ago could just about manage to read the siddur, was today learning gemora with Tosafos.

Another lad of ten was being prepared for his bris.

A child of four refused to take off his yarmulke at home (as he was so taught). His father and mother were so impressed that they have arranged to get married in a week or so under a chupah. In Russia they only had a civil marriage.

I heard the story of the Russian who had a mikvah in his attic. The police came along and saw his “tank” full of (dirty) water, and said that it must be emptied at once. It was not hygienic. To prove his point he got a tumbler, filled it with the mikvah water, and drank it in front of them, proving to everyone that it was clean and satisfactory!

Our poor brethren certainly went through fire and water, for the sake of their faith.

First Day of Shavuos

On the first morning of Yom Tov, service commenced as expected, at 10:00. There was no problem whatsoever about our “usual” songs. As soon as I started “ho’aderes vho’emunah” the Rebbe banged his fist on his shtender and that was all that was required for everyone to join in! I had developed a cold, which affected my voice. I could just about croak (some said my voice was better that way). Fortunately, my two assistants, Tzvi and Lou, were on top form and helped me to start and sing the rest of our repertoire.

That afternoon, Tzvi brought me in a small bottle of medicine which was guaranteed to cure my cough. It contained 90% alcohol and one small teaspoon at a time was the limit. Tzvi said he always kept a bottle handy at his home. I suspect that he makes kiddush on it - no wonder he is always laughing!

It poured with rain all Yom Tov. Nevertheless, in true Lubavitch tradition, on the afternoon of the first day of Shavuos, thousands of yeshiva boys and men set off on their regular march to the Borough Park neighborhood at 6:00 p.m. in the teeming rain.

Mincha was at 8:00 p.m. and the shul was almost deserted. I reckon the Rebbe was delighted to see only fifty people present at this minyan.

It was a pity and a shame that I had a bad cold and a bad leg. If I had gone marching I would have had a much worse cold, two bad legs and one very angry wife.

Second day of Shavuos

On the second day of Shavuos, Shabbos, Sivan 7 (May 19), we davenedmincha at 7:00 p.m. and immediately afterwards we washed and made hamotzie (for the Yom Tov farbrengen). The problem was to find sufficient bread so that one did not make a brocha levatolah (blessing in vain). Furthermore, as we had to bentch on this later on, one had to eat a minimum shiur (amount).

Normally, this is not a problem at all. I generally bring along a couple of loaves, plenty of cake and a great deal of fruit. But this year it was Shabbos, and what little I had prepared beforehand was very soon swallowed up by the very many who pleaded and begged for a “crust of bread.”

At the farbrengen I like to sit in front, facing the Rebbe (who doesn’t?). Since the Rebbe’s table on the dais has now been widened, it was impossible to see the Rebbe from my usual seat (as I have previously mentioned.) So, after ten years, I decided to seek for myself another and better place.

I did find what I thought was a very ideal place – center block – and four seats from the front. The only trouble was that (a) someone was already sitting there and (b) this someone refused to move. I pleaded with him, begged and cajoled him to “please move just one seat nearer to the front.” He remained adamant.

Of course, it was just too bad for him that of all the hundreds of people sitting at the tables, I had to just pick on him. It was not his fault, he seemed a nice chappie and I did apologize for what subsequently happened.

I became angry when he clasped his hands around the table leg and he told me that he always sat in this place - all the year round - and he would not budge even for someone who had traveled thousands of miles to be present at this one farbrengen. I had no alternative but to accept his challenge.

I heaved and lunged. I used my feet, my elbows and fly shoulders and within seconds I had sent my newly found friend and neighbor sprawling along the bench. I had gained my objective. My only casualty was a jacket button. But then, looking around 770, one can hardly see one jacket or kapota that has not suffered some casualty or some rip or tear in the continual vying for the limited good spots. I can appreciate why I never see any new kapotas at a 770 farbrengen!

My new friend remarked that I must be a kohen as I had such a temper (I am not). He then told me the joke, “Why is a kohen always vexed? He washes, makes a brocha and bentches, but gets nothing to eat.” He was very pleased that I laughed at this old joke and we became firm friends.

Actually, more “firm” than I had anticipated. Because, having sat down, I could not move. It seemed that in the event I had not made such a good choice of seat.

The yeshiva boys who arrange the seating accommodation stand during the farbrengen. The two benches in between the tables are pressed so tightly together that they cannot be moved even a fraction of an inch.

So here I was, with my left leg jammed against the table leg and my right leg jammed against my neighbor’s knee. My back and backside were stuck against my other neighbor. Both of these men had the habit of shaking their knee, like a car with the engine running. No sooner had I managed to stop the front engine when the rear engine started. My teeth were chattering, my head was shaking, my legs were stiff with cramp and my voice was hoarse. For the maamar, it was almost impossible to rise, and stand up. I just leaned on the table like a drunken man. It was lucky for me that the Rebbe keeps his eyes closed during the maamar! Afterwards, the Rebbe asked me why I don’t sing and jump up and down (as I normally do when the Rebbe is “conducting” with gusto.) How I would have loved to oblige, in more ways than one. I think someone should tell the yeshiva boys to leave a little more room in between the tables. I am amazed that no legs or limbs are broken in the crush. ThankG-d, our Lubavitch chassidim are tough.

At one point in the middle of the farbrengen, I chanced a glance at the next table, and I received a bit of a shock. I saw about twelve young girls with long hair and wearing light-colored striped pajama suits. They were also joining in the singing and saying l’chaim to the Rebbe, while the Rebbe was encouraging them with warm friendly smiles

I then realized that of course they were young men! They actually stayed on right to the end of the farbrengen.

The farbrengen had commenced at 8:00 p.m. At 9:10 the Rebbe started the maamar and finished it in twelve minutes! I could not believe it had ended, although I did eagerly flop back into my seat.

I was wondering if such a short maamar was also a new innovation? I need not have worried, because about four hours later, at 1:20 a.m., the Rebbe delivered a second maamar, again preceded by the special niggun. This maamar lasted thirty minutes.

The Rebbe then called me up to the platform and handed me a bottle of vodka “to distribute amongst all those who had marched to Borough Park the previous day.” Bernard Perrin’s turn was next, Lou Teifenbrun was also given a Bottle. Well done, England.

Another interesting episode occurred when the Rebbe announced that he wished to say l’chaim to the person who had served the longest in a Russian prison. The Rebbe then held an auction, five years, ten years and the winner was he who had served for eleven years in a Russian jail.

A consolation prize went to the gentleman who had been sentenced to twenty-five years hard labor for teaching and studying Tanya with others; but after serving for only five years, he was released. He had lived in daily fear and dread of being arrested again, until he was fortunate to leave Russia for Israel.

Some of the things the Rebbe said during this farbrengen:

Three of our great Jewish leaders had major events of their lives occur on Shavuos. Additionally, they all share a common connection with each other. The three leaders are our teacher Moshe, King David and the Baal Shem Tov.

Shavuos is the time of Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah), which is referred to as Toras Moshe (Moshe’s Torah).

G-d chose Moshe to lead the Jews out of Egypt after observing how caring he was in looking after the sheep ofYisro, his father-in-law. Not only caring for the sheep, but even the smallest and tender of the lambs. Going as far as carrying one tired sheep on his shoulder! This in spite of the fact that Moshe was already about forty years old and a very wise and great personality.

King David was born and passed away on Shavuos. King David’s father could definitely have given him a more important job than tending to his sheep. And yet, David, too, while he was a shepherd, was sensitive to even the weakest animals, tending them with loving care and devotion.

The Baal Shem Tov passed away on Shavuos. He spent his first thirty-six years as a hidden tzadik; but even then, he could have occupied his energies with very lofty endeavors if he wanted. Yet we find the Baal Shem Tov, in those early years, as a teacher’s assistant, tending and caring for little children, praying with them and teaching them the brochos. The Jewish people, and especially the children, are often referred to as G-d’s sheep.

These three, our greatest leaders and shepherds, realized that their first consideration was to teach and care for the “little ones” before anyone else. And when G-d saw this consideration and sensitivity, he declared, “You will tend my sheep,” the Jewish people.

We find with the Baal Show Tov, that he had less time or inclination for talmidei chachomim - the so-called intellectuals - children came first.

If one wishes to raise a structure one had to lift it from the bottom. It is no use raising it from the middle. That way there is no foundation and no future.

At 2:30 in the morning, the Rebbe led bentching and, although it was five hours since Yom Tov and Shabbos had ended, we still said retzei and yaaleh veyovo.

We then davened maariv, with most people standing on tables, benches, and toes (of others). It was not even possible for everyone to turn towards mizrach (east).

Kos Shel Brocha

Then they announced that the usual after Yom Tov procedure of theRebbe making havdalah would be followed. After which all would file past the Rebbe, in an orderly manner, gently and with decorum, to receive the kos shel brocha directly from the Rebbe’s hands.

A strong appeal was made that there should be no pushing nor standing on tables; everyone should file past with dignity.

I was asked to get off the table, which I did because I also wished to set a good example to others.

We in England are well trained to queue, which is a sane and sensible way of “getting served.”

A cheerful, exhilarating tune was started and the pressure of the boys was so great that it was now impossible to stand on one’s own feet. I felt myself being pushed slowly but relentlessly forward and right past where the Rebbe was standing above on the platform.

To add to my distress, I noticed that many men and students were committing the unpardonable sin - to an Englishman - of jumping the line.

To make matters even worse, another line had formed, on the very tables, which I had vacated only a short while ago. A couple of students, supposedly organizers, had joined hands below these tables and allowed no one to jump up on these, except of course their own friends.

It was now 2:30 in the morning. Normally I may have been satisfied to wait another two hours singing and watching the Rebbe, but Roselyn was waiting for me to take her home. It was pretty dangerous – to say the least – for a lady to walk alone at that time of the night (or early morning) in Brooklyn, New York.

So... Well! It was short, sharp and to the point. There I was back at the same spot, which I had relinquished only ten minutes earlier. I still held the large paper tumbler in my hand, very crushed, but still usable.

I am sure there must be a better way and a fairer method of organizing kos shel brocha, without it being a “free for all.”

Meanwhile, amidst all this excitement, the Rebbe is carrying on, unperturbed, and pouring out the wine into everyone’s cup or other container.

It was soon my turn. I told the Rebbe that I had sixteen customers waiting in England for this kos shel brocha.

“Very good,” said the Rebbe, smiling, and he started counting (in Yiddish): “Ains, tzvei, drai ... fertzen, fuftzin, zechtzen.” My cup was now literally “full to the brim.”

This certainly made up for all my previous upsets and arguments.

Kinus Hatorah

On Sunday, Sivan 8 (May 21), the kinus hatorah took place. This year, for the first time, it was held downstairs in the large shul. Rabbi Mentelik, whose big day this was, had made sure that I would be speaking “as usual.”

“The boys like it,” he said. As was the custom, the kinus hatorah commenced at about 3:30 after mincha, and went on until almost time formaariv, at about 9:00.

I will admit that most of the speakers were interesting. Each had a stack of gemoras and other seforim for reference. Every year, there was always someone who disagreed with their arguments and reason, and so started further arguments and reasoning. Unlike at the Rebbe’s farbrengen, men and boys were interjecting their comments and continuously walking in and out of the hall. The audience had changed over completely many times during the afternoon.

Rabbi Mentelik ensured that I should listen to at least three pilpulim, two whilst I was waiting for my turn to be called up, and one after I had given my talk, as I could not insult the next speaker by immediately walking out after my address.

To save myself the trouble of preparing a paper, I took the easy way out by reading excerpts from last year’s diary. They loved the section dealing with the Rebbe’s 70th birthday (this past Yud-aleph Nissan.) They lapped it up and enjoyed it immensely. They all clamored for copies of the diary. I could have made a fortune!

And yet, a number of students were disappointed that I had not told them a few jokes, as I normally do. One cannot please everyone!

Visiting the Rebbetzin

We again had the zechus to visit our dear Rebbetzin at her home. Actually we had a double zechus, because we were fortunate to visit her on two separate occasions, as we did last year.

Her house had just been redecorated. It was very nice and bright. Our Rebbetzin also looked very nice and bright; she seemed much younger than last year. She oozes charm and graciousness. To quote an expression often used by the Rebbetzin herself, which translates as exceptional, “umberuffen.” We feel proud and privileged to again be in her company.

She inquired about our children and grandchildren, especially regarding Susan, for whom we delivered another letter to the Rebbetzin. In her letters, Susan describes the daily and intimate happenings which occur at home in Manchester.

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours together. I read out excerpts from last year’s diary, my Israel diary and parts of this Shavuos trip’s diaries, which I am writing now (I had brief notes.)

The Rebbetzin praised my work (it was not just politeness, she is obviously a real lady,) and remarked that I had talent and a gift for writing. She recommended that I have all my diaries printed in one volume. (Rabbi Chodakov, Rabbi Groner and quite a number of others have also requested – nay demanded – that I do this.)

On our second visit with the Rebbetzin, time simply fled. The two hours seemed like thirty minutes and it was time for mincha.

I told the Rebbetzin that the Rebbe had written to me last year that although he had discontinued the custom of chassidim joining him for theYom Tov meals, “It’s a real pleasure to see you at the davening andfarbrengen.”

If the Rebbe has pleasure in seeing me at the davening, then I had better make quick steps to be at the Rebbe’s mincha at 770. The Rebbetzin agreed and confirmed that the Rebbe does enjoy seeing me and everyone at the davening. Although it did seem that the Rebbe does not notice anyone, the Rebbetzin assured me that he saw everybody and it made him very happy indeed. It gave him much fargenigen (pleasure).

770 life

I went to see Rabbi Chodakov in his office at 5:00. He is a very fine, outstanding man and scholar, extremely friendly and inspiring, as befits theRebbe’s personal secretary.

In spite of several interruptions and buzzes on the telephone, I managed to spend an enlightening, pleasant and most exhilarating thirty-five minutes together with him.

He made many suggestions for us in Manchester.

“Arrange shiurim for small groups of professional people, for instance, doctors and lawyers, in private houses.” We should “look after the small communities in England.” “Rabbi Chaim Farro should work with youth.”

He wanted to know if Avrohom works (I should say he does, and overtime, for Lubavitch too.) I should “put all the diaries together and make a small book.” “What is new in Manchester?” “Have you a free loan fund?” “You must have two guarantors for each loan.” And so on and so forth.

It is always a pleasure to spend a few minutes with Rabbi Chodakov.

I recently heard the following interesting story about Rabbi A.D. Sufrin (from London). He complained to the Rebbe that he was overworked and wished to give up some of his responsibilities. The Rebbe asked him his age.

A.D. replied “forty-two years old.”

The Rebbe retorted that he - the Rebbe - was over seventy and had just established seventy-one new mosdos (organizations), and therefore A.D. should have founded forty-three new projects. There was great excitement and frantic telephone calls to ascertain whether the Rebbe was joking. Of course, the Rebbe does not just make jokes, especially about such matters.

I was soon back into the old 770 routine. Shacharis at 9:30 was ridiculously late. But, after two weeks in Brooklyn, I wondered why they davened shacharis so early, as I was always late!

On Monday morning, Sivan 9 (May 22), I was present for layning at aminyan (the Rebbe was not present), and a fellow who had yahrtzeit was expecting the third and final aliyah. Young Dovid Mandelbaum, the actinggabbai, called up a bar mitzvah boy! Oh dear, oh dear, what a rumpus, what a carrying on. This man claimed that a Rov - everybody, even I, became a Rov in 770 - told him he had the priority as a yahrtzeit. So the fellow now rushed to Rabbi Dvorkin, who unhesitatingly and categorically stated that there was no din torah (case), as young Mandelbaum had done the correct thing. Except, had Mandelbaum asked the kohen to leave before commencing to call up the first aliyah, he would have gained an extra aliyah, and could have thus satisfied both chiyuvim.

Rabbi Dvorkin explained to me that the top priority for an aliyah was always a choson, then a bar mitzvah, third was for a bris and only fourth was a yahrtzeit. He also pointed out to me that one should have an aliyah on the Shabbos before the birthday (one was not a special chiyuv for his bar mitzvah sedra at all). Also, Shabbos morning before a yahrtzeit was the correct time for his aliyah, not at Shabbos mincha, nor during the week.

I told Rabbi Dvorkin that every Yom Tov has its own peculiarities: onPesach we eat matzo, on Sukkos we eat in a small roofless hut, and onShavuos the Jaffes eat on top of the kollel!

On Monday afternoon, I had the honor and distinction of meeting the “assistant educational director for Eastern Parkway.” He wished to borrow ten dollars until Thursday. It was none other than my old friend B. from Manchester, who was now studying at 770.

I was delighted to hear that he was making such wonderful progress. In addition to this directorship, which carried a small salary, he was also receiving fifty dollars a week from the anti-poverty welfare. Another fifteen dollars a week was paid to him as a “pupil who could not speak English.” (At 770, I cannot imagine that he ever will!) Actually, nearly all this money he received went to the yeshiva, not, I repeat not, to my friend. He is one of 110 boys learning at the new yeshiva across the street from 770, which used to be a shul. They have a wonderful library with no books; so, would I mind helping?

We were invited to come along to two weddings that evening. The only trouble was that we were not told where, nor when, they were to take place. It was just “Come to the wedding.” We did hear afterwards that one took place in Philadelphia!

I surmised the Rebbe would come out to say kiddush levonah on Monday night. Normally, the Rebbe does so immediately after maariv when Shabbos ends. However, this year, Shabbos coincided with the Yom Tovfarbrengen.

Many men and yeshiva boys had already performed this mitzvah and there were also those two weddings taking place. So only a few hundred people were present when the Rebbe came directly to the spot where I was standing, which was the nearest position outside 770 from where the moon was visible.

Once again, I had the pleasure of replying to the Rebbe’s “Sholom aleichem” and the privilege of greeting the Rebbe with my own “Sholom aleichem,” to which I received the answer “Aleichem sholom.”

It was now nearly 11:00 p.m. and there was great excitement and singing, as the choson and kallah were now standing under the chupah. I was told that the wedding was called for 7:30 p.m., only three and half hours late, which is not bad for some Lubavitch weddings.

I will never understand why they do not follow the example of the Rebbe. When the Rebbe promised to officiate at Hindy’s marriage to Shmuel(which, incidentally, was the last time the Rebbe officiated) he said the chupah should be at 5:00 p.m. The Rebbe returned from the ohel that day at five minutes to five, tired and hungry. Rabbi Chodakov thought the Rebbe would daven mincha first. But no: at exactly 5:00 the Rebbe emerged from the doorway and at that very same moment Hindy came up the garden steps at 770, and they met under the chupah. That is what is referred to as good timekeeping!

Roselyn complained bitterly about the decorum in the shul. She could not hear the davening, nor the layning. It was impossible to daven with kavono. It was like a fish market. Woman chattering, girls jabbering, kids jumping about. She placed a paper towel on the bench to keep her clothes clean from the children scurrying around, but everyone stood on the paper towel.

At the farbrengen, it is just as bad. Roselyn said ‘‘It is just too ridiculous. The “natives” do not appreciate the Rebbe as they should.”

A complete stranger approached me in 770. He told me that he had read my diary at a friend’s house. He enjoyed it because it vividly recaptured the whole atmosphere of Lubavitch.

No Goodbye Yechidus

On Tuesday, Sivan 10 (May 23), I received a very nice letter from theRebbe. This is a rough translation of the Hebrew:

(1) Regarding the diary, I have read it and again it finds favor in my eyes. I wish to add that your son-in-law, Rabbi ShmuelLew, is correct when he maintains that when you write your diary and describe a farbrengen, it is worthwhile to write at least about one of the points that were discussed.

(Hitherto, I have invariably had a Yechidus before leaving for home, this, in addition to our regular one. I had requested from the Rebbe for this goodbye yechidus in a letter.)

(2) Regarding speaking to me personally before your departure: In general you are quite right. In this instance, however, there are so many people from Georgia, Bucharrah and other places in Russia, who have waited for decades for this opportunity and who will be unable to come here in the near future. They are not accustomed to write to me and they are here for only a few weeks. If I were to fulfill the aforementioned good thing, of speaking with you personally in my room more than once, then the yechidus would last a considerable time. I am sure you will agree that these people should have precedence. I am sure you will understand.

Of course I understand!

Sunday night there were over sixty people to see the Rebbe, who was kept constantly busy from 8:00 p.m. until about 5 the next morning. On Tuesday, nearly fifty people kept the Rebbe fully and continuously occupied, without a break (except for maariv), until after 4:30 in the morning.

Rabbi Shlomo Goren had visited the Rebbe a few weeks previously and stayed for two hours.

Those days (or nights!) have now gone when I could spend two and half hours at one yechidus, and then still have an additional yechidus for an hour-and-a-half before leaving for home.

Thank G-d, in the fourteen years since I have been visiting our Rebbe, theLubavitch movement has grown enormously all over the world.

Fifteen years ago in Manchester, one could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who wrote to, or communicated with, the Rebbe. (I think this is also an exaggeration because after Rabbi Rein, my uncle, passed away, I cannot think of even one person who wrote to the Rebbe from Manchester, let alone visited the Rebbe.)

Today, still referring to Manchester, there are literally hundreds of men and women, boys and girls, who are constantly writing to and actually visiting the Rebbe in Brooklyn. In my own family during the past twelve months, Roselyn and I, Avrohom, Hindy and Shmuel and four grandchildren have been to see the Rebbe, and our family is small compared to others.

Multiply this all over the world and you can readily understand a quarter of this wonderful “problem.” This is the natural increase. Add to that the increase in the number of those Jews who have joined Lubavitch ranks from other branches of Judaism, or those who have converted to Judaism and joined Lubavitch. Additionally, travel by plane now is quicker, cheaper and more convenient than it used to be. It is now possible, and very plausible, to visit the Rebbe for just a few days. Look how many came last year for the 70th birthday of the Rebbe. This huge shul has become much too small, whereas fourteen years ago the even smaller shul upstairs was quite ample.

The past year has also seen the growth of another modern invention, “direct dialing.” It is a marvelous convenience. One just lifts the telephone and dials fourteen digits and in a couple of seconds one is directly in touch with 770, at only 25p for half a minute.

And everyone wants only the Rebbe. Alright, it is admitted that one does not speak directly to the Rebbe, but through the various secretaries, the Rebbe has to transmit his replies and advice that are sought, even through the phone and so forth.

How one human being can cope with such a huge “business” is beyond anyone’s understanding.

So when Label Groner tells one not to keep the Rebbe too long in yechidus, one should take notice and not be selfish, for the Rebbe’s sake and for the sake of everybody else.


It was Wednesday night,Sivan 11 (May 24), and it was now time for our yechidus. We were waiting in the office when I was shocked - pleasantly so - to see walking in my brother Maurice. He was accompanied by his wife Ella and Carmella, Maurice’s secretary, all having just arrived from Israel. Carmella had no appointment with theRebbe. She came on the off-chance, hoping she would be fitted in somewhere, sometime during the night.

Leibel Groner was a little cross. He had been refusing appointments for people all night, and here comes Maurice and brings along a “guest,” too. This guest, Carmella, had also brought along her friend.

Well, poor Label, had to surrender to Maurice’s persuasion and “protection,” but he was not a bit pleased.

However, Carmella had some grave problems to discuss with the Rebbe. She went into the Rebbe’s room, waiting to hear the Rebbe’s advice andbrocha. She soon came out and burst into tears of relief and joy.

The waiting hall was crowded. Particularly, there were very many Russians waiting to go in.

One woman who had already seen the Rebbe at a previous yechidus, was having a row with Label. She wanted to see the Rebbe again. “No, no, no,” says Label, and that was final. We found that she had sidled into the Rebbe’s room before anyone could stop her (as soon as someone emerged, she was in like a flash).

Hershel Peckar’s daughter from London was given a beautiful smile and asiddur from the Rebbe.

It was now our own turn, at about three in the morning. In our ears was ringing Leibel’s warning to us, not to keep the Rebbe too long. The Rebbe intended to go to the ohel that day, fasting as usual. If yechidus ended too late that morning, it would not be possible for the Rebbe to have even a drink first.

In the event, we kept the Rebbe for only twenty minutes. This time we asked the Rebbe for a brocha for ourselves right away, unlike on a previous occasion when we almost forgot about ourselves.

I told the Rebbe that “Last year the Rebbe gave us the brocha ‘iber dem kop’ (over the head) and we now want the same again.”

The Rebbe expressed surprise, “Have you NO ambition? This year you should have even more!”

The Rebbe said I could thank G-d for arranging to meet my brother Maurice at 770.

I made a request of the Rebbe for three bottles of mashke for three chasonim in England, David Kessler, Avrohom Klyne and Aryeh Freeman. The Rebbe wanted to know whether I would take one bottle and divide it out in England. I said if the Rebbe insisted, I would do so. The Rebbe asked whether the weddings are before or after the three weeks. In the end, the Rebbe agreed to give me three bottles for the three weddings.

The Rebbe asked about Sigmund Margulies and then about Mrs. Benson, who was acting clerk to the shechita board, “A woman? – no offense to Mrs. Jaffe - [but] can she manage?”

We discussed Lubavitch in Manchester, the “new building,” the concert and many other communal issues. The Rebbe also advised me on my business matters.

The Rebbe sent regards to our children and grandchildren. When I told the Rebbe that Yossi (eight years old now) learns mishna and gemora, the Rebbe asked “would Yossi come with you to Brooklyn?” (When we told that to Yossi, he said he would be delighted. Subsequently, Shmuelbrought him together with his brother Mendy, for Shavuos the next year.)

On a previous occasion, two years ago, the Rebbe told me to bring Yossi, which we did. Yossi brought his bother Mendy, who brought his father and all the family, and so Roselyn was kept very busy.

We had a few good laughs and took our leave from the Rebbe’s presence. A good, short but splendid, yechidus.

Thinking About Every Jew

The Rebbe is always thinking about every single Jew, wherever they are.

A local lady, Mrs. N., phoned me regarding help in adopting a baby. She had been married for about six years and although the doctors in this case could find nothing wrong medically with this couple, they were not blessed with offspring.

Rabbi Farro, the woman and I all wrote to the Rebbe. In due course, the Rebbe replied directly to Mrs. N. The peculiarity about this letter was that it was written in Hebrew. Yet to me, the Rebbe always replies in English. Poor Mrs. N.! What could she do? She could not understand one word! Naturally, she went with it to Rabbi Farro who not only translated it, but explained the minutest detail to her and all the aspects and regulations concerning taharas hamishpocho (family purity), which the Rebbe had stressed in his letter. The Rebbe added that Please G-d, in due course, if she kept this mitzvah of family purity, then she would be blessed with loving her own children.

Another proof of the Rebbe’s care for every Jew everywhere (if proof is even needed!)

Six of the yeshiva students who were studying in Brooklyn have been sent to Australia, to study in Melbourne for two years in order to strengthen the yeshiva there. This began a number of years ago.

This year, when the Rebbe saw the group before they left America, he told them to stop over in England.

“How long shall we stay?” they asked.

“As long as possible,” was the answer.

They intended staying for only one day in London and then traveling on, via Israel. Fortunately for us, their plane tickets had been delayed in the mail and when they telephoned to New York for instructions, they were told to visit Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow too.

All six students, Aaron Eliezer Ceitlin, Yosef Kraimer, Yosef YitzchokChitrik, Sholom Baras, Sholom Spalter and Yaakov Reizes, arrived in Manchester on Thursday.

They visited the Beis-Din, schools, yeshivos and other communal organizations, including the offices of the Jewish Telegraph. (Sidney Needoff told me that I must tell the Rebbe how much he enjoys the “Thoughts of the Week” printed every week in the Jewish Telegraph)

In the evening we held a farbrengen, where about eighty people attended and each of the six students addressed us. It was an excellent function.

The students were outstanding. Someone remarked, “The Rebbe knows who to send.”

Two of the students stayed in Manchester over Shabbos and spoke in various shuls, whilst the remainder either returned to London or went to other cities.

Shabbos Nosso

The final Shabbos of our stay, Sivan 14 (May 27), parshas Nosso, had now arrived. Because Yom Tov was on a Shabbos this year, we had missed an “ordinary” Shabbos. There were five chasonim, and for the first time since I have been coming to 770, I did not have an aliyah. This proves my point about the tremendous growth of Lubavitch.

Thank G-d (and the Rebbe) there was a farbrengen.

During this farbrengen the Rebbe also addressed the issue of mixed dancing at weddings:

Marriage is, as the choson says to his bride to be “harai at mekudeshes lee,” meaning you are consecrated to me - to me only. Shortly thereafter he is forced to see his wife - his bride - dancing with other men. What kind of holiness is this? Holiness means to be separated and special. Husband and wife are “holy” to and for each other.

Mixed dances at weddings means that G-d’s Shechina(Divine presence) is not present and no mazel for the future. It is contrary to what we wish the choson and kallah.

Incidentally, there were three sets of sheva brochos during this farbrengen.

During the farbrengen, the Rebbe gave me the three bottles of vodka I had requested for the three chasonim in England.

(After the farbrengen, two Russian chassidim begged me for a small drop for their families. It was not mine, really, but how could I refuse? I am sure that the chasonim would be very happy to know what pleasure they had given to these people.)

During the last sicha, the Rebbe spoke about tzeischem l’sholom (wishing well to people who are leaving) and then quoting the pirkei avos of this Shabbos, said:

Shamai says... “Greet everyone with a happy smile.” Usually we would associate such a teaching with Hillel, as Hillel always leaned on the side of chesed (kindness). But, we accepted this ruling from Shamai, who was always stricter, to show us that it was not “kindness” to greet our fellows with a happy smile, but a definite duty.

The Rebbe said he loves to welcome everyone who comes especially to spend Shavuos, the time of Matan Torah, with him. But, although we are leaving the Rebbe’s presence, we are always connected spiritually.

Please G-d, the Rebbe looks forward to seeing us personally again next Shavuos.

Going Home

The day of our departure had arrived, Sivan 16 (May 29). Although we did not have our second yechidus, the Rebbe approached us as we were standing near the door ready to leave back to Manchester and said, with a lovely glorious smile, “Fohrt gezunterheit un lost grissen alemen in dee heim.” (Travel safely and convey my regards back home.)

And with this nice brocha for a safe journey, we left 770, well pleased with this year’s encounter with the Rebbe.