תשרי תש"מ - ר' זלמן יפה (אנגלית)

מתוך Yomanim

קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש

The full version in PDF:

מדיה:תשרי תש"מ - ר' זלמן יפה.pdf

תוכן עניינים

Crying Over the Peoples’ Entreaties

Last year, 1979, Yoseph Yitzchok ("Yossi") Lew, my oldest grandson, who was fourteen years old at the time, spent the whole month of Tishrei in Crown Heights, hosted by Nechama and Mendel Baumgarten. This enabled him to be near the Rebbe for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. He was overjoyed and thrilled with his experiences over the holidays. He felt he had gained a tremendous spiritual stimulus that would fortify him not only throughout the following year, but for the rest of his life.

This year, his parents, Hindy (my daughter) and Shmuel, encouraged him to repeat last year's experiment. They also persuaded Yossi to take with him his younger brother, Menachem Mendel, who was one-and-a-half years his junior. Again they stayed with the Baumgartens.

Yossi related to me that the Rebbe himself blew the first (main) thirty notes of the shofar on the podium. First the Rebbe took three large paper sacks, which were crammed full with pidyonot – entreaties – which had been sent to him, asking him to beg G‑d on behalf of the writers for life, health, nachas, livelihood, and so forth. The Rebbe placed these sacks on top of the podium, and it was almost completely covered by them. The Rebbe then drew his prayer shawl up over his head, enveloping the podium and its contents as well. He lowered his head onto the podium, meditated, prayed, and wept—appealing to the Almighty to bless all the Jewish people everywhere with a good and happy new year, and to fulfill the desires of those who had sent him petitions.

The Rebbe then commenced to recite the blessings prior to the blowing of the shofar. It was a solemn and awe-inspiring moment, and Yossi admitted that he very nearly fainted. I remarked that stronger men might have fainted in similar circumstances.

"Oh no," retorted Yossi, "It was not the solemnity of the occasion. It was the terrible crush of thousands of men and boys, who were all trying to get nearer and nearer to the Rebbe to better hear the blowing of the shofar, which almost crushed my ribs and broke my back."

That was the reason why he nearly fainted.

Just before Yom Kippur, I received several reports from 770 to the effect that Crown Heights was full to overflowing. In addition to the many families streaming in from every corner of the United States, there were many thousands of visitors from Israel and France and around the world.

Sleeping accommodations were at a premium. I was becoming a little anxious about our own accommodations. Our friend Raizie Minkowitz had already promised me, many months previously, that she expected us to be her guests – with full board and lodging, free of charge – for Simchat Torah. When I heard how crowded Crown Heights was, I immediately telephoned Raizie for reassurance, and it was a great relief to learn that she was expecting us and everything was in order.

Lubavitch families in Brooklyn are providing a tremendous and invaluable service by generously opening up their homes to the visitors. It is a pity that there is not even one hotel in Crown Heights at which one could stay. But of course, even hotels are limited to a certain number of rooms (more or less).

Last year, someone approached me with a proposition. He wished to open a hotel and for me to be his partner. I was interested and asked the Rebbe for his opinion. I was told that "it is not your business and don't bother."

A Yom Kippur Story

The anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch (1834-1882), known as the Rebbe Maharash, takes place around this time. This gives me the cue and the opportunity to relate a little story about Rabbi Shmuel, of righteous memory.

The story concerns Rabbi Rivkin, a Lubavitch rabbi who lived in Manchester many years ago. He was also a member of the city's rabbinical court.

Prior to his birth, Rabbi Rivkin's mother had given birth to two boys, both of whom had died at a very young age. When she was pregnant with him, she was sorely afraid that the same thing would happen again.

She contacted the Rebbe Maharash for help and guidance, for she was extremely worried.

The Rebbe advised her to have an earring made from an atarah (a silver "crown" that some affix to the collar of the prayer shawl) and instructed that the baby should wear the earring throughout his life.

She obtained this small, thin earring, and in due course she placed it in the left ear of the young "Rabbi" Rivkin. He wore this for many years and enjoyed good health.

Just once, in the course of his sojourn on this world, did he remove this earring—and he became so ill that he replaced it immediately.

One year. on the eve of Yom Kippur, I, together with a good friend of mine, Motel Jaffe (no relation), went to visit Rabbi Rivkin to extend our wishes for a good new year to him. After we left, Rabbi Rivkin made his way to the mikvah, the ritual bath, and then he continued to the synagogue for Yom Kippur services. He was halfway up the steps when he collapsed – and died. It was then discovered that the earring was missing! He was 77 years of age.

A thorough search was made of the mikvah, but there was no sign of the earring – and it has never been seen since.

Sukkot with the Rebbe and Chabad's Financial Troubles

Preparation to Visit 770 for Simchat Torah

We decided this year to visit the Rebbe for the last days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. This would be the first time that we would have the pleasure of spending these holidays with the Rebbe, and we were looking forward to some new experiences.

On the fourth day of Sukkot, while still in Manchester, I wrote the following letter to the Rebbe, which I intended to take with me and deliver personally into the Rebbe's mail box at 770.

"My Dear Rebbe, may you live a long life,

I am writing this letter at home, and I hope, please G‑d, to bring it with me tomorrow. So, when you receive this note, you will realize that, thank G‑d, Roselyn and I have arrived, together with Chaim Dovid (Avrohom's eldest son, 14 years old) and Yenta Chaya (Hindy's eldest daughter, 12 years old). Yossie and Mendel, Hindy's eldest sons, have been in Crown Heights for the past few weeks. We are staying with Meir & Raizie Minkowitz for one week. We would have liked to have stayed longer, but we do not wish to impose upon friends…
I have been warned by Dovid Abenson to take my oldest suit, my most battered hat, and – if possible – steel-toed boots, for the farbrengen [Chassidic gathering] and for Simchat Torah. "I will be crushed from all sides and my ribs may be broken. The heat will be stifling and I should also take a bottle of oxygen." It sounds terrible. In fact, I do not think I could actually enjoy myself – I may not even be in a position to see or hear what is going on! But maybe I will be able to write a few pages in my [diary's] next edition…
Roselyn, as I have mentioned, will be with me. I surely cannot imagine what she will do all the time. To find a place to see or even hear in the women's synagogue will be a sheer impossibility. It is bad enough on the holiday of Shavuot.
However, it will be a new experience to which I am looking forward – with some little trepidation.
Anyway, here I am,

Zalmon Jaffe

I also wrote another note about certain financial affairs of Manchester Chabad. Our problem – and it is a common one these days – was that although we owned extremely valuable property, we suffered from an acute cash flow shortage, mainly because we were heavily overdrawn in the bank, with interest at over 20%!

It was suggested by one of our supporters and sympathizers that we could sell our premises and rent them back again. By these means we would receive a big cash influx, which would enable us to repay our bank overdraft and still leave a considerable balance that could be invested. The income from this would enable us to pay the rent, and there would still be a considerable amount available for routine expenses. Our supporter guaranteed that we would always enjoy a larger income from this investment than we would expend on the rent and other disbursements.

I asked the Rebbe for advice and guidance.

Sukkot with the Rebbe

It was a beautiful, hot, summer-like day when we left Manchester for New York. We were dressed for the part, in lightweight suits and clothes. I carried the traditional "four species" of Sukkot.

We were all enjoying a very pleasant flight until the captain announced over the loudspeakers that it was actually snowing in New York, and the temperature was minus two! I did not relish the idea of reciting the blessing over the etrog in the snow.

We eventually arrived at 770. The snow had given way to sleet and then settled down to a heavy drizzle of rain. It was most depressing after the lovely hot and sunny weather which we had been enjoying in Manchester.

Meanwhile, the morning service started promptly in the synagogue.

The Rebbe stood in his usual place in the front right-hand corner of the large synagogue. During the entire month of Tishrei, this area, about 20 feet long by 20 feet wide, had been raised to a height of about three feet, and four steps led up to this large raised platform. This ensured that the Rebbe was isolated.

With such huge numbers of people having arrived for the holiday, not doing this would have put the Rebbe in danger of being crushed. More important was the fact that no one was allowed on the platform, so that no one could encroach upon the Rebbe and breathe down his neck.

Everyone was looking after the Rebbe and his health. I do not blame anyone, but some men did take these precautions to absurd limits (more about that later on).

During the morning service, one circuit of the podium is made by all the worshippers, holding their etrogim and lulavim, in procession.

First of all went the "leader of the band" – the cantor. He was pulled and dragged along by someone because he wanted to savor every single moment – and he wished to sing – whether he could or couldn't. Our Rebbe – "the general" – followed, and behind him, in ranks of three or four abreast, marched his troops. Every soldier, including the general, held a drawn bayonet (the lulav) and a hand grenade (the etrog). The Jewish Army! It was a wonderful sight, a forest of hundreds of green bayonets and yellow hand grenades.

The Rebbe would not allow the service to continue until every single person had completed the circuit.

Financial Advice

Over the course of the day, I received two replies from the Rebbe to the letters which I had delivered the previous evening. The first contained thanks from the Rebbe – "thank you, thank you" – and a reciprocation of our good wishes for a happy and joyous holiday, as well as assurance that I should have no fear because it would not be necessary to bring old clothes.

The second was an answer to my query regarding the financial affairs of Manchester Lubavitch.

The Rebbe's reply was as follows:

(1) If we sold our premises, even though we would still possess a place for studying Chabad philosophy and praying, it would be a public admission that our strength in Manchester was being eroded.
(2) In these difficult days and times in England, it was most unreasonable to assume that our income would always be more than our expenditure.
(3) A common sense and business approach would suggest that we should try to obtain a mortgage on our property from a building society. In this way, over the course of time, our borrowing would eventually be repaid.

The above was certainly a very straightforward reply to my queries.

In these stringent times, we never even considered the possibility of having any success getting a loan. However, upon my return to England, I commenced to make enquiries about getting this mortgage. In general, building society loans are only given to householders – and hardly ever to synagogues or organizations, such as ours. Building societies are not keen to sue the trustees and they would never have the audacity to foreclose or dispossess a religious association. Therefore, they have one simple formula: "Keep away from this type of business."

Well, by some miracle, we did obtain this mortgage from the largest building society in the world: the Halifax Building Society. They assured us that they do not normally accept business from synagogues and so forth, but, in this instance, they were prepared to have just one customer of this type on their books. The mortgage was to be repaid over a ten year period, and the monthly payments were actually less than the present bank interest charges alone! It did not seem possible or feasible – but it was!

Hoshanah Rabbah with Etrog and Cake

Evening service was, as usual, at 9:30 p.m., and it took place in the small synagogue upstairs. A new system was in force: only a very limited number of people were allowed to pray in the room with the Rebbe. They were very strict about this, because otherwise the place would become too oppressively hot and stifling for the Rebbe.

The result of all this was that the hallway and corridors became jammed and packed full of students. Roselyn, who normally always stood outside in the hallway and waited to see the Rebbe when he passed from his study to the synagogue, was pushed and shoved back further by the press of boys, until she found herself right outside the building, and of course never saw and was not seen by the Rebbe.

That night was Hoshannah Rabbah, the final day of the holiday of Sukkot, and one should stay up all night learning. At 1 a.m., the Rebbe arrived, and we all said the whole book of Psalms…

During morning services, we needed hoshannos, willows, to bang on the floor, a symbolic gesture of discarding one's sins.

We had bought ours on the previous day.

On this day of Hoshannah Rabbah, the procession makes the circuit around the podium not once, but seven times. With so many thousands of people wishing to take part, there would soon be an impasse.

So a clear and unambiguous announcement was made that the Rebbe, followed by just seven or ten distinguished rabbis, would be the only ones to go around the podium the entire seven times at once. Afterwards, everyone else would have their turn. The service would not be continued until all had completed the going around.

The cantor led the way – then the Rebbe – and a few rabbis joined the procession. The Rebbe's aide signaled that I should follow too. I felt a little – a lot – unworthy. I am certainly not an illustrious rabbi, not even an undistinguished one.

However, he insisted very strongly – so I succumbed, and off I went. At the third round, the number had increased to thirty. By the time we had completed the seventh and final circuit, there were over a hundred distinguished rabbis in the procession (less one "non-rabbi").

After which, literally thousands marched and charged around the podium the seven times.

To conclude this part of the service, the Rebbe took his willows, bent right down, and banged them on the floor five times.

The Torah scroll was taken out of the ark to read the portion for the holiday. The Rebbe clapped his hands vigorously together, and in quick tempo, proceeded to sing very furiously, "Ana avdo," "I am the servant of the Holy One…," a prayer said as the Torah is brought out. All joined in, and this went on non-stop for about three or four minutes.

I received another unexpected honor that morning. I was called up to the Torah. It made me feel very humble and grateful.

Every Hoshannah Rabbah, after morning services, the Rebbe commences to distribute honey cake, lekach. He stands at the door of his own sukkah, situated in the front garden of 770. A queue is formed and everyone is personally handed a piece of honey cake by the Rebbe.

On this morning, there was already a good crowd waiting when the Rebbe came along. He entered the sukkah, and I could see, through the doorway, tray upon tray of honey cake stacked upon the table.

One of the Rebbe's aides, Rabbi Leibel Groner, took hold of me and led me to the front of the queue. I was therefore the first to be served. The Rebbe, with a happy smile, handed me a piece of honey cake and wished me a blessing for a good and sweet New Year. I asked for a piece for my son Avrohom and his family, and received the same for him, including the blessing for a good sweet year for him too.

Throughout the time we spent at 770, there were strong arguments and counterarguments continuously going on. The subject matter was the health of our Rebbe, and the debate centered upon the following theory. Was it right and proper to preserve the energy and health of the Rebbe by discouraging people from collecting the honey cake?

One of our rabbis had actually persuaded one of the Rebbe's aides that, for the Rebbe's sake, people should not actually be forbidden, G‑d forbid, but at least should be strongly dissuaded from imposing upon the Rebbe's time and energy. He had a very good point. The Rebbe would normally be handing out honey cake all day long, and if one could save the Rebbe even an hour or two of work, then it was well worth the effort.

This campaign had a very marked effect. 3:3O p.m., following afternoon services, was the time when the Rebbe distributed honey cake to the ladies, and there were very few clients. The small pitiful queue was nearing its tail end. It seemed a real shame and disrespect to the Rebbe that there were so few ladies willing to take advantage of the Rebbe's hospitality, generosity, and blessings.

Roselyn was standing nearby, so I shouted to her to join the end of the line. She did so and took with her Yenta Chaya. The Rebbe gave Roselyn some cake and a nice blessing and asked, "Where is your granddaughter?"

"Here she is," declared Roselyn, and indicated Yenta Chaya, who had been partly hidden by Roselyn. The Rebbe beamed at her and also handed her a piece of cake.

That was the end of the queue and the next unusual occurrence was the site of the poor aide appealing to some women to please come to ask for honey cake.

I was told that the Rebbe had asked the aide why there were so few people. He had related the story that someone had persuaded him to discourage people from coming forward.

The Rebbe expressed displeasure about what had transpired.

Incidentally, and significantly, this rabbi who had given this advice had himself gone personally to the Rebbe for honey cake.

His excuse was that he represented hundreds of people, and he wanted the cake for them. This same rabbi's daughter had a similar excuse: her classmates had begged her to bring home some honey cake from the Rebbe. What a lovely and lucky coincidence!!

At 4:30 p.m., the Rebbe had completed the distribution of honey cake. He descended the steps outside 770 in order to enter his car and leave for his home. I commenced a lively melody – everyone joined in – and so did the Rebbe. When the Rebbe drew up alongside me, he halted and smiled.

"Where are your grandchildren?"

Waving my arms about rather vaguely, I stuttered that "they are around here somewhere."

"Why did they not come for honey cake?" interjected the Rebbe.

I was thunderstruck and replied, a little hesitatingly, that they had received their rations on the eve of Yom Kippur, and were told that they should not trouble the Rebbe another time. The Rebbe was not very pleased. I think that he realized that they had not collected their honey cake on the eve of Yom Kippur, and for the very reason that they had abstained today.

I did find my grandsons shortly afterwards, they were all in their shirt sleeves and were pulling, schlepping, and dragging all the benches, tables from the synagogue of 770, and making a huge heap of them outside. It looked like a pile of firewood.

I considered that this was a very good idea, to burn all the old furniture and have it replaced with nice new equipment. However, I had erred a little. They were denuding the synagogue hall of every bit of furniture to enable all the extra people who were expected for the hakofot, when we celebrate the completion of the year-round cycle of reading of the Torah, to be accommodated.

Our Audience with the Rebbe

Monday evening was to be a night of private audiences with the Rebbe. Wednesday was to be another one too, and because of the unprecedented number of applications, there was to be further audiences on Friday afternoon, the eve of Shabbat.

This was most unusual and unique. There was already a list of 150 names for that afternoon, so the following Sunday was also reserved as an audience night. As we were leaving Brooklyn on Wednesday, we chose to have the audience on the first night. Five hundred people were expected that evening; one of the Rebbe's aides, Rabbi Groner, predicted that our appointment would be very late—maybe around 3 a.m. It was a very good approximation, because at 2:50 a.m. – ten minutes earlier than anticipated – Roselyn and I entered the Rebbe's study.

We took with us our granddaughter Yenta Chaya (Hindy's eldest girl), because the Rebbe did not receive girls of twelve years old on their own. The Rebbe greeted us with the greeting of Shalom aleichem and remarked:

"Ah, it is ladies first!"

Actually, it was the "little lady" first, for the Rebbe addressed himself to Yenta Chaya, because she would be leaving us as soon as she had received the blessing from the Rebbe.

The Rebbe asked her if she was already the age of bat mitzvah. Yenta Chaya replied in the affirmative and the Rebbe continued, "May the Almighty bless you; you should go from strength to strength; you should have good middot (character); give nachas to your parents and to your grandparents and to all Israel. Here are 2 one-dollar bills, before you light the candles for Shabbat, give one dollar for charity. The other dollar you should change into local currency and give that money for Jewish education. Give your name and address to the office [of the Rebbe's secretariat] and they will send you a prayer book, which I will have signed."

I interrupted at this point and suggested that as Yossi and Mendel would not be leaving until the following Sunday, they could collect it for Yenta Chaya.

The Rebbe [smilingly] enquired of Yenta Chaya, "Do you trust your brothers?"

Yenta Chaya replied that she did trust them. The Rebbe then concluded by saying to her, "Good night and may the Almighty bless you."

As she neared the door, the Rebbe added, "If the photographs you took of me do come out, be good enough to send me a copy..."

The Rebbe laughed as Yenta Chaya departed. (Yenta Chaya later declared that she never knew that the Rebbe saw her taking the pictures. She also confessed that this was the finest and best audience she had ever experienced. Normally she accompanied her parents and the conversation was generally in Yiddish; this time it was held in English. She understood and imbibed every single word. This can be readily seen from the above, because Yenta Chaya herself dictated to me exactly what the Rebbe had said to her at this audience.)

Roselyn had remained standing during these exchanges. She would never sit, unless the Rebbe invited her to do so. The Rebbe requested Roselyn to "please take a seat, Mrs. Jaffe. You will be much more comfortable, and so will I."

The Rebbe then asked Roselyn about the effects of her operation and her general health in particular. He wanted to know whether Roselyn had a check-up and whether she was on a diet. Roselyn replied that the doctor had given her a clean bill of health, and that she kept to a diet. The Rebbe wanted to know whether Roselyn was on the diet because her husband required this, or whether the doctor had ordered it. Roselyn replied that the doctor had advised this diet, but not on account of her operation, just for her general health's sake.

The Rebbe then declared that he had a very serious complaint to make against Mr. Jaffe. He did not wish to talk lashon hara (evil talk) behind my back, so he was telling me this in front of Mrs. Jaffe.

I was becoming extremely worried. I felt like a prisoner in the dock, and was feeling a little apprehensive. I could not think what I had done (or not done) to upset the Rebbe. Roselyn confided to me afterwards, that she was also terribly worried. In what way had we distressed the Rebbe? Her mind was a complete blank as far as that was concerned.

However, the Rebbe was still talking, and said that the serious complaint was that Mr. Jaffe, "Mr. Manchester," never helped the Rebbe. I never sang or danced unless and until the Rebbe gave me a signal or set an example. It was up to me to save the Rebbe the effort of having to clap his hands, and yes, even to nod his head. I should set an example for the boys and to those around me.

This was particularly relevant to the Chassidic gatherings, farbrengens, and to other joyous occasions when everyone waited for the Rebbe to give the signal either to start singing or to sing faster and faster according to the Rebbe's beat. This burden should be taken off the Rebbe's shoulders and Mr. Jaffe should take the lead. Furthermore, Mrs. Jaffe should use her influence with Mr. Jaffe...

The Rebbe then added, "Everyone around is waiting for you to commence. This is a chok v'lo yaavor, 'a statute forever, for all time.' You must help me and sing before I give the signal. This will conserve my energy and make everyone very happy."

I argued with the Rebbe and said that during the hakofot on the holiday of Simchat Torah, the Rebbe sang and clapped his hands so energetically and quickly that it was impossible for me to keep up with him. Furthermore, the Rebbe continued like this for many more minutes, whilst I could only stand there gaping and gasping.

The Rebbe interjected and said, "You don't try hard enough."

I then handed over to the Rebbe our tzettel, a piece of note-paper, on which we usually wrote our special requests. I had written upon this only our Hebrew names and the names of our mothers; the Rebbe looked surprised and queried:

"Is that all?"

I explained that all we wanted was a good blessing, and that we had seriously considered not coming for an audience at all; we did not wish to waste the Rebbe's time. The Rebbe remarked that, "Time belongs to the Almighty".

"Yes, that is so," I commented, "but if we would not have come along, then the Rebbe could have gone home a little earlier."

"Oh no," objected the Rebbe, "if you would have stayed away, someone else would have come instead."

The Rebbe then made this very profound statement, "I want everyone to come and see me, I want everyone to come for kos shel brachah [following major holidays, the Rebbe handed out wine from the "cup of blessing"]. I want everyone to come to me for lekach [honey cake] and I want everyone to need their Rebbe—and then the Almighty will give me strength to carry on."

Well this really was explicit and left no cause or loophole for misunderstanding.

The Rebbe then requested my new book, my diary. I maintained that I had sent it with Bernard Perrin at the time of the holiday of Shavuot. The Rebbe confirmed this, but he wanted another one. I protested; I explained that I only write and publish this once every year, just before Shavuot, and I always made quite certain that the Rebbe would be presented with the very first copy.

The Rebbe observed that it was a long time since Shavuot, and that I must have written something since. I admitted that although I had taken notes about various happenings, I had not actually written anything yet, although I had many ideas in my head.

"Then why have you been wasting your time?" demanded the Rebbe. "I want 200 pages in the next issue."

This seemed to be a rather tall order, but I did keep quiet, especially in view of the Rebbe's instructions last year that I should write 100 pages, which, at that time seemed rather too ambitious. However, because I incorporated my old number one and two diaries, and brought in this unpublished material, I did manage to produce 145 pages. But these old "reserves" have all been consumed. I would consider that fifty or sixty pages would be a good effort! Well, we shall see.

The Rebbe averred that my fears about my clothes had been proved unfounded. It certainly was not necessary to bring an old suit, because I had an excellent place where to stand during Simchat Torah. I commented that this was thanks to Rabbi Groner, Binyomin Klein and Meir Harlig, who looked after me like a long-lost favorite son, "probably at the request of the Rebbe."

Rabbi Yaakov Rappaport told me that it was not necessary to bring along an old suit, "Just wear a new one, once, at hakafot and it will become an old Shabbat suit".

Dovid Abenson also told me that there is only one person in all of 770 who wears a new suit on Simchat Torah—and that is the Rebbe. He is well protected.

The Rebbe remarked that he did take notice during the farbrengen that I was pretty well jammed tight and I could not move!

The Rebbe then asked me whether I had addressed the boys at the Torah convention and was delighted when I replied that I had done so.

The Rebbe wanted to know whether I had received his reply to my letter regarding Manchester Lubavitch. I answered that Rabbi Groner had shown me the half-page reply in the Rebbe's own handwriting. He was now preparing a copy for me, so that we could study this reply more carefully and in detail when we returned home to Manchester.

The Rebbe enquired regarding the date and time of our departure for home. He made a note of this and gave us a blessing for a good and safe journey.

He then handed to Roselyn and me a dollar each. This was to be exchanged for English currency and given to the cause of Jewish education. Roselyn would also receive a prayer book, signed by the Rebbe, whilst I would be presented with a Tanya, also autographed.

On a number of occasions, the door handle was shaken and clattered by Rabbi Groner, a plain hint to us that we should leave the Rebbe's presence at once, or even sooner, if possible. Once this occurred while the Rebbe was speaking. The Rebbe just finished his sentence and declared, "And don't take too much notice if Leibel Groner rattles the door handle."

I informed the Rebbe that I hoped to come to New York for Yud Shevat. The Rebbe said that 770 would not be so crowded at that time. (What a prophetic understatement!) I mentioned that I was searching for apartments for Shavuot, not only for ourselves but please G‑d for all of Avrohom's family too.

Our Rebbetzin [the Rebbe's wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka] had been slightly indisposed. I enquired of the Rebbe regarding her health. The Rebbe answered that she was doing fine, very well indeed, but was worried because she could not look after him as well as she usually does.

We thanked the Rebbe for all he was doing for us and for all our family, and then the Rebbe thanked us (for what?!?!).

It was now 3:05 a.m. The audience had taken 15 minutes, and we took our leave of the Rebbe. It had been worth all the inconvenience, trouble and traveling to New York just for these 15 minutes. All the rest was extra profit.

Our grandson Dovid (Avrohom's eldest boy) followed us into the Rebbe's sanctum for his audience—alone. Audiences with the Rebbe concluded that night at 4 a.m.

The Rebbe was back at 770 at 9:30 a.m., as usual.

The Rebbe: Why Have We Not Heard from Jaffe?

Our Rebbetzin, the Rebbe's wife, was still slightly indisposed. Roselyn telephoned every day, but could not make contact. We were in Crown Heights for only a week so we were mot fortunate enough to have the pleasure of seeing her this time.

Subsequently, on our return to Manchester, I phoned at 9:30 a.m. New York time and our Rebbetzin herself answered. She was under the impression that we intended to stay in Brooklyn for two weeks. I told Roselyn that in the future, when we wanted to talk to the Rebbetzin, it would be easier from Manchester. I assured the Rebbetzin that we had enjoyed our visit and observed that the Rebbe had given me much honor and showed me great friendliness.

The Rebbetzin remarked, "You deserve it Mr. Jaffe."

I was taken aback and said, "One, I really do not deserve such commendation; and two, even if a person does deserve something—they don't always get it."

We left Brooklyn on Wednesday, Yossi and Mendy were traveling later on; they intended to fly home on Sunday evening. Yossi was very reluctant to leave, he maintained that staying in New York was doing him the world of good, spiritually. Besides which, there was to be an audience night that Sunday, and a chassidic gathering, a farbrengen, on the following night, Monday. Still if he had to go home, then he had to go home.

As soon as Roselyn and I returned home, we immediately telephoned to 770 and also to the Rebbetzin to confirm that we had, thank G‑d, arrived safely in Manchester.

A short while later I received the following letter from the Rebbe:

By the Grace of G‑d
4th of Cheshvan, 5740 [October 5, 1979]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to confirm receipt of your correspondence, and no doubt you have been able to rest up from your travels and share your good impressions and benefits from your visit here with Anash [chassidim] in Manchester.
Especially as our meeting and parting were in connection with, and in the spirit of, Simchas Torah, which sets the tone for the entire year, in keeping with the imperative of "serve G‑d with joy" —may each and every day of the New Year be filled with true joy in every respect materially and spiritually, and that you and Mrs. Jaffe should enjoy true Yiddish Chasidish [Jewish, chassidic] Nachas from each of your children and grandchildren, in good health and happy circumstances.

With blessing,
M. Schneerson

This made the perfect ending to our Simchat Torah visit to the Rebbe.

On Cheshvan 24th, November 14th, I had just returned from a business trip to London. It was 7 p.m. at night, 2 p.m. in the afternoon in New York, when the telephone rang. It was one of the Rebbe's aides, Rabbi Leibel Groner, calling from 770.

He informed me that the Rebbe was very worried because he had not heard from me. Leibel added that the Rebbe goes through all his mail every day and is continually looking for and seeking a letter from Zalmon Jaffe.

It was four weeks since I had left New York and the Rebbe was anxious to know what was the reason why I had neglected to write. The Rebbe did know that I had phoned 770 and also spoken to the Rebbetzin as soon as we arrived home. But, I generally write to the Rebbe every two weeks, so this lapse was unusual; the Rebbe was becoming very concerned, because he heard that Roselyn was unwell!

I felt terribly guilty and annoyed with myself for causing the Rebbe aggravation, but fortunately I had written a letter three days previously which would probably arrive at 770 in the course of the next day or so.