Rebbe for one, Rebbe for all

Friday, 31 January, 2020 - 10:30 am

One morning in the 1970s, the phone rings at the office of the Rebbe’s secretariat. On the line is the director of the Mosad (Israel’s version of the CIA). He tells the secretary that a top secret meeting of Israel’s Security Council just wrapped up, where they discussed a problem about which they would like to seek the Rebbe’s advice for a solution. “When can I meet with the Rebbe?” The secretary tells him to wait a moment while he presents his request to the Rebbe. The Rebbe responds that he can come the next afternoon at 2 pm, through the side door and the back stairway so that his visit remains confidential. The Mosad director jumps on the next flight out of Tel Aviv and arrives at 770 for his 2 pm meeting. Following the meeting, at 3:15, the Rebbe came out to the Shul for Mincha (afternoon prayer). Rabbi Leibel Groner, a member of the Rebbe’s secretariat, asked the Mosad head if there was anything he would be willing to share. He replied that the matter was highly confidential so he could not discuss the substance of the meeting. “However, I will tell you that when the Rebbe heard the problem, he commented with a smile, ‘For this you had to cross the ocean to find a solution?’, and then offered an excellent resolution in a few minutes. He then spent the next hour addressing an issue concerning which he was unhappy about how it was being handled by the Israeli government.” He concluded, “The Rebbe spoke of matters of Israeli society, politics and geographic dynamics like a person who was personally familiar with every inch of the land, and with his finger on the pulse of Israeli society.”    

One might think that a person to whom world leaders turned for guidance on matters with geo-political ramifications, would have little time or mindset to relate to individuals. Yet the Rebbe spent many hours a week seeing people from all walks of life, giving them direction, encouragement, and blessings in all situations, large and small. Initially it was the audiences that he had with people three nights a week. Later it was the Sunday “dollar lines” when thousands would wait on line for hours to be greeted and blessed by the Rebbe for a few seconds, along with a dollar for distribution to Tzedakah. Then there was the many hours a week the Rebbe spent on correspondence. At one point the USPS shared that 770 Eastern Parkway received the most mail in all of New York.

This coming Wednesday we mark 70 years since the Rebbe’s ascendance to the leadership of Chabad. 70 years of teaching, inspiring, initiating, encouraging and uplifting the Jewish people and all of humanity the world over. The Rebbe combined a world vision, with grand plans for the goal of humanity, along with a deep caring for each and every individual.

As we reflect on the Rebbe’s leadership and inspiration, we should be spurred to greater personal growth and a sense of devotion to the material and spiritual well-being of others. Take a moment or two to learn more about the Rebbe. More importantly take a moment or two to learn from the Rebbe. You can explore at Stay tuned for an opportunity in to mark this special milestone in our own community.

May we speedily merit the realization of the Rebbe’s vision of Redemption through the coming of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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