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“Why Don’t You Come to Israel?”

“Why Don’t You Come to Israel?”

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The Rebbe shared a warm relationship with my father-in-law, Rabbi Berel Ludmir, and they would openly converse on many interesting subjects. I would often join my father-in-law in private audiences with the Rebbe.

On one such occasion, my father-in-law turned to the Rebbe and said, "If the Rebbe would come to Israel, it would do so much good for those living there."

The Rebbe responded, "It easy to go to Israel, however it is difficult to leave Israel!"

[The Rebbe, of righteous memory, may have been referring to the Jewish law that states that one cannot leave Israel without good reason. And although there may be good reasons to leave, many great rabbis never left the land of Israel once they entered—DZ.]

In his very last audience with the Rebbe, my father-in-law, again, said, "Rebbe, we want to see you in the land of Israel."

The Rebbe said, "Berel! You already asked that once, and I have already responded..."

The School for Nurses

My father-in-law was once very sick and the director of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, where he was being treated, was in New York. I told him that the Rebbe always inquired about my father-in-law's wellbeing, and asked whether he'd agree to personally provide the Rebbe with a report about the patient's situation. He acceded to my request.

I thought that the entire conference would be brief; however, when the director completed the report, the Rebbe asked to hear about the hospital.

They spoke at length, and though it was over fifty years ago, I still remember that the Rebbe took great interest in the program to educate nurses. The Rebbe asked about teaching methods, curriculum and more.

Before we departed, the Rebbe had an aide bring a check made out to the hospital, but the director did not feel it was appropriate to accept a check from the Rebbe.

The Rebbe said, "How could you stop me from donating money to the hospital, especially when there is a program to educate nurses…"

Rabbi Chaskel Besser was a leader of the of the American Agudath Israel and was the founder of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland.

As told to Rabbi Moshe Marinovsky
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