Remarks at a special memorial session for the Rebbe in the Israeli Knesset.
I once came to visit the Rebbe on Pesach Sheni, the second Passover, with my late father-in-law, Rabbi Yedidya Frankel of blessed memory. We attended a big gathering ("Farbrengen") along with several thousand people, and were honored to sit with the elders on the platform behind the Rebbe's chair.
The Rebbe entered, striding quickly, and sat down at the center. He then delivered a deep Torah lesson for four hours on the subject of Pesach Sheni. He introduced such original concepts and ideas, that Rabbi Frankel pinched me from excitement! Rabbi Frankel had known the greatest scholars before the Holocaust, but he was most impressed by the Rebbe's depth, his brilliant insight and his amazing memory. During his discourse, the Rebbe quoted hundreds of sources throughout the Talmud, Rishonim and Acharonim, Zohar and Kabbalah from memory without looking up one note.
The Rebbe focused on the origins of Pesach Sheni, when certain Jews who were impure or 'far away' had missed out on the Paschal offering. They demanded: "Why should we be deprived?" G‑d then gave them a second opportunity, to bring the offering a month later, on Pesach Sheni,
the "Second Passover."
The Rebbe developed this idea on a very deep Talmudic level. He then proceeded to its spiritual dimension "So many Jews today cry out: 'Why should we be deprived?' Some have been 'far away,' locked into ignorance by 70 years of communist rule, or were held captive in the impurity of assimilation. The Rebbe cried out emotionally. `These people cry out! If they do not do so personally, we cry for them, 'why are we deprived!?’"
I once mentioned to the Rebbe that I am actively involved in "Kiruv Rechokim," bringing back lost Jews who have strayed afar. The Rebbe immediately corrected me, "We cannot label anyone as being 'far.' Who are we to determine who is far and who is near? They are all close to G‑d!"
The Rebbe never spoke badly about anyone. We have come a long, long way, and many times the Rebbe made some strong statements on issues. But he always spoke to the issue, not to the person.
The Rebbe's positions on Israel are well known and he had sharp words with some of the honorable Knesset members assembled here. His integrity, his courage, his backbone, are a matter of record. He spoke open and fearlessly, but always with the greatest of love for the Land of Israel and its people. His words relate to us today. He meant what he said for today, tomorrow and also for the day after tomorrow.
Now, after the Rebbe's passing we cry out: "Why should we be deprived?!" We pray that the Rebbe should be a good advocate in Heaven for all of Israel to bring the redemption soon in our days.