On September 23, 2009, the United Nations seemed to be sliding back to its bleak past. The U.N. General Assembly was exposed to 96 minutes of delirious verbiage by Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, followed by a hate message spewed forth by Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The following day, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu, took the podium. In front of a full house, the Israeli leader unexpectedly pulled out the original construction plans for the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp signed by Hitler's deputy, Heinrich Himmler. "Is this too a lie?" he said, waving them to the assembled delegates.

"Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your country. . . . But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

"A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place, and who pledges to wipe out the Jewish state? . . . What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!"

The speech made headlines and was hailed by many as "Churchillian oratory."

Following the address, an energized Netanyahu faced the Israeli press. Deviating from press protocol of responding with just short diplomatic responses, Netanyahu shared a personal story.

He told of a 40 minute meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Simchat Torah of 1984. "Remember," the Rebbe told me, "you are going to the U.N., an assembly hall that has falsehood and utter darkness.

"Remember that in a hall of perfect darkness, totally dark, if you light one small candle, its light will be seen from afar. Your mission is to light a candle for truth and the Jewish people."

"That is what I did today in the United Nations," Netanyahu concluded.

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Later that evening at the 92nd Street Y, Netanyahu skillfully elaborated to a packed audience of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the events that led up to his meeting the Rebbe on that fateful night.

Netanyahu recalls sitting in Israel's U.N. office in 1984 when there was a knock on the door. "There is this young gentleman who wants to see you," he was told. "He says he knows you."

Netanyahu recalls: "In he comes, this strapping chassid, with a beard and peyot [side-locks]. 'Do I know you?' I said."

"'You don't know me?! Bibi, this is Shmarya."'

"It may not say anything to you, but Shmarya was a member of a Mapam Kibbutz of the Shomer Hatzair. He'd been a very fine soldier of mine, in the unit I served in the army, and I was his commander. I hadn't seen him for a few years.

"He said, 'well, as you can see I've become a Lubavitcher...'"

It was together with Shmarya that Netanyahu went to see the Rebbe on that fateful Simchat Torah eve.

Here is Shmarya's story:

Shmarya was born in the ultra-Left Kibbutz of Mapam, Hebrew acronym for Mifleget HaPoalim HaMeuchedet – The United Workers' Party, an Israeli Zionist-Socialist party founded in 1948. The Kibbutz was known for its notorious anti-religious stance.

It was quite natural that Shmarya did not practice and quite frankly was uninterested in Judaism. In fact he had never been to a synagogue or Shabbat table.

An intelligent, muscularly built, handsome young man, he was a perfect candidate for Israel's elite unit, the Sayeret Matkal, modeled after the British SAS. Shmarya's diligence and unwavering service earned him respect. It was there that he got to know Bibi Netanyahu, his unit captain. It was on reconnaissance missions that their friendship took shape.

After his army service he headed off to the Northeast United States. Naturally, with his background, he served in military related positions. He worked on security for the Israeli consulate in Boston as well as for Israel's El Al airlines.

But then he wanted to move on. So in 1976, when his classic good looks landed him jobs in the modeling industry, he readily accepted. However, his employment status had become an issue, and he needed a student visa to remain in the United States, so he decided to enroll into Boston's Hebrew college.

It was just months earlier that Rabbi Chaim Prus and his wife Nechama arrived to the "Capital of New England" to serve Boston's large and long-standing Jewish community.

While doing the rounds, introducing themselves to the community leaders, they met with the Hebrew College's dean, Dr. Eli Grad.

Founded in 1921, Hebrew College committed itself to Jewish scholarship in an interdenominational academic environment. Dr. Grad, who had a warm spot for Chabad after being assisted earlier by Chabad in Detroit, and receiving a much needed blessing from the Rebbe, gladly offered his assistance to the Chabad couple.

He was caught by surprise when Rabbi Prus asked him to set up an accredited course on Tanya at the college. He had imagined that the rabbi would only ask to be introduced to the community's wealthy patrons, but he agreed nonetheless.

By the fall of the new school year, the course was ready. The overviews, the outlines and objective for a Jewish Chassidic philosophy course were all in place. Although the course was an elective, it turned out to be a smashing success. Nearly a quarter of the entire student body signed up. The university was caught by surprise, but the students enjoyed it immensely, to the extent that they rallied for a second semester sequel.

While teaching Chassidic concepts in the fall semester, Rabbi Prus noticed a young Israeli student at the far end of the classroom who was quite uninterested in what a bearded rabbi had to say.

But then came exam time. The young Israeli knew he'd never pass, but he needed the credits for his student visa—badly.

So he approached the bearded rabbi and told him his predicament, expecting a cold shoulder. He was shocked when instead the rabbi offered him an alternative: that he write a paper on any topic the Tanya discusses.

The Tanya is written in Hebrew, thus Shmarya who spoke Hebrew thought it should not be that difficult. He chose to write on yesurin, pain and suffering, so the rabbi directed him to Tanya's index as a basis for his term paper. Rabbi Prus left him his phone numbers at home as well as at work "just in case you have any questions and need my help."

In the following weeks they spoke several times, to work out some of the issues in Tanya. The talks lead to lengthy encounters and eventually to the slow but steady return of Shmarya to his heritage and faith.

Two years later Shmarya was off to yeshivah.

He applied himself to Torah with the same due diligence he had shown in the military; he received his rabbinical ordination; and became a full fledged Lubavitch rabbi.

It was summer of 1984, Netanyahu was promoted from Deputy Chief of Mission in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and appointed as Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations.

Knowing Shmarya's close relationship to Netanyahu, Rabbi Prus and his brother Yisroel, imparted Shmarya with a task: Make sure that Netanyahu was aware of the long-standing custom of many high-ranking Israeli officials stationed in New York to join the Rebbe for the Simchat Torah celebrations.

Shmarya complied.

Midnight Simchat Torah, Netanyahu arrived at "770." Leaving his security detail behind, Netanyahu met up with Shmarya and Yisroel. 770 was packed, only breathing room was available. Nobody could be extra courteous to the young ambassador. Yisroel and Bibi made their way over tables, along benches, pushing and squeezing between the wall-to-wall overflow of chassidim.

At last, they made it to the front, right next to the Rebbe's podium. It was from this vantage point that Bibi would experience the spiritual elation, the sensation of Simchat Torah with the Rebbe.

At the packed Y, the passionate Prime Minister recalled with emotion his feelings experienced on that Simchat Torah by the Rebbe. The audience members were captivated by what was undoubtedly a profound moment in his life.

"[The Rebbe] turned to the audience and with his hands he started to get the chassidim to sing and dance.

"Then something happened that I'll never forget till the end of my life.

"The Rebbe and his brother-in-law, I think they were both approaching eighty at the time or maybe in their mid seventies, took the Sefer Torah, the Torah scroll, and went into the center of this hall, surrounded by all the chassidim.

"There was a light that shone from the ceiling and bathed them in a pool of light.

"I see these two old bearded Jews dancing in a circle of lights with the Torah, and I felt… the strength of generations…the power of our tradition, our faith, our people."

What Netanyahu witnessed was in essence what Jews of all walks of life witnessed at those elevating moments of being in the presence of the Rebbe on Simchat Torah.

Similar life's experiences are likely to be perceived differently from person to person. What tends to be inspiring for one person may be dull to another. Yet there are awesome encounters when very diverse people sense the same sentiments. Those unique moments when an ultra-religious chassidic Jew in full regalia and a secular Jew donning the cloak of Israeli ambassador experience the same fervor.

That moment: Simchat Torah with the Rebbe.