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Discovering the Rebbe

The Assimilated Girl and Begin's Stopover in France

The Rebbe's Aide Relates - Part IV

November 29, 2009 11:51 AM

Menachem Begin, of blessed memory, met several times with the Rebbe in his private study (both prior to and after becoming the Israeli Prime Minister).

At the end of one of these audiences, the Rebbe turned to Begin and asked him if he would do him a personal favor. Begin replied affirmatively.

The Rebbe, of righteous memory, greets Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, prior to his private audience with the Rebbe.
The Rebbe, of righteous memory, greets Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, prior to his private audience with the Rebbe.

The Rebbe told him that he had received a letter from a French girl's parents who wrote in great pain about their daughter who was dating a non-Jew and was planning to marry him. The parents had tried every thinkable way to separate the two, but with no success. Feeling hopeless, they turned to the Rebbe for help and advice.

"I am sure," the Rebbe told Begin, "that if a well-known individual as yourself, especially as you speak French, will speak to her about her choice in marriage, she will respect your words, and it will influence her in the correct direction."

Begin agreed to fulfill this mission. The Rebbe gave him the name, address, and phone number of the girl, and told him that he should send him the bill for the stopover in France.

Begin traveled to France and spoke, with words straight from his heart, to the young girl who was making the decision of her life. His words entered her heart, and she decided to move to Israel, thus automatically ending her relationship with the non-Jew.

The Rebbe covered the expenses for the stopover in France, and the girl married a Jew and today lives in Jerusalem.

The Prisoner Needs Rehabilitation

The Rebbe's Aide Relates - Part III

November 23, 2009 8:43 AM

There is no doubt in my mind that the time the Rebbe spent at the resting place of his father-in-law, the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, was extremely precious to him. The Rebbe always prepared for things that were important. The time the Rebbe spent traveling to the resting place – known as the ohel – was used for preparation, I am sure.

While I was not the designated driver to drive the Rebbe to the ohel, there were times when I filled in and brought the Rebbe there. On one of these occasions, while we were driving, the Rebbe turned to me with a very worried face and said: "There is a doctor in Washington that is accused of a horrendous deed, and he is now in jail. It is doubtful whether he did it, and even if he did do it, he has already done enough time."

The Rebbe suggested that I call a certain rabbi who could use his influence to have the doctor transferred to his own institution, where he could be rehabilitated. The Rebbe asked me to immediately call this rabbi and tell him that the Rebbe is entering the ohel, and that he requests a progress report by the time he emerges.

What Would the Rebbe's Request Be?

The Rebbe's Aide Relates - Part II

November 12, 2009 6:48 PM

The donor told the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary: "Before I enter into my audience with the Rebbe, let it be known that I support your Chabad House, and I have no interest in supporting any other Jewish – or for that matter, Chabad – causes."

He entered the Rebbe's study, and the Rebbe, of saintly memory, inquired about his family, the Jewish community where he lived, and similar things.

As he was leaving, the Rebbe turned to him: "Can I ask you to promise me that you will do one thing?"

Here it goes, thought the visitor, he wants my cash. He nodded grudgingly.

"Would you wear tzitzit every day?" the Rebbe asked.

The fringes known as tzitzit are attached to a four-cornered article of clothing, usually worn under one's shirt. The Divine precept to wear tzitzit is only applicable to a four-cornered garment. When one is not wearing such a garment, it is not compulsory to wear tzitzit, but our Sages encouraged that one wear such a garment at all times. Thus, a special line of fringed, poncho-like garments is produced today to be worn by Jewish men.

The Rebbe patiently explained to him the great merit of wearing the garment. He added: "It is an easy commandment to keep, for if you do not feel comfortable wearing tzitzit one day, you can remove it and wear it the next day."

The visitor was touched that the Rebbe took an interest in his spiritual life and not his financial capabilities.

He began to wear the fringes daily.

"What Enters Here Does Not Leave!"

The Rebbe's Aide Relates - Part I

November 4, 2009 3:19 PM

When the Rebbe requested that I join his secretarial staff, he told me to speak to Rabbi Hodakov, his chief aide. "He will tell you what needs to be done."

I went to Rabbi Hodakov, and he instructed me regarding the various tasks that needed doing.

Rabbi Klein stands behind the Rebbe during an audience with the Israeli Chief Rabbis.
Rabbi Klein stands behind the Rebbe during an audience with the Israeli Chief Rabbis.

"As you will be an aide to the Rebbe," he told me, "I cannot tell you not to see what is happening, because even if you do not want to, you will see things. I cannot tell you not to listen, for even if you do not want to, you will hear the Rebbe's responses to many of the questions. However, there is one thing that I can tell you—don't speak! Do not talk about what happens here. Do not reveal to anyone what is happening in these rooms."

The Rebbe would personally open all of his mail; no one else would open any letters. The Rebbe would personally respond to every letter, either in writing or by giving us a response to deliver over the phone. When the Rebbe wanted us to deliver his response over the phone regarding a private issue, the Rebbe would write his response on the margins of the letter and tear the actual letter off from the response, leaving only the individual's name for us to see.

People would write about their most intimate and personal issues to the Rebbe. Among the circle of aides, the essential instruction not to speak about anything we saw or heard was closely followed. For thirty-six years, I did not speak.

Today, many years later, I can reveal many anecdotes that I could not previously reveal, leaving out any personal details.

Many have struggled to describe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, the seventh leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. A task so daunting due to the multifariousness of the Rebbe’s personality and achievements.

Rather than attempting to describe the Rebbe, this forum will share hitherto unknown tidbits of information about his life and teachings — information that was recorded in writing, audio and video.

Join us as we explore the Rebbe’s life and teachings. Manuscripts, letters, firsthand experiences and more.
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