During this farbrengen, as was the custom, I wished to say “L’chaim” (a toast, meaning “to life”) to the Rebbe so that, in return, I would receive his response and blessing of “L’chaim v’livrocho.” I held a paper tumbler half-filled with wine and caught the Rebbe’s eye – every one of the thousand men and boys had the same idea – and wished him l’chaim.

The Rebbe answered and signaled for me to drink the cupful without a pause. I did manage this and held the tumbler upside down to demonstrate to the Rebbe that I had obeyed his request. The Rebbe seemed quite unimpressed and unsatisfied with my protestations. He indicated for me to say “L’chaim” a second time also with a full tumbler of wine – which I was to again drink in one shot. This certainly added more spirit into me – in more ways than one!

This entire farbrengen lasted (just) one and three quarters of an hour. Short, sweet, exciting, and terrifically lively. Just like in the old times.

I was later told that this was the most exhilarating farbrengen in a very long time. (The Rebbe had seemed to be in low spirits lately.)

No wonder people keep asking Shmuel “When is your shver (father-in-law) coming to make the Rebbe freilich?”