The kinus hatorah (Torah forum) took place on Sunday, Sivan 10 (June 10). Rabbi Mentlik reminded me that since I have been addressing this function for so many years – at the Rebbe’s behest – I was expected to continue. Additionally, Rabbi Mentlik said, the bochurim liked my speaking and looked forward to a little light relief.

I commenced my talk, as I usually do, with a couple of jokes which seemed to be well received and appreciated. I then continued:

I find the end of this week’s sedra (Torah reading), Behaaloscho, very enlightening. We learn how Miriam spoke loshon horah (disparaging talk) to her brother Aaron about their brother Moshe. She was thus punished with leprosy. However, we do not find Aaron, who listened to her, being punished.

Aaron was also a prophet; communicating directly with G‑d. In fact, Moshe and Aaron are compared and said to be equal in stature and holiness. Yet, perhaps, as a subtle punishment, Aaron was unable to appeal directly to the Almighty to heal Miriam; he was instead compelled to seek his younger brother Moshe’s prayers to intercede on her behalf.

Many people today insist, “I don’t need a Rebbe. If I need help, I can go directly to the Almighty myself.” But, if they are – G‑d forbid – in trouble and need help, they will follow Aaron’s example who appealed to his Rebbe. Aaron demonstrated to the world that even he needed a Rebbe – so do we all.

Thank G‑d, today we are fortunate to have our own dear Rebbe, a tzadik whom we all love and honor. He looks after every single Jew whether in Brooklyn, England, Israel, Australia or Canada. In fact, anywhere in the world where a Jew is in need, he or she can count on being helped by the Rebbe.

What we can give the Rebbe is the pleasure of writing to him regularly, not only as a “tzorrus chossid” (troubles chossid) – writing when in trouble – but write regularly to the Rebbe, even with good news! And, when we are in the Rebbe’s presence at 770, we should show our appreciation and make the Rebbe happy through singing a little. You will have read that the Rebbe has, time and again, given me direct orders to sing. So why not please the Rebbe and show a nice smiling face? A glum countenance pleases no one.

I also read some excerpts from last year’s diary and concluded with a few more jokes. The students seemed quite pleased and applauded my efforts.