Wednesday night was our yechidus. Rabbi Groner advised us to be prepared to enter the Rebbe’s sanctum at around 11:00 p.m. It is always difficult to gauge when anyone will actually enter for yechidus; it depends on how long the previous appointments last.

A new system has now been established where all pros­pective visitors submit, well in advance, their questions and/or issues they wish to discuss with the Rebbe. This new system enables the Rebbe to conclude a whole evening’s yechidus by 2:00-3:00 in the morning, instead of 5:00-6:00. (Still, tonight, the Rebbe did not finish with the last yechidus until 5:00 a.m.!)

Until recently, one was entitled to one yechidus a year in honor of his birthday. Additionally, upon approaching the end of a pregnancy, an expectant woman could have a yechidus, as could her husband before the bris (after the birth of a son). These routine yechidus have now been suspended. (The Rebbe implied that these brochos would be bestowed collectively at a farbrengen or by other means.)

This change is not only for the sake of the Rebbe’s health. It is a sheer impossibility for one human being – even a superman like the Rebbe – to keep up with such an immense workload and intense schedule.

Rabbi Groner related to me that one evening, a short while ago, the Rebbe discovered he had some time! An announcement was made that all those who had not been privileged with a yechidus for a certain period of time would be allowed to enter for yechidus that night. There were 180 people who took advantage of this offer. The entire session lasted for seven hours, from 8:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. Deducting the time the Rebbe davened maariv, plus the few seconds it took to enter and leave the Rebbe’s room, each person or group was in the Rebbe’s presence for barely two minutes.

While one waits outside the Rebbe’s room, before going into yechidus, one can meet or see every type of man, woman and child, from every walk of life and from almost every country in the world.

I noticed two tall and handsome military-looking men receiving VIP treatment. They looked like Israeli generals. Rabbi Klein said that they were “higher than generals and were very nice boys.” Another Israeli with plans to open two diamond factories, one in Kfar Chabad and one in Nachlas Har Chabad, wished to get the Rebbe’s approval.

An elderly gentleman approached me and in a mournful voice said, “You are all right, Mr. Jaffe. I am very sorry indeed.” I was taken aback and I asked him why he was sorry. He replied that he was sorry for himself, because he could not make the Rebbe happy as I did.

The time passed very quickly. Finally, at 12:45 a.m. (only one and three quarters of an hour after the estimated time) the time for our yechidus had arrived and we entered the Rebbe’s room.

The Rebbe stood up and wished us “Ah gutten ovent” (a good evening). He requested that Roselyn be seated and asked me, “Where is your [usual] long list of problems?”

“Thank G‑d, I presently have no personal problems, but plenty of Lubavitch ones,” I replied. The Rebbe reiterated a brocha he once gave me that I should only have Lubavitch problems.

I related to the Rebbe about my kinus hatorah address and of the congratulations that followed it. How a whole delegation had told me, “Your speech was wonderful and terrific. Inform the Rebbe that we were inspired by your remarks.” Some said they were “really inspired.” Rabbi Mentlik said something which I could not quite make out, but since his face was angelically beaming, it must have been something nice.

I reported to the Rebbe that I had inspected the new library on Kingston Avenue and that it was the height of luxury. I added that there was still plenty of room for more books.

“I have reserved a place for the new Hebrew/English Tanya,” the Rebbe informed me.

Last year the Rebbe gave me a brocha “Iber dem kop” which means that the blessings should be unlimited. I now suggested to the Rebbe, “I was very satisfied with your brocha last year; I would like the same again, please.”

The Rebbe was keenly disappointed, “Have you no ambition?” he asked, and then added, “Next year will be even better.”

A Fast Rebbe

In case anyone is wondering whether the Rebbe reads My Encounter with the Rebbe – and there are those who do wonder – the following anecdote confirms categorically, once again, that the Rebbe actually does read them.

As described earlier, after our arrival from England, I immediately presented the Rebbe with the latest My Encounter which included the following sentence: “…the Rebbe fasts all day when he visits the ohel.” The Rebbe now (in yechidus) remarked to me that this is not quite accurate. The Rebbe informed me that there are different opinions on the permissibility of fasting when visiting a cemetery and that the Rebbe follows the one actually forbidding fasting when visiting a cemetery. Nevertheless, the Rebbe would like to still somehow “fast,” which is why, the Rebbe told me, “I always have a drink before I go to the ohel.” After that, the Rebbe partakes of neither food nor drink until he returns that evening, sometimes as late as 9:00 p.m.!

I apologize for giving the wrong impression!

“More Torah” – Says the Rebbe

Now, while on the topic of my diary, the Rebbe “suggested” that I include more Torah in future editions!

Now you know why there is a significant increase in the amount of excerpted sichas in this year’s diary. I hope the Rebbe will be pleased with my efforts in this volume.

(I do not have to quote the maamorim and outstanding sichas, which are printed and distributed all over the world, some of them in English too. Nevertheless, I have made an extra effort to repeat excerpts of the Rebbe’s Torah, in my own words, that I was privileged to hear over the three farbrengens. I chose sichas that I find less complicated to convey to my wider readership.)

I hinted to the Rebbe that I would like to discontinue writing new diaries and instead concentrate on editing the previous editions and printing them into one book. “In any case,” I went on, “it is becoming difficult to find new material every year.”

The Rebbe emphasized, “Whether you publish this compiled book or not has no bearing on your yearly books. You have already published five installments, so you have a chazoka!” [If one does something three times, it constitutes a chazoka (lit. strength), established as a vow, according to Jewish law, and only a beis din may annul its fulfillment.]

“Therefore,” continued the Rebbe, “I am looking forward to seeing your next encounter, otherwise you will have to be matir neder [annul the vow].”

I now have “orders,” so I must continue writing, and with the Rebbe’s brochos, I am certain I will, please G‑d, continue to find new things to write about – and how!1

The Rebbe asked me not to exert myself in obtaining “customers” for the Rebbe to receive into yechidus. There are plenty of eager clients who are anxious to have a yechidus. The Rebbe added that he never wants anyone to “bashtel” (order) customers for him whatsoever. If someone, on their own accord, wants a yechidus, they are of course most welcome, but no one else should be coaxing them into it.

We discussed various communal matters. The Rebbe inquired about Dayan Golditch, the Huberts and other Manchester communal personalities.

The Rebbe also told us how he had received wonderful reports about Hindy’s work for Lubavitch in London. The Rebbe asked Roselyn how she thought Hindy was managing. “Are you happy with her?”

Roselyn replied that she would have preferred if Hindy was able to spend more time on her home and children than on Lubavitch work, but if Hindy wanted it that way, and was happy, then Roselyn was satisfied.

The Rebbe asked me why I had sent him five bottles of vodka. “Was it for five children [who came with us for Shavuos]?”

“No,” I answered, “the reason is quite simple. We are allowed to bring into the United States up to five bottles duty-free. At this cheap price – and as a businessman – I figured Jewish people should have this benefit. Therefore I sent them to the Rebbe.”

“But what shall I do with them?” asked the Rebbe.

I offered that after the farbrengen the Rebbe could take them home and have a glassful every night.

“Mrs. Schneerson would be surprised to see me drinking vodka. I do not like it, and I do not [usually] drink vodka,” the Rebbe said.

The Rebbe inquired about business matters and whether trade was satisfactory. I replied in the affirmative and the Rebbe turned to Roselyn for confirmation. The Rebbe remarked that we should make money and spend it “oif a gutten oifen [for good things].”

I congratulated the Rebbe that at long last he was seeing his campaign regarding “Mihu Yehudi” coming to a successful conclusion. (It seems I spoke too soon.)

The Rebbe remarked, “There will still be plenty of other issues, even after ‘Mihu Yehudi’ is settled.”

After spending thirty minutes in the Rebbe’s presence, and with nice brochos to Roselyn for health and to both of us for – indeed again – “nachas from your children and grandchildren iber dem kop [over the head],” we took our leave from the Rebbe.

Earlier in the night, Hindy and her children had their yechidus. Roselyn accompanied her to help with the three babies and to help keep them quiet. They were in yechidus for eight minutes with Chana (aged 3) crying the entire time.

The Rebbe gave them all a full measure of brochos.