I sent a note to the Rebbe informing him that we were to leave New York early Tuesday morning, Sivan 14 (June 4). I added that we were hoping to have the opportunity on Monday night, after maariv, of saying farewell to the Rebbe and to receive a brocha for a pleasant and safe journey back to England.

(The days when we would have yechidus for two or three hours upon our arrival and another one before we departed have obviously gone forever. We understand that the Rebbe would love to continue this tradition as hitherto, but we also know that it is not humanly possible. Now before we leave for home, we have what I refer to as a “mini-yechidus” and even that we have to maneuver to whenever we can.)

On Monday evening at 9:15, Roselyn, Hindy and Linda Grant were already standing in the hallway, outside the small (upstairs) shul, eager to catch at least a glimpse of the Rebbe, and perhaps even be rewarded with a radiant smile before taking leave. In the meantime, I was standing in my usual place inside the shul, just behind the spot where the Rebbe would commence davening maariv at 9:30.

I have had occasion to mention numerous times, and it is worth repeating, how punctual the Rebbe is. At exactly 9:30, practically on the dot, the Rebbe arrived for maariv. (I wish more of the chassidim would emulate the Rebbe’s promptness!)

The Rebbe does not like keeping anyone waiting for him. Even at the two sections of the service where, in other shuls, the congregation usually is kept waiting for the rabbi to finish, the Rebbe reaches “Emes” (“the truth”) at the end of Shema, with everyone else. The Rebbe also usually concludes the amidah in a comparatively short time.

After maariv, the Rebbe opened the door of the shul and walked out. I quickly followed close behind him. The Rebbe walked right past Roselyn, Hindy and Linda, who were lined up outside the shul, not even giving them a glance – this in itself was most unusual, even if we were not leaving then.

When the Rebbe arrived at his office door and put the key into the lock, he had still not shown any indication that he knew I was right behind him. The Rebbe was just about to enter his office; “it would soon be too late,” I thought. In desperation I blurted out “Rebbe, Rebbe.” The Rebbe seemed startled. He turned around and gave me a wonderful and beaming smile.

The Rebbe began that he had a “new shlichus” (mission) for me and asked me to wait outside while he went into his office for something. I asked the Rebbe whether Roselyn could join me. “Yes,” said the Rebbe, “also bring your daughter [Hindy] and Miss Grant.”

A Promotion and a New Assignment

Within a few moments, the Rebbe returned from inside his office. He was holding a wad of English £10 and £20 notes. The Rebbe peeled off a £10 note and handed it to me and said, “This is for tzedokah.” He peeled off another £10 note. “This is for mivtzah mezuzah” (mezuzah campaign). The Rebbe then also handed Roselyn two £10 notes, using the same words.

“Take it with your right hand, please,” said Rabbi Groner, standing nearby. [It is a Jewish custom – often quoted by the Rebbe – to give and/or receive something with one’s right hand. –Ed.]

The Rebbe turned to Hindy and Linda Grant and gave each of them two notes of £10, again reiterating the same words.

The Rebbe still held a handful of banknotes in his hand. He asked me what to do with them! I was looking at the Rebbe with questioning eyes, when he suddenly slapped the whole lot in my hand.

“How much money have you given me?” I asked.

“Since I have not counted it, why should you?” said the Rebbe.

The Rebbe told me that this additional money should be divided among the London, Manchester and Glasgow communities. (I did check this cash afterwards and it came to £70.)

The Rebbe then said, “Yetzt bistu ois Mr. Manchester; du bist Mr. Eingland” (Now you are not Mr. Manchester anymore; you are Mr. England.”

I interjected with “Mr. Britain,” but the Rebbe corrected me, “Mr. United Kingdom” – a very speedy promotion!

I repeated to the Rebbe the story about meeting the king in the field. (He chuckled.)

The Rebbe said he had a new assignment for me. He asked me to be a shadchan (matchmaker), to find a choson for Linda Grant. The Rebbe also promised me shadchonus gelt (commission). I have never even made a shidduch before, but with such an incentive, how could I fail?

The Rebbe declared that next year the apartment would be even better. I remonstrated and told the Rebbe that it was good this year.

The Rebbe said he was looking forward to seeing me even before my next scheduled visit to 770 next Shavuos. I pointed out that indeed I would, please G‑d, be coming to bring the new Tanya.

To which the Rebbe exclaimed, “You are an optimist. Do not wait for the Tanya to be ready.”

I thanked the Rebbe for everything he had done to make our stay over yom tov so enjoyable.

The Rebbe asked Roselyn to convey regards to “your son and his family” and told Hindy to convey the same to her husband and children.

The Rebbe concluded by saying that “Tuesday [tomorrow, the day we were traveling home] is a ‘good’ day.” The Rebbe continued, “Furt gezunterheit un mir zollen herren gutte besuros.” (Travel in good health and we should hear good news.)

The Rebbe thanked me profusely for coming for Shavuos, and for everything I had done for him. He then held his hand out to me! (I cannot remember whether I was more astounded at the Rebbe’s “thanks” or by the offer of a handshake.) I did have the presence of mind to grasp the Rebbe’s hand. I mumbled some words to the effect that I was very embarrassed by the Rebbe’s thanking me when I was so much indebted to the Rebbe. My only hope was that the Rebbe would stay well and always freilich, in spite of everything with which he had to put up.

On this happy note, we took our departure.

I would like to point out that the Rebbe knew we wished to see him before leaving; I had written to this effect beforehand, as mentioned earlier. I think he wanted to demonstrate that nothing comes easily. Achieving success requires work.

The next morning we would need to arise early, but, before going to bed, I had a job to do. There was a very nice English boy studying at 770 whom I knew very well. His name was Shmuel Arkush. He seemed like someone with a forceful character, full of energy and great capabilities. He seemed to be the very man I was seeking! I asked Linda for permission to speak to him on her behalf and she agreed. I approached him and told him about the “Rebbe’s protégée.” He was indeed very interested. He had known of Linda from a few years back while they both worked for Lubavitch day camps in England.

As we were leaving for home already, we left the matter in abeyance until we returned to England.

(Jumping forward a little: Within a few weeks, Linda and Shmuel were engaged and I had the pleasure of cabling the Rebbe as follows:



I then wrote a more detailed letter to the Rebbe, confirming my cable, and indicated that “…for arranging the shidduch the Rebbe should not send me any payment yet. Instead, I would like it credited to ‘my account.’” I felt very pleased with this unique and unusual situation!)