A special milestone was approaching this winter: the twenty-fifth yahrtzeit of the previous Rebbe on Yud Shevat (January 22 this year). Consequently, this date would also mark twenty-five years of our Rebbe’s reign. I considered it most appropriate to spend such a notable and historic occasion with the Rebbe.

While planning this visit to the Rebbe, I had the additional and most important consideration: the Rebbe’s personal request when we were leaving New York after Shavuos. The Rebbe had emphatically asked me to visit again before our regular Shavuos visit. Thinking that the new Tanya would certainly be ready well before Shavuos, I pointed out to the Rebbe that I would, please G‑d, indeed be coming again, with the new Tanya.

The Rebbe exclaimed that I should not wait for the Tanya before coming again. Bearing in mind that we still were not certain when the Tanya would be ready, I started to think about buying an air ticket to visit the Rebbe for Yud Shevat.

As it happens, my son, Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe, was organizing his annual group flight to New York for Yud Shevat – a seven-day trip – so I decided to join his group.

The Rebbe has told me that I am to always bring my wife when I come to Brooklyn. On this occasion, however, after thoughtful consideration, Roselyn decided that it was not worth traveling all the way to New York in mid-winter for only a seven-day visit. There was always a likelihood of several inches of snow underfoot at that time. It would definitely be too cold for her to utilize her usual bench outside 770 – where she waits for me after davening. In the summer-like Shavuos weather, sitting outside can be most delightful, but in the dead of a New York winter, well, that is different. Of course, Roselyn could always sit alone indoors in the apartment while I enjoyed myself chatting with the “boys” at 770, but she opted out.

This would be the first time in many years that I have left Roselyn alone in Manchester.

On Tuesday morning, Shevat 9 (January 21), I arose early and traveled to London from where I boarded the flight to New York.

My son also took responsibility for a unique passenger, our own Rabbi Yitzchok Dubov of Manchester. He is about ninety years young and in the best of health. However, to “save his legs” Avrohom arranged for a wheelchair to be at his disposal. Rabbi Dubov was wheeled from the airport entrance directly to the airplane on the tarmac. He sat crouched and huddled in the wheelchair clutching a small brown attaché case on his knees. This small briefcase contained his tallis, tefillin, a flask of hot tea, sandwiches, a Chumash, Siddur, Tehillim and Tanya – he was definitely prepared for all eventualities.

A security officer approached and commenced to frisk Rabbi Dubov. He felt along his arms, up and down his legs, all over his body – everywhere! He then opened the attaché case. Apparently, our security guard was concerned about Rabbi Dubov’s tefillin being 100% kosher, because he very carefully inspected and scrutinized those tefillin. He also unscrewed the top of the thermos and proclaimed that it indeed contained…tea.

Rabbi Dubov was completely astounded. “Never,” said he, “never in all my years of traveling have I known customs to be so keen.” I had to explain that these were not customs and that they were searching for bombs, guns and grenades.

When Rabbi Dubov was finally seated on the plane and was requested to fasten his seat belt, he exclaimed, “Never mind, ah daigeh, I don’t need it!”

The flight itself was quite uneventful. (We enjoyed a “wonderful” kosher dinner. It consisted of a cooked omelette – that was it!)