Herman Wouk, the author, was present. Jan Peerce, the opera singer, was also present. His wife, Alice, joined the ladies in the women’s gallery. Abraham Beame, the Mayor of New York City, together with the New York City Comptroller, arrived in person to bring personal greetings to the Rebbe. The United States Senate sent a message that a unanimous resolution had been passed extending greetings to the Rebbe on this eventful occasion. The President of the United States, Gerald Ford, thought it fit to send a personal representative with his special message. The world’s major TV and radio outlets were represented. The farbrengen was being broadcast live – in its entirety – to all parts of the world.

It was truly a royal occasion. In fact, during the farbrengen the Rebbe spoke at length about royalty and kings and the lessons all people can learn.

We find striking similarities between the King of Kings, G‑d Almighty, and human kings and leaders. One similarity is that a king cannot be without subjects. The Almighty also requires subjects who accept Him as their Ruler. G‑d is not in the “heavens,” removed from our world; instead, G‑d looks after His subjects and all their needs.

Every person can be a “king” and a leader by focusing and caring about others. A person who only focuses on himself will have no “subjects” and will remain the leader solely over himself. A married person with a home and family to support, becomes the “leader” of his domain, because he places the needs of his “subjects,” his family, before his own requirements. A leader of a city understands that the demands of the citizens take precedence and thus he is a “king,” a leader, of that city. Likewise, a leader of a country, if he is to survive as king, must give the country priority over his own individual needs.

However, no one is a born leader and king. It takes time experience and gradual growth, from being a leader over a smaller group to being a leader over a larger one, until a person can be a leader of a country and of the world, by always prioritizing the needs of the many over that of the individual. Yet leaders emerge all the time, for they are blessed with success from the Almighty.

We find this example with the previous Rebbe. He gradually became the leader over all of klal Yisroel and, as a true leader, he always put everyone else’s welfare before his own.

Even after his passing [in 1950], the [previous] Rebbe continues to inspire others through his teachings. When his disciple then influences another Jew to better himself, this confirms that the previous Rebbe continues his mission and appointed task of leadership and influence.

We can each derive a valuable lesson for those in leadership positions. When the individual leader prioritizes the benefit of the many, the leader himself ultimately benefits.

The Rebbe directly addressed the government of the United States during one sicha.

The Talmud teaches that it is correct to praise the hospitality one enjoys (Talmud, Brochos 63b). Furthermore, in Jeremiah 29:7 we learn: “Seek the peace of the city to where I have exiled you and pray to G‑d for it.”

We offer thanks to the great leaders of the USA who, through their diplomatic intervention, saved the [previous] Rebbe from the Holocaust, and particularly, to the State and City of New York which welcomed him when he first took up residence here [in 1940]. Because of their efforts and assistance, Lubavitch established its headquarters in New York and has turned 770 into a place from where, today, Torah and inspiration emanate to the entire world.

The earliest settlers in the “new” world [the Pilgrims] were extremely religious. They left their homeland in England, because they were persecuted for their religious beliefs, to settle in a strange and unknown land thousands of miles away. It was precisely these strong religious beliefs that enabled them to overcome immense hardships, tribulations and deprivation that constantly confronted them, ultimately leading to the establishment of a permanent and just society. The influence of these sincere people was patently obvious when 150 years later the American Constitution (the pillar and foundation of the United States) would be based on the absolute faith and belief in G‑d. The slogan “In G‑d We Trust,” imprinted on all U.S. currency, is part of that legacy.

Times have certainly changed, but not truths. Today, “religious freedom” has come to mean freedom from religion, heralding a dizzying increase of juvenile delinquency and crime that is so rampant that it poses a serious threat to society. A child who is brought up without awe of

G‑d will definitely not fear a police officer.

The Rebbe pointed out that the fulfillment of the second half of the Ten Commandments (i.e. Thou shall not murder, steal and so forth), can only be assured to withstand temptation if they are preceded by the first commandment, “I am the L‑rd your G‑d.”

It is against the spirit of the Constitution to withhold federal and state aid for religious education. Besides, if the Supreme Court decides that it is indeed not allowed by the Constitution, then the Constitution should be amended. It is now 200 years old and methods should be found to immediately change this. The government gives money for almost anything, why not for education on which rests the whole future of the United States? This matter is urgent and must be implemented with no delay, for the children are growing up every day.

The above sicha was read at a Congressional meeting in detail and then, on March 26, published in the United States Congressional Record.

[The Rebbe also spoke about] continuing our efforts, as in the past, to bring Jews out of Soviet Russia, but these efforts should be conducted in a quiet and diplomatic way, without any media publicity.

[The Rebbe spoke about Israel.] As mentioned many times in the Torah, G‑d gave the Land of Israel to Avrohom and his children, forever; we did not receive it from Avrohom, Yitzchok, or Yaakov. The land is a gift directly from G‑d to all of us.

The Torah is also a present directly from G‑d. Both the Torah and the Land of Israel are connected: both have been conferred by the bris (covenant) between G‑d and his people.

[The Rebbe] appealed to the US Government to provide neshek (weapons) and arms for Israel. This would stave off the wars to begin with.

On the Chabad side of things, “NeSHeK” are the Hebrew initials that spell: Neiros Shabbos Kodesh (lights of the holy Shabbos) which are lit by all women and even young girls on Friday before sunset. This effort would spread brightness and light all over the world and be even more effective than war.

In addition to the abovementioned messages, there was a long procession of dignitaries bearing letters of congratulations, illuminated addresses and “keys” to various buildings and cities. For instance, representatives from the governor of the State of New York and some senators were present and paid their respects, as was the Israeli Consul General. The governors of California, Michigan and Minnesota also sent representatives. Delegates from Los Angeles, San Diego, Detroit and Amherst, Massachusetts, brought the keys of their cities as a mark of homage to the Rebbe. Altogether, about twenty-five presentations were made and about thirty notables were introduced to the Rebbe.

Sometime during the proceedings the Rebbe poured a glass of vodka for Jan Peerce, pointing out that “your friends from Manchester are here.” These “friends” had actually told the Rebbe that Jan Peerce’s concert in Manchester this year was even better than last.

The Rebbe inquired from Jan whether his wife (Alice) was present and added that he had heard that she did exceedingly well when she spoke publicly in Manchester.

Jan and Alice are certainly very impressed with how the Rebbe helped Jan enormously during his recent serious illness. The Rebbe followed the course of his treatment until he was fully recovered.

Towards the end of the farbrengen, the Rebbe announced his intention to distribute two dollars to every person who had participated in the mitzvah campaigns, especially those who had manned “Mitzvah Tanks.” These “tanks” are not a military type of vehicle. They are “mobile homes” with all the caravan-home conveniences: tables, chairs, fridge, stove and so on. During the week of Yud Shevat we could see ten of these vehicles parked outside 770 every day before they set out for their daily “sorties.” The “tanks” were covered with Lubavitch slogans and looked very impressive.

The Rebbe sat there at the table like a banker while all those who worked on the tanks walked along in single file to receive a wad of dollars from the Rebbe’s hands, in order to distribute to the crowd. Hundreds of people were given their “prize money” and there were still many thousands among the audience who were clamoring for their share. The Rebbe said that one of the dollars could be kept by the recipient and the other was to be given to charity.

To lighten the Rebbe’s burden, and to speed up the distribution of the dollars, Rabbis Groner and Klein were given huge wads of notes by the Rebbe, with instructions to go among the audience and pay out the dollars to those who deserved them. Visitors from out of town were entitled to this cash, too. As I was sitting well in front, I received my two dollars quite early. Twice the Rebbe had to replenish the “bank.” (After all that, there were still hundreds claiming their dollars. Five days later, at the Tu B’shvat farbrengen, the Rebbe continued and completed the distribution.)

It was also a very lebediker (lively) farbrengen and the songs were jolly and tuneful. I particularly noticed Herman Wouk and Jan Peerce singing with all their hearts and souls, and clapping with all their might, in time to the singing. It all came to a massive crescendo when, towards the end of the farbrengen, the Rebbe himself commenced singing “Uforatzto” and immediately jumped out of his seat and thus, standing, began clapping and waving his hands in every direction toward the assembled, encouraging the singing and dancing ever more.

The farbrengen ended after more than six hours; at 3:40 in the morning!