Our yechidus took place on Monday night, Sivan 9 (May 19).

The great moment arrived at 11:45 p.m. when the young man who was before us opened the Rebbe’s door from the inside and retreated from the Rebbe’s presence. He kissed the mezuzah and closed the door.

This was our signal.

No pause, break or breather was given to the Rebbe. One of Leibel Groner’s duties was to see that matters went along smoothly and to ensure that the Rebbe was not kept waiting, even for a second, between one yechidus and the next. Immediately after one person or party left the Rebbe’s study, the next one entered.

I opened the door, kissed the mezuzah, and closed the door after us. We walked towards the Rebbe, who was seated at his desk.

The Rebbe rose, smiled a warm welcome and wished us “Sholom Aleichem.” He turned to Roselyn and said, “Do sit down, Mrs. Jaffe,” which she did. (The Rebbe did not ask me to be seated. He knows I prefer to remain standing during yechidus.)

Roselyn asked for a brocha for good health, parnoso and nachas from children and so forth. The Rebbe specified that this year we would receive a double brocha.


I explained to the Rebbe that Crown Heights, at one time, possessed two restaurants and that in the past year, two more were added. I continued, “This year a new restaurant opened which served every type of meal. The cook and the cooking were excellent, but presently the clientele was quite limited. This place was the ‘Jaffe Hotel and Restaurant.’ It was situated above the kollel on Union Street (by kind permission of the Rebbe). The principal patrons were the members of the Jaffe and Lew families.

“Even with such a ‘small’ number of customers (4 adults and 8 children) the proprietress was nevertheless kept very busy all day long. Three of the boys, Yossi, Mendel and Pinchas, actually lived on the premises, too. Each morning they were served breakfast and then packed off to school. Rabbi Shmuel Lew and Zalmon Jaffe, having spent all morning at 770, davening and chatting – mostly chatting – arrived for brunch at noon. At 1 o’clock, Hindy and the three ‘babies’ arrived to sample the luncheon menu. By 4 o’clock, Chaya and Golda had arrived from school and required dinner. Half an hour after that the three boys returned from school famished. The other regular patrons were served their dinner at 6:30. In addition to the abovementioned, there was morning coffee, tea, ices, soda, fruit, biscuits and cake served throughout the day. This was all besides the required shopping for supplies. It was a very busy little restaurant.”

The Rebbe was highly amused by my story and he declared that I should take Roselyn for a vacation as soon as we returned home from America. “It would be a good idea,” added the Rebbe, “to go to the Holy Land and the Holy City of Yerusholayim [Jerusalem].”

The Rebbe knew we had plans to visit Israel during the month of August – as we do each year – which would be in two and half months’ time. However, the Rebbe made it very clear that we were to go there immediately, instead.

(To jump ahead a little, the Rebbe’s insistence on moving up this trip to Israel was prophetic. Our long-time, dear and beloved friend, Rabbi Bentzion Shemtov, passed away prematurely two days after we arrived in Israel. Rabbi Shemtov was the person most responsible for introducing the Rebbe to us and – though we would have gladly postponed this by many decades – we felt it was our tremendous zechus to be present in bringing him to his eternal rest.)

The Rebbe told me that he was extremely happy to see all our Lew grandchildren present in New York as he had requested, and he added, “It makes it a real festival to have them here.”

I felt confident that I had already covered all happenings at 770

regarding the Rebbe. I thought perhaps now was a good time to concentrate instead on editing all of the previous (five) editions

and putting them together into one volume. I asked the Rebbe if I should continue to write the diary.

The Rebbe looked straight at me, and in all seriousness demanded, “Are you making fun of me, asking such [silly] questions?”

“All right,” I hastened to add, “but then I will need a brocha and, even more than that, I require material.”

The Rebbe was surprised. “Have you not enough [material] to fill fifty pages from the two farbrengens of Erev Shavuos [two hours] and Shavuos [six hours]?”

I indicated that the Shavuos farbrengen, being on yom tov, precluded me from taking notes. It was impossible for me to absorb and commit to memory such a vast amount of information in such a short time.

“There are plenty of bochurim who can help you,” the Rebbe pointed out. In any case, he added, you seem to remember quite a good deal of the “action” at 770, so you should be able to recall some of the Torah, too.

We discussed various Lubavitch personnel in Manchester. I mentioned that our organization was “blessed” with many different types of workers; some worked harder than others.

The Rebbe stated that my son-in-law, Shmuel Lew, was a good Lubavitcher worker. “If he were asked to sweep the floor, he would take off his jacket, obtain a broom and do the job at once.” No work would be too difficult or too menial for him as long as the job had to be done. (We can now categorically refer to Shmuel Lew as a real LEWbavitcher).

I told the Rebbe that Roselyn likes to blame everything on Lubavitch.

The Rebbe smiled, “I have broad shoulders.”

“She does not blame the Rebbe,” I stressed, “only the people at Manchester Lubavitch.”

The Rebbe intimated (yet again) how very happy he was with the Tanya. When it was presented at the farbrengen, it had a real professional appearance! Beautiful! It looked really wonderful, especially the cover.

The Rebbe remarked that the wooden case (provided for his copy only) made the Tanya rather heavy, adding, “The Tanya should be heavy spiritually, not materially.”

The Rebbe advised that we can already plan for the second and then the third edition which would “make this a chazoka.” But, they do need to be sold! In that regard the Rebbe asked that we submit our proposals to him at once. He suggested that we contact philosophical societies, Jews’ College in London, Carmel College, Hillel Houses, universities, and libraries and so on. The widest possible Jewish audience should be reached.

I complained that Mr. Bloch, of the Soncino Press, had taken two of the leather-bound copies for himself. The Rebbe said, “I hope he will also study from them.”

The Rebbe requested that a delegation present the “first one in England” to Chief Rabbi Jacobovits, in London.

I informed the Rebbe that the new building extension in Manchester would soon be officially opened and that we would like a letter with the Rebbe’s message to put in the brochure. The Rebbe asked whether the date of the opening was already fixed or was it tentative.

I replied that it was arranged for eight weeks’ time.

“There is plenty of time to send the letter,” said the Rebbe. “Meanwhile, there is much work to do.” The Rebbe was kept busy every second of the day with immediate issues. The Rebbe further requested, “Remind me about this two weeks before you need it.”

(We carried out these instructions and we received the Rebbe’s message at the very last moment; but still in time. We did worry a little about this; unduly as it turned out.)

I now indicated to the Rebbe that I had a very important business matter to discuss. The Rebbe owed me an account, which has been outstanding for a little while.

Last Shavuos, at the Rebbe’s behest, I had arranged a shidduch for a young English woman. The Rebbe had promised to (personally) give me the shadchonus gelt (commission) for this. I admitted that this matter was outstanding only due to my own choice; at that time, I intimated that I would not accept a cash settlement. I had implied that when the time was opportune, I would request payment in kind.

It is well known how much the Rebbe dislikes being a baal chov (a debtor). I was now prepared to “make a deal.”

If the Rebbe would personally hand, to each of the four members of the Tanya committee, a bilingual Tanya, autographed by the Rebbe, I would not only consider the Rebbe’s indebtedness to me completely discharged, but would consider that I had made an exceptionally handsome bargain. These Tanyas would become invaluable to each of us. It would more than recompense me.

“I see you are not only a businessman in Manchester, but in America too!” said the Rebbe. He did accept my proposal by agreeing to call on the Tanya committee shortly before we departed for home.

I then inquired of the Rebbe whether we would have an opportunity of taking a photograph of the Rebbe then.

The Rebbe looked surprised. “But you took one the other night!”

I was flabbergasted.

A few days earlier, just before mincha one day, I arranged for Roselyn and Hindy to stand with some of the children at a good angle so that as the Rebbe walked by on his way to the beis hamidrash, I would be able to take a photograph of the Rebbe together with my family.

Usually when the Rebbe sees Roselyn, he stops for a moment or two and exchanges a few words with her. Anticipating this regular practice, I checked the lighting, focus, and camera – and waited.

The Rebbe’s office door opened and, like a flash, the Rebbe passed the entire group without stopping or even – I thought – noticing them. I was certain that the Rebbe had not noticed me with the camera either. The Rebbe seemed to be preoccupied. Just my mazel! The first time I arrange to take a photograph, the Rebbe changes his usual practice.

But, the Rebbe sees everything.

Anyway, the Rebbe shrugged off my request for a posed photograph.

(Another photograph-related incident: a friend of mine took his son to 770. The boy carried his camera with him on every occasion. He wanted a good photograph of the Rebbe. The Rebbe once stopped him and told him it would be better if he spent his time learning instead of being preoccupied with his camera.)

We also discussed other communal and family matters.

I asked the Rebbe whether there would be any objection to our bringing a tape recorder into yechidus in the future. We come a long way to receive the Rebbe’s advice and encouragement, and it is very important for us to remember everything the Rebbe says. But, I admitted, it was almost impossible for us to remember even half of what the Rebbe said.

The Rebbe replied that he had no objection whatsoever! “Please be more friendly to me,” he added.

At 12:45 a.m. we took our leave. The time had passed so quickly, we were amazed and found it hard to believe that we had just been with the Rebbe for an hour.