We were due to leave 770 on Monday, Sivan 16 (May 26) at 5:30 p.m., directly to Kennedy Airport for our flight back to England.

Rabbi Leibel Groner reminded me (not that I required reminding) that the Rebbe had promised to give out the specially autographed Tanya at 5:00 p.m. In the Rebbe’s answer to me (mentioned earlier) he had indicated that he would present these “outside" right before we left. Everyone assumed this meant outside the Rebbe’s room.

We also hoped that after the presentation, the Rebbe would come outside to the front door and give us all a grand send-off as we left for home. Last year the Rebbe had stood on the steps of 770, clapping his hands in time to the singing, while we (and some yeshiva students) danced around. At the height of these proceedings we boarded our cars and left. We were hopeful for similar treatment today, but we did understand that this may be wishful thinking. We still arranged for all of our cars to be lined up outside 770, ready to leave – just as they were last year.

At 4:30 there was suddenly a great hive of activity at the main entrance of 770. The Rebbe’s shtender (podium) was brought out and placed right in front of the main doorway of 770. A microphone was also set up. Leibel Groner rushed up to us with new instructions. The Rebbe would be holding a farbrengen outside – in the open air!

What excitement!

All the men and boys should form a line at the right-hand side of the walkway facing the Rebbe. Later, after each out of town guest would receive “something” from the Rebbe, they would make a complete turnaround, walk back down the other side of the walkway and enter a car. The instructions for the women were to remain on the sidewalk, behind the men.

There was an immediate revolt by the ladies, led by my wife. They refused to take a “back seat” position. I suggested that Roselyn and one or two friends take up positions on the left (empty) side of this walkway. In a flash, all the women had joined them – so we now had the men lined up on the right and the ladies on the left of this narrow path.

Surrounding the passengers – from all sides – were hundreds of yeshiva students. They were standing on the lawns, walls, pavement, streetlamps and on the roadway. It was a little awkward for the passengers – especially the ladies – to have these students leaning over them and breathing down their necks – most uncomfortable too!

Meanwhile, Leibel brought out boxes containing some of the seventy-four Tanyas. He extracted a few books and took them into the Rebbe’s room.

A few minutes later there was a “shush” and a “hush” and then complete silence; here was the Rebbe. He was followed by Leibel, who was carrying six of these Tanyas. After him came Rabbis Chodakov, Klein, Wineberg, Harlig and Dr. Nissen Mindel and others. These gentlemen grouped themselves behind the Rebbe. The first open-air farbrengen had just begun. On certain occasions, the Rebbe addresses the children outside 770, such as at the Lag B’omer parades; but as far as I can ascertain, this was the first farbrengen held outside under the open sky.

What a happy knack the Rebbe has of doing the right thing at the right time. It was a brilliant occasion, matching the brilliant sunshine of a beautiful day. A sparkling, scintillating mini-farbrengen! The women, in particular, were absolutely delighted. It was the first time they could see and hear the Rebbe as clearly and as well as the men. Roselyn and Hindy were just as close to the Rebbe as I was.

The Rebbe delivered a five-minute sicha:

The month we are now in, Sivan, is the third month of the year and it is the month in which the Torah, which is divided into three sections – Torah, Neviim (Prophets), and Kesuvim (Scriptures) – was given to a people comprised of three types; Yisroel, Levi and Kohen. The first letters of these three types of Jewish people spell the word “lkh” which means to go; travel.

In fact, one of the themes connected with the revelation of Torah on Mount Sinai, is the very idea of traveling. G‑d descended – “traveled” – down to Mount Sinai; Moshe ascended – “traveled” – up the mountain, and later he “traveled” even higher to learn the Torah directly from G‑d. Torah is continuously “traveling” to every Jewish person, in order that they always be directly connected with the Almighty.

The gemora states that “a person should not depart from a friend without [sharing] a word of Torah law. Through these words of Torah the friends will always remember each other.”

From the gemora’s opening choice of words, “A person should not depart from a friend,” one can deduce that friends should never part from each other to begin with!

However, G‑d orchestrated the world in such a way that even friends part company in order to fulfill their individual Divine mission. Therefore, our sages have instructed us to recognize that this separation remains only physical and external, since the words of the Living Torah will continuously bind the two souls spiritually, encouraging each one and giving strength to continuously transform their shared Torah into action; fulfillment of the mitzvos.

More significantly, even external separation will soon come to an end with the coming of our righteous Moshiach, when G‑d will bring together all the Jewish people, in peace and joy – from wherever they are – to our Holy Land; “The land that G‑d’s eyes are always upon, [safeguarding it] from the beginning of the year until the end of the year [Devorim 11:12]. The Torah and mitzvos practiced by the Jewish people in golus (exile) will lighten up all their surroundings with the beacon of Torah and hasten the redemption.

In order to connect this with something tangible, we will distribute a sefer connected to Torah, to be taken back with you [to each person’s destination], not that the sefer should remain “new” just as when it was given, but it should be used frequently, until very soon a second one will be required and then a third one, and all this should be done b’simcha u’vetuv levov [with joy and gladness of heart].

Rabbi Groner – who had been holding the four signed Tanyas plus two additional copies – then placed the Tanyas on the Rebbe’s podium.

Roselyn later told me that this short sicha was the first time that she could hear and understand this much of a sicha.

Lipa Brennan explained that for certain audiences, the Rebbe may not intersperse his remarks with as much Hebrew or Talmudic language as he otherwise does.

I had given my camera to a friend, before the Rebbe arrived, with instructions that he take as many photographs as possible of the Rebbe handing out the Tanyas, a view of the crowds and of the overall scene. The Rebbe was now giving us a most wonderful opportunity to take some good photographs; just as I had requested at our yechidus!

The Rebbe announced that he would first distribute the Tanya “to those who were involved in the publication of the translated Tanya, followed by the rest of those assembled here.”