About one month before we embarked on this trip I sent a telegram to the Rebbe, inquiring about the possibility of having the Rebbe receive the entire group upon arrival. I received the following letter from the Rebbe's secretary, dated the 27th of Sivan, 5721 (June 11, 1961):

I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your cable about the possibility of the entire group being received by the Rebbe shlita on arrival.

It is difficult to say anything definite at this time, since the date and time of arrival have not been finalized. However, when the group is about to board the plane, and perhaps from the actual flight, you will surely advise us of the exact hour of arrival, and then the question will be given consideration. You should bear in mind, however, that if the actual arrival of the group is at an inconvenient hour, and especially if the travelers may be weary from the journey, it may not be well advised to arrange an immediate reception by the Rebbe shlita. Needless to say, the travelers themselves should also be consulted, as it would not do to make them feel that they have been imposed upon.

I then read the postscript. It stated:

Since writing the above, your letter came with additional information about the trip, the arrival time expected to be between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. The Rebbe shlita wishes me to state that there would be no objection on his part, but the decision rests with you, in the light of what has been written above. When you have made a decision, please notify, preferably by cable.

A quick consensus revealed that our passengers were very much in favor of such a unique and generous honor immediately upon arrival.

We were now indeed waiting for that moment, the highlight of our visit, our first meeting with our beloved and revered Lubavitcher Rebbe.

At 3:30 a.m. on the dot, there was a sudden hush, an almost unnatural silence, and a passageway was miraculously cleared in the midst of the tightly packed crowd of men and boys who lined the side of the hall.

What a thrilling moment as, with head erect and with light but resolute steps, the Lubavitcher Rebbe strode to the dais and seated himself in solitary state at the table, surrounded by a semi-circle of about fifty rabbonim. He gave a wonderful and welcoming smile to me.

Everyone drank to his health and said “l'chaim” and the Rebbe replied to each one with “L'chaim v'livrocho.” That the Rebbe should welcome us personally at 3:30 in the morning was a remarkable and unprecedented honor and a stimulating experience. We were all very conscious of this extraordinary gesture.

We had come a long way to see this saintly and brilliant person and we were not disappointed. Wearing a black soft felt hat with the brim turned down at the front, a neat black beard tinged with gray, and an occasional humorous twinkle showing in his eyes, he had a vivid personality and looked younger than his fifty-nine years.

He greeted us with “Sholom Aleichem,” and we replied with “Aleichem Sholom.” He then explained that in those two phrases were contained all blessings, including that of B'ruchim Haboim. For it says in the Mishna that peace is the vessel that contains G‑d's blessings. Peace and unity are channels through which the Jew draws down upon himself G‑d's blessings in the fullest measure - the kind of blessings which only G‑d can bestow and which, therefore, satisfy all our needs both materially and spiritually.

This is so, even when one single Jew meets and greets another single Jew. When, kein ayin horah, so many Jews are greeting each other tonight and hearing a discourse on Torah, then the blessings showered upon them are increased immeasurably.

It is now during the “Three Weeks,” and our sages tell us that the Temple was destroyed because of sinas chinum (baseless hatred). How often do we hear the expression, “Oh, I can't bear the sight of that fellow,” even though we hardly know (and maybe have never spoken to) “that fellow.” We should bear in mind that there is good in every Jew.

Many Jews practice ahavas Hashem and many practice ahavas Yisroel, but they must be practiced simultaneously; one is no good without the other. The Jew who goes to shul three times a day and dislikes his fellow man is no better then the Jew who likes his fellow being but keeps no other mitzvos at all. A truly genuine, honest and religious Jew who loves his Maker will most certainly love his fellow Jew, because G‑d says “V'ohavto l'raiacho komocho.”

We must transform sinas chinum into ahavas chinum (baseless love), loving a fellow Jew only because he is a Jew, because he has the potential of performing good deeds and, as a Jew, has the obligation and potential to perform the mitzvos, especially the mitzvos of Shabbos, of tefillin and, above all, of giving tzedakah. [This last, by the way, is of the highest importance and must be given daily. No one can measure the rewards of giving tzedakah, and at least one-penny per day must be donated to charity.]

When that time comes, the Rebbe concluded, when we will love all fellow Jews, not out of gratitude for kindness received or in anticipation of a returned favor, but for absolutely no reason at all, then we can expect the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming of Moshiach. May it be very soon and in our time, Amen.

(This is the basis of the Lubavitcher doctrine. Every Jew is important, whether religious or not, whether male or female, whether he lives in a city or at the outposts of civilization. He can always grow in his spirituality.)

In the last eleven years [since the Rebbe ascended to the leadership in 1950], Lubavitcher yeshivos, Talmudei Torah and schools have been founded in many countries in Europe, North Africa, Canada, Australia, South America and the United States. In Israel, an entire new neighborhood is being built. This is in addition to the Chabad village called Kfar Chabad, and numerous schools and yeshivos are making splendid progress in every part of that country.

In the United States alone, there are fifteen academies that attend to the education of 16,000 youngsters. On June 28 of this year [1961], the New York Herald Tribune stated that “the Lubavitcher educational movement is recognized as the largest international Jewish educational institution of its type in the world, reaching 30,000 youngsters.”

Lubavitch has its own printing and publishing facility, Kehot Publication Society, which is really colossal. Millions of books on every aspect of Judaism are published there, and sent all over the world.

Lubavitch has its own free loan society, summer camps for boys and for girls, and vocational schools where boys learn and study half the day and are taught a trade for the rest of the day.

The Rebbe personally carries out the complicated business of running this huge organization. He has two private secretaries. Rabbi Chodakov, who is also his personal gabbai (assistant), has his own office, keeps long hours and works tremendously hard. He is a brilliant orator and statesman, about sixty years of age. Dr. Nissan Mindel is the other private secretary. He attends to all the English correspondences and is a prolific writer. He is about forty-five years of age and the editor of the famous Lubavitcher Talks and Tales.

Additionally, there are six general secretaries, all rabbonim, in the main office; and the four telephones are constantly ringing day and night.

Besides all this, the Rebbe receives a fantastic amount of private mail from individuals all over the globe, written in many different languages, asking for advice, help, guidance and/or brochos for someone.

All this personal mail is handled by the Rebbe himself. One is astounded to see the huge bundles of unopened letters - mostly in air-mail envelopes - which are taken into the Rebbe's office for attention every day. Yes, even after the conclusion of Shabbos, before he goes home, the Rebbe starts on the bundles. Otherwise he would soon get far behind. When someone is anxiously awaiting the Rebbe's reply, this would never do.

In addition to the personal mail the Rebbe receives, three times a week he has private audiences or yechidus, as it is called. These start at 8:00 in the evening and carry on without a pause until the next morning, sometimes as late as 8:00 a.m.! Neither a drop of water nor a particle of food passes the Rebbe's lips during this period. As soon as one person comes out, the next one goes in. And the next morning, at the end of that “day's” work, the Rebbe is as fit and as fresh as he was at 8:00 the previous evening. He arrives at his office, at about 10:00 a.m., and carries on with his regular daily routines.

Quite a lot has been said and written about the wonderful achievements of the Rebbe and the remarkable insight he has. This holy person has such a tremendous gift of being able to discern the correct way to solve a problem, to give just the right brocha or the correct advice when it is needed. It has been attributed to him that he can perform miracles. I consider myself a common-sense type of guy, who only believes what he can see, and these stories of the supernatural should leave me cold. However, I can talk to you for hours of the wonderful brochos that have materialized. At the beginning it was always “a coincidence,” but it happens too often. Amongst my own friends and acquaintances, practically every week one or two people come into my office asking me to write to the Rebbe for them, for his help, guidance and brochos. For all the miracles, the Rebbe himself never encourages talk about miracles.

(I will now continue with my story).

The Rebbe gave another talk; there was some further singing led by Rabbi Dubov (of Manchester) and at 4:30 a.m., to the lively tune of “kee v'simcha tzei'seiu,” the Rebbe stood up and left the hall. The kabolas ponim was over.

Now the mad rush started for home. Taxis were at a premium and independent, but at 5:30, I finally saw my last passenger on his way. The only casualty was Martin Weinberg. Mrs. Simon had gone off with his suitcase and left hers instead. This was not much use to him, as it contained only ladies' apparel and chocolates. He left with his briefcase which contained only his tallis and tefillin, documents and money. I suppose it could have been worse had Mrs. Simon gone off with the briefcase too. She had his trousers, but to take his tallis and tefillin - well, that would have been too much!

Our friends in Crown Heights had gone on vacation and we had taken over their apartment, so we didn't have very far to go.

It was nearly 6:00, so first we davened shacharis and then we went to bed.