After Yom Tov, we were privileged to enter our first yechidus. About fifteen minutes into the conversation, I complained that the Rebbe had not yet asked me his usual question of how I had enjoyed Yom Tov!

“How did you enjoy Yom Tov?” asked the Rebbe.

I replied that “It was terrible. I had a terrible time doing all that singing by myself. A person was moser nefesh (self-sacrificed) for something, and he was literally on the floor, and all that was required was for the Rebbe to raise his little finger, to raise an eyebrow, or nod his head, and this fellow would be lifted to great heights. Why did the Rebbe not help me in my dire distress when I sang in shul?!”

The Rebbe rebuked me very sternly. He said he considered it a “groser avleh” (big offense) for me to even ask, and he was deeply offended by my asking by letter whether I should sing or not. (I felt relieved to notice that little twinkle in the Rebbe’s eyes.) The Rebbe continued, “Indeed, it is a glaiche zach (appropriate) to sing in shul. We sang last year and in the previous years.” The Rebbe continued that he is now “putting it down in his book that we must sing every year, un far aibick” (and for always).

I should also tell this chazan that the Rebbe wants to know why he fails to do what the Rebbe tells him to do. The Rebbe and I can manage our business okay and without outside interference!

For two consecutive years, we had applied for a grant from the Salford City Council to enable us to extend the building of Lubavitch House in Manchester. The figure arranged was £20,000. The first year, the grant was rejected by the ministry in London because of a shortage of money. The following year the new Government had decentralized all these matters, and so this time the Salford Council refused the grant for the same reason.

The Rebbe had said that we should therefore now apply for double that amount, that is for £40,000. To my mind this was too ambitious and had no real foundation or reasoning. Our original figure of £20,000 was arrived at by careful calculation of the site area and extra people we anticipated to join our Youth Club. £20,000 seemed to be the limit!

I recalled after a certain experience I once had, I told the Rebbe that a person should always do what the Rebbe tells him, no matter how far-fetched it seems to be. So, I now added, “I believe it is important to do what the Rebbe says.”

The Rebbe nodded in agreement and said “so do I.”

We therefore formally applied for the £40,000 grant! And I am delighted to state that at this time of writing, February 1972, we have been officially given a grant of 75% of the £40,000!

In my office I have a very remarkable list of the many people whom the Rebbe has helped with advice and brochos.

Friends of mine, a couple who had been married for eight years without being blessed with children, now have a lovely family of two boys and two girls. Another couple, after seven years of childless marriage, have also been blessed with a family.

Practical advice on medical cases and advice and instructions regarding shidduchim are being given constantly by the Rebbe to the extreme benefit and amazement of the recipients. Unfortunately, the Rebbe only hears from most of these people when he is needed to help solve their problems. They sometimes do not even pay the Rebbe the courtesy of informing him when these matters have reached their successful conclusion.

Another constant source of irritation (my words!) is when people take a certain course of action, on their own initiative, and then beg the Rebbe for a brocha when things don’t work out.

A case in point: a certain shochet who had, without discussing the matter even with his friends, resigned from his job not even telling the Rebbe. Now he needed a brocha for parnoso or for a return to his old job! When I am asked to write for a brocha to the Rebbe for “Reuven” who is ill, it is only fair and correct that the Rebbe should be given a full report of his symptoms, what the doctors have diagnosed, and the proposed treatment. I know personally of many cases, where the Rebbe has advised a certain treatment in direct contrast to the advice given by the doctors and the Rebbe has always been proved right.

At this yechidus, I had a question to ask on behalf of a friend of mine who had failed an exam. He, thank G‑d, had good parnoso and he wanted to know whether it was worth his while to take this exam again. The Rebbe’s answer was that he should take this exam once more, but he must study really hard for it and then he will be successful. On no account must he rely solely on the Rebbe’s brocha.

The Rebbe asked me whether Avrohom gave a sermon every Shabbos in shul and whether he spoke well. I replied that he spoke nearly every Shabbos and, if he prepared it, then he did speak well.

The Rebbe could not emphasize enough the importance of preparation. (I suppose, then, that the Rebbe himself does prepare his material when he has to speak for six and seven hours at a time. I once asked the Rebbetzin about this but, although agreeing with me, she admitted that she had never actually seen the Rebbe do his preparation.)

The Rebbe then told us a story about his father-in-law, of blessed memory.

He was once traveling and stopped over Shabbos at a strange town. In the shul he was called up for maftir and haftorah. He told them that he would accept this mitzvah only if he could retire into an anteroom and look over the haftorah first. This, in spite of the fact that he had read the maftir every week for twenty years. It was a definite ruling that no person should perform a public service, whether preaching or layning and so forth, unless he had prepared it.

We had now opened a gemach (free loan society) in Manchester, because the Rebbe had said that Lubavitch organizations in every town should have one. Wherever these were started, the Rebbe contributed $200. I told the Rebbe that we had not yet received this donation.

“Have you asked for it?”

“I had understood that this would be sent automatically.”

“Nothing is automatic; the least you can do if you want something is to ask for it.” Then the Rebbe advised me to write officially to Rabbi Chodakov and we would receive this $200 by return. (I did write and we did receive it.)

I explained to the Rebbe that, as usual, I had been invited by Rabbi Mentelik to speak at the kinus haTorah and I had spoken half in Yiddish and half in English as I had promised the Rebbe to do. The Rebbe had also told me I should speak the following year wholly in Yiddish...

“You can also mix in a few English words,” added the Rebbe.

The Rebbe then told me that the Israeli President Shazar had spoken recently at a huge public function and he had spoken in Yiddish. Everyone had loved it, although quite a large proportion could not understand!

We then discussed the “misunderstanding” which had arisen regarding the Rebbe’s recent letters to me. I told the Rebbe that I loved and looked forward to his letters. It was the postscripts which worry me.

The Rebbe repeated that he wanted me to be comfortable and happy on Yom Tov. I had hinted in my letters that it was just not possible in the Union Street apartment, as it was not secure nor safe.

I reiterated that I was only concerned about making the Rebbe happy!

“Even if you are not comfortable on Yom Tov?” questioned the Rebbe.

“Yes,” I countered “If Union Street would not have been ready, we would have stayed with friends.”

“But would you have been comfortable?”

I said no and the Rebbe gave a hearty chuckle. The Rebbe emphatically denied that his letters were a suggestion for us to stay at home on Yom Tov, but he could not have offered us “Buckingham Palace.”

Incidentally, the Rebbe told us that when he received the letter from Roselyn, thanking him for going through all the trouble to make the apartment so much nicer and secure, he showed it to his Rebbetzin who was extremely pleased. She had also been rather worried about Roselyn’s comfort and peace of mind.

We discussed the Manchester shechita board. I had served as an honorary officer for the past sixteen years including four years as president. The Rebbe had said that I should always keep my connections with this Board. So, I was now serving another four-year term, this time as honorary treasurer.

One time during 5722 (1962), the Manchester Bet Din together with other Northern England Botei Dinim had decided that we should deprive Reform Jews of kosher food at their simchas. The Rebbe had written me a strong letter at that time pointing out that even if one Jew wished to keep the mitzvah of eating only kosher food then it was our duty to supply this. It was a mitzvah of the Torah, and the fact that a person did not keep many other mitzvos did not make any difference to his keeping this important one.

We discussed various aspects of Lubavitch work in Manchester.

I then asked the Rebbe, on behalf of Shlomo Levine from South Africa, who was shortly to be married to Linndy Rosen, also of that country, if he would give me a bottle of mashke to take for them to be enjoyed at their wedding and distributed amongst the guests. The Rebbe replied that he does not give mashke to everybody who requests it; but in this instance, as long as Shmuel Lew (my son-in-law) would “keep an eye” on them, he was prepared to send through me a special bottle of mashke for their wedding.

One of our workers was a very bad time-keeper. I wanted the Rebbe to state categorically that this fellow should daven with the minyan. The Rebbe told me that it was impossible to order, or even to tell, a man to daven with the minyan. The person should know himself the importance of tefilah b’tzibur, and if he has some work to do he should force himself to be ready. On the other hand, some people require longer preparation for davening than others, and if they were not yet ready to daven, then the Rebbe could not and would not tell them that they must be ready.

Another worker had made “secret” donations to our funds, as much as £120 recently. I maintained that this fact should be made public, in order that our members look upon him with greater esteem. The Rebbe said that if this fact became known, then the members would want him to work for nothing.

I showed the Rebbe the sample pages of the new English/Hebrew Tanya and asked for his decisions on various outstanding technical matters. The Rebbe then gave me a list of requirements and instructions regarding the copyrights, that it have two book ribbons, types of paper and cover, dust cover, numbering of the English pages, how the English and Hebrew pages should be arranged, single edition,

double edition, proof reading and so on and so forth. I should “ask Hershel Gorman to check that everything was in order.”

The Rebbe concluded that the words “Made in England” should be prominently displayed, “as everybody will want to buy the best.” If the publication would be ready for Yom Tov, the Rebbe would be very happy indeed. Additionally, at that time there would be a great demand for them as gifts.

Incidentally, the Rebbe pointed out to me that he considered it most important that the chassidim of each country publish the Tanya in their respective countries. To date, the Tanya has been printed in about seventy distinct editions. Obviously, it is much cheaper and easier to get copies directly from Brooklyn; but it is a wonderful achievement, especially in regard to the spiritual realms, if the Tanya would be printed in each country; especially in a place like Djerba, Tunisia, where all the typesetting was done by hand.

Roselyn and I were with the Rebbe at this yechidus for over two-and-a-half hours. We discussed mostly Manchester’s communal and Lubavitch issues and problems.The yechidus ended at 3:50 in the morning.

As usual, everyone wanted to know “What did the Rebbe tell you?” This reminds me of the story I heard, when a certain gentleman was asked this question. He answered that the Rebbe had told him not to tell anyone what the Rebbe had said.

“Ah,” replied the other with a knowing look and nodding his head, “now I know what the Rebbe told you!”