About two weeks before we came to New York, the Rebbe told Rabbi Nachman Sudak that as a birthday present, he would like a Tanya printed in England.

So – a Rebbe miracle – in ten days this was printed. They also made a special leather-bound presentation copy, and one plastic covered one too. When Rabbi Sudak arrived, he gave the leather-bound copy to the Rebbe. The Rebbe was extremely pleased and thanked him for this.

The Rebbe then said, “Will you please give my Rebbetzin the plastic covered Tanya and on motzoei Shabbos, after maariv, bring the English delegation into my office and present me with the other leather-bound copy?”

Rabbi Sudak was dumbfounded. By chance, the bookbinder had made two copies “just in case one got spoiled.” Rabbi Sudak just happened to bring both with him to America. But – and he is absolutely adamant about this – he never told anyone about this second copy, and here the Rebbe had asked for it!

It was now motzoei Shabbos, and the English delegation all trooped in to the Rebbe’s room. The Rebbe gave us all a nice welcoming smile.

Except for the older rabbonim of 770, who every year went in to the Rebbe on the occasion of his birthday to give him a brocha, we were the only group, in fact the only people, to have the zechus (the merit) to see the Rebbe privately on his birthday. We were all well aware of this great opportunity that had been afforded us tonight.

There was quite a large pile of seforim, letters and/or other material on the Rebbe’s table, but it was all covered up neatly and tidily. The only object to be actually seen on the table was the Parchment Scroll presented by Manchester Lubavitch. Knowing the Rebbe, this was obviously put there by design.

Rabbi Sudak presented the Tanya to the Rebbe. In thanking him and us, the Rebbe said:

You should spread out Lubavitch work from London and all England. This is a great start, and you should be blessed with nachas from sons and daughters and with abundance. Moshiach should arrive soon.

The Rebbe then asked each one of us to come forward to receive a pocket Tanya from him. However, there was one condition: we have to learn from it, not leave it on the shelf.

After receiving my Tanya from the Rebbe’s hands, I withdrew to the same spot where I had been standing previously.

Only after getting back did I realize, to my utter consternation, that the cover of my copy was torn right down the back. I spent an agonizing few moments debating with myself what I should do. After all, even a torn Tanya from the Rebbe’s own hands was invaluable. I even thought that this could actually be a collector’s prize, a scoop! For, how many torn Tanyas has the Rebbe given out? On the other hand, the Rebbe had said we should learn in it and that means every day and for life. I concluded that it would be better to ask the Rebbe to exchange this one for a perfect one.

Fearfully, I approached the Rebbe, with the Tanya in my hand, and told the Rebbe my story. I was holding the Tanya in my left hand and handing it to the Rebbe, an unforgivable offense. Everything should be given with the right hand (this applies to everyone.) The Rebbe was annoyed “mit der rechter hant,” he said indignantly. (With your right hand.) I quickly obeyed, and the Rebbe replaced my torn copy with another one. He then handed me a further Tanya “for Avrohom” [my son]. So, thank G‑d, it came up for me.

In addition to the seventy editions of the Tanya that have been published to date, another two are being prepared, the Melbourne edition and the Hebrew/English Soncino one in England.