1One of the residents of Lubavitch was R. Isser the chazzan, who was given that role by my revered grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash.

One stormy Yom Kippur, as he was leading the congregants in their reading and singing of the Avodah,2 there was suddenly an intense flash of lightning and a mighty blast of thunder. In fact many of those present ran out to see what had happened – while Reb Isser the chazzan remained utterly unaware of it all.

[One of the best-loved passages of the Avodah, whose majestic melody is sung by congregations every Yom Kippur, is the refrain that begins: Vehakohanim… – “When the kohanim and the people standing in the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash heard the glorious and awesome Name fully pronounced issuing from the mouth of the Kohen Gadol in holiness and purity, they would bend their knees, bow down and fall on their faces and exclaim: ‘Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.’”]

On Sukkos, at a chassidisher farbrengen, R. Isser the chazzan would stand up and, borrowing this very melody, he would intone its words with an original twist: “When the chassidim and the ovdim who stood in the courtyard heard the blessing LeChaim! issuing from the mouth of our Rebbe, they would pronounce the berachah: Baruch… shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro [over their little glass of mashke], and would exult in the joy of Yom-Tov!”