On one of my trips to South America, I met a wealthy Jewish individual who was a very prominent leader in the local Jewish community. He told me that his daughter lived in New York, and that she had become involved in a certain mystic cult. I promised him to make every effort to free his daughter from the cult and bring her back to Judaism.

I promised—and I fulfilled my pledge. After several phone calls, she agreed to pay a visit to my house. One visit brought another in its wake, until she finally cut off her bonds with the cult and began to take an interest in Judaism.

One day she phoned me to tell me her good news: she was engaged to an Israeli young man. She told me that they had decided to marry according to Jewish law, and now they wanted me to officiate at their wedding. I responded that I would be happy to oblige, but before the wedding I would like to speak with her and her groom regarding the observance of the laws of family purity.

During my introductory talk with the groom, I discovered interesting details about his family background. His grandfather had been a prominent rabbi in Warsaw, Poland; but his father, who was one of the very few who managed to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, emerged from the Holocaust with an all-consuming hatred towards anything that had any connection to religion.

The date for the wedding was set for 14 Kislev. Unknown to the couple was that this was the date of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wedding anniversary.

The custom is for the groom to be called up to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding. His grandfather had been a prominent rabbi in Warsaw, but his father emerged from the Holocaust with an all-consuming hatred towards anything that had any connection to religion. The groom did not go to the synagogue on that Shabbat, but rather attended a small synagogue on the Thursday before, with a limited group of close friends and relatives. The reason for this was his father’s completely antagonistic approach, adamantly refusing to step foot in a synagogue for Saturday services, and agreeing only under these conditions.

On the morning of the wedding, I wrote a note to the Rebbe wherein I informed him about the wedding that evening. I also wrote briefly about the background of the groom and his bride.

I received an answer via one of the Rebbe’s secretaries later that day. The Rebbe had written that the groom’s grandfather had been present at his—the Rebbe’s—own wedding in Warsaw, and had even given the Rebbe a gift—a book that he had authored and published. Since, by divine providence, the young couple’s wedding was set for the same date, the 14th of Kislev, the Rebbe suggested that I take that book with me and hold it beneath the chuppah (wedding canopy). The Rebbe noted exactly where the book could be located in his library.

I was handed the book by the Rebbe’s secretary, and with it I set out to Manhattan, where the wedding was to take place in an elegant hotel.

Before the wedding reception, the groom approached me and sadly explained that I should not expect any form of cooperation from his father during the ceremony. His father was bluntly refusing to participate, even to the smallest degree. I promised not to pressure his father about these matters.

During the pre-ceremony reception, the groom asked me to address the guests. For many of them this was the first time they had participated in a chuppah ceremony where all the Jewish laws and customs were observed.

I happily fulfilled his request, and in my speech I explained the inner meaning of marriage and married life according to Torah and chassidic teachings. I concluded my speech by telling them that I wished to tell them about the grandfather of the groom. Raising the book in my arms, I spoke of the groom’s illustrious family background.

“And if you ask from where I got this book, I’ll tell you!"

At this point, I told the stunned guests the whole story about the Rebbe’s answer and request. I added that I was certain that the groom’s grandfather was very pleased in his heavenly resting place that his grandson entered his marriage in accordance with the Torah, for the sake of which his grandfather had devoted his entire life.

I was still talking when the groom’s father suddenly stood up and left the room. After finishing my speech, I began to look for him. I found him standing in the vestibule, in a corner near the public phones, crying bitterly . . .

I left him to his privacy and returned to the reception. Before the chuppah, the father approached me and quietly said, “Please, tell me what I have to do now . . .”

From that day onwards, the son of the prominent Warsaw rabbi turned over a new leaf in his life.