[The Previous Rebbe’s diary continues]:

He began weeping profusely, and it was with great difficulty that I managed to pacify him. Since he had been fasting, and the time for Maariv had already arrived, I urged him to go and get something to eat. But he refused, and instead continued his story.

Y. M.’s story took three hours (with a few short recesses) to tell. Before we parted, he said, “No doubt you will be willing to lend me your tefillin tomorrow too. When I arrive home, I will get myself a pair of tefillin that very same day, and I will change my ways. I will become a faithful Jew and do as your grandfather commanded me. I will remember that I am a Jew, and will be mindful of my origins.”

As he spoke these words, I observed that he was overcome with emotion. We parted in great friendship, and his story continued to affect me for a long time afterward. For almost thirty years, from 5642 to 5672 [1882-1912], the G‑dly fire of my holy grandfather’s words had remained hidden and concealed within the man’s heart, while he wallowed in the filth of pleasure and lust. But finally, the One Who causes all things to happen, caused events to evolve in this way. By means of a certain event, the G‑dly fire of the words of tzaddikim who live forever caused the spark to burst into a burning flame, inspiring him to return to G‑d with his whole heart.

How wondrous are the ways of Divine Providence! The Holy One, blessed be He, ordains a chain of events to support those who have fallen, and to lend a helping hand to those who have rebelled, by showing them the path they should follow.

It is written,1 “The L-rd is good and righteous, therefore He guides the wicked on the proper way.” Commenting on the verse, the Midrash relates:2 “Why is He good? Because He is righteous. And why is He righteous? because He is good.”

How numerous are Your kind acts, O L-rd! Yesterday, he fed upon a cauldron of unkosher meat and reveled with bottles of idolatrous wine. But today he is fasting, and has returned unto G‑d. As he torments his body, he prays that from now on he will change the course of his life and live as a faithful Jew.

Petersburg, Wednesday, 12 Shvat, 5672 [January 31, 1912]

At five o’clock, Mr. Y.M. called me. I was not in my room at the time. He left a message that I return his call. I called him twice, but he was not at home.

Moscow, Thursday 13 Shvat 5672 [February 1, 1912]:

At about eleven o’clock I arrived here at Hotel Bolshoi Sibirsky, room 74. Yesterday at nine thirty in the evening I telephoned Mr. Y.M.

He was thrilled that I had complied with his request that I call him, and informed me that yesterday he acquired tefillin and a tallis as well as a Siddur, Chumash, and Tehillim, and that he was carrying out his plans for his new lifestyle. He wished to continue the conversation, but I informed him that I had to travel to Moscow on the train leaving at eleven at night, and I still had much work to do before that.

Kissingen (Germany), Tuesday 23 Menachem Av 5672 [August 6, 1912]:

Today I met Mr. Y.M. for the first time since we parted six months ago in Petersburg. We greeted each other with much joy, and made an appointment to meet again either this evening or tomorrow morning.

Kissingen, Thursday 25 Menachem Av 5672[August 8, 1912]:

Wednesday at one o’clock the Stolliner Rebbe Shlita visited me, and at four o’clock I visited the Alexander Rebbe Shlita. Therefore, I was unable to meet with Mr. Y.M. until today. I completed my therapeutic routines early today, and from two o’clock in the afternoon until eight in the evening we strolled together, while I listened with interest to what he told me.

The essence of his story is that when he returned to Petersburg he was unable to endure the company of his friends, and he therefore decided to travel to Menton for a few days. He spent the festival of Pesach in Frankfürt am Main, and then returned to his home in Petersburg for a month. His friends noticed that some inner turnabout had taken place within him.

Later, he had moved to his summer home, and then had come here to Kissingen, arriving two weeks ago. From here he planned to return home, and to spend the month of Tishrei either in Frankfürt am Main or in Amsterdam.

Moscow, Thursday 14 Teves 5675 [December 31, 1914]:

Today, while walking along Nicholski Street, I met Mr. Y.M. He was very happy to see me, and I, in turn, was pleased to see him. He told me all about himself: His business affairs were prospering, and he was planning to move to some other country. He had not yet decided which country, but it would be a place where he would be able to lead a religious life without hindrance.

Rostov on Don, Tuesday 22 Tammuz 5678 [July 2, 1918]

Today, Mr. Z. Z. told me that he has just come from Petersburg, where the manager of Bank Sibirsky had informed him that Mr. Y.M. has settled in Amsterdam. He also managed to transfer all his wealth: cash, negotiable securities, and holdings in gold and jewels.

Berlin, Wednesday 6 Kislev 5688 [November 30, 1927]:

Today, as I sat in the hotel lobby with my son-in-law Rashag, a bearded gentleman approached me and greeted me with great joy. He was surprised that I failed to recognize him, but when I looked at him carefully I still had no idea who he was.

“Don’t you remember when we traveled together from Paris to Petersburg?” he asked. In that instant, the entire scene replayed itself before my eyes.

“The only excuse I can offer is the same excuse Yosef’s brothers had for not recognizing him,”3 I replied.

“Yes,” he said, “but besides my beard, all other aspects of my life are also in keeping with what the tzaddik your grandfather demanded of me.” He told me all that had happened to him, and how he had settled in Amsterdam where he now led a fully religious life without hindrance.

New York, Wednesday 17 MarCheshvan 5690[November 20, 1929]:

Today I was visited by Mr. C. K. of Amsterdam. During our conversation he informed me that several of our acquaintances from Petersburg have settled there, and he spoke very highly of Mr. Y.M. He described his charitable acts and his financial support of Torah scholars.

Y.M. now leads a life of wealth and serenity on a large estate which he purchased there. He also founded a synagogue, where several minyonim daven daily. He himself attends the prayer services every morning, and often comes for Minchah and Maariv, and to hear the Torah lessons studied between Minchah and Maariv and following Maariv.

Warsaw, Thursday 17 Teves5694 [January 4, 1934]:

Today I was informed by Mr. M.M. that Mr. Y.M. of Amsterdam has become ill. He comes to shul only on Shabbos, but his home is still open for Torah scholars to visit. “I would never have believed that Y.M. could change so radically,” said M.M. “I remember that in our home we were reluctant even to speak his name because of his wicked ways. But now, one might even confer the title tzaddik upon him.”

Marienbad, Thursday 7 Elul5695 [September 5, 1935]:

Today I was informed that during the past month of Sivan Mr. Y.M. passed away, following a lengthy illness. May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.