In 1968, I travelled from Israel to the United States to spend Purim with the Rebbe.

I arrived two days before Purim, and Rabbi Hodakov, the Rebbe’s chief secretary, gave me these instructions: "Go to Minneapolis, meet up with Rabbi Moshe Feller, the Chabad emissary there, and together you should go to Ames, Iowa. You’ll read the Megilla there for a group in a private home. After that, you can come back to New York.”

I did as I was told. I travelled with Rabbi Feller to Ames, a small city in the agricultural region of the American Midwest. Back then it was something of a backward place, though it has since developed. We went to the designated address, and there I read the Megilla, and Rabbi Feller explained it in English.

Forty or fifty people showed up, and interestingly, among them were two Israeli couples – actually, two Israeli men with Christian women. As it turned out, most of the couples who showed up were mixed – one spouse was not Jewish.

I was very disheartened. I had travelled all the way from Israel to be with the Rebbe for Purim – to hear the Megilla with him, and to be near him. And instead, I ended up in Ames, Iowa.

The next day I returned to New York. I landed in the afternoon. I went to my brother’s home – he was living in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn – ate something, then rushed back to Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway to participate in the Rebbe’s farbrengen.

The farbrengen got underway, and it lasted several hours. Suddenly, in the middle of it, the Rebbe began to speak: “There is a Jew who finds himself two thousand miles away from here, with people whom he is unsure are obligated to hear the Megilla, and he travelled far to read for them. He feels dejected. He asks himself, ‘Why did I have to travel so far away, I could have been here the entire time?’”

The Rebbe was describing my feelings exactly!

He ended with the following words: “It’s possible to be two thousand miles away physically, and be right here next to me; and it’s possible to sit right here next to me, and be two thousand miles away.”

Then the Rebbe motioned to me, and he invited me to say l’chaim on a small cup of wine.

Of course I did, in amazement that he had read my thoughts so exactly.