Gimmel Tammuz is the anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe. On such occasions, chassidim don’t eulogize. Instead, they tell stories that reflect the character of the person with whom they are trying to identify.

One of my friends was driving his father to the city in Massachusetts were he serves as a shliach. His father was elderly and not in the best of health. At one point, he asked his son to pull off the road so that he could get some fresh air and refresh himself before proceeding with the journey. They pulled off the road and sat down under a tree.

Shortly afterwards, a van pulled up and a Jew whose long payos (earlocks) and garb obviously identified him as a member of a different chassidic sect jumped out.

“Road trouble,” he asked, offering to help.

“No,” my friend answered, “just taking a break from the journey.”

“You’re Lubavitchers,” the other chassid ventured.

“Yes,” my friend replied.

“Let me tell you a story about your Rebbe,” he volunteered. “Many years ago, during the first years of our marriage, my wife and I were childless. I don’t have to explain how much pain and aggravation it caused us. I am a Satmar chassid, so I often wrote to and consulted my Rebbe about the matter. Once, at a personal meeting, I brought up the issue in a particularly emotional tone. My Rebbe replied, ‘I can’t help you. For children, you have to go to the other Rebbe.’

“I left his room confused. Why couldn’t he help me? And who was ‘the other Rebbe’ to whom he was sending me?

“I asked his attendant who told me that he meant the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Now that confused me even more, because to say that the relationship between the Satmar chassidim and Lubavitcher chassidim was cool would be a euphemism. The attendant, however, explained that I would be far from the first chassid the Satmar Rebbe had sent to the Lubavitcher and that the others had been helped by his blessings.

“I arranged a private meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He received me warmly. I conveyed my request for a blessing for children and after some thought, he promised me that I would be so blessed.

“He then asked if I could tell him any of the teachings the Satmar Rebbe had recently shared with his followers. At first, I couldn’t remember anything, but then I remembered that he had delivered a talk on the conclusion of the Talmudic tractate of Chagigah. There our Sages state that ‘the sinners of Israel are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate is filled with seeds.’ The Satmar Rebbe had explained that the statement is difficult to understand: Why would the Sages dwell on the virtues of ‘the sinners of Israel’? And he proceeded to criticize those who have abandoned Jewish belief and practice.

“When I concluded, the Lubavitcher Rebbe answered: ‘I have a different problem with that statement. If those individuals are filled with mitzvos, why do the Sages call them the sinners of Israel?’”

“By the way,” the Satmar chassid concluded, “if you’re wondering whether your Rebbe’s blessing was fulfilled or not, take a look at that vanload of children and grandchildren.”

That children were born because of the Rebbe’s blessings was not news to my friend and his father. They were, however, impressed by the gentle way in which the Rebbe tried to teach the chassid to regard every person as one of G‑d’s children.