R. Yom Tov Ehrlich wasn’t getting any younger. Already 35 years old and still unmarried, he was becoming increasingly anxious about his prospects for family life. Despite multiple attempts, nothing had panned out.

A friend suggested that he visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a short ride from his home in nearby Williamsburg.

R. Yom Tov, a chassid of Karlin, knew many Chabad chassidim from his war years in Samarkand. It was 1950 and the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, had just passed, and no successor had formally taken his place.

“The Rebbe has passed,” R. Yom Tov told his friend, “who exactly should I see?”

“They say his son-in-law is something special. Why don’t you go visit him?”

R. Yom Tov did just that. Arriving at 770 Eastern Parkway, he knocked on the office door of the new Rebbe (who had not yet formally accepted the leadership) and took a seat, explaining his dilemma in full detail.

“Our custom is to write down any requests we have on paper,” the Rebbe said. “Come, I will help you. Do you have a pen?”

R. Yom Tov nervously fished around his pockets for a pen, with no luck. “Go outside and borrow a pen from someone,” the Rebbe told him. “When you come back, we will write the letter together.”

And so it was. R. Yom Tov stepped into the adjacent synagogue, borrowed a pen from an older gentleman, and went back to the Rebbe to write the letter. With that said and done, he went back to the synagogue and returned the pen to its owner.

The gentleman, whose name was R. Elimelech Moskowitz, realized that the younger man was coming from the Rebbe’s office and assumed that something must be afoot.

“The Rebbe sits in his room all day studying Torah and writing scholarly notes,” he said to R. Yom Tov. “Surely he has his own pen! There must be a reason he sent you outside to find one. Tell me, what did you ask him?”

“I asked him to help me in my quest to find a suitable wife.”

“Aha!” replied the older man, “My daughter Chana Rivka is also looking for a suitable match. This must be why he sent you to me!”

How right he was! It wasn’t too long before R. Yom Tov and Chana Rivka Ehrlich married and started a family of their own.1