A group of chassidim once came to R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, complaining of a drought that was jeopardizing their crops and their livestock. R. Yisrael led them through shaded paths in the nearby forest until he came upon a particular tree. He motioned to the chassidim to sit and said:

“When there was a drought in the time of the Baal Shem Tov, he would bring his chassidim to this tree, sing a melody, share a teaching, and rain would come.

“A generation later, when there was a drought, my grandfather the Maggid of Mezritch would also bring his followers to this tree. He would tell them this story of the Baal Shem Tov and say, ‘Although I no longer remember the teaching, this is the melody the Baal Shem would sing.’ And after he sang the melody, rain came down.

“As for me,” R. Yisrael concluded, “I know neither the melody nor the teaching. But I do know the story. May relating the story bring rain.”

Reb Yisrael and his chassidim had barely emerged from the forest before the first thunderbursts were heard.

Many of the stories in this book show the contemporary dimension of the Rebbe’s leadership, how he is involved with people and situations which the Rebbeim of previous generations did not encounter. But it cannot be forgotten, that he is the heir to the tradition of those previous Rebbeim; that he perpetuates the uniqueness of the Rebbe-chassid relationship that existed in previous generations. This is the focus of the present chapter.