Very often the Rebbe’s blessing to an individual or a group concludes with the phrase: Azkir al hatziyun “I will mention this at the gravesite.” Indeed, many times that phrase constitutes the entire reply.

The term tziyon refers to the grave of the Previous Rebbe Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn which is located in a Jewish cemetery in Queens, New York. The Rebbe frequently prays at the Previous Rebbe’s gravesite. There he reads the multitude of letters that are sent to him from all over the world.

Many who have received this reply, unaware of the full implications of this phrase, may have desired “a more substantial blessing.” Such was the case when Reb Shneur Zalman Duchman wrote to the Rebbe, asking for a blessing for a childless couple whom he knew. The Rebbe replied Azkir al hatziyun. Unsatisfied with this answer, Reb Shneur Zalman wrote a second note, asking the Rebbe to promise the couple a child. The reply was the same: Azkir al hatziyun.

Time passed. One day, just as the Rebbe was leaving his house, Reb Shneur Zalman was walking down President St. The Rebbe signaled to Reb Shneur Zalman to approach him.

“Have you heard that a son was born to the couple for whom you requested a blessing?” the Rebbe asked. “Nu, evidently Azkir al hatziyun has something to it.”