It was the first time I had traveled to the United States. The year before, I had been involved in setting up various institutions associated with the Sadigura chasidic group in Israel, and in 1972 I made a fundraising trip to the US to help put them on firmer financial footing.
Although I am a Ruzhiner chasid, I had corresponded with the Lubavitcher Rebbe years before. As a young boy, just before my Bar Mitzvah, I took it upon myself to write to the Rebbe, and had the privilege of receiving a letter with his blessing in response. Now, the day before returning to Israel, I decided that I could not leave without seeing him. I called his secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, introduced myself, and explained that I want to have an audience with the Rebbe.
“You can come at 2 AM,” he told me after consulting his calendar, “in six weeks.”
I explained that I was going back to Israel, but he insisted there was nothing he could do: “It’s completely filled up.”
Still, I decided to go to 770. I arrived at ten to nine and found a line of people waiting to see the Rebbe. Rabbi Groner came over and greeted me.
When I told him who I was, he immediately recalled our conversation. I assured him that I had only come to see the Rebbe’s holy face – perhaps just as the door opened between appointments. He allowed me to stand nearby, and then he was called away to his office. Just then, the Rebbe’s door opened, and out came three people. This, I thought, was my chance, and I walked right into the Rebbe’s room.
I extended my hand in greeting, and the Rebbe asked my name. (more…)