In 1976 I was appointed Director General of Kupat Holim Clalit, the leading provider of health insurance in Israel, and as part of my job, I was invited to the United States to lecture on the standards of health services in Israel.
My wife accompanied me on the trip, and when we were in New York, we met our friend Yossi Ciechanover, who served as an Israeli Defense Ministry representative in New York. He asked us if we’d be interested in visiting the Lubavitcher Rebbe, a proposal which we gladly accepted, so he arranged an appointment for us at eleven o’clock on Sunday night.
When we arrived, we were ushered into the Rebbe’s study. The Rebbe was sitting behind a large desk, and we sat down across from him. I remember that from the very first moment we were very struck by the Rebbe’s personality. Of course, we had already heard about his Torah knowledge and his broad general knowledge; we knew that he was a certified engineer and we’d also heard of his great personality. Nevertheless, this face-to-face meeting left a great and lasting impression on us.
Incidentally, I began our conversation in Yiddish, but the Rebbe switched languages and continued the rest of the conversation in Hebrew, which he spoke with impressive fluency. Our meeting lasted more than an hour, much longer than had been arranged. I don’t recall exactly how much time was originally allotted, but I remember the secretary coming in several times to hint that our time was up. (more…)