As a young man, while studying at Chabad’s Yeshivas Toras Emes in Jerusalem, I became curious about the Rebbe’s background. Of course, I knew that the Rebbe shared his surname with the Previous Rebbe – who was his father-in-law – and that he was the descendant of the famed Tzemach Tzedek, but I knew nothing beyond that.
My fellow students also knew nothing more, and when I asked the elders in the yeshivah, I received no further details. The lack of information troubled me very much – it just didn’t feel right. “He is our Rebbe,” I thought, “so why don’t we know more about his roots?”
This matter continued to trouble me into adulthood, and I decided to do something about it. So I sent a letter to the Rebbe, telling him that I would like to write a book about his father – Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson – but I never received a response.
Nine years passed.
In 1974, during the month of the High Holidays and Sukkot, I traveled for the first time to New York to see the Rebbe. After the conclusion of Simchat Torah, when everyone approached him to receive wine from his cup – a ceremony known as Kos Shel Brachah – I went up as well. As the Rebbe poured the wine for me, he said, “You promised me a book about my father. Where is it?”
I was momentarily shocked that he should remember something from so long ago, but then I responded, “I sent the Rebbe a letter, but never received a reply.”
The Rebbe smiled and said in a voice loud enough for the people standing nearby to hear: “I don’t need to answer you. G-d needs to answer you.” (more…)