Friday, May 14, 2010

A Memorable Visit to The Rebbe and Rebbetzin.

The Avner Institute would like to present excerpts of a diary recorded over Shavuos 1980 by the famed Chossid Zalman Jaffe. Mr. Jaffe, a businessman from Manchester, England, had struck up an acquaintance with the Rebbe which developed into a unique friendship lasting over 30 years. Every Shavuos Mr. Jaffe, together with his wife Roslyn, traveled to Crown Heights, where they were privileged to enjoy special, private moments with the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin. Under the Rebbe’s directive, Mr. Jaffe carefully described his experiences – yechidus, farbrengens, everyday life in Crown Heights – which were later published.

Filled with vivid details and British wit, My Encounters with the Rebbe -- eventually comprising 50 volumes -- became a popular fixture for Lubavitcher readers. They are currently being reprinted by Mr. Jaffe’s grandson, Rabbi Pinchas Lew. To learn more about Mr. Jaffe’s memoirs visit:

The Rebbe Archive would like to present a photo of the Rebbe in 1984, on his way to the Ohel.

Good Shabbos.

Our Visit to the Rebbetzin:

In his diary, Mr. Zalman Jaffe, a”h, remembers a profound Visit that he had with Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, Followed by a private audience with the Rebbe that took place shortly after Shavuos 5740 (1980):

"Once again, it was our great privilege and joy to be received by our gracious Rebbetzen at her home. Roselyn and I were accompanied by Susan and Avrohom and their children. The Rebbetzen looked very lovely. As Leah remarked, she was surprised to see that our Rebbetzen looked so young, and she added "She looked majestic and yet elegant". I asked Leah what was her definition of "Elegant". Leah answered "She holds her cup so posh!!"

I then called upon Leah to give the first turn in our afternoon concert program. Leah arose to sing "Min Hamotzer" (but she waited until the Rebbetzin's attendant had left the room. Such Modesty! The Rebbetzen rather liked that.

Next was Levi. He extracted a Chumash from his pocket - he had brought it especially for the occasion. I sat back to listen to a d'var Torah and Levi did not let me down, except that he sang the words of torah. His Bar-Mitzvah was in about six months time, so he was layenning his sedra. He continued until "Shainee", which is the first official stop, when the sedra is read on the Shabbos. I was a little apprehensive, I thought he was going to layen the whole sedra!

The Rebbetzen exclaimed that it was marvelous "umberuffen" - and she had a good laugh. She never expected to hear the layenning at her own home, on this weekday.

Chanah sang very nicely indeed. Shmuel was too embarrassed to do anything, whilst Golda, very shyly, just sat - and looked pretty. The Rebetzen remarked that Golda had a lovely wonderful personality. Since Golda did not sing, nor even speak, the Rebbetzen was obviously a prophetess. Golda did, however roll her eyes and smile a little hesitatingly.

Aaron sang the Rebbe's Nigun and gave a good exhibition of his prowess.

We had a large pile of photographs which had been taken at the Manchester Lag B'Omer Parade and Outing. The Rebbetzen went through them all and to our immense satisfaction she chose a few of them, to keep for herself and to show to the Rebbe.

We also mentioned to the Rebbetzen that Shmuel (Lew) who had also been here for Yom Tov, had already returned home that very day. The Rebbetzen confirmed that the Rebbe had told her of this fact.

As Roselyn and I were leaving, always the perfect hostess and lady, the Rebbetzen accompanied us to the door and bade us farewell.

Our Yechidus With the Rebbe:

Roselyn and I entred the Rebbe's study at 10.45 p.m. in the evening, which was quite early for us. The Rebbe welcomed us with a marvelous smile and greeted us with Sholom Aleichem.

The Rebbe had seen Avrohom, Susan and family a few days previously at Yechidus. He told us that "You have sheiner kinder" (beautiful children) physically - and presumably mentally.

We discussed my diary, “My Encounter with the Rebbe”. Roselyn had suggested that since this year was a year of Shemita, I should take a Sabbatical and refrain altogether from writing it this year. Roselyn maintained that there is nothing new about which to write. It is always the same - the subjects do not vary - farbrengen; Koss shel Brocha; Singing Hoaderress at the Rebbe's minyan; and various other matters which I have described minutely and written about most comprehensively over the past eleven years.

The Rebbe gave me an example of a mathematical improbability. A certain Maharaja, an Indian Prince and Ruler, paid a man so much money a day to write his biography. It took this fellow two days to write the events of one day. At the end of the 365 days, the scribe had written only what had happened during the first six months of the year. Therefore he could never catch up with the events.

I supposed the Rebbe meant that the author had plenty about which to write, but he was dilator in getting it down onto the paper. The Rebbe's excellent advice was that I should write my diary every day, and in that way I could complete hundreds of pages. The Rebbe continued that there were plenty of Lubavitch topics, not only in Brooklyn, but even in Manchester. I could write about England.

I suggested to the Rebbe that he should and could provide me with sufficient material to write a book every year until his 121st birthday. The Rebbe interjected and commended, "Do you want me to work until I am 120?"

I replied that Moishe (Moses) commenced his work for the Jewish people of the age of eighty and carried right on until he attained the age of the complete 120 years. I explained to the Rebbe that he was only undergoing his apprenticeship for his main work which would only start at his eightieth birthday.

The Rebbe declared that he was preparing for this!

I informed the Rebbe that my "Encounters" had cost me about £3 a copy to produce. The Rebbe was rather taken aback. The Rebbe intimated that he did' not want to force me to write. It must come from myself, from within. I assured the Rebbe that I would do my best, but what started out as a small personal diary for the Rebbe, the Rebbetzen, my family and a few friends had now become a large annual publication which was being read by people all over the world.

The Rebbe implied that I led the mincha service at the children's rally very well. I confided that I had received definite instructions to daven "quick, loud and clear".

The Rebbe enquired "Why Quick?"

I replied that "I was told to do so because the Rebbe davens quickly."

The Rebbe commented that I had a wonderful zechus. Where and when would I have such an opportunity to be the chazan for so many people, especially young children. I confessed that this was the largest crowd, ever - in my whole life - for which I had acted as reader - and the best too - about 5,000, including 3,500 children.

Finally, I asked the Rebbe whether I should come again for Simchas Torah. The Rebbe said that it was a good, idea, but obtain the consent of Mrs Jaffe and come together. We asked for a blessing for health and parnoso. The Rebbe gave us a wonderful brocha and for "Parnoso Beharchovo! (with broadness) and we took our leave. The Rebbe said "Thank you very much indeed for coming to see me". Is that not amazing? And is there not a lesson here for everyone - humbleness - modesty - greatness and consideration!

We had 'been with the Rebbe for forty-five minutes.