“Patience,” said Benjamin Franklin, “is a virtue.” The Rebbe’s was tested many times—be it audiences, dollar lines, or even strange questions, such as whether the Rebbe could ever make a mistake.
The Avner Institute presents three inspiring stories, related recently by the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Binyomin Klein, who witnessed firsthand the Rebbe’s remarkable grace under fire.
Rabbi Klein relates:
One of the things we can learn from the Rebbe is patience. The Rebbe’s patience for every Jew was astounding: whenever he gave out dollars for charity hundreds, and even thousands, of people passed by in line and on the spot told him their problems and whatever was on their minds.
The Rebbe never interrupted anyone. He always allowed the person to finish talking and only then responded. There were those who repeated themselves, thinking that the Rebbe did not understand them, but the Rebbe always heard them out.
The Rebbe’s time was extremely precious; nevertheless, he always listened. He never “kicked anyone out” of his office, even if the visitor was a total pain.
“It’s late. The Rebbe needs to go home.”
A woman once came for a private audience at the time allotted. Because she willingly let others go ahead of her, she became the last person for the evening. She started talking to the Rebbe, but it didn’t look as though she planned on finishing anytime soon.
It was very late, but the Rebbe continued to listen. Having no choice, we went in and told her: It’s late. The Rebbe needs to go home. But she continued talking.
When the yechidus ended, the Rebbe stood up. He answered her as he took his coat from the nearby alcove and got ready to leave. Still, she continued talking. When the Rebbe walked out of his office she followed him right out the building, still talking. As soon as the Rebbe got home, he called the office and asked that two yeshiva students escort her by taxi to her home and that the secretaries pay for it.
“A Rebbe does not err.”
Many years ago, a group of students visited the Rebbe. When told that the spirit of G-d spoke from the Rebbe’s throat, one of them exclaimed, “Does that mean the Rebbe never makes a mistake?”
When they entered the Rebbe’s room, one of them asked the Rebbe pointblank, “If the Rebbe never makes a mistake, why does he have an eraser on his pencil?”
The Rebbe quietly answered, “A Rebbe does not err, but today he is greater than yesterday and today he adds to what was written yesterday. In other words, it’s not in order to erase a mistake, but to erase what was correct yesterday. Today he is of a different, higher stature.”
“I will never finish.”
We saw this with the Rebbe when he edited his discourses. Whenever one was brought to him, the Rebbe worked on the editing for several hours, sometimes four or more. Afterwards he phoned the secretaries to come and take the pages to the editors and from there to the printer.
Sometimes, after going in, we waited in the room for another three quarters of an hour as the Rebbe continued to add and correct. Once, on such an occasion, the Rebbe told me, “Take this to the printer because otherwise I will never finish.”
After all the corrections were made, the discourse was submitted a second time. Once again, the Rebbe made corrections, because he was adding fresh new insights.