Did the Rebbe even have a private life? Or his Rebbetzin?
She served faithfully at her husband’s side, sharing not only his work but his belief that every Jew was their priority. The Avner Institute presents the following encounter with one of the Rebbe’s secretaries which deeply reflects the 24/7 dedication of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin.
The following was told at a Chassidic gathering in Jerusalem 2003 by the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Binyomin Klein:
It was a winter morning in 1966, about 3:30 a.m. The Rebbe had left for home already—rather early, considering that there had been no private audience that night.
Just then a phone rang in the secretariat’s office. An employee picked up and asked, “Who is it?”
“Who is it?” he asked.
“My baby,” came a frantic woman’s voice. “He just fell—he’s been badly hurt.”
Apparently the doctors were arguing over procedures because of the baby's critical condition.
“Please, can you contact the Rebbe for me?” she cried. “I need a blessing right away, and his advice.”
“I’m very sorry,” the secretary explained, “but the Rebbe has already left. I’m afraid this will have to wait until morning. But I promise—I’ll ask the Rebbe first thing.”
The mother pleaded, "It's a matter of life and death. I need an answer now."
Placing the woman on hold, the secretary stared at the phone, deep in thought. The Rebbe might already be fast asleep. And yet . . . .
At last he decided to give it a try. If the phone was answered, he would ask forgiveness for calling so late.
He dialed uneasily.
The Rebbetzin answered. "Ver ret (who is talking)?"
The secretary gave his name and immediately said, "I am terribly sorry for calling so late," and proceeded to give his forgiveness speech—“how it was a chutzpah (nerve) to call at this hour.”
Then he continued, “But there is a lady here in desperate need. She says it is a matter of life and death." He described her plight.
The Rebbetzin exclaimed, "Why on earth are you asking forgiveness? On the contrary, this is what my husband and I are here for. We are meant to serve Jews twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. For us, there is no ‘time off.’ By your calling us you are helping us fulfill our mission."