R. Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk was raised by the Maggid of Mezritch. When he was a boy of about 12, the Maggid took him to his Rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov for the first time. On Friday night, the Baal Shem Tov delayed his prayers until the boy reached his shul, but other than that showed him no attention throughout the Shabbos. On Motzaei Shabbos, the Maggid presented the youth to the Baal Shem Tov.

The Baal Shem Tov began telling a long parable involving the journeys of a young man. R. Menachem Mendel, the Maggid, and the other disciples of the Baal Shem Tov (including R. Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye, author of Toldos Yaakov Yosef) listened attentively, sensing that the tale contained a message of significant import.

Years passed. Both the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid passed away, and R. Menachem Mendel assumed the leadership of the chassidic movement in White Russia. In 1777, he led a group of chassidim on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Before he left for the Holy Land, he went to visit R. Yaakov Yosef in Polonnoye.

“Do you remember the parable the Baal Shem Tov told you?” R. Yaakov Yosef asked.

“Yes,” replied R. Menachem Mendel. “That is why I’m here. For implicit in the allusions of the parable was that on my way to Eretz Yisrael I would visit you.”

R. Menachem Mendel would later say that at each phase in his life, he was able to understand the insinuations the parable had for him.

The implication is that each of our lives is a story, a Divinely inspired mission which we are destined to fulfill. Another implication is that the souls of certain individuals like the Baal Shem Tov are cognizant of the missions of others, and able to guide them in accomplishing their purpose.


Reb Yoel Kahan has always been known for his unique teaching skills. Even while still a yeshivah student, he demonstrated an outstanding ability to explain chassidic concepts. For this reason, he was chosen to deliver a series of underground shiurim on the Tanya in the Lakewood yeshivah.

Why underground? Well, Lakewood is one of the foremost yeshivos in the country, but it favors the Lithuanian approach to Torah study. Needless to say, Chassidus is not on the curriculum, and the entire mystic dimension of Jewish knowledge is not emphasized. While the administration knew of Reb Yoel’s weekly shiur , it wanted no official association with it.

Reb Yoel’s teaching skills soon attracted a following. There were many students who enjoyed the ideas of Chassidus. Others felt intimidated by the thought of attending the shiur, but would speak to Reb Yoel before or afterwards.

Among the latter was one of the yeshivah’ s more advanced students, a brilliant young man who would often ask Reb Yoel questions regarding Talmudic passages. Although Reb Yoel tried to convince him to attend the shiur , he refused.

The students who did attend told Reb Yoel that this student was well respected, and that his presence would greatly enhance the other students’ respect for the shiur , and so Reb Yoel persevered. But there was no way he could change the student’s mind.

One day the student asked Reb Yoel if an audience with the Rebbe could be arranged for him. Reb Yoel agreed; he was certain that after yechidus , the student would be willing to study Chassidus.

The student wanted to see the Rebbe urgently, but appointments for yechidus had been arranged months in advance. Nevertheless, Reb Yoel prevailed upon Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s personal secretary, to allot one minute of the Rebbe’s time at midnight the following Monday.

When Reb Yoel told the student that he had been able to arrange yechidus , but only for a minute, the student replied that a minute would be sufficient.

Shortly before midnight that Sunday, he arrived to see the Rebbe. Reb Yoel was waiting for him, and advised him of the procedure for yechidus. Shortly afterwards, he entered yechidus.

The minute passed… and so did five minutes… ten minutes….

Rabbi Groner, the Rebbe’s secretary, entered the room several times to see if perhaps the student was taking the Rebbe’s time unnecessarily, but each time the Rebbe motioned to him not to interfere.

After an hour, the student emerged, still deep in thought. Despite Reb Yoel’s request for an explanation of what had transpired, the student offered a polite but brief good-bye and headed back to Lakewood.

In the subsequent weeks, Reb Yoel tried to engage him in conversation, but he was avoided, or would receive only terse replies. Understanding that for some reason the student no longer desired his company, Reb Yoel turned his attention elsewhere. Ultimately, he lost touch with him entirely.

Years passed.

One day, while Reb Yoel was walking down the street, he heard a car beeping and someone calling his name. He looked around, but saw no one he recognized. A driver was obviously trying to get his attention, but Reb Yoel could not understand why. And how did the driver know his name?

The stranger had long curly hair, and if he was wearing a yarmulke, it wasn’t obvious. How did he know Reb Yoel? And what did he want from him?

Reb Yoel approached out of courtesy.

“Do you remember me, Reb Yoel?” the driver asked.

“No,” confessed Reb Yoel.

“From Lakewood … years ago. My name is …. We used to talk. You arranged for me to come to the Rebbe.”

Reb Yoel remembered.

“Can we arrange a time to study Chassidus? ” the driver asked. Reb Yoel agreed.

And so they studied once a week for several months. Reb Yoel hesitated to pry into his student’s private life, and the man did not volunteer information. Their time together focused strictly on the ideas of Chassidus and their application in our Divine service.

After Reb Yoel saw that his student was becoming absorbed in the learning, he felt it appropriate to speak a little more personally.

“There’s something that’s been puzzling me,” Reb Yoel told him. “I’m not asking you about what happened between Lakewood and the present time, but I am still curious about that yechidus years back. What happened? And why didn’t you want to speak to me afterwards?”

The student explained that he had discovered a difficulty with a particular Talmudic passage, and that no one in Lakewood had been able to resolve the question. He had heard that the Rebbe was a Torah genius, and hoped that the Rebbe would be able to help him.

“That’s why,” he said, “I was happy with a minute of the Rebbe’s time. I figured that if he could resolve the difficulty, it would be possible in a minute, and if not, then anything longer would be a waste of time.

“It didn’t even take the Rebbe a minute to resolve the question,” he continued. “Within 45 seconds, I was getting ready to leave, perfectly satisfied with the answer I had been given. But the Rebbe called me by name.

“ ‘…,’ he said, ‘Do you study Chassidus?’

“I explained that I did not. Not that I had anything against Chassidus, but it just wasn’t for me. I was doing well in the study of the Talmud and its commentaries, and saw no need to change my pattern.”

“The Rebbe explained that the study of Chassidus is important, for it leads to Yiras Shamayim, ‘the awe of G‑d,’ which is necessary to protect one’s Torah study. ‘Without the study of Chassidus, ’ the Rebbe explained, ‘a person can lose sight of the G‑dliness of the Torah. And if that happens, his entire pattern of observance can erode.’

“I told the Rebbe that I could appreciate his premise in theory, but was not worried. With G‑d’s help, I had been successful in my studies. My observance was steadfast. I could see where I was going, and did not understand why I should change path in midstream. And most important, learning any new discipline takes time. Why should I take time away from Torah and invest in a new path?

“The Rebbe continued to press his point, but I remained unmoved. I was doing well and saw no reason to change.”

“Then the Rebbe paused, a faraway look in his eye. He said: ‘When a yeshivah student does not learn Chassidus, it might happen that one day he will walk into the study hall and take offense at another student’s petty remark. It will disturb him, and he won’t be able to concentrate on his studies. In his idle time, he will do such and such [a mild transgression]. That will lead him further, and the next day, he will do such and such [a more severe transgression].’

“The Rebbe continued, describing a chain of ten different transgressions. ‘And then,’ the Rebbe went on, ‘being an honest person, the student will not be able to reconcile his conduct with study at a yeshivah, and he will depart. From that point, it will not be long before he loses contact with his Jewish roots entirely.’

“I was aware that I had taken an hour of the Rebbe’s time, and didn’t see the point of going further. I told the Rebbe I would think about the matter and left.

“That’s why I didn’t speak to you afterwards. I felt that if I was going to think honestly about the Rebbe’s words, I didn’t want anyone pressuring me into accepting them.

“After thinking the matter through, I decided to stick with my original position. I was doing well in my studies. Why should I start a different course?

“And so I continued to avoid you. I knew that you would not let me ignore the Rebbe’s words, and would bring up the matter continually. I didn’t want that. I wanted to get on with my studies.”

Reb Yoel had been listening attentively, but didn’t know whether to pursue the matter further.

Without prompting, the student continued: “Several months afterwards, I confronted a particularly difficult passage in the Talmud. I labored on it for days. Finally, I thought I had a resolution. Satisfied with myself, I went from the library to the study hall. There I saw two other students discussing the same passage. ‘I’ll try my explanation on them,’ I thought.

“I did, and they didn’t accept it. One of them even ridiculed my whole approach.

“That was hard for me to accept. I had labored on the subject for days, and not only was my explanation not appreciated, it was rudely dismissed. I left the study hall in a huff.

“Afterwards, I couldn’t get my mind back on my studies. Maybe I was tired after having worked so long, or maybe I was still agitated about what the other student had said, but I felt I needed to take the night off. And that night I committed the first of the transgressions the Rebbe had mentioned.

“From that night on, my life wasn’t the same. The pattern the Rebbe described unfolded. Each of the ten transgressions he had mentioned occurred, just as he had said they would. And then I left yeshivah. And from there … well, I don’t have to go on. You can see my lifestyle.”

Reb Yoel didn’t know whether to ask him why he had suddenly decided to study Chassidus. Sometimes a story has to be given time.

But the student went on. “I had strayed so far from Yiddishkeit that although I married a Jewish girl, we didn’t raise our children with any knowledge of their heritage. In our house, there was neither Shabbos nor Yom Tov. We didn’t even go to shul on Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur.

“One day, my son came home from school upset. ‘Daddy,’ he told me, ‘somebody called me a dirty Jew. What’s that? Are we Jewish? What does it mean?’

“I was at a loss to answer him. Yes, somewhere in the attic, I still had some volumes of the Talmud. I could probably still explain some of the arguments to him. But those were laws about damages and rituals; they wouldn’t answer his question.

“I told him that we would find time to talk about the matter, and changed the subject. But it bothered me. Why couldn’t I think of something to tell my son about being Jewish?

“The next day, when I went to the newsstand, I saw The Jewish Press. I thought maybe I would be able to find something there that I could tell my son.

“While flipping through the pages, I saw an announcement of a farbrengen with the Rebbe. Maybe I would find an answer there. I jotted down the address, and noted the date and time. It was late, but I resolved to stop in for at least half an hour.

“I remembered 770 when I entered. I took a place in the back of the room and focused on the Rebbe. Although it had been years, I still understood Yiddish, and was able to follow what he was saying. And I was surprised. He was repeating the same concepts that he had told me at yechidus ! He was saying how even a person who is proficient in the study of Talmud should study Chassidus , for Chassidus endows a person with the fear of G‑d. ‘Without the study of Chassidus, ’ the Rebbe explained, ‘a person can lose sight of the G‑dliness of the Torah. And if that happens, his entire pattern of observance can be easily eroded.’

“After half an hour, I left. It was late, and I wanted to get home, but I knew I was going to come back. There was something about the Rebbe that attracted me. And I couldn’t help but marvel at the coincidence of hearing the same words that I had heard years before.

“I kept buying The Jewish Press , waiting to see when there would be another farbrengen. When I saw the advertisement, I set aside the date.

“Again I found a place in the crowd of chassidim. I could see the Rebbe, but I doubted he could see me. Again, his message was familiar. ‘A student may protest that he is doing well in his study of Talmud. Why then should he begin the study of a new discipline?’ And he continued, using the same arguments he had used years before to emphasize the contribution Chassidus can make to a person’s Divine service.

“I felt that this was more than coincidence. Twice I had come to see the Rebbe, and twice he spoke about the same subject he had spoken about years before, using almost the same words! I felt he was speaking to me personally, but I couldn’t understood how he could have picked me out in the crowd, or how he could have recognized me, considering the way I now looked.”

“The next time I went to a farbrengen was the last night of Pesach. This time there was no microphone, so I had to work my way in among the chassidim to hear. As I reached a place from which the Rebbe’s voice was audible, I heard him say: ‘When a yeshivah student does not learn Chassidus, it might happen that one day he will walk into the study hall and take offense at another student’s petty remark. This will disturb him and he won’t be able to concentrate on his studies. In his idle time, he will do such and such. That will lead him further and the next day, he will do such and such.’ The Rebbe went on, mentioning the same ten sins he had mentioned then.

“I felt that it was far more than coincidence. But I still was not sure. How could the Rebbe have seen me? And why would he speak directly to me among so many people?

“I made up my mind to wait until the farbrengen was over and join the line to receive kos shel berachah from the Rebbe. I resolved that if I could detect any sign of recognition in his face, I would start studying Chassidus.

“As I came before the Rebbe, his face broke out in a wide smile. ‘…,’ he called me by name, ‘Maybe the time has come for you to begin studying Chassidus ?’

“That’s why,” he said, looking Reb Yoel in the face, “I sought you out.”


In the 1960s, Reb Avraham Parshan was able to influence two girls to become observant and visit the Rebbe. One of the girls came from a traditional family, and her parents were less than enthusiastic about her attraction to Lubavitch. On many occasions, they caused Reb Avraham considerable discomfort.

Reb Avraham mentioned the matter to the Rebbe. The Rebbe replied: “It is not only two girls whom you brought closer. It’s two chains that will go on for generations.”

Both girls married chassidic husbands and raised observant families.


After several years of studying at the Tiferes Bachurim program of the Rabbinical College of America, Yoel Zimmerman married and began to raise a family. He spent a year studying in kollel (a program for married students), and afterwards began to plan his future. Personable, intelligent and energetic, with knowledge of the American culture and a talent for communicating Torah to people, Yoel seemed a natural for Lubavitch outreach activities. And indeed, he received attractive employment offers from several Chabad Houses.

He soon narrowed his choices to three: one in California (where he had begun his teshuvah) , one in Cleveland (where he had worked for a summer in outreach activities for youth), and a third in Buffalo, New York. He favored the California option, but wanted to consult the Rebbe before making a decision.

While Yoel was preparing his letter to the Rebbe, he remembered that before leaving California to study in Morristown, his father had asked him to go into the family business, and he had told him that he would consider the matter.

Now the idea of becoming a businessman was foreign to Yoel, and yet, as a gesture of respect to his father, he also included that option in the letter, telling the Rebbe that he did not think he had business acumen, and was worried that working with his father might strain their relationship.

When Yoel received the Rebbe’s answer, he was startled. The Rebbe had circled the words “enter the family business,” indicating it was the right choice, and had added a proviso: “If the business will provide a sufficient livelihood, and if its operation will allow for the observance of Shabbos and the festivals in a desirable manner.”

The Zimmerman business was open only from Monday to Friday, so there was no problem with Shabbos. The observance of the festivals, however, presented a problem. Yoel wanted the business closed entirely, but his father argued that the loss would be too great. The older man asked the Rebbe what they should do.

The Rebbe answered that the son should be flexible, and that the Zimmermans should seek Rabbinic guidance in composing a shtar mechirah a formal contract selling the business to a gentile for the holidays so they would not be the official owners on those days.

Yoel began to appreciate the path the Rebbe was charting for him. He settled in Chicago, becoming one of the pillars of the growing Lubavitch community there. Over the years, his business acumen proved itself, and his relationship with his father didn’t suffer.

Nor have his business activities kept him from involvement in Jewish outreach. His efforts and support are indispensable elements in the success of the Lubavitch cheder in that city. One of the shluchim said of him: “We don’t consider him merely one of our supporters; he is an indispensable member of our team!”


In 1953, a student left his Orthodox home in Chicago to study in the Telshe Yeshivah in Cleveland. Although New York is not on the route from Chicago to Cleveland, he stopped over to visit relatives and receive the blessings of several Torah giants living there. His family were by no means Lubavitchers, but had established a connection with the Previous Rebbe during the latter’s visit to Chicago in 1942. And so the prospective student also went to receive a blessing from the Rebbe before undertaking this new phase of life.

At yechidus, the Rebbe gave him warm blessings and told him: “In Cleveland lives Rabbi Zalmen Katzenellenbogen (Kazen). He can help you with regard to the study of both Torah law and Pnimiyus HaTorah, the Torah’s spirit and soul. You would profit from studying with him.”

The student promised to look up Rabbi Katzenellenbogen in Cleveland, and the yechidus ended.

As soon as he arrived in Cleveland, the student went to the post office to send a telegram to his parents, notifying them of his safe arrival. While he was waiting in line, a distinguished looking Jew with a beard and broad smile entered the post office. The young man had never met Rabbi Katzenellenbogen, nor seen a picture of him, but without thinking twice, he walked up and greeted him: “Shalom Aleichem, Reb Zalmen! The Rebbe advised me to study with you.”

The Rabbi and his family had just settled in Cleveland, and he was somewhat startled at being greeted by an unknown youth. Nonetheless, he listened closely to the student’s description of his yechidus, and the two established a relationship that continued throughout the student’s stay in Cleveland.


As a youth, Jonathan Sacks received a grant one summer from the Hillel Foundation in London to observe the activity of outlying Jewish communities in North America. In the process of his research, he met many representatives of Lubavitch, stayed at several Chabad Houses and observed their activities. While visiting London, Ontario, he met Prof. Yitzchak Block and was deeply impressed.

Prof. Block convinced Jonathan to spend a week studying at Yeshivas Hadar HaTorah in Crown Heights at the end of the summer. During that week, Jonathan had the opportunity to attend a farbrengen with the Rebbe. He was taken by the Rebbe, and in the middle of the farbrengen thanked him for the hospitality he had received from Lubavitch representatives during his travels. In response, the Rebbe asked Jonathan to stay in Crown Heights for Rosh HaShanah.

At first, Jonathan was not sure whether to accept the invitation. He had a full scholarship to Cambridge, and was due back there. After many discussions with chassidim, however, he decided to stay.

The highlight of Rosh HaShanah with the Rebbe was tekios. No one who witnessed the Rebbe sounding the shofar will ever forget the sight.

Now, as awesome as tekios were, there was also an awesome striving to see the Rebbe. Young bachurim and elder chassidim would press to draw close to the Rebbe and watch him as he sounded the shofar. Occasionally people would even faint from the crush.

Jonathan had never experienced anything like this. But with many polite requests, and much firm resolve and youthful energy, he managed to secure a place from which he could see the Rebbe.

What he saw left a profound impression on him, inspiring him to deepen his commitment to Jewish studies and maintain his connection to the Rebbe.

Years afterwards, when he became Dean of Jews College and later Chief Rabbi of England, he would point to that Rosh HaShanah as a turning point in his life. He would say: “The Rebbe took a young man with questions and made him into a Chief Rabbi.”


Although raised in a secular home, Sarah had been a Lubavitcher for many years. In the summer of 1985, she was planning to visit Israel and organize Shabbatons for Americans living there. Before leaving, she wrote to ask the Rebbe for a blessing for success in her outreach activities, and also in finding a shidduch. The Rebbe answered with a blessing and gave her two bills to give to charity. Without examining the bills, she folded them and put them in her purse.

On her way to Israel, Sarah stopped off in London to visit relatives. There she unfolded the bills the Rebbe had given her. The top bill was an Israeli ten shekel note, but the second was an English pound!

Sarah had not told the Rebbe anything about a trip to England. And indeed, the stopover proved providential, for it was there that she was introduced to her future husband.


He was an exceptional student, showing prodigious energy and aptitude. All the teachers at the yeshivah foretold great things for him.

But his energies were not controlled. True, he could study for hours without rest, but he could also party the night away without rest!

His teachers never suspected there was anything amiss. They could not fathom how anyone who could apply himself to the Talmud and its commentaries so diligently could have anything but Torah study on his mind.

How wrong they were! After the yeshivah day was over, he would go to night spots and participate in activity that was most unbefitting for a yeshivah student.

This schizophrenic existence might have continued endlessly, except that the young man became infatuated with a woman. A short while after they met, they were standing together outside the Civil Court married!

The young man knew his parents would never consent to such a match. They were from a traditional family, and would want him to marry a girl from a similar background, perhaps the daughter of a Rabbi. A woman off the street?! That would break their hearts.

Rather than tell his parents the truth, the young man devised a plan. He would explain to his father that he needed to earn money, and was leaving yeshivah for a year to work. During that time, he could remain married, and over the course of the year he would find a way to communicate the news to his parents in a way that would hurt them least.

So he called his father and told him that he had been in an auto accident. Thank G‑d, he had escaped without injury, but he had destroyed a car belonging to a friend. Unfortunately, the car had not been insured. He could not, he told his father, bear to cause his friend such a loss. Nor would he be willing to accept the money from his parents, for he knew they were not wealthy. There were other children in the family, and soon there would be weddings and other expenses to think of.

Hard as it was, he continued, he would have to make a sacrifice. He would leave yeshivah for a year and work to repay the debt.

His father wouldn’t hear of it. Yes, the debt would have to be paid, but somehow the older man would find a way. His son was a promising yeshivah student, and he wanted nothing more than for him to live up to his potential. He would not consent to his leaving yeshivah.

At this point, the son had another idea. His father was nurturing a growing respect for the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The young man reasoned that the Rebbe, though a traditional religious leader, was also a modern man. After all, he had attended university, hadn’t he? He was, the young man thought, the type of Rabbi who might agree to his scheme. And so the son suggested that the question be put to the Rebbe. If the Rebbe told him to remain in yeshivah, he would. But if the Rebbe consented to his getting a job, his father would have to accept that decision.

The father was willing to have the Rebbe decide, and dispatched the young man, together with an older brother, to 770. Apparently, the two thought they would be able to arrange yechidus. When this proved impossible, the young man wrote a letter to the Rebbe instead, repeating the tall tale he had told his father, and asking whether he should remain in yeshivah or go to work.

Shortly after submitting his letter, he returned to see if there was an answer. As was his custom, the Rebbe had written a reply at the bottom of the letter.

The answer surprised the young man. The Rebbe had ignored the two suggested alternatives, and instead wrote briefly: “Go home.”

Now this was the furthest thing from the young man’s mind. He quickly surveyed the situation. No one else had seen the Rebbe’s answer; perhaps even the secretary had not noticed what the Rebbe had written. The practice in 770 was not to take the note with the Rebbe’s handwriting, but to copy the answer down on another piece of paper.

So the young man wrote that the Rebbe had told him to go to work!

His brother was waiting for him outside 770. He listened to the answer his brother had purportedly received, and the two turned to depart. Suddenly, the brother remembered that he had several acquaintances studying in 770. “Wait a moment,” he told his brother, “I just want to say hello.”

When the brother entered 770, he was met by Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s personal secretary. “The Rebbe sent me to look for you,” he told the brother. “He would like to see you after the evening prayers.”

Not knowing what to expect, the older brother waited outside the Rebbe’s room that evening. The Rebbe was direct and to the point: “Take your brother home; be careful not to let him out of your sight.”

“Wait! Didn’t the Rebbe tell my brother to go work?” the brother asked.

“Whatever was answered before is not important,” the Rebbe replied diplomatically. “Now take your brother home.”

When the older brother conveyed the Rebbe’s message to his brother, the young man was shaken. For the first time in weeks, he came face to face with reality, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. He looked at his spiritual state, and began to appreciate how low he had fallen. And to make matters worse, he had formalized the descent; according to the law of the land, he was married!

He understood now who the Rebbe was, and that he had seen through his facade. And he appreciated the fact that the Rebbe hadn’t criticized him, but allowed him to come to this realization himself. He knew that he desperately needed advice and direction.

Asking his brother to wait, he wrote another letter to the Rebbe. This time, he told the truth. With tears of remorse, he told the Rebbe everything and asked what he should do.

The Rebbe told him to go home and tell his father his entire story. Yes, it would be painful, but the reward he would receive would outweigh the pain. Afterwards, the father should contact the Rebbe, and the Rebbe would advise him with regard to finding a lawyer to annul the marriage.

The remorseful young man followed the Rebbe’s advice. Through ongoing contact with the Rebbe, he was able to find a way to reverse his conduct, and grew to become a G‑d-fearing Torah scholar.


Rabbi Yosef Wineberg served as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary for the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, and the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. Rabbi Wineberg undertook missions to South Africa, Brazil, and other countries, reaching out to Jews and inspiring identity and observance.

In the early 1950s, Rabbi Wineberg went for a private audience with the Rebbe prior to traveling to South Africa. At the audience, the Rebbe asked him: "Do you stop in any other countries on your way to South Africa?"

Rabbi Wineberg told him that the plane made occasional stops for refueling, but these were for brief intervals. To this the Rebbe replied: "Do you not stay in any place for a day or two?" Rabbi Wineberg answered him that this was not the plan. Toward the end of the audience, the Rebbe again asked Rabbi Wineberg if he was planning to stop in any other countries on the way.

Rabbi Wineberg had been working with the Rebbe long enough to appreciate that this was not ordinary curiosity. When he came home, he told his wife that although he was scheduled to arrive in South Africa on Wednesday, she should not be disappointed if a telegram does not arrive before Shabbat, for from the Rebbe's words, it appeared that he would be delayed for a day or two and would not necessarily have the opportunity of communicating before Shabbat began.

As Rabbi Wineberg prepared to board the plane, he noticed that one of his acquaintances, Rabbi Lenger (of Ganeles-Lenger wines) was also planning to board the flight. They both appreciated the advantage of having each other as company on the long journey.

One of the refueling stops for the journey to South Africa was Dakar, a small city on the West African coast. As they were preparing to deplane there, the crew announced that the stay would be prolonged slightly because they were experiencing certain technical difficulties.

They deplaned at 10 PM. As Rabbi Wineberg was sitting in the lobby, he noticed a young man looking at him intently. When Rabbi Wineberg took off his hat and revealed a skull-cap, kippah, the man approached him and introduced himself as Mr. Pinto, a Sephardic Jew from Egypt. He had been in Dakar for six months and hadn't seen a Jewish face. He missed the Jewish involvement which he had experienced at home, and he was worried about the effect living in such a Jewish wasteland would have on his children.

Rabbi Wineberg explained to him that he could maintain a stronger sense of Jewish identity by intensifying his Jewish observance. "Do you have tefillin here?" Rabbi Wineberg asked him, of the small black leather boxes containing scrolls of biblical passages that are wrapped on the arm and head of adult men during weekday morning prayers.

"Yes," Mr. Pinto answered. He did have tefillin, but unfortunately, he had fallen out of the habit of putting them on each day.

"When your children see you putting on tefillin daily," Rabbi Wineberg told him, "the concept of being Jewish will mean much more to them. They will have a tangible example of what being Jewish means."

Mr. Pinto promised to put on tefillin daily. He and Rabbi Wineberg talked for a few more minutes, and then Rabbi Wineberg was called back to his plane. Rabbi Wineberg felt that perhaps his conversation with Mr. Pinto was the reason for the delay and with that he would have fulfilled whatever intent the Rebbe had in mind when speaking about a stop on the way to South Africa.

Apparently, this was not the case. After a few hours of flying, the crew announced that they were experiencing engine trouble and would have to return to Dakar. After they deplaned, the passengers were informed that one of the plane's engines had burnt out and it would be two or three days before it could be replaced.

Rabbi Wineberg's companion, Mr. Lenger, was worried. It was already past midnight Wednesday morning. If the delay was more than two days, it would be questionable whether they would arrive before Shabbat. Rabbi Wineberg calmed him; the Rebbe had spoken to him about a delay for a day or two, no longer.

After being placed in a local hotel and resting for several hours, Rabbi Wineberg set out to look for Jews. That was not an easy task in Dakar, for there were few in the country. Many of the people had not even heard what a Jew was.

He was able, however, to locate a store whose owner was reputed to be Jewish. Rabbi Wineberg entered the store and asked for the owner. He was introduced to a young man named Clement. Was he the owner of the store?

No, he was the owner's nephew.

Was he Jewish?

Yes, he was.

Clement talked freely with Rabbi Wineberg. He came from Lebanon. He felt the financial opportunities open for him in Dakar were worth undertaking the difficulties of leaving home and a familiar environment. He and his uncle know of four other Jewish families.

Rabbi Wineberg spoke to him about Jewish involvement and practice. Clement acknowledged that he had been lax in this area.

"Do you have tefillin here?" Rabbi Wineberg asked.

Clement admitted that he had left his in Lebanon.

"Would you put on tefillin if I sent them to you?"

Clement promised that he would.

They talked for a while longer, and Rabbi Wineberg sensed a genuine warmth on Clement's part. "Today is also a day," he told him. "Come with me and put on tefillin now."

Clement agreed and went with Rabbi Wineberg to his hotel room. As they were returning to the store, they met Mr. Pinto, who expressed his surprise at seeing Rabbi Wineberg still in the city.

Rabbi Wineberg explained about the engine trouble his plane had experienced and then introduced Clement. "You had complained of being in Dakar for six months without meeting another Jew," he told Mr. Pinto. "I've been here less than a day, and I have been able to find one."

Rabbi Wineberg spent the majority of the next day with Clement, developing a relationship with him. Clement took him sightseeing and they talked freely. One subject bothered Rabbi Wineberg and as the connection between them grew, he felt free to broach the issue. "What about marriage?" he asked Clement. "What chance is there of you finding a Jewish girl here in Dakar?"

Clement had to admit that there was almost no opportunity. "Promise me that you will never marry out of the faith," Rabbi Wineberg told Clement. Clement made the promise, telling Rabbi Wineberg that the time they had spent together had made an indelible impression upon him.

Rabbi Wineberg's plane was fixed in time for him to arrive in South Africa before Shabbat. At his first opportunity, he wrote a letter to the Rebbe describing his experiences in Dakar. The Rebbe sent tefillin and prayer books for the community there.

Throughout the months that followed, Rabbi Wineberg maintained a connection with Clement and Mr. Pinto, sending them cards for the High Holidays and letters from time to time. Before Passover, the Rebbe instructed his personal secretary, Rabbi Hodakov, to send matzah, the special thin bread eaten on the holiday, to Dakar.

When the matzah arrived, Clement and Mr. Pinto decided to make a communal Passover feast, known as the Seder. At the Seder, they spoke emotionally of the Rebbe's commitment to Jews throughout the world, how sitting in New York, he senses the longing within the heart of a Jew in Africa to maintain contact with his Jewish roots. After Passover, they wrote the Rebbe a moving letter thanking him and describing the Seder.

The following summer, Rabbi Wineberg had an audience with the Rebbe before leaving on a mission to Brazil and South Africa. "You will be stopping in Dakar," the Rebbe said with a smile. "Why not spend a few days there even if the plane is in order? This time, you can notify the people before you come."

Rabbi Wineberg notified his friends in Dakar, and they arranged a get-together of the entire community.

There was only one unpleasant element of the trip; Rabbi Wineberg saw that Clement was still single. "Do you remember your promise?" Rabbi Wineberg reminded him. Clement answered affirmatively. He explained that he had traveled to France to look for a Jewish girl to marry, but had not met anyone. "But," he assured Rabbi Wineberg, "there is no reason to worry. I will never marry out of the faith."

Several months afterwards, Rabbi Wineberg received a wedding invitation in the mail from Clement (and a second invitation to forward to the Rebbe). Clement had gone back to Lebanon to look for a wife. He had found a Jewish girl whom he would be marrying and then they would return to Dakar. "When I received that letter," Rabbi Wineberg explained, "I felt that my mission in Dakar had been completed."