Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Rebbe: As told by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.
Rabbi Eliyahu is the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel (1983-1993), an eminent descisor on Jewish law, and the author of more than twenty volumes on Halachah.
I felt that the Rebbe was a holy person, endowed with a special soul. He wasn't an individual for himself, he was the all-encompassing soul, of the Jewish nation.
In the course of my lifetime, I've met many rabbis and Jewish leaders. Some were brilliant in all sections of the Torah; some were leaders, who brought great changes to the Jewish nation; and some were righteous individuals, whose blessings worked great miracles.
But I never met an individual, who encompassed all these three: brilliance in Torah; great leadership, with emissaries across the globe; and miracles and wonders, happening all around him.
When you sat in the Rebbe's presence, it was as if there was no one, and nothing else, in this world.
He had a simple chair, and a simple office.
The entire day and night, he studied Torah, and was active in communal service; I do not know when he ate and slept...
It was intriguing, that the Rebbe knew minute details of what was happening in the land of Israel, as if he lived in Israel. There are so many instances of this happening, in our audiences, written correspondence, and phone conversations.
And through our various meetings I came to understand, that he knew what was happening across the globe, just like he knew what was happening in Israel. He knew the issues that affected every country and city—as if he lived there.
The Rebbe never minced his words, when he was concerned about a particular issue. What he stated, however, was always with love and a special care.
The Israeli leaders knew, that the Rebbe loved them with all of his heart, and hence they knew, that when the Rebbe rebuked them, he did it for the love of the Jewish nation, and with love for every single individual.
Though he was a brilliant scholar, he actively cared about even the simple, unscholarly individuals.
During our four audiences, the Rebbe always sought out the merit of others. No matter the subject we were discussing, the Rebbe steered the conversation, so that he could praise others.
There are no words, to express the great honor that the Rebbe bestowed on me. The merit of meeting him; and the fact that he escorted me outside, following my fourth and final audience.
His final words made a great impression on me. After an hour and a half of conversation, the Rebbe expressed his gratitude, and thanked me for coming.
I needed to thank him for the honor, and instead he thanked me.