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  • Avoiding The Rebbe = Lifelong Turmoil

    Mr. Chaim Grade, one of the leading Yiddish writers of the twentieth century, told Israel’s President Mr. Schneur Zalman Shazar in 1966: “You must go [to the Rebbe], for if you go there will be some turmoil on the outside (in Israel), which will subside at some point. But if you don’t go, you will have an inner turmoil which will never subside! ● Full Story

    Shazar's 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    On Motzoei Shabbos Nachamu, 14th of Av 5726, Mr. Schneur Zalman Shazar, then Israel’s President, came to New York and visited the Rebbe.

    Prior to his visit, he was subject to intense pressure by various politicians who tried to discourage him from visiting the Rebbe, claiming that it is not befitting of him to visit the Rebbe, rather the Rebbe should visit him.

    Shazar was friendly with Mr. Chaim Grade, one of the leading Yiddish writers of the twentieth century, who was raised Orthodox and studied in yeshiva as a teenager, but ended up secular, in part from his poetic ambitions.

    Prior to his visit, Shazar invited Mr. Grade to his hotel room, where he met with him and asked for his opinion on the matter, and asked him to join along for the visit to the Rebbe. Mr. Grade agreed, and both before and after the visit, he wrote articles in newspapers supporting Shazar’s decision.

    A short while after the visit, Mr. Grade wrote a series of letters to one of his friends, describing his meeting with Shazar, and his impression from his visit to the Rebbe together with Shazar.

    Some of these letters are printed in this week’s Lahak Kuntres, and we present an excerpt from one of his letters, dated August 12, 1966 (translated from Yiddish):

    … President [Schneur Zalman] Shazar held a meeting with my wife and myself for over an hour. During that meeting I asked him how he is going to handle [the pressure].

    He then proceeded to tell me everything, and asked for my opinion. So I answered him: “You must go [to the Rebbe], for if you go there will be some turmoil on the outside (in Israel), which will subside at some point. But if you don’t go, you will have an inner turmoil which will never subside!

    “Now I see that you are both a poet and a friend!” Shazar exclaimed, and asked me to come along.

    The meeting took place on Shabbos…

    I was not so interested [in joining Shazar], because it would entail spending the night in the city, coming to Brooklyn at 11:00pm and retiring to bed at 3:00-4:00am, but my wife was adamant that both the President and myself must travel to the Rebbe, to which Shazar responded “You are a smart wife!”

    In the footnotes: Mr. Chaim Grade's Letters

    In the footnotes: Mr. Chaim Grade’s Letters

    Shazar's 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar’s 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar's 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar’s 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar's 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar’s 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar's 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

    Shazar’s 1966 Visit. Source: Avner Institute

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