Born a Rebbe

R’ Pinchos Althaus was very instrumental in returning Mr. Shazar to his Lubavitcher roots. He visited Mr. Shazar regularly (weekly?) in his government office. Each such visit lasted well over an hour. R’ Pinye general arrived unannounced. Mr. Shazar interrupted his daily schedule in order to see him.

One morning, a delegation of French politicians arrived for their appointment with Mr. Shazar. France at that time was very valuable to the fledgling Jewish sate as it provided Israel with invaluable funding ad other resources. Just then, as luck would have it, R’ Pinye walked in. R’ Zalmen ushered him right into his office, leaving the French delegate outside to wait… As time went by and the audience gave no signs of ending, Mr. Shazar overheard his head of staff (מנכ”ל) apologizing to the delegate for the delay “due to some Rabbi who came to visit”. But the apology was purposely intended to be overheard as its primary purpose was to tell off Mr. Shazar for insulting France and its delegates.

As R’ Pinye exited Zalmen’s room, Mr Shazar, who had yet to return to yiddishkeit, explained to his head of staff. He spoke in English to ensure the French entourage understood well: “This Rabbi precedes these French delegates. These delegates were appointed by the current French government. Their appointment will last as long as the current government – until the next French elections. This Rabbi represents the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe was not elected into office. He was born Rebbe and remains Rebbe for life. It’s for this reason that I let the French politicians wait outside while I chatted with Rabbi Althaus.”

Mr. Shazar’s secretary noted in his journal his impression from the display of Zalmen’s גאון יעקב (Jewish pride).

(Heard several times from my father.)


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