A SMALL BUT LARGE REQUEST
January 14, 2015
Beis Moshiach in #957, Tzivos Hashem

A large delegation approached 770. Journalists, security, the Israeli ambassador to the US, and other important figures accompanied the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Menachem Begin, on his visit to the Rebbe.

This was shortly after Menachem Begin was appointed as prime minister. When he had to fly to New York, he wanted to include a visit to the Rebbe on his itinerary. Begin knew the Rebbe. He had written many letters to the Rebbe and had received responses. Now he had a golden opportunity to see the Rebbe and talk to him face to face.

The Rebbe welcomed the delegation warmly. He first spoke to all the members of the delegation and then Begin had a private audience with the Rebbe.

Begin began by asking the Rebbe many questions and the Rebbe answered all of them with tremendous knowledge and wisdom. Begin was extremely impressed. No matter what he asked, whether it was about security, politics, or the military, the Rebbe was more of an expert than the greatest expert in the world! He had not seen such genius anywhere before.

At the end of their meeting, Begin was so amazed by the Rebbe that he was willing to do anything the Rebbe would ask of him, even to establish another Kfar Chabad.

What did the Rebbe choose to ask of the prime minister? Can you guess? It wasn’t something for the Rebbe, nor was it for the Chassidim. It was a small request that shows us what a faithful shepherd of the Jewish people is.

“On your way back, are you going via France?” asked the Rebbe.

Begin said yes.

“There is a Jew in France, a manager of a bank, who is about to marry a non-Jew. My request is that when you are there, you should convince him to leave the non-Jew and not marry her.”

Begin was astounded.

“I am willing to do much bigger things for the Rebbe and this is what the Rebbe asks for, such a small request?”

“It is not a small request at all,” said the Rebbe. “It is a very important matter!”

The meeting ended and Begin left the Rebbe in great excitement. The impression of that private audience on him lasted a long time.

On their way back to Eretz Yisroel, when they were in France, the prime minister was interviewed by France’s main television stations. He gave fiery speeches and everyone listened closely to what he had to say since he was a gifted orator.

From there he returned to his hotel where he decided to go and do what the Rebbe asked of him. He had the personal details of the Jew he was supposed to speak to and so he called him up and invited him to come and see him.

***

The bank manager was sitting in his leather chair in his office. He took another sip from the steaming black coffee. He was preoccupied with a number of important bank matters. The ringing of the phone interrupted his train of thought.

“Hello?” he said in his official sounding voice.

“Hello, this is Menachem Begin, Israeli prime minister.”

The bank manager remained silent, trying to figure out which of his friends was kidding around with him.

“The Israeli prime minister? Why would the Israeli prime minister be calling a simple person like me?” he asked hesitantly.

Begin understood that the man had trouble believing him and he said, “If you don’t believe me, I will hang up the phone and you can call the hotel and ask who is on this floor and in this room.”

The bank manager’s hands began to tremble. He was starting to believe that this was for real.

“I would like to meet with you, at the hotel, tomorrow morning,” said Begin, and of course the man agreed.

All that night, he could not sleep a wink. He could not stop wondering why the prime minister wanted to speak to him. He came up with many possibilities, but rejected them all.

In the morning, the man put on the suit he had bought the day before for this special visit. He combed his hair and set out. 

He arrived at the appointed time and felt quite nervous. Begin began speaking to him in a friendly manner. He asked about his work and his family until he reached the important point.

“I heard you get a mazal tov,” smiled the prime minister.

The bank manager turned pale. How did the prime minister know this? Was he being followed? He nodded.

“Who is the lucky woman?” asked Begin.

“Her name is Maria,” he said.

“Maria?” asked Begin in great surprise. “That is a Christian name!”

“Yes, she is Christian, but a wonderful woman.”

“How could you do this?” Begin shouted. “You are helping Hitler, may his name be erased! Hitler sought to exterminate the Jewish people and you, by marrying a Christian, will have gentile children and you too will be helping destroy the Jewish people!”

The prime minister continued explaining and convincing, which he knew how to do so well, until the bank manager gave in.

“Okay, I promise you that I will not marry a non-Jew. As soon as I get home, I will cancel the big wedding and I will marry a Jew.”

The bank manager left the meeting shaking. It was no easy matter to decide to cancel his wedding plans, but he had promised. He did what he said he would do. He canceled the wedding and another Jewish neshama was saved and remained connected to the Jewish people, thanks to the Rebbe.

***

How do we know this story?

When Begin returned to Eretz Yisroel, there were meetings and sessions of the Knesset and the government. On one of the days shortly after his return, a member of the Knesset entered the prime minister’s office. He wanted to ask for a large amount of money for matters that seemed important to him.

Begin smiled at him and before permitting him to speak, he told him the story which we just told and added, “The Rebbe of Lubavitch, such a great man, made such a small request, even though I was willing to do anything for him. And you, you’re such a small man, and you’ve come to ask for so much?”

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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