On the rebbe’s 16th yahrtzeit, a memory from Chief Rabbi Lau; a story about the rebbe and Viktor Frankl; and considering some of the recent speculation about the rebbe’s Parisian days, here’s David Bezborodko’s memories of the rebbe in Paris.
And a story passed along from the Avner Institute:
Yosef waited outside the office, vaguely aware of the swirl of black-coated officials and yeshiva students around him…. At last he was summoned in. He entered the office nervously, glancing at the heavy, wooded paneling lined with bookcases, but was put at ease by the kindly visage peering at him from behind the oaken desk.
"Good evening, Rabbi Schneerson." Yosef sat down. "I am accustomed to visiting Lubavitcher homes, and in all of them I have seen pictures of you on the wall. Is having a picture of the Rebbe on display a Lubavitcher custom?"
"If a large picture bothers you, then a small one is fine," the Rebbe replied. "But if even a small picture bothers you, then don’t bother putting up a picture at all."
The modesty and diffidence impressed Yosef. Nevertheless, he sensed that the Rebbe’s power went far beyond photos.
"I have a feeling sometimes that the love of your Chassidim towards you in Paris is . . . a bit exaggerated?"
The Rebbe shrugged. "So their love towards me is a bit exaggerated. What can I do? I myself love every single Jew. Perhaps that you might call exaggerated…. It is written in the Torah: VeAhavta LeReacha Kamocha – love every Jew as yourself. You must love every member of the nation of Israel with unconditional love." He smiled. "I hope you consider me as one who belongs to the Jewish nation. Therefore, I love every single Jew with the greatest love in the world," all over the world.