“Lag Baomer 5744 (1984). I was a young man recently married and going to Kolel (advanced study program for young married men). This year, the committee which organized the Lag Baomer Parade, asked a number of Kolel yungeleit (young people) to help out.
Among the jobs we were assigned, was to be present at the home of the Rebbe on President Street, when the Rebbe would be leaving his home to be go to the Lag Baomer Parade. Many people would come on Lag Baomer to seek the Rebbe’s blessings on this auspicious day. That morning there was a large crowd waiting at the Rebbe’s house. Each of them had a pressing need in their life, which they hoped would be assuaged by the Rebbe’s blessing.
My job was to stand close to the car to assist in opening and closing the door for the Rebbe when he came down the stairs and was ready to get into the car.
The scene that morning was intense. As the Rebbe emerged from his house, people began screaming out names and requests. Couples who were married and were not yet blessed with a child knew that this day was especially propitious for such a blessing. It is known from the time of the Mitteler Rebbe, the second Lubavitcher Rebbe, that many childless couples were blessed with children on the holy day of Lag Baomer. About fifty men and women were standing all about vying for the Rebbe’s attention. With heartfelt cries they begged for a brocho to be blessed. Slowly the Rebbe made his way down the stairs and to the car, blessing them along the way.
When the Rebbe came to the car, I opened the door and prepared to close it straight away. Just then a young man appeared as if from nowhere and stuck his head into the car facing the Rebbe. He told the Rebbe his wife’s name and her mother’s name followed by his name and his mother’s name, requesting a brocho for a child. The Rebbe looked lovingly at him and answered, ‘BEKOROV’. He answered Amein and the Rebbe told him, ‘Zog noch a mol Amein’ – Say Amein again! He answered Amein a second time.
All this time, I was using all my strength to hold the door ajar for him so as not to close it on him. When he emerged, with much gratitude for what I had done, he looked straight at me, and uttered the heartfelt words, ‘Yasher Koach’ – Thank you!
He disappeared in the crowd, as the car with the Rebbe drove off to the Lag Baomer Parade.
I never saw him again, until….
When I completed my year in Kolel, my wife and I were privileged to become Shluchim (Emissaries) of the Rebbe. We moved to Lexington, Massachusetts. Being that it is not too far from New York, it enables my family to attend simchas and other occasions during the year in Crown Heights.
Fifteen years later, on the 24th of Menachem Av, 5759 (1999), I headed out in the early hours of the morning to go to the Ohel of the Rebbe. From the time my dear father passed away, I made a point of going each year on his birthday to the Ohel of the Rebbe. I would then visit him and wish him a Happy Birthday, as he is buried not far from the Rebbe in Montefiore cemetery in Queens, New York.
I remember it was a Thursday morning when I came to the Ohel. I sat down inside the tent to write my pan (letter of supplication to the Rebbe written before one goes in and read at the Ohel). It was around six in the morning, so it was pretty quiet at the Ohel.
When I looked up, I saw a man dressed in Chassidic garb (though I could not tell which Chassidic group he belonged to, it appeared to me to be from among the Hungarian Chassidim) coming in from the Ohel with two boys. The man stared at me and then he walked over to me and said, ‘You don’t recognize me! I will never forget your eyes and your face, because Lag Baomer 5744, I was the one you held open the Rebbe’s car door for. Do you remember when the Rebbe told me to say two Ameins?
Pointing to the two boys who were with him, he announced, ‘These are my two AMEINS!’
He did not want to give me his name. He preferred to remain anonymous.
I finished my letter and stood up hoping to see them again. They were by the table where the cookies and tea were, as these were available to all Ohel guests.
By the time I turned around to get my sneakers he and the boys were gone….
I marveled at the Hashgocho Protis and how Hashem timed our meeting once again, to meet at the Ohel of the Rebbe. Out of respect for the father’s desire to remain anonymous, I did not share this story for a long time. It finally came out at a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering)…..