I flew in from Israel and I arrived at the Chabad Headquarters for my appointment, which was scheduled for one or two o’clock in the morning. As I sat in the waiting room, I noticed the others who were awaiting their turn with the Rebbe, a mixed group of people. Each had their own reason for being there—one came for advice, another for direction, and another for his approval of some decision they had made. I waited. People went in and out, and I waited.
Finally, I was called inside and I met with the Rebbe. The two of us talked, he and myself, and no one else was in that meeting. To the best of my recollection, the meeting lasted about two hours. It began with a discussion of the situation of Tunisian Jewry. And the Rebbe immediately told me that he was the one who gave the directive not to leave. He had his own intelligence-gathering network with various sources, including the U.S. government.
He had checked his information and had come to the conclusion that there was no special danger to the Jews of Tunisia, so he had directed them not to leave. He said, “I believe we must sustain, to the extent possible, every Jewish community around the world. I recognize the role of the State of Israel—I personally support aliyah, and I’ve instructed certain families to make aliyah, but we mustn’t just eliminate a Jewish community.”
It was obvious that here was a man of the larger world, not of a small chassidic court . . .
I explained to the Rebbe why we in Israel saw the situation differently. But, in the end, we remained with our different opinions—he was convinced that the Jews were in no special danger, and I that they were.
In our conversation it was apparent that he had a tremendous knowledge in the area of intelligence and intelligence-gathering. And his connections were vast. He had connections with the White House and the State Department. He had connections in other places in the world with the powers that be. It was obvious that here was a man of the larger world, not of a small chassidic court.
He was also a man with a vision—a big vision—and he did not abandon that vision even for a moment. And his vision was expressed not only in theory, but also in action—sending his emissaries all over the world to serve the Jewish nation.
There is no doubt that in many places in the world Chabad emissaries play a very important role in the continued existence of the Jewish people, and in the continued existed of the Jewish nation as a whole. When I served as Israel’s ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, I met the emissaries of Chabad who worked there. And I also met those in Riga and in Sydney. And I believe that if Chabad did not exist, the situation of the continuity of the Jewish nation would be much worse. This tremendous contribution that Chabad is making—no other movement in the world gives such a contribution to our people. And in my eyes, this is a great blessing.
In honor of our dear Rebbe, by the Jacobs family.