This is a story about one of the shluchim (emissaries) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It took place in the days when international travel was complicated and so it had been a long time since this particular chasid had seen the Rebbe. After many long years, the chasid finally journeyed to the US, where he stayed with relatives in Crown Heights.
The chasid brought a picture of his children with him to show to his relatives and had put it in the pocket of his sirtuk (the topcoat worn by chasidim on Shabbat and festivals). But even before he reached the home of his relatives, he was ushered into the Rebbe’s room for a private interview with the Rebbe called a yechidus. For chasidim, a yechidus is as weighty as the final ne’ilah prayer of Yom Kippur. When a chasid enters into yechidus, he wears his sirtuk. Usually, the pockets are empty, but by Divine Providence, the picture of his children, which he had planned on showing his relatives, remained inside.
The chasid entered the Rebbe’s room, and the Rebbe asked him about all his activities. Suddenly the Rebbe asked, “Perhaps you have a picture of your children? I would like to see them.” The chasid remembered the astonishment he felt that the picture was in his pocket. He immediately took it out and handed it over to the Rebbe. “Is this a gift for me?” the Rebbe asked. The chasid was astonished once again, but collected himself to reply, “Of course.” He was thrilled that the Rebbe wanted the picture of his children and exited the yechidus with great joy in his heart.
This chasid was a relative of the Rebbe’s from the Schneersohn side. Thus, the next day, he was invited to the home of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Channah Schneersohn. The chasid was very happy to have received this important invitation. When he entered her home, he saw the picture of his children on the Rebbetzin’s mantelpiece. “How did this picture get here?” he asked the Rebbetzin. “Just yesterday I gave it to the Rebbe! Why did he give it to you?”
“I always ask my son to bring me pictures of his children,” Rebbetzin Channah answered, “because his children are my grandchildren. Every time, I ask my son to bring me more pictures. Yesterday he brought me this picture and I immediately put it here.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe did not have children, but in truth he had thousands of beloved children. Each one of his chasidim—particularly every one of the hundreds of shluchim—was a beloved child of the Rebbe’s and as we learn from the story, a grandchild of his mother, Rebbetzin Channah. The picture of the chasid is engraved on the Rebbe’s heart and he has no greater pleasure than to see his children-chasidim.