By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
The Rebbe was often asked why he remained in New York when he could have moved to Israel. It seemed strange that he insisted on living in the diaspora, especially as he professed such a strong love for the holy land and its inhabitants.
The Rebbe gave several different answers to this question, depending on who was asking. His own reason can be inferred from the response he gave when other Jewish leaders asked if they should move (paraphrased):
“There is a great deal one can accomplish with the strengthening and spreading of Judaism in your community. Moreover, the need is very great, and at the same time, the manpower is very small. For there are relatively few who are active in this area and can be truly successful. Therefore, as a leader, you should remain where you are.”
Once, a Chassidic Jew shyly told the Rebbe, “May it be G-d’s will that the Rebbe should travel to the Land of Israel very soon.”
The Rebbe seemed surprised. “That I should travel?”
The man smiled sheepishly and nodded.
“I will inquire with my secretariat if I have a plane ticket ready,” the Rebbe said jokingly.
As the man was about to depart, the Rebbe realized that he might take matters into his own hands, leaving the Rebbe in an uncomfortable position. “Please do not purchase a ticket to Israel for me,” he said hastily.