Prior to leaving back to Israel after his U.N. speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Jewish community leaders at the 92nd Street Y.
Introduced by Alan Solow, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and by Elie Wiesel, the Prime Minister, in his only address to the American Jewish community on this visit to the U.S., chose to speak at length about his encounter with the Rebbe when he arrived at the UN as Israel’s Ambassador.
“You will go into a house of lies,” he said the Rebbe told him in that prescient meeting on Simchat Torah at Lubavitch Headquarters back in 1984.
Netanyahu pointed out the lies that emanating from the UN regarding Israel–lies about Israel as the aggressor and lies about the Holocaust. To dispel the lies and the darkness, the Rebbe told him, he must “light a candle of truth.”
“You felt a wave of reaction in the audience,” Steven Salsberg, Vice Chairman of the Council on the Environment of New York City, told Lubavitch.com following the speech.
In what appears to have been a profound moment in his life, the Prime Minister, speaking with emotion and admiration for the Rebbe, described in detail his impressions of that Simchat Torah in 770, when the Rebbe carried the Torah and a light seemed to shine on him.
Audience members were riveted. “Netanyahu indicated that he then felt the power of truth,” says Salsberg, founder of the companies that make up the Salsberg Group.
Salsberg, who is well known for his activism for social responsibility in Jewish and American circles, told lubavitch.com that in his view, “Many in the audience felt that this was the message of ohr la-Goyim [a light unto the nations]—the Prime Minister of the Jewish State bringing the Rebbe’s message of truth to the United Nations.”
Netanyahu ended his speech reiterating the Rebbe’s message, and appealing to his audience to do likewise, and “light a candle for truth and justice for the Jewish people,” this Yom Kippur.
As guests left the room, Salsberg heard many “talking about how in the past, they had heard different Israeli and American leaders meet the Rebbe and describe their experiences.
“But never have they heard something so compelling as this, something so illuminating 25, years later.”