By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Young and energetic, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky had been working at Merkos L’lnyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, for one week.
One day, he received a message from the Rebbe’s chief aide, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Hodakov: Rabbi Kotlarsky should go to his office and wait for an important phone call.
Rabbi Hodakov’s office was in 770 Eastern Parkway and Rabbi Kotlarsky’s was next door, in 788. He couldn’t understand why it was necessary to use the phone but did as he was told. (He learned later that when the Rebbe wanted to listen in on a conversation, it had to be held on the phone.)
Rabbi Hodakov had a mission for the young rabbi. The Rebbe had received a letter from the father-in-law of an employee in a Chabad institution. The letter was full of complaints about the person running the institution, and Rabbi Kotlarsky’s job was to find out if the details were true.
After a long phone call with the employee, Rabbi Kotlarsky was convinced that the problems were real. Mortified, he reported to his superior what he had heard, and once again, he was told to go to his office and wait for a phone call. The phone rang—Rabbi Hodakov and the Rebbe were on the line.
“What have you found out?” Rabbi Hodakov asked.
Rabbi Kotlarsky relayed his conversation with the employee. Then the Rebbe asked a question. As was customary, Rabbi Hodakov repeated the Rebbe’s words.
“Did you speak to the other side? You always need to speak to both sides.”