By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Shamir is a social and religious organization that assists immigrants from Eastern European countries in acclimating to the job market in Israel. One year, shortly before their annual dinner, the organization’s leadership and dinner honorees came to meet with the Rebbe and receive his blessing.
Reb Yisroel Duchman, the dinner chairman, was a jolly and charming man who often encouraged his acquaintances to increase their Jewish observance. That year the organization was honoring Mr. Dennis Eckstein, a successful businessman in the air-conditioning field and Reb Yisroel’s close friend.
Reb Yisroel enjoyed speaking to the Rebbe in Russian, a language that even the Rebbe’s aides did not know. He once told the Rebbe, “I don’t even want the mice to understand what I tell you,” to which the Rebbe smiled.
At the meeting between the Shamir board members and the Rebbe, Duchman told the Rebbe, “I want you to know that Dennis [Eckstein] puts on tefillin every day. He is happy to fulfill this mitzvah, and does so openly and proudly.”
The Rebbe, concerned that Reb Yisroel would announce this fact to the entire crowd at the dinner, responded, in Russian, that doing so might hurt Dennis’ feelings. The Rebbe continued, “You cannot publicize this, because it will emphasize that until now he did not don tefillin. This is something you should not do.”