By COLlive reporter
Back in 1966, controversy erupted in the Israeli media as well as in the United States surrounding the Israeli President Zalman Shazar‘s visit to 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to meet the Rebbe.
Some believed that the president’s position should have had the Rebbe travelling to New York city to visit Shazar, and not the other way around.
One of the people defending Shazar was the noted author and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel who, in an op-ed in the Maariv newspaper, explained why the president needed to travel to the Rebbe:
I am not what they call a Lubavitcher Chassid. However, I still support President Shazar’s trip to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn.
Imagine President Linden Johnson showing up in the home of a famous composer or artist. Is there anyone that would lessen their respect for him and his position as president? Absolutely not. On the contrary. People would appreciate that he puts aside all political interests and power to visit a friend. He would be hailed a fabulous, dedicated and real leader.
I really don’t understand what people want from President Shazar. In what way did he sin? And against whom? President Shazar goes to buy books in Oxford University or on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and a whole brigade of press photographers follow him.
But all of a sudden, for him to go to the Rebbe is forbidden?!
I have said before, I would have preferred the Rebbe go to the President. However, the President did not invite the Rebbe. The reason for that is because, “a Chassid which tires his Rebbe is not a Chassid.”
Zalman Shazar believes that a person can be both a President and a Chassid, and that the Chassid needs the Rebbe. This is Shazar’s real greatness. Despite his high stature, he demonstrated the Rebbe-Chassid relationship with pride.
In my opinion, the people that are trying to make a fence between the two souls are doing a terrible thing.