The legendary secretary and bookkeeper of the yeshiva in Lubavitch, R. Koppel Zeligson, was the son of the town’s rov. Having grown up in close proximity to the Rebbeim, he was often quite comfortable in their presence.
R. Yaakov Koppel Zeligson was the son of R. Avraham, the Rov of Lubavitch during the nesius of the Rebbe Maharash. R. Koppel was a chossid of the Rebbe Maharash and the Rebbe Rashab, and he served as a choizer for the Rebbe Rashab during 5652-53. He worked in Tomchei Temimim for some time as a mashgiach for Chassidus, and then as a secretary and bookkeeper in the Yeshivah’s administrative office. As a resident of Lubavitch, R. Koppel had a close relationship with the Rebbeim, and he is one of the witnesses signed on the Frierdiker Rebbe’s tenaim.
On a visit to Italy, the Rebbe Rashab was accompanied by R. Koppel and R. Avrohom Babroisker. Their host served them a new and unknown fruit, and they all recited a Shehecheyanu and ate from it. The taste was so repulsive that R. Koppel and R. Avrohom barely swallowed the first bite, but the Rebbe Rashab continued to eat from it, while deep in thought.
Suddenly, the Rebbe noticed that they weren’t eating and asked if there was some halachic shaila with it. R. Avrohom, who was by nature a bittuldike person, did not have the courage to respond. But R. Koppel, who was quite comfortable, told the Rebbe that it was halachically okay, but “we simply can’t put it in our mouths!”
The Rebbe then tasted some more, concurred with them, and stopped eating.
Ahead of Yud Tes Kislev 5662, the Rebbe Rashab wrote an incredible letter on the significance of the day. A colossal 4,750 copies were made of the letter, and they were mailed far and wide. In response, a huge number of letters came in with requests for more copies, feedback and complaints. At the Frierdiker Rebbe’s request, R. Koppel, who served as secretary of the yeshiva, prepared a detailed report.
Among the feedback, writers described the impact the letter had and complained that it arrived so long after Yud Tes Kislev. Some were quite frustrated, blaming R. Koppel, who was always near the Rebbeim, for not appreciating it enough. They even berated him harshly: “Such maliciousness to withhold light and life from Anash can only be found in a resident of Lubavitch town. Koppel! Remember what the Rebbe said about the chassidishe yungeleit of the town Lubavitch, ‘Near the sea, the land is especially dry’…” or “Those who are sated cannot feel what it’s like to be hungry…”
The summary also included many positive reports on the celebrations held in Anash communities, the glowing reactions by R. Chaim Brisker and R. Chaim Ozer Grodzhensky, and the influence it made on those who had become distanced from chassidishe life.