3 Iyar marks the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Eizik Chodakov, the Rebbe’s legendary secretary and chief of staff. Rabbi Leibel Alevsky, Shliach to Northeast Ohio, shared with Anash.org unique personal memories.
As told to Anash.org writer
Between the years 5722-32 (1962-72), I opened the first office of Tzach, the Lubavitch Youth Organization, under the auspices of Reb Dovid Raskin. Often, during the late Yechidus nights, Rabbi Chodakov would summon me and converse with me for hours, making various suggestions regarding our activities. Some of them seemed to be very impractical. Sometimes I would carry them out, and sometimes I would not.
During those same years, I had about fifteen Yechidusen. During one Yechidus, the Rebbe suddenly began speaking about those same suggestions I had received from Rabbi Chodakov—which I had ignored. I was obviously very shocked and surprised…
Needless to say, I began to treat Rabbi Chodakov’s ‘suggestions’ with a new respect.
As bochurim, we would take turns to accompany the Rebbe home at night, walking behind him at a respectful distance.
As my friend and I waited for the Rebbe to emerge after Yechidus late one night, we saw Mr. Zalman Shazar leave the Rebbe’s room. He had been in the Rebbe’s room for hours; it was already four in the morning.
On his way out, he noticed Rabbi Chodakov sitting patiently in the Merkos office.
“Meileh, I understand,” Mr. Shazar said to Rabbi Chodakov,”der Rebbe iz a Rebbe, darf er leiden, the Rebbe is the Rebbe, so he has to ‘suffer,’ uber ir, nit shlofen a gantze nacht, but why are you losing a full night of sleep?”
“What do you think,” Rabbi Chodakov responded, “would it be appropriate to leave the Rebbe sitting here alone while I go home to sleep peacefully?”
Mr. Shazar quickly understood his point, and said, “You are right, I take back my words.”
Rabbi Chodakov once made a suggestion for Tzach which didn’t sit right with me. I told him, respectfully, “If this suggestion comes from the Rebbe, I will obviously accept it without question, but—”
Rabbi Chodakov cut me off and said, “In your opinion, if the Rebbe wants to make a suggestion but doesn’t want it to be given over in his name, what exactly should he do?”
Needless to say, I quickly accepted the proposal.