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Tuesday, October 3, 2023 - 18 Tishrei 5784
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Chaim Afflow and Eshkol Levy first met while serving together in the Shimshon unit of the IDF. Their life paths up to that point could not have been more different. Eshkol, the son of former Knesset member David Levy, had received a traditional Jewish education and had grown up in a highly political atmosphere. Chaim had been educated in the Migdal Ohr yeshiva in Migdal Haemek, and then transferred to a Chabad yeshiva. He had also spent a year in the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he absorbed Chassidic teachings directly from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. After his return to Israel, Chaim was drafted into the IDF. Chaim and Eshkol met in the army and a deep friendship quickly sprung up between them.

Eshkol introduced Chaim to his father, Knesset member David Levy. Levy, who was then one of the central members of the ruling Likud party, took a strong liking to Chaim. He recognized Chaim's talent and charisma, and decided to put them to use for the benefit of his party. Chaim was made a member of the party and was appointed the head of its religious youth wing.

Despite his position, Chaim remained a dedicated and loyal Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He used his charismatic personality to endear Chabad and the Rebbe to everyone he encountered. Before he traveled to New York to the Rebbe, a trip that he took several times, Chaim convinced his friends to write to the Rebbe, and brought their requests with him to give to the Rebbe.

Naturally, Mr. Levy was among those who made use of Chaim's “delivery service.” Mr. Levy had long admired the Rebbe. He was amazed at the Rebbe's leadership, at his influence which extended far beyond the circle of his students and Chassidim. Mr. Levy was touched by the Rebbe's concern for every Jew, regardless of who he was. Mr. Levy had visited the Rebbe himself a number of times, and corresponded with him frequently.

One of the times that Chaim traveled to New York was for Lag B'Omer, 5750 (1990). At the time, Mr. Levy served as the Israeli foreign minister, and had to contend with complex challenges. James Baker, then the Secretary of State under President George Bush Sr., was known for his pro-Arab stance. He made frequent trips to Israel to pressure Foreign Minster Levy and the other Knesset members to make concessions to the Arabs. Even Yitzhak Shamir, known for his generally tough stance in protecting Israeli interests, found it difficult to stand up to James Baker, who came with full backing from George Bush.

When Chaim informed Minister Levy about his upcoming trip to New York, the minister requested that he ask the Rebbe in his name for three blessings: One for the success of the nation of Israel; one for his family, and one for his personal success in the matters of state that he was involved with.

Chaim relates: “The first thing I did upon arriving in New York was to relay the minister's requests, along with the requests of all my friends, to the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Groner. I left with Rabbi Groner the address and telephone number of the house where I was staying in New York, in case there should be a reply for me from the Rebbe. I then left to attend to some personal matters.

“When I returned, I heard from my host that Rabbi Groner was looking for me urgently. I quickly went to 770 to meet him, and heard from him that the Rebbe wished me to inform David Levy that he should not be intimidated by his meeting with Baker. He should be strong and firm in the first moments, and G-d will help him further.

“From the haste in which I received the Rebbe's answer, as well as the general tone, I understood that this message was urgent. I tried to reach the minister at various telephone numbers he had given me, with no success. His high position made it a complicated matter to get in touch with him.

“This was Friday. I could not allow the matter to wait until Sunday. Finally I called David Levy's personal driver, related to him the message I had from the Rebbe, and asked him to give it over to the minister.

“Later, I heard from David Levy that he was stunned at the fact that the Rebbe knew about his meeting at all. The meeting between him and James Baker was planned for Sunday, but it was secret and had not been publicized. Minster Levy took the Rebbe's message to heart, and the words indeed turned out to be prophetic.

“James Baker opened the meeting with a number of strong demands. In keeping with the Rebbe's advice, Levy responded firmly in the first moments of the meeting, and showed that he would not back down easily. Suddenly, after twenty minutes, an aide walked in and informed Baker that his mother had just passed away. Baker got up hurriedly, mumbled a few words of apology and cut the meeting short.” 

Chaim concluded: “Levy finally got some relief from the pressure: exactly as the Rebbe had predicted.”



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