Although I had attended a secular high school in Sydney, Australia, and planned to continue to university, I was influenced by student emissaries of the Rebbe to take a break and spend two “gap” years studying Torah at the Yeshivah Gedolah in Melbourne.
I vividly recall those shluchim – Rabbi Yosef Minkowitz and Rabbi Hirshel Morozov – when they first came to my high school during the intermediate days of Sukkot. Although they spoke briefly, they spoke passionately about Judaism, in a language the students could relate to, and they moved the hearts of several youngsters like me, who became followers of the Rebbe. Later on, I heard it said that the Rebbe had compared education to nuclear energy, and that is certainly what happened that Sukkot. It was as if the Rebbe took a Yiddishkeit bomb and dropped it on Australia through those shluchim.
After two years at the yeshivah, I went on to Sydney University to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree.
In December 1974, during the summer vacation in Australia, I came to visit the Rebbe in New York.
During that trip, I was granted a private audience with the Rebbe. I knew it would be a life-changing moment and I meant to take full advantage of the opportunity, writing a long note to the Rebbe in which I enumerated all my issues and questions. When I finally came before him, I saw my note on his desk with many detailed pencil markings on it. I understood that the Rebbe had spent time reading everything I had written and had something to say about it all. I was awe-struck by that thought.
In my note, I had mentioned that I was becoming disenchanted with university. I had already completed two years toward a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree but I had no intention of continuing on with a fourth year, which would grant me the Diploma of Education, because I wanted to return to yeshivah. (more…)