The Rebbe was deeply involved in life in Israel. He would try to find solutions for many complex problems, and he knew all of the country’s most influential figures. On more than one occasion, a government minister would be amazed by the Rebbe’s deep insight and knowledge of security and diplomatic issues, some of which were top secret.
Senior military figures who spoke with the Rebbe could not believe how well he knew the country’s topography, even though he had never personally visited the areas in question. During meetings with local mayors, the Rebbe showed a tremendous level of familiarity with the various neighborhoods of Israel’s towns and cities.
The Rebbe greatly encouraged aliyah to Israel. He supported building settlements and instructed his Chassidim to set up industries there, boosted the morale of the people and did whatever he could to reassure them during some of their most difficult moments.
As a result, many asked why the Rebbe himself didn’t move to Israel. The Rebbe, however, did not discuss this issue very often, only giving brief answers if asked this question by leading Israeli figures. The Rebbe once explained that he saw world Jewry as a sinking ship and Israel as the lifeboat. “When the ship is sinking, the captain has to put all of its passengers on the lifeboat first. Only then is he allowed to jump in himself,” the Rebbe said.
The Rebbe sometimes said that he saw his own arrival in Israel as the completion of his work to save the Jewish nation from assimilation and intermarriage. While this work continues in depth, and the Rebbe’s shluchim devote themselves to their fellow Jews around the world, the Rebbe is not able to fulfill his life’s dream and settle down in his portion.