A Dollar for Tzedakah - A Fountain of Blessing
It was the Rebbe's birthday, Sunday, the 11th of Nissan, 5746 (1986).
As the chassidim were finishing their morning prayers, word spread through the shul: "The Rebbe is giving out dollars for tzedakah at the door of his study!" And within moments a line of hundreds formed.
One by one, they filed past the Rebbe and each received a brief blessing and a dollar to be given to charity.
Two weeks later, after the Pesach holiday, the scene replayed itself, and on the following Sunday weeks later, the chassidim were no longer surprised.
This marked the beginning of an institution that was to give tens of thousands of people from all over the world an opportunity to establish a connection with the Rebbe.
From that first Sunday until Sunday, the 26th of Adar, 5752 (the day before the Rebbe suffered the stroke from which he is presently recovering), week after week, the Rebbe would stand in the entrance hall of "770" for hours on end, receiving people from all walks of life and giving them dollars to distribute for charity.
Every week thousands would come.
Some came asking for blessings at a turning-point in their lives, others came because of a problem, and still others in search of spiritual inspiration.
There were probably as many reasons as there were people on the line.
The people represented a true cross-section of the international Jewish community: venerable sages, young children, communal leaders, visitors from every country in the world, the observant and the not-yet-observant, political figures from the U.S. and Israel, and amcha Yidden, the Jewish man-in-the-street, in his thousands.
A friend from Israel once visited "770" for Shavuos.
That year, the holiday was celebrated on Sunday and Monday, and so the Rebbe did not distribute dollars that Sunday morning. "One of the most striking experiences of my trip," my friend recalls, "was to see Jews who came to "770" with the intent of receiving dollars that Sunday. These people who obviously were not aware of the holiday celebrating the Giving of the Torah were eager to receive the Rebbe's blessing."