Baruch Hashem

Please print these Stories before Shabbos, so you can read them on Shabbos!

This week's Torah Portion speaks of the greatness of Avraham our Father, and the miracles he brought to those he blessed. Here are a few stories of the great Jewish Leader of our Generation, The Rebbe.
 
REBBE: LEAVE ME ALONE 

 

The RebbeThe editor of Kfar Chabad Magazine, Rabbi Ahron Dov Haperin writes that once when traveling in the U.S.A. he ate a Shabbos meal in a Chabad House in California.

There were many guests at the table and the conversation was lively, when suddenly a strangely silent young man with very long hair and a wild look in his eyes entered the room, took a seat at the table and just stared blankly at his plate refusing to respond or react to anything around him.

He sat that way for a good half-hour, and just when everyone forgot about him, he suddenly looked up at the large picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that was hanging on the wall (as in every Chabad House), lunged from his seat, pulled it down, threw it to the ground and began screaming "Leave me alone!

The other guests subdued him and finally, when he had calmed down and drank some water, he began to talk.

He was the oldest child in a rich Jewish family from San Francisco. After graduating High School he enrolled in Berkley University and quickly became totally involved in the ‘hippy’ scene’.

Eventually, when the drugs and partying lost their charm, he made his way to India and ‘lost himself’ in one of the many spiritual cults there.

He cut off all contact with this mundane, illusionary world i.e. ‘his old self’, and it goes without saying from his parents, and had decided to devote his life to meditation and spiritual achievement.

Then, suddenly one late afternoon, after almost two years of complete silence he was overpowered with a sudden tremendous longing to see his parents. His heart ached for home. He tried to meditate, to think of something else but to no avail. The longing plagued him constantly for days until, weeping like a madman, he left his guru traveled to the nearest town, called home and asked his amazed parents to send him a plane ticket as fast as possible.

When he arrived home totally bewildered as to why, his parents were overjoyed to see him (despite his weird zombie-like appearance) which made him open up and tell them what had transpired in the last few years.

Then, when he got to the part about his sudden nostalgia a week or so ago, his father suddenly interrupted and said "Tell me, exactly when did this happen, what day and at what time? The reason I’m asking," the father continued, "is because a strange thing happened to me last week. I went with a group of businessmen on a trip organized by Chabad to see the Lubavitch Rebbe.

Some people asked the Rebbe for advice or for more blessings but I just took the dollar, said thank you, and continued walking.

But then the Rebbe called me back. His secretary pulled me back, and the Rebbe gave me another dollar and then said; ‘This is for your oldest son’. I thought to myself ‘That was a bizarre thing for him to say, especially because I hadn’t seen you in so long, and how did he know that I even had a son?’

And now, just a few days later… here you are!! It’s really a miracle!!"

When they calculated the time of boy’s longing they realized that it began just minutes after his father received that dollar.

And that is what brought about his outburst in the Chabad House a few days later. He wanted to return to his guru in India where he felt so ‘at peace’ but try as could he couldn’t manage to break away from home, his heart just wouldn’t allow him.

"So here is the dollar back!!" He screamed as he pulled the dollar his father received from the Rebbe out of his pocket, "Take it back and tell him to leave me alone!!!"

The story is not over.

Years later Rabbi Halperin met with a Knesset (Israeli Congress) member called Professor Avner Shaki (ob’m), who told him a similar story that had occurred to him a week or so earlier.

He was in Chabad House somewhere in California for Shabbos, and in the middle of the meal three hippies entered, sat down uninvited, began eating with their hands, refused to make blessings and were generally obnoxious.

He turned to the Chabad House Rabbi to ask him to do something to get rid of them but the Rabbi comforted him and said that he shouldn’t worry. "In fact" the Rabbi added, "a few years ago I was much worse, and if you don’t believe me, ask the editor of the Kfar Chabad Magazine."

This Chabad House Rabbi was the young man that the Rebbe saved from India many years ago.

 

 
SAYING MAZAL TOV
by Tzvi Jacobs

Esther and I were married for 2 1/2 years before we had our first baby. It often happens that couples have to wait a while, and our story would be more dramatic if we were married for 10 years or more without being able to have children. Still, our story is unusual.

We had heard many stories and even had friends who had trouble either conceiving or carrying a baby to term, and after receiving a blessing and sometimes also advice from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, they had at least one baby. With those stories in mind, I went to Crown Heights in September, 1988. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon and hundreds of people were in a long line waiting to see the Rebbe.

A black limousine pulled up in front of the house, and I overheard that some politicians from New York were arriving. An official escorted them straight in to receive a blessing and seek the Rebbe's advice on an important political issue.

The line didn't move for about 30 minutes. I became unsure if I should ask the Rebbe for a blessing. Should I make the Rebbe, who had been fasting and standing all day and would continue to do so until he met and blessed the final person who got in line, stand and fast for even five seconds longer?

As I looked back at the rapidly growing line, I spotted one of my Yeshiva teachers. "Should I ask the Rebbe for a blessing for a baby?" I asked.

"Sure you should ask," he answered me, erasing all my doubts.

The line started moving. My heart started beating harder. The Rebbe is an awesome figure. He is a man, but people say the Rebbe has the superhuman ability to see into anyone's soul, even someone on the other side of the globe who has never seen or even heard about the Rebbe.

Finally, I made it into the Rebbe's home. The line was moving quickly. It was my turn. "Blessing for baby," I blurted out nervously.

"Amen. In a good and auspicious time," the Rebbe said. He spoke with a clear, strong voice while handing me a second dollar bill.

By December Esther was suspicious. She went to the doctor and the results were positive. We were pregnant. We were ecstatic. But about a week later, the nurse told us the fetal protein level was high and they wanted to do an amniocentesis to find out more and, if need be, G‑d forbid, recommend an abortion. But Judaism does not allow for abortions for such reasons. The doctor's staff was pushing for the amniocentesis, but we called back and said, "No thanks."

Only then did I find out that high fetal protein was indicative of Down's syndrome. I didn't tell Esther immediately what I had found out.

The following evening we went to Crown Heights for a friend's wedding and I broke down and told Esther. We were both crying.

The "siren" sounded meaning that the Rebbe was going to say a short public discourse after which the Rebbe gave out dollars for people to give to charity. We got into the line. I couldn't say anything to the Rebbe. I tried to believe that all this was a test from G‑d and that it was really a big blessing. I would have to write a letter to the Rebbe. Esther had gone through the women's line and was already waiting for me in the car.

"The Rebbe said, 'Mazal tov' to me," Esther said. "How did he know that I'm pregnant?"

"I thought the Rebbe says 'mazal tov' only after a baby is born," I said.

"I know. I was starting to doubt that I heard him right. And then when I got into the car I saw was the back cover of this magazine."

It was a picture of a pregnant woman headlined, "Saying mazal tov is not enough." The advertisement then explained that a pregnant woman should have the "shir hama'alos" card in the delivery room, as a protection against any harm to the mother or newborn baby. It's a custom from Kabala and strongly encouraged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

"Everything is going to be all right, Esti," I said. The Rebbe saying "mazal tov" calmed us down a lot. We just had normal worries and fears throughout the rest of the pregnancy. On Sunday night, May 9, Esther went into labor. At about 20 past midnight we drove to the Morristown hospital and went straight to maternity. At 12:55 a.m. the nurse called out, "Congratulations! It's a girl. A beautiful baby girl."

By the way, you can be sure that when we went into that delivery room, we had our "shir hama'alos—saying `mazal tov' is not enough" cards—one for the mother, one for the baby, and a spare for the expectant father.

Esther was so happy and thankful to be a mother—and to have such a healthy, adorable baby—that she wrote a thank-you note to the Rebbe about four months after Chaya Mushka Bracha was born. While writing the letter, Esther saw a friend walk past. She was still childless. So Esther added a note at the end of her letter: "May the Rebbe please give Leah bas Sara a blessing to have a baby."

Our Sages teach that when you pray for someone else, G‑d blesses the one who prayed for his fellow first. Three months later both Esther and her friend were expecting. Our Nechama Dina was born within two weeks of Leah's baby.

I hope that this one little story gives you some insight into who the Rebbe is.

They're in Immigrant Gap, California

Back in the 'seventies, distraught parents often placed long-distance phone calls to Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Drizin, the shaliach in Berkeley, California. They sought help in communicating with their children who had joined cults and communes, or who were drifting about on the permissive West Coast shores.

So he was not fazed when a worried father, Mr. Friedman, called from New York to ask for help in contacting his daughter, Adina.

"She's a lovely girl, a student at Columbia," Mr. Friedman's words tumbled out in confusion. "They're in Immigrant Gap, California now.... Our family tries to keep Shabbos... but her black boyfriend is a missionary Christian.... Tomorrow night, he's taking her to Hawaii to convert her to Christianity. I think she's only doing it to please him. Please help."

Rabbi Drizin promised that he would do what he could. However, it was Friday. He wasn't even sure that he could find Immigrant Gap.

"I hesitated," recalled Rabbi Drizin. "I had heard the town's name before and I believed that it was somewhere near Sacramento. But I had no address, I didn't want to run late shortly before Shabbos. Could I really influence a stranger and bring about a change on such a critical issue on one short visit?"

"Yet, I was prompted to go. I planned what I thought was enough time to get there and back, left another two hours for discussion, and an hour to get ready for Shabbos. Instinctively, I hurried over to the Chabad House to pick up my tallis. I brushed by a poster announcing our Saturday night program, and again reminded myself that I must be home for Shabbos.

"After setting out on my journey, I realized that I had miscalculated. Immigrant Gap was further than I thought, but I had already traveled so far that I could not turn back. I arrived at five thirty, only a few hours before sunset. The residents of the tiny village could not direct me to the person I described. Realizing that I would have to stay here over Shabbos, I notified my family and then bought some kosher food. Finally, after an intense search, I located the people in a cottage atop a hill on the outskirts of town.

"It was just a few minutes before Shabbos when I knocked on the door. The owners, a devout Christian family, invited me in, and I saw their guests - the man and woman in the dining room - Adina and her friend. I introduced myself and told Adina the purpose of my visit. She showed no interest and left the room. Her missionary companion, in contrast, was more friendly. Perhaps he thought I would be an interesting challenge.

"I asked the houseowners if I could spend the night and the next day. They cordially offered me a spacious room.

"That Shabbos was quite an experience. Most of the day was spent in intense conversation. I often regretted being pitted against Adina, whose responses alternated between indifference and hostility. Instead of speaking to her directly, I spent most of the time speaking to her friend, trying to impress both of them with one concept: Before Adina should consider adopting a different religion, she should know more about her own.

"Late Saturday night, shortly before their scheduled flight to Hawaii, Adina surprised me by agreeing to attend a course on Judaism. I immediately placed two phone calls: one to Bais Chanah - a Lubavitch institute for girls in Minnesota - and the other to an airline ticket office. Early Sunday morning, I drove Adina to the airport in Sacramento.

"On the road, Adina broke the tense silence between us: 'I assure you, Rabbi, that you have no idea why I decided to accompany you. Not only that, but I'm sure that you have no idea what you are doing here in the first place!'

"Her outburst caught me unprepared. I had naively concluded that my extensive persuasion had finally borne fruit.

" 'You see,' she continued, 'fifteen years ago, when I was growing up in New York, my father and I visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I did not understand what was being said at that meeting, but over the years, my father explained it to me.

" 'While the Rebbe was granting us blessings, he stopped and said to my father: 'A day will come when you will need assistance with this child - contact us and we will help.'

" 'Initially, I was not impressed when you introduced yourself on Friday as an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Then, on Saturday, the profound prophecy of those words struck me. Nothing you said convinced me to change my plans. I still want to go to Hawaii, but I cannot disregard those far-sighted words of your Rebbe. I decided to go only out of respect for his profound vision.'

Today, Adina is the mother of a lovely, observant family in Jerusalem.

An Irish Kid with a Jewish Name

 

I heard this story from the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Laibel Groner.

A woman from the Chabad-Lubavitch Community in Brooklyn was pulled over by a N.Y.C. traffic cop for some traffic violation. Standing outside her open car window and watching her search for her license and registration papers, the police officer caught sight of a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in her open purse.

"Excuse me, maam," he asked, "are you one of the followers of this Rabbi?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Well, in that case I'm not giving you a ticket." He closed his ticket book and continued, "Do you know why? Because this Rabbi," he pointed to the picture she was now holding in her hand, "Did a very big miracle for me."

"Well," said the grateful woman, "since you aren't giving me the ticket, I have time to hear the story."

The policeman smiled and said, "It's my favorite story, but I haven't told it to many Jewish people, in fact I think that you are the first." The cars were whizzing by behind him and he had to raise his voice slightly. "The story goes like this: I used to be in the police escort that once a week escorted the Rabbi to the Montefiore Cemetery (where the Rebbe's father-in-law and predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, is interred). I got to know some of the young men who accompanied the Rebbe, and I learned a lot of things. They are very friendly people, which you probably already know, and we talked a lot while the Rabbi was inside praying.

"Well, one day I saw that all the fellows there were really talking excitedly to each other so I asked them what happened. So they told me that the Rabbi does a lot of miracles for people, but today he did a miracle that was really something. I didn't even ask what was the miracle that they were talking about, I just asked them if the Rabbi helps non-Jews also.

"'Sure,' they said, 'The Rebbe helps anyone who asks. Why? Do you need something?' So I told him, this young fellow, that me and my wife had been married nine years with no children, and a week ago the doctors told us that we had no chance. We had spent a lot of money on treatments, seen all sorts of big professors, we were running around like crazy for the last six or seven years, and now they told us that they tried everything and there is no chance. You can't imagine how broken we were. My wife cried all the time and I started crying myself.

"So this young man tells me, 'Listen, the next time that you escort the Rebbe to the cemetery stand near the door of his car and when he gets out ask him for a blessing.' So that is just what I did. The next time I was in the escort I stood by his door and when he got out I said to him: 'Excuse me, Rabbi, do you only bless Jewish people or non-Jews too?'

"So the Rabbi looked at me like a good friend, it was really amazing, and said that he tries to help anyone he can. So I told him what the doctors said, and he said I should write down on a piece of paper my name and my father's name together with my wife's and her father's names and that he would pray for us. So I did it, my hands were shaking so much I almost couldn't write, but I did it and you know what? My wife became pregnant and nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy! The doctors went crazy, they couldn't figure it out, and when I told them that it was all the Rabbi's blessing they just scratched their heads and — Wow! I felt like the champion of the world!

"But here comes the good part. Do you know what we called him? What name we gave our baby boy? Just guess! We called him Mendel after the Rabbi. At first my wife didn't like the name because its not an American name, but I said, No! We're calling him Mendel! Each time we say his name we'll remember that if it weren't for the Rabbi this boy would not be here.

"But when our parents heard the name they really objected. They said, 'With a name like that, all the kids will think he's a Jew or something and they will call him names and be cruel to him. Why make the kid suffer for no reason?' 'That's just what I want,' I said to them. 'When he comes home and says that the other kids called him names and beat him up because he has a Jewish name, I'll tell him that I want him to learn from those other kids how not to behave. They hate the Jews for no reason, but you should love the Jews, you should help the Jews. You just tell them that without that Jewish Rabbi called Mendel you wouldn't be here at all, and then maybe they'll start thinking differently too!'

Here is a Story from the Rebbe Rashab
who's Birthday is the 20th of Cheshvon

We Did All We Can ...
But The Job Wasn't Done!

The days when the Czar ruled in Russia were unbearable for the Jews.  It was almost impossible to believe anything could be worse. Anti-Semitism and evil decrees were constant and every few years wholesale Jewish massacres called 'pogroms' suddenly popped up like poison mushrooms.

But in this atmosphere of constant oppression and suffering, Judaism miraculously survived and even flourished! As the Torah says: "The more the Jews are oppressed the more they are fruitful....." (Ex. 1:12).

One of the biggest enemies of the Jews, and of mankind in general, was the Czar's Minister of the Interior, an evil, sadistic despot by the name of Stolypin. He was always making new oppressive rules and laws to scare the people, secure his own power and, whenever possible, torture the Jews.

One awful day the leading Rabbis of Russia were notified that, under the direction of Stolypin, the government was passing a new law requiring all Rabbis to pass a series of exams in secular subjects and any Rabbi failing to meet the requirements would not be allowed to lead a congregation.

The idea behind this was to 'normalize' Judaism and open the doors to 'new' rabbis who cared nothing for such ancient ideas as 'G‑d and blessings' thus lowering the resistance of the next generation to, G‑d forbid, conversion.

The great Rabbis of Russia decided to meet in Petersburg to decide what to do. Hundreds of devout geniuses were present with one purpose, how to assure the decree would fail by opposing it in every way possible.  But the cunning and ruthless Stolypin was totally ready. He expected the Rabbis to resist and on the second day of the convention a messenger of the government entered the hall, took the podium, called for attention and announcedto the hushed crowd of Rabbis.

"The Minister of the Interior wishes to inform you in the name of His Majesty the Czar that he fervently hopes that the Rabbis are willing to support and join His Majesty the Czar in his new program. But if not. then His Majesty the Czar will find it difficult to support and protect the Jews against those who threaten them and it could certainly be that one hundred and one cities will suffer pogroms at the hands of Anti-Semitic mobs."

All the Rabbis became pale with fear and a deathly silence fell on the crowd. These were no empty words. Just a few years earlier they actually came true; thousands of bloodthirsty Russian 'peasants' suddenly swept through Jewish areas destroying Jewish shops, homes and property sadistically killing and maiming thousands of Jews as they went. 

It seemed clear that resistance would be pointless and although there were still a few Rabbis that had not yet taken the podium it was doubtful that anyone could change the atmosphere of defeat in the air.

The next to speak was supposed to be the Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rebbi Shalom Dovber (called the Resha'b for short.) but he requested that he be allowed to speak last.

So the great holy genius Rabbi Chaim of Brisk stood and heroically declared that despite the threats he was opposed to the government idea. But it was obvious that he spoke with a heavy heart. It seemed clear that the outcome would be concession.

Finally the Rebbe Reshab's turn came to speak.  The Rebbe was not a healthy man and was often forced to see doctors or take treatments for weakness. But suddenly he stood straight and spoke with a clear, loud voice that all could hear. (These same words would be spoken by his son Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak years later against the Communists)  

"It is not through our will that we are in exile and not with our will that we will leave it... G‑d has put us in exile and He alone will gather us from the four corners of the earth through our Righteous Moshiach. But until then all the nations on the face of the earth must know that only our bodies are in exile but no power can rule or imprison our souls! We must announce in public for all to hear.. that what is relevant to Judaism; Torah, the Commandments and even our customs. no one can change or influence . we must declare with the greatest Jewish stubbornness drawn from thousands of years of Jewish self-sacrifice, 'Touch not my anointed and my nation of prophets do not harm'. He then raised his arms and cried out, "Jews! Sanctify G‑d's name in public!!" (i.e. Be willing to die for the Torah).

And he fainted.

Immediately Rabbi Chaim of Brisk stood and shouted that he too opposes the new decree even at the cost of his life and within seconds everyone followed. A vote was taken and it was decided; not one Rabbi would support the decree. 

Meanwhile the Rebbe Reshab was taken to his room, a doctor was rushed in to treat him and it wasn't long before two mammoth soldiers appeared there also with orders to arrest him and take him to prison. It was only with the greatest effort and maneuvering including the doctor's opinion etc. that this sentence was reduced to house arrest and finally dropped altogether.

But in the meantime several of the great Rabbis with Rabbi Chaim of Brisk at their head, came to visit the Rebbe to see how he was . and they found him sitting in a chair at his desk weeping ... obviously over the impending law.


Rabbi Chiam put his comforting hand on the Rebbe's shoulder and said
"Lubavitcher Rebbe, why are you crying? After all, we did all we could! Now it is up to G‑d to do the rest!"

"True", said the Rebbe.  "We did all we could! But the decree has not been averted!"

He calmed down a bit and continued. "If a paid factory worker does everything possible to fix a broken machine he can go home and sleep peacefully whether he succeeded or not. But not the factory owner; he can't sleep until the problem is solved!"   

Unexplainably the decree was never mentioned again by the government and, thank G‑d, Stolypin's threats of Pogroms also never materialized.