Baruch Hashem

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

The Sword from Stalin's Army

Rabbi Betzallel Shif, the founder of the Ohr Simcha school in Kfar Chabad that has taught thousands of underprivileged Israeli children still has a broken sword somewhere in his house with an interesting story connected to it.

Some fifty years ago the day before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) the Rabbi was in the airport terminal of Tebilsi (Capital of Georgia- Gruzia) waiting to check in for the flight to Kiev where he had hoped to spend the holiest day of the year with his family. He suddenly discovered that he had somehow misplaced his flight ticket. He left the line, searched his pockets and suitcases but found nothing. He would have to spend the night in the airport hotel and hope that through some miracle he could catch a plane out the next morning.

He was given a small two bed room in the terminal hotel, slept restlessly and woke at dawn to discover that someone else, who had probably missed a plane after his, was sleeping in the other bed. He quietly put on his Tefillin and Talis (Phylacteries and prayer shawl) faced the corner and prayed the Morning Prayer as silently as possible.

But when he finished he was unpleasantly surprised to see that his 'roommate' had woken and was sitting in a chair, fully dressed in an army uniform, staring at him intently. In Communist Russia this only spelled trouble.

The marks on his uniform indicated that he was a colonel. The colonel asked the Rabbi what he was doing. The Rabbi explained and as he was talking he noticed that the officer's eyes were red and a stream of tears ran down one of his cheeks. When the Rabbi finished explaining, the colonel blew his nose, dried his eyes and asked...if he could put on the Tefillin as well!

Rabbi Shif gave him the Tefillin and Talis, helped the coloner to put them on and after he finished praying and returned the religious items, he shook the Rabbi's hand and asked if he needed anything.

Of course Rabbi Shif explained that he desperately needed a flight to Kiev. The colonel told the Rabbi to follow him, took him outside, led the way to the airfield past several check points to a huge transport plane. He approached a soldier that was apparently standing guard, said a few words to him, turned to Rabbi Shif and said, "Tell this soldier where you want to go and he'll make sure they take you there. Just please do me a favor and give me your address before you leave."

Rabbi Shif gave the colonel his address, boarded the plane and made it home in time for Yom Kippur where the story of how he got there became the talk of the day.

Months passed and he almost forgot the entire incident until just a week before Pesach (Passover) some six months later, there was a knock on his door and when opened it there stood the colonel! They shook hands then hugged each other warmly. Rabbi Shif invited him in and he was straight to the point.

"Rabbi, I want you to return home with me and show my two children and wife what a real Passover Seder night is like. I know what you are thinking, I can assure you that my wife children are Jewish. But neither of us know anything. I mean, I do remember a little but you are a real Rabbi. We will do what you ask us. Money is no problem. What do you say?"

But Rabbi Shif had to refuse saying he couldn't leave his old mother alone for Passover. When the Colonel heard this he again almost burst into tears. "OY! Your mother! Oy! Because I didn't honor my parents they suffered so!" and he began to tell his sad story.

He had been born and bred in a Chabad Chassidic family. His grandfather had been a well-known, gifted Chassid by the name of Rabbi Peretz Chein, and his parents who had great hopes for him, gave him the same name. They were sure he, too, would be a Chabad Chassid; devoted to making the world a better place according to the Torah, like his grandfather.

But it wasn't to be. When pogroms struck the big cities and his family had to flee to the suburbs where there weren't so many Jews, he became distant from Judaism and close with a lot of gentiles, especially a fellow his age called Peter.

Peter's grandfather had been a ranking officer in the Czar's navy, and his goal in life was to be just like him and, unfortunately he eventually got Peretz enthused as well.

Peretz's parents protested but they were helpless. Together he and Peter enlisted in the navy and began to rise up in the ranks until both became officers, each receiving a coveted golden handled sword made of the finest tempered steel.

This sword became Peretz's pride and joy to the point that several times a year he would return home in full uniform, his glistening sword dangling from his side and strut about like a rooster showing off his uniform, shiny high boots and sword to the Chassidim who pretended to be interested but in fact couldn't have cared less.

But all this was in total rebellion against his parent's wishes; they begged him not to join the navy and pleaded with him to leave as soon as possible, but he ignored them.

Each time he returned home all the Chassidim tried to just say hello and be friendly so as not to drive him away but finally one Chassid by the name of Itzci Raskin couldn't hold himself back.

"What is that stupid sword doing on you?" he shouted at Peretz in front of everyone. "Aren't you ashamed?! The grandson of Peretz Chein with a sword? Phhheh!"

Peretz left the room blazing with anger and at that moment decided he would cut the cord. He had been shamed!! He changed his name to Pheter, stopped doing all the commandments and resolved to erase his 'useless' Jewish identity.

But a catastrophe brought him back.

Years later, after he and his friend Peter rose to the level of majors they got a pleasant surprise; it was announced that Stalin (cursed be he) was going to make a personal visit to their base.

Of course everyone worked feverishly to polish and prepare every inch of the place for 'Father Stalin' but then, unexplainably, Pheter's bosom friend Peter disappeared for over a week. Pheter asked around for an explanation but the only one given was that he had been drafted for a top secret job.

The days passed and one day before the awaited visit, a group of KGB agents visited the base which was routine before such an important occasion. They began questioning the officers one by one in private but when it came Pheter's turn things turned a bit sour.

They began telling him details of his life that no one knew, except for his friend Peter. Obviously they just wanted to show him who was boss. There was nothing in their tone that was incriminating or unfriendly but it was certainly embarrassing. Peter had betrayed their friendship!

Pheter went to his room, thought about what happened and began to get angry. After all he had done for Mother Russia! For the navy, was this a way to be treated? Who needs this crazy government?!

Suddenly the words of Itzci Raskin rang in his ears "What is that stupid sword doing on you? Aren't you ashamed? The grandson of Peretz Chein with a sword? Phhheh !"

In a fit of insanity he pulled out the sword, stuck it deeply into the wooden floor and pushed it to a side until it broke almost in half. Then he took the unbroken half and began hacking away madly against a metal pipe in his room until it was dull, chipped and almost useless and his anger subsided.

Suddenly a whistle blew! Stalin was here! Pheter, came to himself, put the half-sword back in it's sheath, put on his white dress coat, straightened it out and rushed out the door, his high leather boots clicking loudly as he went.

But when he arrived in the greeting room Stalin wasn't there, only the KGB agents...and Peter.

They read aloud, "The following officers will follow us for intensive interrogation." And they read out five names, one of which was Pheter's."

The Admiral of the base stepped forward and angrily shouted at the agents. "What do you want from these men!? Do you want to ruin our navy?! These are the best men in the service! They are loyal soldiers of Mother Russia and devoted party members! What is their crime?!!?"

"Their crime?" said the KGB agent, looking knowingly at Peter as the other agents put their hands on their gun holsters, "Their crime is...Conspiracy to murder Comrade Stalin!!"

But the Admiral did not lose his composure. He angrily replied, "Nonsense! Pure nonsense! And tell me, comrade, tell us all, how, in your imagination did they plan to carry out this crime?"

"How?" Replied the agent with a smirk. "With THIS!" he exclaimed as he approached Pheter, deftly pulled Pheter's sword from its sheath and held it up victoriously. He narrowed his eyes as he hissed at Pheter. "You thought no one would suspect your sword didn't you?!"

But suddenly he felt that something was wrong, he looked at what he was holding in his hand and gasped.

"No one could kill anyone with such a sword! The Admiral yelled angrily."

"No, no!" The KGB agent tried to think fast and justify himself. "This criminal, he knew we suspected him! That's why he broke the sword."

"Fool!" Yelled the Admiral, "If he really had such a stupid plan and really thought you suspected him then he wouldn't have brought his sword at all, would he!? Now get out!"

Pheter (now Peretz again) continued, "It was a miracle! And the shouted words of that Chassid Raskin saved me! On that day I decided to return to Judaism but I didn't know how. I simply kept putting it off for years until I saw you back then in the airport I knew it was another miracle.

Pheter was in constant contact with Rabbi Shif from then on. He changed his name back to Peretz and returned totally to Judaism and, as a sign of appreciation, gave Rabbi Shif his broken sword as a present. After the iron curtain fell he moved with his family to Florida and the two of them are still in close contact.


An Audacious Promise

Immigrants at Ellis Island
Immigrants at Ellis Island

Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua Heschel, the Rebbe of Kopischnitz (1888-1967) was a lover of his people. In post-WWII America, he carried the pain and suffering of countless individuals on his weak and frail shoulders. Indeed, often when he heard the problems of others he would break down in uncontrollable weeping. The grief of his fellow Jews tormented him much more than his own afflictions, and countless times the Rebbe put his name and honor at risk in an attempt to help others.

Once a broken survivor of the Nazi inferno showed up at the Rebbe's door. He had just arrived from Europe and was hoping to settle in America. His wife, however, had been refused entry due to her ill health and was on Ellis Island awaiting imminent deportation. The man was inconsolable and indicated that if his wife was indeed deported, he wouldn't think twice about taking his own life. "Don't worry, please don't worry," implored the Rebbe. "I promise you that by next week your wife will be here together with you!" Upon hearing the Rebbe's words an immediate feeling of calm overtook the distressed man, and greatly relieved, he went away a new person.

Rabbi Morgenshtern, one of the Rebbe's disciples who had witnessed the scene, gathered up his courage and asked the Rebbe how it was possible for him to make an outrageous guarantee like that with such ease. It was no less than promising a miracle!

"You saw how desperate the poor man was," the Rebbe replied. "My first concern was to calm him down and thank G‑d, I succeeded. At least for the next week he will feel better. If after a week he sees that I was wrong and his wife was deported, he will say, 'Avrohom Yehoshua is not a real Rebbe, Avrohom Yehoshua is a liar.' But at least for a week I succeeded in bringing some peace into his life."

With that the Rebbe took his Tehillim (book of Psalms) and began to recite its verses with intense emotion. As the tears were streaming down his face he could be heard pleading, "Please, G‑d, please, see to it that Avrohom Yehoshua didn't say a lie. I was only trying to help a Jew in a pathetic situation. Please don't let me be a liar..." In this fashion his prayers continued long into the night.

The Almighty heard his prayers. The woman was granted permission to stay in America, and was reunited with her husband.

An amazing woman passes - read the AP account ....

She is survived by her children, and hundreds of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren k"ah.


106-Year-Old Nazi Terror Survivor Dies In Brooklyn

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK In Brooklyn, they called her Bubbe Maryasha — a 106-year-old Jewish grandmother who survived the pogroms of czarist Russia, Soviet anti-Semitism and Nazi terror.

Members of the Lubavitch Jewish community on Thursday announced the death of Maryasha Garelik, the grandmother — "bubbe" in Yiddish — who survived milestone moments of the 20th century, including the Soviet execution of her husband for helping to keep Judaism alive.

She breathed her last on Wednesday night in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood after sharing her wisdom with thousands who came seeking inspiration, said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, of the Lubavitch world headquarters there.

The Hasidic Jewish movement follows the teachings of Eastern European rabbis, emphasizing the study of Hebrew scriptures while spreading its faithful worldwide. Some of Garelik's more than 500 descendants are Lubavitch emissaries in Australia, China, England, France, Panama, Poland and South Africa.

Garelik was buried on Thursday at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens in a grave near the late Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Lubavitch spiritual leader; in Russia, he was part of the same Jewish underground as the man who became Garelik's husband.

"She was a lone person who stood up to a regime that shot her husband in cold blood in a field," Kotlarsky said after the burial. "She was left with six children, ages 1 to 14, and she persevered and raised them by herself, with ethical and moral integrity. She was small in size — less than 5 feet tall — but a giant in stature."

Garelik's advice came from decades of trial by fire.

When she was 5, her father was killed in a pogrom, or organized massacre, and her grandparents, with whom she and her mother lived, were subsequently executed.

Years later, Garelik, her husband and their small children were evicted from their apartment into the deep snow because he refused to do factory work on the Jewish Sabbath. As a Jewish underground operative, he was arrested in the 1930s under Josef Stalin, then shot. (His wife didn't know exactly what happened to him until 1998, when his fate was revealed in an unsealed KGB file).

When authorities warned her against lighting the Sabbath candles, Garelik fled with her children. The family moved six times in three years due to harassment from Soviet authorities; one home was a stable.

But she was resourceful, growing potatoes in back of a synagogue to feed her family — with enough left over for a profit that paid for the dilapidated synagogue to be fixed.

When an acquaintance tried persuading her to send her children to the Communist public school, she said emphatically: "Stalin will be torn down before my children are indoctrinated that way," as quoted by her granddaughter Henya Laine, who is now herself a grandmother in Brooklyn.

By 1941, when the Germans advanced onto Soviet soil, Garelik and her brood escaped to Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, where she made and sold socks to survive. In 1946, they ended up in a detention camp in Germany.

After the war, she moved to Paris, where she established a Lubavitch Jewish girls' school that still exists. She immigrated to the United States in 1953, helping to start a Brooklyn organization whose members visited the sick, and a boys' school for which she collected money into old age.

God gave her "two healthy feet," she would say. "I can walk, I can take care of myself and help others."

(© 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. )

Hey Yo!
(Amazing Story)

What's a scooter cruisin,' cartoon scribblin,' joke crackin,' Southern drawlin,' Chasidic student making chicken soup with matzo balls in a crock pot doing on her parents' 300-acre farm in south-eastern Ohio's Appalachian country?

Yochana Coleman is a cliché buster. From an early age, she was pushing boundaries. Her mother remembers her as a serious child, asking questions one just didn't ask, of her parents, Sunday school teachers and ministers.

Yo's Jewish mother and non-Jewish father didn't hide Yo's Jewish origins, but mentioned it insultingly. Her parents raised her as a Southern Baptist, being missionaries themselves. She recalls "just knowing in her DNA" that something was not right. Throughout Yo's childhood of active church training, those feelings remained.

Yo enrolled in Columbia Bible College, among the top in the world. "The church taught that Judaism is totally false, and if you believe or follow it you'll burn in Hell." That fearful teaching kept her cognitive dissonance more or less at bay. Even with the Southern Baptist veneer, however, "growing up Jewish meant I was different. Inside I knew that something was expected of me, though I wasn't sure what."

Mentors helped Yo keep her Jewish spark alive. "Throughout my journey, people from whom you'd never expect it would appear and say, 'Go for it!' There was a woman in the church who heard my questioning - she encouraged me to challenge and never give up.

"I wanted to learn Hebrew since I was a kid. My gentile Hebrew teacher at the college had a PhD from Hebrew Union College. When he saw my passion for Hebrew he told me to check out a nearby Temple."I spent my first Rosh Hashana at a synagogue and it clicked! It was amazing! I decided that I had to continue going there, but the school forbade it."

Another surprising advocate appeared, a teacher named Ginny Hoyt, who nudged Yo into kosher. She had invited a group of students over for dinner and then apologized to Yo for having prepared ham.

"No problem,' I assured her, 'I was raised on the stuff.'

"She gave me a stern look, 'But you're Jewish!'

" 'So, I'm a pagan Jew!' I said in exasperation.

"She said, 'G‑d made you a Jew and expects you to live like it!'

"I pointedly ate the ham, took a second piece - and my body swelled up! Mrs. Hoyt gave me a clear 'I told you so!' look and I was so swollen that I was on crutches for three weeks!

"I was learning to keep kosher and working along with Chosen People Ministry when they told me 'We don't want you back - you're a freak; if you keep kosher you'll offend some of our gentile members!'
"When the Bible College where I worked as a librarian realized that I was really pursuing Judaism, they issued an ultimatum. 'Be like us or get out - we're not going to have a Jew working here!' They gave me a paper to sign, but I barely heard them, concentrating on my inner conversation in which a voice was asking, 'Will you deny My Oneness?'

My reply to the College came from the depth of my soul. I shredded the paper and proudly stated, 'I was born a Jew, I live as a Jew, and I'll die a Jew!'

'Sorry to hear that,' was the official's reply.

I grinned, and with an 'I'm not!' walked out. Though broke, Yo felt a new freedom, and began pursuing Judaism in earnest. She tried several shuls (synagogues). One Friday evening she appeared at one in her kipa, leather jacket, jeans and sneakers. Yo was directed to the women's section this Orthodox shul. " 'Hey, I'm in the wrong shul,' I gulped. But then they started singing Lecha Dodi to welcome Shabbos - it was like all the angels came down, everything stopped!" she recalls.

After some learning, Yo bumped into Chabad while web-surfing oneday in '96. "I spent 12 non-stop hours on the site. I found it! I cried at the keyboard." From then, everything fell into place. She connected with Chabad of Columbia to learn all she could.

Yo's next stop was Chabad's Machon Chana Women's Institute. She pursued her Torah studies in this yeshiva for women from diverse backgrounds, and fit into the warm and dynamic community. She began "buying books like an idiot, as though I am about to move somewhere where I won't have much access," her journal relates.

Yo's premonition was accurate, as the future brought this feisty gal a major life challenge and bump on the road. In 2002, Yo suffered three strokes and her MS came out in full force. For a while she was able to stay in New York, with the support of many friends - "if you ever saw a cute red scooter blasting down the streets or sidewalks... that was me!" New York's "interesting sidewalks" became too much of a maneuverability problem as Yo's MS symptoms increased, and eventually she moved back to the family farm.

Thanks to the Internet and one indomitable spirit, Yo spreads her wacky version of sunshine and humor to fans around this little globe. Her website, Yobee's Whacky World, is full of interesting and inspiring tidbits of wisdom spiced with a laugh. She sells her whimsical cartoons and cartoon-illustrated items at yobeeland! And she dispenses words of cheer, fortitude and poignant insight to a web-network of Machon Chana alumni scattered throughout the world.
You Didn't Deserve Greater
Blessings ... Until
Some two hundred and fifty years ago in the Ukrainian city of T'shish'nik lived Reb Berel; a devoted Chassid of the great Tzadik, Rebbe Mordechai of Chernobyl .

Reb Berel had a fairly large house and was respected by the entire community for his good heart and good deeds so it was understandable that whenever Rebbe Mordechi came to T'shish'nik he stayed by his house.

Indeed, Reb Berel and his family waited for those visits impatiently the entire year, or even longer. His whole life was centered around his Rebbe. The Rebbe was his friend, his inspiration, his teacher, his leader his very soul. The Rebbe's teachings, his motions, his advice, his eyes, that is what kept Reb Berel happy and optimistic in the midst of the misery, tragedy and oppression surrounding the Jews from every side.

So we can imagine Reb Berel's joy when he heard that in one week's time the Rebbe would be arriving in T'shish'nik for a week's visit!!

Reb Berel and his family had spent the entire week cleaning and polishing every corner of the house, preparing food, books, a quiet place.. like the Rebbe liked. And sure enough, as every year, the big day came! The Rebbe's personal secretary came to Reb Berel's house to see if everythingwas ready.

But this time the secretary had a strange look on his face; something other than the usual enthusiasm and joy.

"Listen, Reb Berel" the secretary said seriously as he took him to a table in the corner and sat down opposite him.

"Is something wrong?" Reb Berel asked, a look of bewilderment replacing the smile on his face.

"Well, it's like this" the secretary said leaning forward earnestly. "The Rebbe said he's not staying by your house." 

"What!?" gasped Reb Berel, tears forming in his eyes "Why? What happened? Is everything...?"

"Everything is all right" said the secretary "But the Rebbe said that he's not staying here and he never wants to see your face again unless you bring him two thousand rubles."  Reb Berel's mouth fell open and his eyes widened in horror as his head shook  'no' in disbelief. The secretary continued as he began standing up.

"The Rebbe says that he doesn't want you to attend his meals, to be in the Synagogue when he prays or even to watch him walk in the streets, nothing. In fact, he said he never wants to see you again, ever! Unless you bring the money." 

With this he shook poor Reb Berrl's hand, who was sitting there like a
stunned cow whispering to himself, "two thousand", shrugged his shoulders as to say he wished he could help and left.

Reb Berel was swooning. He meekly called to his wife and when she came running into the room and heard the news she held her head in her hands and fell, almost fainted, into the seat opposite him.

Two thousand rubles was a fortune!!

After a short reckoning they realized that even if they sold everything including their house and took out loans they would barely reach one third the amount. Usually they would go to the Rebbe with their problems! But now!! OY!! Why had the Tzadik left them? Why was he being so severe?  They searched and searched their deeds of the past month, the past year, the past ten years for as far back as they could remember . but they couldn't figure it out. 

Their only recourse was prayer.

They both grabbed books of Psalms and began pouring out their souls, reading and rereading aloud most of that night and the entire next day, then the next day and the next, over and over again; weeping and pleading with broken hearts to HaShem that He have mercy and send them the money.

But the week ended and nothing happened; No money, no Tzadik and no hope. They were alone. 

Then, just as they thought it couldn't be worse, it got worse!  An entire battalion of barbaric Russian soldiers who had just returned from some sort of successful raid swept into town and took over the houses; twenty five soldiers were assigned to Berel's house. He had to vacate his own bed as well as provide food and lodging for them on punishment of death. 

In just moments his sparkling clean home became a shambles. The soldiers wasted no time in eating everything they could and laying down to sleep anywhere they wanted. Reb Berel and his wife had to sleep in the hay loft. But he thanked G‑d that things weren't worse. at least the soldiers left them alive!

Then, suddenly in the middle of the night Berel was awakened by the sound of trumpets. He peered out the window of the loft to see soldiers running out of all the houses on the block, as well as his, with all their gear. It was a call to order. Berel hoped they weren't going to be given orders to kill everyone. He began reading Psalms again. But the soldiers all mounted their horses and rode off like a huge horde of locusts just as they had entered.

Rab Berel and his wife dragged themselves back into their house, it looked like a hurricane hit the place but they thanked G‑d that the invaders had left. They went to their room to sleep in their own beds when suddenly Berel's wife noticed that from under Berel's bed protruded a wide, low wooden crate. But they were too tired to do anything about it. They left it for the morning and went to sleep.

The next morning they woke up, pulled out the crate and opened it to see that IT WAS FILLED WITH GOLDEN COINS!

In fact, what had happened was that shortly after the soldiers left they realized that one of their chests of booty was missing. 

Their commander immediately dispatched twenty men to return to the town and find it and in no time they were back in T'shish'nik, waking every family and ransacking every house one at a time.

But for some reason they kept missing Rab Berel's after a few hours of futility they concluded that either they made a mistake in calculation or had lost it somewhere else and returned to their commander empty handed.

But all this was completely unknown to Rab Berel; he slept through the whole  thing. He held on to the crate for another few months waiting for someone to claim it and when they didn't finally decided to ask the Rebbe what to do. The crate had no markings on it, no names and he certainly had no idea where the soldiers were; maybe it was his.

He took two thousand rubles of the money, only a small portion of it, and traveled to the city of Chernobyl.

He arrived with trepidation and immediately got an audience and when he entered the Rebbe's room the Rebbe was smiling.

"The money is yours".  He said. "All of it. And you can keep this money also.

"But, but I thought." Berel stammered. "I thought you wanted two thousand rubles. See? Here's the money."

"No, Berel" answered the Rebbe "I saw that a fortune was waiting for you but you were missing two things; humility and prayer. 

The fact that you hosted me every year in T'shish'kin gave you a bit of false self-confidence and the fact that you never really broke down and prayed to G‑d with all your heart for anything in your entire life . those two things prevented the blessing from reaching you.  The money they left is really yours. You just had to want to leave your present state with all your being."

Needless to say Reb Berel gave a lot of what he had to charity for the rest of his long and generous life.
Rambam - Rabbi Moses Maimonides
This week will be the Yahrtziet of the Rambam (1204)
Rabbi Moses Maimonides, known also as the Rambam, was one of the greatest Jews of all times. During his life, he wrote numerous books in which he explained the laws and philosophy of the Torah. He was not only esteemed in the Jewish world, though. He was also known and well respected as a physician, philosopher and scientist.

The Rambam was born in Cordova, Spain, and moved as a young man with his family to Egypt. Because he did not believe in accepting monetary remuneration for his work as a Jewish scholar, he devoted himself to medicine in order to support himself and his family. The Rambam reached the peak of his professional reputation as a doctor when he was appointed to the staff of the court of Saladin as royal physician.

When the Rambam felt his end approaching, he instructed his family to bury him in the Holy Land. On the twentieth of Tevet, at the age of 69, the Rambam passed away. In Egypt, where he had been the chief rabbi, the Rambam was mourned by Jew and Moslem alike for three days. In the Holy Land and the rest of the world, where the Rambam had acted as guide and mentor to world Jewry, he was memorialized with special services and fasts.

People from all over gathered in Egypt to attend the funeral of the great Rambam. When the procession was over, a discussion erupted as to where to bury him. The Rambam's request had only been to bury him in the Holy Land. No mention was made as to which city or site should be his final resting place.

Because no solution to the problem at hand was in sight, everyone agreed to begin taking the coffin toward the borders of Israel, hoping that along the way they might be guided as to where tp bury him.

The coffin was perched atop a sturdy camel and, with hundreds joining the caravan, made its way toward the Holy Land. One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of desert travel was not necessarily the lack of water, nor sand storms. It was the constant fear of being overtaken by one of the many bands of highway robbers who attacked the innocent travelers.

As it began to get dark, the pace of the caravan quickened a bit.
Everyone hoped that they would be able to find a relatively safe place to camp for the evening. Their fears were well founded though, for within a short while, the sound of hoof beats could be heard, coming closer and closer. "We're being attacked," cried out the leader of the caravan. Many of the people panicked and scattered in different directions. A few of the braver people remained with the coffin to guard it. But, they, too, were frightened away as the gang of vicious bandits came charging toward them.

The bandits approached the camel with the large box. It was obvious to them that this box must contain a huge treasure if so many people were guarding it. As much as they tried, though, the box could not be taken down from the camel.

"Grab the camel's reins," shouted the leader of the bandits. "We'll take it with us." Their efforts met with no success, though. They tried as much as possible to get the huge animal to move, but it would not budge.

"Open the box," commanded the leader.

One of the gangsters swaggered over to the box and began to pry off the lid. "There's a body in this box," he shrieked, as he ran away. The other bandits, too, became frightened at the thought of a dead body in a box in the middle of the dark desert and quickly made their exit.

The people from the caravan who had been accompanying the coffin slowly made their way back toward the camel. But, to their surprise, thecamel began moving determinedly, as if it had a specific destination in mind.

The caravan leader cautioned the other people not to go near the camel. "Let us see what direction it takes." After a little while, it was obvious that the camel was heading straight for the border of Israel.

No one dared to go close to the camel. Instead, they followed from a
distance behind. The people were amazed to observe how the camel kept on its course heading straight for Israel. By now, everyone was certain that there would no longer be a problem of where to bury the Rambam.

After reaching the borders of Israel, the camel continued to travel
steadily. The camel came to the city of Tiberias in the Northern part of the country. It continued on through the narrow streets of the city until, at a certain spot, it suddenly stopped and began to kneel down on the ground.

The people understood that this was the place where they should bury the Rambam. Carefully, they removed the coffin from the camel's back and placed it on the ground. Immediately, the people began digging the grave. All who witnessed this strange event were amazed to see the wonderful miracle take place right before their own eyes.

The people of the city of Tiberias built a beautiful structure over the spot where the Rambam was buried. And every year, on the anniversary of his passing, thousands of people from all parts of the world come to visit his holy grave. For, the Talmud tell us that "He who prays at the grave of a righteous person is equal to one who has prayed in the Holy Temple."

The Snake in the Wall

Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. But astrologers said to him, "On the day she enters the bridal chamber, a snake will bite her and she will die."

On the night of her marriage, she removed a brooch and stuck it into the wall. When she pulled it out the following morning, a poisonous snake came trailing after it; the pin had penetrated into the eye of the serpent.

"Was there anything special that you did yesterday?" her father asked her.

"A poor man came to our door in the evening," she replied. "Everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion which was given to me and gave it to him."

Thereupon Rabbi Akiva went out and declared: "Charity delivers from death." And not just from an unnatural death, but from death itself.