#119 (s5760-19/ 12 Shvat 5760)
AN ANGEL OF ONE THOUSAND
I heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, is now in the United States. 

AN ANGEL OF ONE THOUSAND

In the early 5700's (1940's), Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurary of blessed memory, who was married to the eldest of the three daughters of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (Rayatz), was sent by his father-in-law on a mission to Toronto along with Rabbi Shlomo-Aharon Kazarnovsky. They arrived to find the city completely paralyzed by a blizzard. Deep snow had buried practically everything and storm winds blasted through the streets. Since no transportation of any sort was available, they were forced to take refuge in a nearby hotel.

A number of chassidim and admirers of Lubavitch found their way to the place where they were staying in order to pay their respects to their city's distinguished guests. Among them was a prestigious local rabbi, a leading Torah scholar in the city, who expressed great respect for the Rebbe Rayatz and explained why with an amazing story.

"Not so long ago, one of the members of my shul, Reuven, a wealthy man, fell seriously ill. It actually happened in shul, on a Shabbat. His was called for an aliyah, and on his way to the platform he suffererd a stroke! An ambulance was summoned, and he was taken quickly to the hospital.

"As soon as possible after Shabbat, I went to visit him. When I arrived at his floor, I encountered the members of the family who had stationed themselves in the room next to the patient's. They told me the frightening details of his condition: in addition to one of his legs being paralyzed, he was also barely able to speak.

"Their mood was gloomy. The unpleasant situation of the head of the family would have been reason enough. In addition, his son was supposed to be getting married but had postponed his wedding because of the sudden tragic development.

"They warned me not to go in the room. However, the patient heard my voice while I was speaking to them and asked his nurse to call me in. I entered.

"As soon as he saw me, he managed to say: 'I heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe now lives in the United States.'

"'That's true," I replied. He came in 5700 (1940)."

"'Please!' he implored, gasping the words. 'Write to him on my behalf and ask him what I can do to save myself from this ghastly illness and regain my health.'

"Of course I agreed. As soon as I got home, I dispatched an urgent telegram. The Rebbe's answer arrived very quickly, also by express. He instructed me to tell the stricken man that a branch of Lubavitch's Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva was being established in Montreal and that he should donate $1000 to it, for 'tzedakah saves from death.' Specifically one thousand, because the angel [advocate created by the mitzvah*] of [giving] a hundred is incomparable to the angel of a thousand, as it says [in the Book of Jobe*], 'If a man will have an interceding angel-one of a thousand...'. In this merit he will get well, and have full use of his legs, the Rebbe concluded.

"I hurried back to the hospital with the Rebbe's letter in hand. The relatives were all still there. When the patient's wife saw me, she said in surprise, 'What! Did you already get an answer from the Rebbe?'

"I told her what the Rebbe had said. Her brother, who had also come to visit, overheard. He remarked to her sarcastically, 'Ah! They've already started to try to squeeze money out of him. You know how these people are.'

"I didn't bother to respond. Instead, I went directly inside to the patient. I told him what I had written and that the Rebbe had answered right away. I then read to him the Rebbe's letter. When I finished, he turned to his son, who had been standing next to the bed the whole time. 'Son!' he said, as emphatically as he could manage; 'I want to live! Please take one thousand dollars and deliver it in person to Montreal, to whatever address that the Rabbi tells you.'

"The son, the one whose wedding was postponed, did exactly as his father requested, without hesitation. A few days later, a doctor in the hospital who was known to be a leading specialist for this particular problem, came to do an examination. The room was cleared for him, and he remained alone with the bedridden man for some time. When he came out, his face was contorted with fury. He went directly over to the relatives of the patient, who were still maintaining their faithful vigil.

"'Who gave you permission to bring in an outside doctor and for him to initiate treatment?' he demanded. 'And without informing me, no less. This is outrageous!'

"The relatives looked at one another and then back at the doctor, thoroughly perplexed. 'Doctor, please, we don't know what you are talking about. We haven't consulted any other doctor, nor do we know what extra treatment you are talking about.'

"'If that's so,' responded the doctor in a calmer tone, but with lingering overtones of suspicion, 'then a miracle has occurred here. The patient's condition has changed radically. There are no longer any internal signs of the disease. I can't understand it. Still,' he said, shaking his head, 'if this present situation persists, we will discharge him very soon.'

"And that's what happened. Shortly thereafter he was released, and although he needed crutches to help him walk, it wasn't too long before he was able to discard them. His condition continued to improve rapidly until he was better completely.

"The rescheduled wedding was celebrated with exceptional joy."

Source: Translated and freely adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles (and first published in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English) from Shemuos v'Sipurim by Rafoel Nachman Cohen (vol.1, p.191-192), who heard it directly from Rabbi Kazarnovsky. (Subsequently expanded in 2016 based on Sichat HaShavua #1515.)

NOTE:
In Avos 4:11 it says, "With every mitzvah a person does, he acquires for himself an advocate- angel...." The full quote from Iyov is: "If [he has a merit, then] there will be for a man an interceding angel, one of a thousand, to declare his uprightness on his behalf; then He will be gracious to him, and say, 'Redeem him from going down to the grave; I have found atonement for him'" (Job 33:23--24-this verse is utilized in the Kapparos atonement custom on the eve of Yom Kippur, see Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p.198).

Biographical note
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-10 Shvat 1950) was the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, from 1920 to 1950. In 1940 he moved to the USA, established Chabad world-wide headquarters in Brooklyn and launched the global campaign to renew and spread Judaism in all languages and in every corner of the world, the campaign continued and expanded so remarkably successfully by his son-in-law and successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.


Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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