#142 (s5760-42/2 Tammuz)

From Upper Galilee to Lower East Side

“Tell me,” he demanded; “Does the Lubavitcher Rebbe have supernatural powers?”

 

From Upper Galilee to Lower East Side


One day, in 1983, a chassid from Israel who was living in New York at the time went to the store of a business acquaintance on the Lower East Side. When he entered, he noticed a young couple with a little daughter about four years old. They were obviously Israelis, and they had the look of tourists that had embarked on their first shopping expedition. The man was even carrying a suitcase.

As soon as he noticed his visitor, the storekeeper said to the Israeli couple, "Ask him; he is a Lubavitcher." The young man approached him. "Tell me," he demanded, wasting no words on introductions, "Does your Rebbe have supernatural powers?"

The loyal chassid hesitated, unsure of the questioner's intentions. "It would seem so," he said, after a moment.

"Can he read thoughts?" flowed the next question immediately.

"I believe so," he answered.

"And can he see things that happen in distant places?"

"Yes. He is a tzadik, and tzadikim see things that ordinary mortals cannot."

"That's right," said the Israeli, "I think so, too," and turned back towards his wife and child. "One moment!" exclaimed the chassid, his curiosity piqued. "Now it is your turn to answer me one. How did you hear about the Lubavitcher Rebbe?"

At first the Israeli seemed reluctant to respond, but how could he not after his own relentless interrogation? He put down his suitcase with a sigh, as if only now realizing its weight.

"We are from a kibbutz in the North of Israel," he began. "Our daughter was born with soft bones in her legs. The doctors said this is an extremely rare condition for which there is no cure - she would never be able to stand, they said.

"At first we refused to accept this dire prognosis. We took her from hospital to hospital, from doctor to doctor, but no matter where we went, we received the same answer as at first. Eventually we were drained of hope. We had to get used to the idea that our darling adorable daughter would all her life never be able to move around without a wheelchair.

"One day, we attended a lecture on the kibbutz about religion and about Chabad by a Chabad representative that had been invited to come and speak. After it was over, when he saw me wheeling our little girl in a stroller, he stopped me to ask about her. I explained to him about her situation. He looked surprised and asked me, "Didn't you write to the Rebbe yet?"

"Now it was my turn to be surprised. I laughed out loud 'With all due respect,' I said to him, 'What would be the point of writing to him? Is he a doctor? I've already been to the biggest specialists, and they all stated there is no cure. And anyway, your Rebbe lives in Brooklyn, so what could he do for me anyhow?'

"But that Chabad man, he just kept pestering me, until finally I gave in, saying, 'Okay, but you do it for me.' Immediately he pulled out pen and paper and began to write. I was surprised. He began the letter with a respectful salutation to the rebbe just as if it were from any Chabad Chassid, and used other terms and abbreviations that I didn't recognize. Not a word or a hint that I was a secular Kubbutznik, that I didn't keep Shabbos or eat kosher, etc.

"When he finished, he told me that I should copy it in my own handwriting. It seemed such a strange idea, but he insisted and so I did it, copying exactly what he had written, word for word. When I finished, he took it from me, and in the margin jotted his own address and a request that an answer be sent through him. Finally, he put it in an envelope, addressed it in English to the Rebbe, and said he would mail it when he went back to town.

"Several weeks later, the Chabadnik appeared at the kibbutz. He had an answer to me from the Rebbe! The Rebbe had written that I should start observing the Laws of Family Purity and then the Al-mighty would bless us with good news.

"I almost fell off my chair in surprise. The letter was written just as if I were a Chassid from birth; how did the Rebbe know I was non-observant? I don't know what came over me at that moment, but I decided to go along with the Rebbe's advice. We started to study the laws with the Chabadnik and his wife, slowly putting into practice what we learned.

"Three months went by. I was sitting in our salon watching television one evening, when all of a sudden my wife in the kitchen started screaming. I ran in and she was standing there, now dumbstruck. She pointed at our daughter. I looked over but it didn't register.

"'What happened?' 'Are you blind?' she shouted at me. Then my head exploded, All of a sudden I realized our daughter was standing! There she was, in a corner of the kitchen, standing on her own two feet, for the first time in her life, leaning on the arm of a chair.

"The doctors who had all declared that she would always be wheelchair-confined nearly went crazy from surprise. They started her on physiotherapy, and it wasn't too long before she was walking just like any normal healthy girl. Here, you can see her for yourself," he ended with a big happy smile.

The chassid took a good look at the girl and was overwhelmed. You hear a lot of stories about the Rebbe, but to have a living breathing wonder revealed before your eyes....

"We just now arrived from Israel," the man added, "solely in order to meet the Rebbe and thank him personally, and to have him see how nicely our daughter walks."

[Translated and retold by Yrachmiel Tilles from Sichat HaShavuah #548 (and first published in Kfar Chabad Magazine.]


Biographical note:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe
(11 Nissan 1902 - 3 Tammuz 1994), became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, passed away in Brooklyn on 10 Shvat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.


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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