Chassidic Story #199

(s5761-46 / posted 19 Av 5761)


The frightened chassid came to R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, chief rabbi of Yekaterinoslav, to ask for his blessing
that he should secure a deferment from the brutally anti-semitic Communist Russian army.


Mr. Ozar Wienikursky tells of the traumatic time when he was about to be drafted into the Russian army. For a religious Jew to go into the Communist Russian brutally anti-semitic army was a dangerous agonizing experience.

The young chassid came to R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, chief rabbi of Yekaterinoslav, to ask for his blessing that he should secure a deferment. But the Rabbi did not suffice simply with blessing him. Instead, he gave Ozar extremely detailed instructions; he specified the exact date and hour at which he should report to the draft office, which route to take on the way there, the particular chapters of Tehillim that he should say beforehand, and exactly how many coins he should give to tzedakah.

He also prescribed that when Ozar stood at the entrance to the building, he should stop and envisage in his mind the holy four-letter name of G-d. The Rabbi then blessed him and promised that nothing bad would befall him. He concluded by requesting that the young man return afterwards with a detailed report of all that had transpired.

Wienikursky carefully followed all of the Rabbi's unusual instructions. When he arrived at the draft office, he was sent into a large room with many tables. At each table sat a doctor with a particular specialty who had the responsibility of examining each candidate that passed before him, but only in his area of expertise. Each draftee, in turn, had to go before every one of the doctors, in order to determine the true state of his health and eliminate any possibility of deception.

"I passed along the row of tables and was examined by each doctor," related Ozar, "Each one recorded his opinion in turn. Finally, I reached the desk of the clerk who notified the draftees of the board's decision.

The man looked at me pityingly and exclaimed, "What is going on with you? You poor man! Each doctor found something wrong with you and each one's diagnosis describes you as suffering from a different disease!"

He left safely with a complete exemption from the army.

[Translated and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Eim b'Yisrael (and also published in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English).]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson [1878-20 Av 1944], father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was considered by the Rebbe Reshab to be one of his three greatest chassidim. An outstanding scholar and a leading Kabbalist of his generation, he was the Chief Rabbi of the major Ukrainian city Yekaterinoslav (today called Dniepropetrovsk) until his arrest and exile.

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