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What You Need and What You are Needed For

No Small Matter

A Shepherd of Souls

Reaching Outward

Digging For Roots

Jewels in the Streets

Opening the Iron Fist

Shepherding His Flock

Unveiling Hidden Treasures

Precious Souls

"The Language of the Wise is Healing"

"Rejoice O Barren One"

Beyond Nature's Limits

Sparks of Greatness

More Than During His Lifetime


Glossary and Biographical Index

To Know and To Care - Volume 2
An Anthology of Chassidic Stories
about the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Chapter 15
More Than During His Lifetime

by Eliyahu and Malka Touger

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  Sparks of GreatnessAfterword  

"When a tzaddik departs he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime."[1]

In Tanya,[2] the Alter Rebbe explains that this does not refer only to the spiritual realms. That is obvious. The intent rather is that even in this material world, a tzaddik's presence is more powerfully felt after his passing than during his lifetime. For during his lifetime, his physical body, however refined it might be, restricts the extent to which his disciples can be nourished by the contact of their souls with his. After his passing, those restrictions no longer exist.

This means that the stories related above are not merely past history. Instead, they reflect an ongoing initiative that is as powerful as during the Rebbe's lifetime, and indeed more powerful.

After the death of the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe told the chassidim to continue directing their requests for blessings to the Previous Rebbe. "He will find a way," the Rebbe explained, "to communicate his response."

What the Rebbe told us about the Previous Rebbe certainly holds true with regard to himself.[3] As the stories to follow indicate, he finds a way to respond. Be it through dreams or visions of the Rebbe, prayers at his holy resting place (called by chassidim "the Ohel" or "the Tziyun"), or by placing written requests for guidance randomly in any one of the many published volumes of the Rebbe's thousands of letters (Igros),[4] the chassidim and the Rebbe have maintained their relationship.

Anyone who spoke to the Rebbe had the feeling that, at the time the Rebbe was speaking to him, the Rebbe's concentration was focused solely on him. No matter how petty that person's concerns were, the Rebbe invested himself in them, showing that person the utmost care and attention. Today that motif continues.

But that is only part of the story. Perhaps most significant is the fact that the Rebbe's work - Jewish outreach, and performing this in the most complete way, so that it will lead to the coming of Mashiach - is still going on, and indeed, has continued to grow. It is hard to believe, but the number of new shluchim, young couples going to outlying places to put the Rebbe's mission into practice, has grown year by year in greater numbers. New Lubavitch centers are continually springing up and the existing centers are widening their scope of activity. His influence is being felt - more than during his lifetime.

In 1995, Jeremy Jordan underwent extensive surgery. During his recovery, he developed a severe infection, which necessitated an additional operation.

His own surgeon was out of town at the time, and so Dr. S. - a man whom he had never met before - was commissioned to perform the second surgery.

Dr. S had Jeremy put under general anesthesia and began surgery.

Then, while still on the operating table, Jeremy woke up! He felt no pain, and was aware of his surroundings. As he looked up at the ceiling, he saw a clear vision of the Rebbe. In this vision, the Rebbe told Jeremy that he wanted to give him a message for the doctor who was operating on him!

The Rebbe then told Jeremy to tell Dr. S that if he began to put on tefillin every day, the difficulties he was experiencing with his daughter would cease. The Rebbe stressed that although something was very wrong with the man's daughter, it would be rectified if he performed this mitzvah.

Jeremy told the Rebbe he would pass on the message. Imagine the consternation in the operating room when the "anaesthetized" patient began to speak! The nurse told Dr. S that the patient had awakened, and asked what she should do. Dr. S replied that she should give him additional anesthesia.

Before this could be done, however, Jeremy spoke up and asked Dr. S to come close so that he could see his face. Dr. S complied, asking Jeremy if he was in any pain, and curious to know if his "unconscious" patient truly understood what was going on around him. Jeremy made it clear that he did.

Then Jeremy told the doctor: "You may think I'm crazy, but I have a message for you. Do you know who the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson is?"

Dr. S replied: "I've heard of him, why?"

"Well," Jeremy continued, "He just appeared to me in a vision and told me to tell you that the difficulties with your daughter will be solved if you put on tefillin every day."

The doctor was dumbfounded, but remembering where he was, he managed to say that the surgery was almost finished, and that he would have Jeremy out of the operating room soon.

During the remainder of the procedure, Jeremy remained conscious, feeling a unique peace of mind as the Rebbe's words echoed in his thoughts.

While Jeremy was in the recovery room, Dr. S came over and closed the curtain around the bed. He took Jeremy's hand in his own and, with tears in his eyes, whispered: "I believe you!

"The last time I was in a synagogue was at my bar mitzvah. I hadn't prayed or acknowledged G-d since then.

"My daughter happens to be gravely ill. Since I am a physician, I feel doubly helpless that I can't help her.

"This morning, I prayed for the first time in over 30 years, pleading with G-d to heal her. And I added: 'If You really exist, please show me a sign.'

"Then you awoke during surgery and gave me that message from Rebbe Schneerson! It's incredible."

After this experience, Dr. S purchased a pair of tefillin and began attending synagogue. Within weeks, his daughter recovered completely.

Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser is a sensitive Rabbi in Flatbush who has dedicated himself to enhancing shalom bayis (peace and harmony between husbands and wives), and securing help for agunos (women whose husbands refuse to give them a get, a Jewish divorce). In many instances, he has been able to convince recalcitrant husbands to enable their ex-wives to remarry.

These efforts have gained him a reputation, and agunos from all over the world appeal to him for help.

In the winter of 5756 (1996), a well-known Jewish philanthropist called. "A woman has been separated from her husband for six years," he said. "There is no hope of restoring marital harmony, and yet the husband refuses to give a divorce. Could Rabbi Goldwasser help?"

Rabbi Goldwasser told the philanthropist that he would make preliminary inquiries and contact him when he had more information. Upon investigating, however, he found that he was not the first Rabbi who had been contacted about this case. The woman had spoken to several, and they had tried all the channels which Rabbi Goldwasser would usually employ. The husband was unusually stubborn; no one had been able to budge him.

Rabbi Goldwasser called the philanthropist back and told him that he didn't see what he could do. "Believe me, if there was anything I could do to help, I would. But I'm stumped. I wouldn't know where to start."

Several months later, the philanthropist called again. "Would the Rabbi at least sit down with the woman and hear her plight?"

Rabbi Goldwasser could not refuse such a request, and so an appointment was arranged. The philanthropist came with the woman, and for two hours, she told her tale of woe. When she finished, the philanthropist called a cab for her and remained with Rabbi Goldwasser.

"What do you say now?" he asked the Rabbi.

"What can I say?" answered Rabbi Goldwasser. "After hearing such a story, can I say No?! But what can I do, if I say Yes? I don't see any openings. Nevertheless, I'll try to do what I can."

Thus began several months of protracted dealings between the woman, Rabbi Goldwasser, and the woman's husband. At first it appeared that some headway was being made, but then suddenly, the door slammed shut. The husband absolutely refused to cooperate.

Throughout this time, the woman had been in touch with another woman in Australia who was experiencing similar difficulties. She too had been separated for many years, but her husband refused to give her a get. Over the years, the two woman had become friends, each one commiserating with and supporting the other.

At this time, the Australian woman was able to achieve a breakthrough. Her husband consented to give her a get. Overjoyed at this sudden and fortunate change, the first person she called was the woman with whom she had shared so much suffering.

Needless to say, the woman shared in her friend's joy, and showered warm wishes for continued good fortune. When she hung up, however, she broke down and cried. Now she was truly alone.

Struggling to maintain her composure, she called Rabbi Goldwasser. She told him the good news she had received, but then could not hold herself back. All the pent-up suffering and anguish she had been feeling over the years exploded.

At first, Rabbi Goldwasser had nothing to say. He had no new suggestions for this woman. She had been told - and she had internalized - many teachings about bitachon, trust in G-d. What more could he tell her? And yet he felt the woman should not be left without an answer.

Over the years, Rabbi Goldwasser had maintained a relationship with the Rebbe, and had heard of the miracles that had happened in response to prayers at the Ohel. "There is a place," he told the woman, "where people from all over the world go to pray. And their prayers are answered. Go there and pour your heart out to G-d."

The woman agreed, so Rabbi Goldwasser arranged to have two attendants take her to the Ohel. She prayed there for an hour.

On the way home, she received a call on her beeper. An acquaintance had a message from her husband. He was prepared to give her a get! The woman quickly made her way to a pay phone and contacted the caller. She also called Rabbi Goldwasser, who immediately arranged for a scribe. The husband was called, and he also agreed to come.

But Rabbi Goldwasser was not yet ready to celebrate. He knew of too many incidents when a husband had agreed to give a get, but had not shown up at the appointed time.

This time, however, there were no difficulties; the husband arrived at the Beis Din even before Rabbi Goldwasser. The get was composed and given to the woman.

Within five hours after she had prayed at the Ohel, a woman who had waited seven years for a divorce had her get in hand.

Rabbi and Mrs. Eliezer Lazaroff are the live-in directors of the Chabad House at the Texas Medical Center, a world-famous facility with two medical schools and 10 hospitals, including the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Heart Institute.

Patients come from all over the world for treatment at these hospitals, and the Chabad House provides an apartment for them and their families, supplying them with kosher food if necessary.

These activities and the day-to-day chores associated with a growing family made it almost a necessity for the Lazaroffs to hire a housekeeper so that Mrs. Lazaroff could focus on her responsibilities as co-director of the Chabad House and raising her children. In 5753 (1993), they hired a young woman on a two-year contract. She shared in all the activities of the Chabad House during that period.

In the winter of 5755 (1995), the Lazaroffs spoke to the woman about renewing her contract, for they were pleased with her work and her dedication. While it could not be said that she was indispensable, she was intelligent, reliable, and knew the ins and outs of the Chabad House. It would take weeks to train a replacement.

The housekeeper was hesitant about making a renewed commitment. Although she appreciated the way she had been treated, the work was not very stimulating, and she thought she should start planning for her future.

At about this time, she took ill and spent a week convalescing in her apartment at the back of the Chabad House. That Friday, the Lazaroffs had many guests for Shabbos, a kiddush was scheduled, and many meals had to be sent to the hospitals. For the first time in almost two years Mrs. Lazaroff had to do all the preparations herself. This caused her to realize anew how much of a help her housekeeper was. After Shabbos, she discussed the matter with her husband, explaining the vital role the housekeeper played.

Her husband agreed, and said he would do everything in his power to keep her, but the decision was not his. The housekeeper would have to make the choice.

The following morning Mrs. Lazaroff sat down and wrote a letter to the Rebbe, describing the difficulty and asking for his blessing. She put the letter into a volume of Igros Kodesh and resumed her work.

The housekeeper, meanwhile, was still sick. Alone in her apartment, she was thinking about her future. Should she continue working with the Lazaroffs, or should she go on to something else?

That Sunday night, she dreamt that she heard someone knocking on her door. At first, she thought it was the Lazaroffs checking on her health, but then she looked at her clock. It was three in the morning! She knew her employers would not come by at that hour.

Although she tried to ignore it, in her dream, the knocking persisted. Finally, she opened the door. There stood a venerable man with deep eyes and a warm smile. The housekeeper felt she recognized him, but couldn't place him.

"Do I know you?" she asked.

"Yes," the man answered.

"From where?"

"From the Chabad House. I'm always here, making sure that everything is all right."

In her dream, the housekeeper felt that her visitor was a wise man, so she asked him about her dilemma.

The man answered her: "Don't you know that the people around you are good, and very nice to you? The Chabad House needs you more than any place else that you could go. And there is no place where you could do as much good as you could do here."

"But the work is very monotonous," the woman protested.

"If you must," the man answered, "go away for a vacation. But not permanently."

Startled by the dream, the housekeeper awoke and could not go back to sleep. She wrote down everything the man had told her.

The next morning, she walked into the Chabad House. There, hanging in the hallway was a large picture. She was stunned; this was the man who had given her advice the night before!

Elozor Plotke works as a project manager for a California company that builds, launches and operates communication satellites. His job is to procure sophisticated and reliable electro-optical sensors which "lock" on to and track the Earth as the satellite circles the planet in geo-synchronous orbit. A small company in Connecticut builds the sensors.

Ron Carmichael is a California expert who helps companies reduce costs and lower risks so that they can meet critical budget and deadline goals. The company in Connecticut needed those services, and so Elozor and Ron had often worked together with that company on various projects.

A few weeks before Pesach in 1996, Elozor arranged to meet Ron at the Connecticut firm. Elozor's plan was to fly to New York, go to the Rebbe's Ohel, and then drive to Connecticut. The plane trip was uneventful, until Elozor looked up to see Ron. The latter had a big smile on his face and was striding down the aisle towards him. In that split second, Elozor thought: "Oh no! What about my plans to visit the Ohel?!"

Ron greeted Elozor warmly, and explained his presence: "You know I really don't like to drive, and even if I did, I always get lost. And by driving together, we can save the company some money." Ron had (without Elozor's knowledge) learned of his travel arrangements from his secretary and had purposely made reservations to be on the same flight.

Elozor was disappointed; he did not see how he could explain the importance of a visit to the Ohel to Ron, who is a gentile. Besides, Ron was probably hungry and would not have the patience to wait for dinner. Rather than broach the matter, Elozor kept his disappointment to himself.

On the same flight was a dapper gentleman who kept looking at Elozor and smiling. It seemed a little strange, but Elozor smiled back. After they left the plane, the gentleman came over and introduced himself as Amos from Tsfat, Israel. He asked Elozor if he knew of a way to get to the Rebbe's Ohel.

At this point, Elozor decided to stop hesitating. He asked Ron if he minded making a slight detour to stop off at the grave site of his spiritual mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. To his great satisfaction, Ron said: "Sure, Elozor. Anything you want to do is fine with me."

Elozor felt very positive about the Divine Providence at work, as he, Ron, and Amos rented a car and drove to the Ohel.

On the way, Ron kept asking questions. Who was the Rebbe, he wanted to know, and what would they be doing at the Ohel? Amos answered all of Ron's inquiries. Amos had served as deputy mayor of Tsfat a few years before, and because of the large Lubavitch community in that city, had developed a long-standing relationship with the Rebbe, often visiting on Sundays to receive dollars, advice and blessings.

While they were traveling, he spoke of some miraculous events that had come to pass thanks to the Rebbe. He also explained the procedure at the Ohel - how they would write notes asking for blessings and requesting that the Rebbe intercede with the Almighty on their behalf. Ron was interested; he wanted to write his own note!

So at the Ohel, Elozor, Amos and Ron each wrote and read their notes to the Rebbe, and said some Tehillim. Afterwards, Elozor and Ron said farewell to Amos, drove to Manhattan for a kosher dinner, and then proceeded to their destination in Connecticut.

Several weeks after Pesach, Ron and Elozor needed to return to the vendor in Connecticut to present a company-wide seminar and workshop. Ron knew Elozor's travel plans, but was not on his flight this time. Since Elozor's plane was scheduled to arrive in New York very late in the evening, he did not think of going to the Ohel on the way to Connecticut. Instead, he had decided to take care of his business first, and go to the Ohel on the way back.

After his flight landed, Elozor called the rental agency to send over a courtesy van. He was very surprised when the rental agent asked for his name, but nevertheless identified himself.

The receptionist replied: "Oh, Mr. Plotke, it is so good that you are here. There are three gentlemen waiting for you in the lobby."

Elozor thought to himself: "It must be Ron."

Sure enough, Ron and two of his associates were in the car rental office waiting for Elozor to arrive. Ron quickly strode over and declared: "Elozor, you must take me to the Ohel to see the Rebbe again!"

"Why, Ron? What has happened?" replied the startled Mr. Plotke.

Ron grinned. "In the note that I wrote the last time, I asked him for help with my job, health and livelihood. You see, for the past few months, my managers have been threatening to lay me off because they no longer need me full time. All the uncertainty had been very stressful, and I was having a lot of stomach problems. In addition, living in Los Angeles is so expensive that I can no longer afford it."

"I explained all this to the Rebbe and asked for his help. A few days after I got back to Los Angeles, I received a call from a hiring manager at Hughes Training in Texas. He was looking for a person with my extensive experience. Not only did he offer to pay my moving expenses, but he gave me a bonus for accepting the offer, and a 20% raise in base salary! Since the cost of living in Texas is about 20% less than in Southern California, this meant the equivalent of a 40% raise!

"I already feel so much better that I want to go back to the Rebbe to thank him and ask for more!"

Since then, whenever Elozor and Ron get together, the first thing Ron mentions is his desire to visit the Ohel.

One of the shluchim in Belgium, Rabbi Shabsie Slavatizki, was conducting a Purim feast at the Antwerp Chabad House in 5755 (1995). This was the first Purim since the Rebbe's passing on Gimmel Tammuz, and all the participants felt that that event had diminished their ability to celebrate.

One of those present, a diamond dealer named Arnon Zak put into words what everyone was thinking. "How can we rejoice when we are living in a vacuum? After the Rebbe's passing, is it possible to feel joy?"

Reb Shabsie was touched by Arnon's words. "Questions like these," he responded, "can be faced, but can't be answered. The pain we feel because of the Rebbe's passing cannot easily be soothed, but it's not a negative thing. On the contrary, the pain reflects powerful energies that should be channeled toward bonding with the Rebbe and furthering the mission with which he charged us."

"Moreover," Reb Shabsie continued, "we should not think that the Rebbe has forsaken us. Though now in the spiritual realms, he continues to care for all those who seek his assistance."

To illustrate his point, Reb Shabsie read a story from Kfar Chabad, a weekly Lubavitch magazine, which related how, after the Rebbe's passing, a person with a difficulty had written a letter to him and placed it in a volume of Igros Kodesh[5] (a collection of the Rebbe's letters). When the person read the letter printed on the pages between which he had placed his note, he found an answer which gave him guidance concerning the problem confronting him.

A genuine chassid, Reb Shabsie continued, does not need stories like this to prove the Rebbe's ongoing concern, but if a person feels that he does need proof, such stories can serve the purpose.

Reb Shabsie was interrupted. One of the participants, an Israeli, and from his style of dress obviously non-observant, challenged him: "Would you mind putting that statement to a test? According to what you're saying, if one of us were to write a letter to the Rebbe and place it in a volume of Igros Kodesh, he would receive a pertinent answer. Can we try that now?"

All the listeners were stunned, and waited anxiously to see how Reb Shabsie would react.

Reb Shabsie turned to his son and asked him to go to his library and bring back a volume of Igros Kodesh. He turned to the questioner and asked him to write out a question for the Rebbe.

Somewhat unnerved by Reb Shabsie's acceptance of his challenge, the skeptic took a pen and paper and wrote: "When will we return to Eretz Yisrael?" He then signed his name, Shuki ben Yehoshua.

"Place your question in the volume," Reb Shabsie told him.

Reb Shabsie's son had brought the first volume of Igros Kodesh. Reb Shabsie opened the book and reported that the questioner's letter was between pages 264 and 265. The letter on those pages is dated Purim, 5704, and begins with the greeting: "Happy Purim."

The assembled crowd felt an immediate connection. Here they were on Purim, listening to a letter written on Purim! And the Rebbe concluded that letter with a blessing:

"On that day, G-d will be one, and His name one."[6] [May we proceed] immediately to teshuvah, and immediately to the Redemption."

There were those who considered the answer obvious proof of the effectiveness of asking the Igros. Here was a letter which seemed to provide a direct answer to the question which had been asked. Even the more skeptical had to admit the uncanny coincidence.

Reb Shabsie then asked Shuki if he would mind hearing the entire letter the Rebbe had written.

"Of course not," Shuki answered.

"Even if it reflects on your personal life?"

"Why not? I'm an open person. Let the chips fly!"

So Reb Shabsi proceeded to read the letter in its entirety. It spoke about an Israeli youth who had studied in yeshivah, but who had abandoned that lifestyle. The Rebbe asked that contact be made with him, and efforts undertaken to encourage him to identify with his roots.

Upon hearing the whole letter, Shuki became very embarrassed, and asked to be excused, for his personal history was similar to that described. For years, his parents had encouraged him to return to observance, but with no success.

Reb Shabsi refused to let him go. "Don't run away, Shuki! Look yourself in the mirror. Face who you are!"

The farbrengen continued until late in the morning, and had a profound effect on Shuki's life, inspiring him to confront his past and return to it.

Mr. A. came from a poor Russian family that had moved to Israel while he was still a child. Lubavitch in Israel had taken care of the family's material and spiritual needs.

This kindness was never forgotten, so when Mr. A. emigrated to the United States as a young man, he maintained close contact with the Rebbe. At every step in his business or personal life, he kept the Rebbe informed.

When he started his business, he wrote to the Rebbe for a blessing, and committed himself to giving one tenth of his earnings to charity. His ventures were blessed with success, and in keeping with his commitment, he made generous donations.

He married, and some time afterwards his wife gave birth to a baby boy. But the child weighed only 2 lb. 3 oz! The doctors were not certain the infant would survive. If he did live, they told the worried parents, it was quite probable that he would neither see nor speak.

Mr. and Mrs. A. asked the Rebbe for a blessing for their son. The Rebbe assured them that the baby would develop normally, and his blessing was realized.

Not surprisingly, Mr. A was one of the many whose grief at the Rebbe's passing was personal. Though not a chassid, he felt as if he had lost a father.

Several years later, the A.'s doctor noticed that their son's muscles weren't developing correctly. Somberly, he told the parents that the boy might never be able to walk properly. Mr. A. knew only one address from which to seek help, so he went to the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) to pray for the health of his son.

Soon afterwards, he had a puzzling dream. In his dream, he approached the Rebbe for a blessing for his son. The Rebbe replied by telling him to visit Rabbi Leibl Groner, his secretary, and follow his instructions. Also, there was an implication that Mr. A had fallen behind in his gifts to charity.

Then, still dreaming, Mr. A visited Rabbi Groner, who told him to go and inspect a mikveh. As the dream continued, Mr. A. watched himself go to the mikveh and, seeing that it was incomplete, grow more and more angry, outraged at finding an unfinished mikveh in America.

When Mr. A. awoke, the dream came back to him, and he checked with his accountant. Sure enough, his contributions to charity had fallen behind in the amount of $40,000. Mr. A. decided to go to Rabbi Groner. If Rabbi Groner told him of a mikveh that needed about $40,000, he would know his dream was significant.

While Mr. A's personal drama was being played out, a drama of another sort was taking place. Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, director of Chabad of Middlesex/Monmouth counties in New Jersey, was in the process of constructing a new Chabad House that would provide a home away from home for the Jewish students of Rutgers University. The five-million dollar facility was almost complete, ready to house more than two dozen women, provide kosher meals to thousands of students a week, and serve as a center for the vibrant Jewish life which Chabad has built at Rutgers.

But Rabbi Carlebach had a problem. In mid-July he still needed $800,000 to pay the contractor to complete the project. And he could not receive a Certificate of Occupancy until the building was virtually complete.

By August, the situation looked bleak. The contractor had walked off the job and wouldn't return unless more money was forthcoming immediately. Time was growing short - the center was scheduled to open by the first of September - and there was still a good deal of work to do before the certificate could be issued.

As the summer days passed, Rabbi Carlebach labored non-stop to obtain the necessary funds. His supporters had already donated generously, and could not give any more large sums. Rabbi Carlebach had called Rabbi Leibl Groner (who had spoken at the groundbreaking ceremony) for some fundraising leads, but Rabbi Groner had also been unable to provide substantial help.

The frustration and stress were taking their toll. One Sunday afternoon in mid-August, in the middle of making calls to solicit funds, Rabbi Carlebach fell asleep with the phone in his hand.

At that moment, the two dramas began to intermesh. Mr. A. entered Rabbi Groner's office to tell him about the dream. "Do you know of a mikveh that is in the process of completion?" he asked.

Rabbi Groner thought of Rabbi Carlebach, and called him immediately. Startled out of his sleep, Rabbi Carlebach was surprised to hear Rabbi Groner's voice asking: "How much money is needed to complete the mikveh in the Chabad House?"

"Forty thousand dollars," was Rabbi Carlebach's immediate response; he knew the figure only too well. When Rabbi Groner conveyed this information to him, Mr. A.'s face turned white.

Rabbi Groner called Rabbi Carlebach back on Monday morning with the news that a New York businessman might be able to help. Time was of the essence, so Rabbi Carlebach called Mr. A., and offered to drive into New York, pick him up, and bring him out to the unfinished Chabad House. Mr. A. agreed, and Rabbi Carlebach picked him up late Tuesday afternoon. Mr. A. sat quietly for the whole drive.

As Rabbi Carlebach showed Mr. A. around the Chabad House, he seemed only mildly interested. When the two men entered the area designated for the mikveh, however, Mr. A. just stood and stared, transfixed.

Five minutes passed, then 10. After 15 minutes, Rabbi Carlebach told Mr. A. that he would be upstairs saying the afternoon prayers. When Rabbi Carlebach finished praying, he heard Mr. A. downstairs, talking excitedly on his cellular phone.

On the way back to New York, Mr. A. told Rabbi Carlebach about his dream. "It's not only that the dollar amounts match," he told Rabbi Carlebach, "but the unfinished mikveh in your Chabad House looks exactly like the one I saw in my dream!"

On Thursday, Mr. A. brought Rabbi Groner the $40,000. Although it was 10:30 PM, Rabbi Groner called Rabbi Carlebach at once, and the latter immediately drove into New York to pick up the money.

Early next morning, Rabbi Carlebach met with the contractor and the workers. Of the $800,000 he needed, Rabbi Carlebach had $500,000 readily available and the envelope from Mr. A.

The meeting was filled with tension, and the contractor was prepared to storm out until Rabbi Carlebach stopped him and handed over the envelope from Mr. A. When the contractor realized that funds were indeed available, and after hearing the story of the dream, he ordered his workers back to the site.

Within a week, the building was ready for occupancy.

The following Friday, the city officials and the Board of Health gave their approval, and that night, hundreds of Jewish students were able to celebrate Shabbos in the new Chabad House.

For ten years, Rabbi and Mrs. Moshe Menachem Mendel Liberow, shluchim in Porto Alegre, Brazil, have run the only Jewish day school to offer Torah education in a radius of several hundred miles.

Operating a school that provides a program from kindergarten to eighth grade is always a challenging financial undertaking. Nevertheless, Rabbi Liberow is not one to compromise on quality, and he has always been able to find a way to stay fiscally afloat, while providing the best education possible for his students.

Brazil is in the southern hemisphere, and the summer vacation begins in January. This is the time which Rabbi Liberow uses to make an accounting and take stock of his financial position.

In 5755 (1995), after checking over his ledger sheet, he discovered that there was a deficit of $26,000. Now in Porto Alegre, that is a large sum, a figure which would require adjustments to be made in the operating budget in the coming year.

That night, Rabbi Liberow shared the unpleasant news with his wife. She was disturbed; she had hoped to implement several new programs in the coming year, and now she had to contemplate cutting back.

She had one natural reaction; she wrote a letter to the Rebbe, faxing it to the Ohel and placing it within a volume of Igros Kodesh.

The letter was written Wednesday, night. On Monday morning, Rabbi Shabsi Alpern, the director of Chabad-Lubavitch activities in Brazil, called Rabbi Liberow. He had just completed a meeting with a leading Jewish philanthropist. A year previously, Rabbi Liberow had asked this philanthropist for a donation. He had not been able to accommodate him at that time, but now he had made a substantial profit on a recent business transaction. Although neither Rabbi Alpern or Rabbi Liberow had contacted him concerning Porto Alegre; indeed, Rabbi Alpern wasn't even aware of the Rabbi Liberow's deficit, the philanthropist promised he would make a donation to the school - for exactly $26,000.



  1. (Back to text) Zohar, Vol. III, p. 71b.

  2. (Back to text) Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 27.

  3. (Back to text) See In the Paths of Our Fathers, the commentary to Avos 3:16.

  4. (Back to text) One might add that in the interests of honesty, the writer's subsequent search for a reply explicit or implicit in the letters appearing on the randomly chosen pages should perhaps be made in consultation with a mature and objective friend, one who is experienced and familiar with the Rebbe's style of response.

  5. (Back to text) The placing of a letter to the Rebbe in a volume of his teachings when there is no way to deliver it to him personally is a long-standing chassidic custom. The concept of looking at the place where the letter is placed is a new development. Nonetheless, there is precedence for it in Torah sources, as reflected in Sichos Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar 5749, where the Rebbe refers to the long-standing Jewish custom of clarifying doubts regarding certain questions by opening a Chumash or other holy text and acting on the directive one understands from that text.

    The practice of this custom is not limited to the chassidic community. On the contrary, we find it also described in the notes of the Birkei Yosef to Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah) and it lies at the core of the goral HaGra, the procedure established by the Vilna Gaon to seek guidance in times of distress.

  6. (Back to text) Zechariah 14:7-9.

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