Stories of the Rebbe
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A story of the Rebbe #44 - The Vodka that Saved a Life Print Email

One Shabbos during 5741/1981, when the Rebbe was making a farbrengen, the Rebbe'suddenly turned to one of the people present and gave him a bottle of vodka. The other person was very surprised and did not understand why.

The next day, Sunday, this particular man was on a bus from Crown Heights to Williamsburg when a mugger suddenly pointed a gun at his throat. Miraculously, the man was saved from his attacker, and he now realized why the Rebbe had given him the bottle of vodka.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #45 - Seeing From a Distance Print Email

Mrs. Minkowitz was once diagnosed with a serious illness. After undergoing various tests and x-rays in the hospital, she was informed that she needed an emergency operation. Her husband insisted that nothing should be done without a brocha from the Rebbe, and he rushed to 770 in a taxi.

After Mincha, Mr. Minkowitz asked the Rebbe what should be done, and the Rebbe replied, "Tell the doctor that he has made a mistake." Feeling much encouraged, Mr. Minkowitz hurried back to the hospital. There, he found out that in the meantime the doctors discovered that they had, in fact, made a mistake. To the surprise of the medical staff, Mrs. Minkowitz's name had actually been mixed up with that of another patient.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #46 - Reading Our Thoughts Print Email

During a Shabbos farbrengen in 5714/1954, the Rebbe'suddenly stood up and clapped his hands. Rabbi Eliyahu Shmuel Cahanov, z"l, was sitting behind the Rebbe, and he had been thinking about the heter for clapping the hands on Shabbos. Suddenly the Rebbe turned towards him and said, "Reb Eliyahu Shmuel! It is permitted by the Minchas Elazar."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #47 - A New Nurse Print Email

The late Rabbi Benzion Shemtov told the following story:

During a medical conference in England, one of the doctors declared that anyone who learns Torah purely for its own sake transcends the laws of nature. He explained to his colleagues, who did not understand what he meant, that a Jewish acquaintance once fell sick with a particular illness. Although his complaint was not very serious, his situation started to deteriorate.

The man's doctors could not find any logical explanation for this, and it was decided to write to the Rebbe. The Rebbe gave a very surprising instruction: to change the nurse in charge of the case. Although no one understood why this should be necessary, the nurse was removed from the case, and the patient started to recover.

When the doctor in charge of the case, who was also telling the story, investigated the matter further, he made a shocking discovery. The nurse who had originally been treating the patient was a sworn anti-Semite, and she had deliberately refused to follow his treatment instructions properly.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #48 - "You Will See Your Father" Print Email

During dollars on erev Yom Kippur, 5721/1960, Mr. A. asked the Rebbe for a brocha that his parents, who were still in what was then Soviet Russia, would be able to leave. The Rebbe replied, "Amen. May you see your father again in joy and happiness." Mr. A. thought that the Rebbe had not heard his request properly, and he asked for a brocha for both of his parents. The Rebbe repeated his previous answer exactly: "May you see your father again in joy and happiness."

Later that year, Mr. A's mother passed away, and his father left the former Soviet Union to rejoin his son, three years later.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #49 - "Why Don't You Ask for Lekach for Your Brother?" Print Email

In 5731/1970, Moshe Tabius traveled from Israel to Crown Heights to spend Sukkos with the Rebbe. On Hoshana Rabba, he went to the Rebbe's sukka, as is customary, to receive a piece of lekach [honey cake]. The Rebbe gave him a piece of the cake and said, "Leshana tova umesuka [a good and sweet year]."

As Moshe began to walk away, the Rebbe'said, "Why Don't you also ask for your brother?" Moshe was surprised by this question, because he never usually asked the Rebbe for lekach on behalf of his brother. The Rebbe continued: "You need to ask for lekach." So Moshe immediately responded, "I am asking for lekach for my brother."

The Rebbe asked what his brother's and mother's names were, and on hearing the answer, he gave Moshe a piece of lekach for his brother. With it, he added the blessing, "Leshana tova umesuka, long days and good years."

Moshe was both surprised and concerned by the whole incident, and he was not sure what to do next. He wanted to call home, but it was too late by then, as Yom Tov had already begun in Israel. On Motzoei Simchas Torah, he was finally able to call home. He heard that his brother had been hit by a car while walking home from shul on Hoshana Rabba. He was very seriously injured, and when he was taken to the hospital he was already unconscious.

However, three hours later, his brother's condition drastically changed. He regained consciousness and recovered so well that it was as if nothing had happened. Even the doctors believed that this wonderful recovery could only be attributed to a miracle.

When Moshe found out what time his brother had woken up and had begun to recover, he discovered that this was at the exact time when the Rebbe asked him about his brother and had given him the lekach.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #50 - Pearls in the Soup ? Print Email

Rabbi Tz. Y. relates:

"After I got married, I spent three years learning in kollel. I then spent the next six months answering questions half-day in yeshiva and learning in kollel for the rest of the time. At the same time, my in-laws opened a jewelry store for my wife, which gave us enough income to live off over the next few years. After a while, my wife and her parents asked me to work in the jewelry store as well so that the business could expand and make higher profits.

"But I didn?t want to hear, because all I wanted to do was carry on with my learning. However, as time went on, the family grew. My wife became very busy looking after our young children as well as the store, and as our expenses increased I felt more and more under pressure.

"During Tishrei, 5744/1984, I traveled to the Rebbe. One day, (it was 13th Tishrei) I went to eat supper with my brother-in-law. He and his wife were also trying to convince me to join the jewelry business, and they spoke to me very frankly. For the first time, I felt my resolve beginning to crumble, and I decided to use the opportunity of being in Crown Heights to send a note into the Rebbe.

"After the meal, I hurried to 770 to get a place at the Yud Gimmel Tishrei farbrengen. During the farbrengen, the Rebbe'said the following: ?There are people who substitute the pearls that are put in the soup [i.e. pearl barley] for real pearls ? jewelry made from precious stones that are generally worn by women and girls around their necks. Jewelry in general is a positive thing, but it only relates to Jewish women and girls, while men Don't need to be involved. Therefore, when men do get very deeply involved in these matters, it is like a person who substitutes 'soup pearls? for real pearls.?

"I now saw that no longer needed to send a note into the Rebbe."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #51 - Not a Levi? Print Email

During hakafos in 5737/1976, the Rebbe gave a special sicha about Hebron. He then asked all the Leviim who were present to dance a hakafa. As the dancing began, the Rebbe pointed to a young French bachur, who was standing quite far away, to join in. At first, the bachur did not realize that the Rebbe was pointing at him, primarily because he was not a Levi, but also because he was part of a huge crowd. However, the Rebbe did not give up, and continued gesturing towards him until it became clear that the Rebbe was singling him out. As soon as the bachur realized this, he joined in the hakafa, with thousands of people looking on.

The bachur was very curious as to why the Rebbe had wanted him to join in the hakafa for the Leviim. When he went into yechidus after the chaggim, he wrote a note asking the Rebbe for the reason, but the Rebbe did not deal with the question at all.

A little more than three years later, when the bachur reached the age of twenty, he discovered that he was adopted. After some investigation, he found out that his natural father was a Levi. ?

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #52 - "Good News" Print Email

Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff, shliach in Houston, Texas, relates:

"A Jewish engineer from Long Island once approached me and told me that he was moving to Houston, and he asked me to help him to find work. Of course, I did help him, and I found him a good job.

"This was during the summer, and the Yomim Nora?im were approaching. Every year I would bring in a baal tefilla from New York, and I asked Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten if he would daven here. He agreed to do so, and before he left he put in a note to the Rebbe, saying that he was going to Houston for the Yomim Nora?im. To all of our surprise, the Rebbe replied to him straight away with a brocha, "And he will have good news." Neither Rabbi Baumgarten nor I understood what "good news" had to do with davening in Houston during the Yomim Nora?im.

"The reason for the Rebbe's brocha soon became clear. When Rabbi Baumgarten arrived at our shul, he noticed the engineer from Long Island among the congregation. Rabbi Baumgarten immediately took me to one side and said, ?Did you know that this man's wife has been looking for him for the past three months? I know him and his family very well. Three months ago, he ran away from home after going bankrupt and incurring some very huge debts. His family was completely broken by it. What's he doing here??

"Of course, I was totally shocked. Reb Leibel and I immediately went up to the engineer. When the engineer saw Rabbi Baumgarten, he turned very pale, but he admitted what he had done. ?Even taking your difficult situation into account, how can you leave your wife and children behind just like that?? I asked. Reb Leibel and I continued to speak to him until he finally ?broke down.?

"When Rabbi Baumgarten returned to Houston again later that week for Yom Kippur, he brought the engineer's wife and children with him. After some effort, we restored the man's shalom bayis.

"Clearly, this is what the brocha for ?good news? was all about. ?"

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #54 - "Do Not Fear, My Servant Yaakov" Print Email

It is well known that the Rebbe would not wash his hands for Hamotzi during Shabbos or Yom Tov farbrengens, apart from on Rosh Hashana, Simchas Torah, Seudas Moshiach and Shavuos. However, on Vav Tishrei, 5735/1974, ten years after the passing of his mother, Rebbitzen Chana, the Rebbe made a farbrengen on Motzoei Shabbos and, deviating from his usual custom, he washed his hands for the melave malka seuda that followed. After Birchas Hamazon, the Rebbe'spent several hours giving out kos shel brocha to everyone present.

When Mr. A. from Boro Park walked past the Rebbe for kos shel brocha, the Rebbe asked him if he had taken part in the farbrengen and washed his hands for the meal. Mr. A. replied in the negative, explaining that he had only arrived towards the end of the farbrengen. The Rebbe told him he should go and wash his hands right now, and eat some of the melave malka meal. The Rebbe explained that the melave malka meal is a segula for safety, as demonstrated by the verse, "Do not fear, My servant Yaakov."

This exchange surprised everyone present, including Mr. A. himself, who observed that he did not need any extra safety or blessing for it. Nevertheless, he immediately did as the Rebbe had said.

About two weeks later, during Chol HaMoed Sukkos, several members of Anash were holding a farbrengen in the sukka in 770 when Mr. A. suddenly burst in. Excitedly, he called out, "Lechaim, Yidden! Lechaim to the holy Rebbe! A real miracle has happened!"

Mr. A. then told everyone the following story:

"My son set out for Monsey this morning with his wife and children. As they were driving, a truck crashed into their vehicle head-on. Although the car was completely crushed, by a miracle no one was actually hurt. All of the policemen and passersby who witnessed the accident said that they had never seen such a miracle.

"But that's not all. The force of the collision crushed everything inside the car. When my son and his family got home, I noticed a crushed Siddur with one page that was almost ripped out. That page began with the words, ?Do not fear, My servant Yaakov? from the melave malka prayers."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #55 - An Exact Calculation Print Email

A group of young Parisian students, who were in close contact with Rabbi Mula Asimov, spent Tishrei, 5730/1969, in Crown Heights. Rabbi Hodakov, z"l, informed them that the Rebbe had specifically asked that a representative of their group should join the representatives of other visitors to Crown Heights to receive the Arbaa Minim from the Rebbe. The students drew lots to see who would have the privilege of going into the Rebbe, and Rabbi Chaim Mellul won.

As Rabbi Mellul was about to leave the Rebbe's room, the Rebbe asked him, "How many young men are in your group?" "Twelve," replied Rabbi Mellul. "If so," replied the Rebbe, "take twelve hadassim [myrtle branches], and from this you will have ?joy in your festival? throughout the year." Rabbi Mellul responded with "Amen" before taking the hadassim. As he walked backwards towards the door, the Rebbe'suddenly took another hadass from the table and put it into Rabbi Mellul's hand.

A few minutes after Rabbi Mellul left the Rebbe's room, a taxi stopped at the entrance to 770. A young student from Paris who had suddenly decided to join the rest of the group in Crown Heights stepped out. Apparently, the extra hadass was for him.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #56 - A Glance During Kaddish Print Email

Rabbi G., a shochet from Milan, relates:

"The Rebbe's custom used to be to daven during Tishrei in the large Beis Medrash downstairs in 770, where there was a massive crowd of visitors. During the davening, the Rebbe would stand facing the eastern wall. During Kaddish Basra, the Rebbe would close his Siddur, turn around and look at the crowd. He would then return to his room.

"In 5736/1975, I spent the chaggim in Crown Heights. During one of the tefillos, several days after Simchas Torah, the Rebbe turned towards the congregation during Kaddish Basra and pointed at me several times. At first I didn?t understand what the Rebbe wanted, and I wondered whether the Rebbe wanted me to join in reciting Kaddish. But before I could work out what was going on, Kaddish finished and the Rebbe returned to his room.

"I didn?t do any more to find out the explanation for this incident, and before long I had forgotten about it.

"A few more days went by, and Tishrei was over. I went back to Milan, where I found that I had received a letter from my nephew in the former Soviet Union. He wrote that one of his parents had passed away several days after Simchas Torah. As my nephew lived in a town without a minyan, he asked me if I, as his uncle, could recite Kaddish for his departed parent throughout that year."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #57 - "I Am Bringing Them From a Northern Country" Print Email

During the reading of the haftara on the second day of Rosh Hashana in 5730/1969 (or 5731/1970) the Rebbe'suddenly burst into tears when he reached the words, "I am bringing them from a northern country." The Rebbe was weeping so much that he could no longer continue. He repeated these words several times, sobbing very loudly, until he was finally able to reach the end of the haftara.

Several months later, the Iron Curtain opened for a very brief period, during which many Jews, including a number of Anash, were finally able to leave the former Soviet Union. Many of these Jews later settled in Nachlat Har Chabad in Israel.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #58 - The Shochet and the Shidduch Print Email

Rabbi Kling, Chief Rabbi of Nice, France, and vice president of the Federation of Rabbis in France, relates,

"One day, a young Jewish woman unexpectedly turned up at my home. She told me that she was a baalas teshuva who was recently in New York. While she was there, she had asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a bracha to find a suitable marriage partner. The Rebbe replied, ?For a shidduch, ask Rabbi Kling, the Chief Rabbi of Nice.?

" ?This is why I hurried to get here, and here I am,? the young woman concluded.

"My first reaction was one of shock and disbelief. ?What do you mean, he sent you to me? I?m not a matchmaker, and I have never been involved in putting couples together, even once,? I answered.

"A look of bewilderment crossed her face, and I added, ?Don't get me wrong. First of all, you are very welcome to come to our home. Secondly, although I?m not really involved with Chassidic Rebbeim, I do know that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is unique. I had an encounter with him myself, which showed me what a ?miracle maker? he is. Let me tell you the story: When I was serving as a Rav in Lyon, I once received a call from a man who introduced himself as Ovadia. Ovadia was a Chabad baal teshuva living in Paris, who was looking for work as a shochet in one of the Jewish communities, and he approached me for help. I told him that in Lyon there was no shortage of shochetim, and there the conversation ended and was soon forgotten.

"A year later, a shochet in Lyon passed away, and we urgently needed to replace him. When thinking of a solution I remembered Ovadia, and I thought that it was a shame that I didn?t have his address or phone number so that I could find out if he still needed work.

"While I was still thinking about it, the phone rang. When I answered it, I couldn?t believe my ears. ?Hello, this is Ovadia, the shochet from Paris,? said the voice at the end of the line. "If you remember, I called you a year ago looking for work in shechita. Afterwards, I approached the Lubavitcher Rebbe with a list of cities where I was interested in working, and I asked his advice. A week later, I received the following answer: ?Lyon, but not now. Only in a year's time.? A year has gone by since I received the Rebbe's answer, so I thought it was time to ask again ?"

" ?For this reason,? I concluded, ?I?m not surprised that the Rebbe'sent you to me. Something must come of it in the end, even if right now I can?t think why the Rebbe would send you to me for a shidduch.?"

Rabbi Kling did not have to wait too long to find out. Several days later, he received a call from his brother-in-law, who was not an observant Jew. He told Rabbi Kling that his son had become a baal teshuva and needed to find a shidduch. The answer was now clear.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #60 - Pushing in 770 Print Email

The grandson of a leading Torah figure grew close to Chabad, and during Tishrei, 5726/1965, he traveled to the Rebbe. After Simchas Torah, he wrote to his grandfather, describing his experiences in 770 during Tishrei. In his letter, he mentioned that there was a lot of overcrowding and pushing.

His grandfather, who corresponded with the Rebbe regularly, mentioned this in one of his letters. In one of his letters that followed, the Rebbe wrote in reply:

"May it be [Hashem's] will that your grandson will fulfill with the pressure (crushing in the literal sense) here on Simchas Torah the saying of our Sages, ?Rabbi Yochanan said, ?What is an olive, etc,? (Menachos, 53b)."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #62 - Lekach Print Email

During the distribution of lekach on Hoshana Rabba (for those who had not been present on erev Yom Kippur), one particular man explained to the Rebbe that although he had, in fact, already received lekach on erev Yom Kippur his small daughter had eaten the piece that he was given. The Rebbe replied, "She only ate the gashmius, but the ruchnius remains."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #63 - Victory March Print Email

From the diary of a Tomim:

The day after Yom Kippur, 5734/1973:

On Yom Kippur, during the break, rumors were already spreading that war had broken out in Israel. Everyone was talking about what was going on in Heaven, and how we could suddenly understand why the Rebbe recently kept saying, "From the mouths of infants and nursing babies ? to stop the enemy and strike back."

... I pushed my way through to get closer to the bima so that I could be near the Rebbe during Napoleon's March.

During the march, there was an unusual feeling that I couldn?t describe. The Rebbe didn?t ascend his chair as he did every year, but remained at his place on the bima. When the Rebbe turned round, his face looked unearthly. The Rebbe immediately covered his face with his tallis as he stood toward the crowd, and the march continued at full strength.

We could clearly see that the Rebbe was working hard to overturn all of the decrees until there would be a definite victory.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #65 - "At Your Right Hand is Eternal Bliss" Print Email

On Simchas Torah, 5734/1973, before the beginning of the fourth hakafa, the Rebbe'suddenly walked over to the foot of the bima and started reciting the verses beginning with the words, "the Voice of Hashem breaks the cedars" until the phrase, "at Your Right Hand is eternal bliss." The Rebbe'sang these verses to the melody normally used for the song, "Ha?aderes vehaemuna, zuvemmen zuvemmen," and the congregation responded to each verse in unison. When the Rebbe reached the final verse, "at Your Right Hand is eternal bliss," he sang it very loudly.

During hakafos, representatives of the Israeli consulate came over to speak to the Rebbe. (These events took place during the Yom Kippur War.) At one point, the Rebbe told the consul, "we have already worked so that there will be a situation of ?at Your Right Hand is eternal bliss.?"

It should also be noted that that year, the Rebbe'sang "Ha?aderes vehaemuna" to the tune of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." Later on, during that day's farbrengen, the Rebbe explained that this was how the Alter Rebbe took Napoleon's March and turned it into a march of victory.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #66 - Lofty Revelations Print Email

From a letter written by a Tomim during Tishrei, 5711/1950, the first Tishrei of the Rebbe's nesius:

"On Simchas Torah, there were some very lofty revelations. First of all, yesterday was the first time they called him up to the Torah with the title, ?Adoneinu, Moreinu veRabbeinu Harav ? ben Reb Levi Yitzchok ?? This description was used for the Rebbe's title several times, whether with the call up, ?yamod,? or when he was called up as chassan Bereishis for ?mireshus.?

"Reb Dovber Chaskind (who was the gabbai at this minyan) wept all the way through ?mireshus.? And this is what happened during five or six minyanim. It was as if it wasn?t that Berel that was saying it, but each one of the congregation. It was a very different feeling. It was like a coronation, yet in terms of the Rebbe nothing [different] could be seen the whole time. He cried a little when he recited the brochos on the Torah, but apart from that nothing could be seen.

"I have dwelt a little too long on this issue. The most important thing is that the Rebbe farbrenged twice, on the night of Simchas Torah before hakafos and during the day after Mincha, and there was a great revelation. The Rebbe himself poured out vodka for many of those present, and also poured out vodka especially for the students of the yeshiva, and there was generally a great hisgalus. To one person, the Rebbe'said he should wear his coat the other way round. To N.G.A., he said that he should take off his tie and have some vodka. In general it was very opgelegt.

"On the night of Simchas Torah, during the pesukim and the hakafos, and also during Kaddish of Maariv and mishnayos, the Rebbe cried. When it was very late at night, he gave personal blessings to individuals. He met A, who is not from Anash, and asked him his name. A. answered and [the Rebbe] began to speak to him to about his name and the lesson that is learned from it.

"On Simchas Torah, during the day, at the farbrengen, the Rebbe told some of the participants to reverse their kapotas. The Rebbe'stood on the table and gave personal brochos to individual people. He also gave out vodka from his own goblet. He gave seven times to one person."

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine

A story of the Rebbe #67 - "Dry Cleaning" Print Email

One year, the late chassid Reb Nochum Ber Deneberg, the owner of a factory that manufactured trousers, attended a farbrengen on Shabbos Mevorchim Tishrei. Even during the nesius of the Rebbe Rayatz, Reb Nochum Ber would spend every Tishrei with the Rebbe.

During the farbrengen, the Rebbe described how we could learn about avodas Hashem from the process of cleaning garments. The Rebbe then described the exact process in which this is done. As the owner of a garment factory, Reb Nochum Ber was an expert on how clothes are cleaned, and the Rebbe would stop at each stage of his explanation and confirm, "Nochum Ber, is that correct?" Each time, Reb Nochum Ber verified the accuracy of the explanation.

Afterwards, the Rebbe described at length how we can also learn about avodas Hashem from the process of dry cleaning.

Translated from the Kfar Chabad Magazine


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