Weekly Chasidic Story #1046(s5778-15/ 7 Tevet 5778)

Not a Simple Request

The desperate woman beseeched her Bnei Brak cousin, 'I know you are not chasidic at all, but please, when you are in NY, approach the Lubavitcher Rebbe on my behalf."

Connection: Weekly Torah Reading -- the Yissascher-Zevulin arrangement. (Gen. 49:13 with Rashi's explanation)

Not a Simple Request


In the 1980's, young man in Bnai Brak, R. Yisroel Zussman, was compelled by his circumstances to leave yeshiva and go into business after his wedding. As R. Yisroel was a scholar of note and a serious individual; it always irked him that he had been unable to pursue his true goal of continuing his advanced Torah studies, despite meeting with great success in his business endeavors.

One of his acquaintances, aware of his inner turmoil, suggested to him that perhaps he would feel more satisfaction if he would enter an age-old Yissachar-Zevulun pact; he should support a young scholar who is dedicating his life to learning Torah, and he would thus have a share in that scholar's Torah learning.*

R. Yisroel liked the idea very much, and after consulting with Rabbi Aharon Shteinman, the head of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak,** decided to accept it. The rosh yeshiva even suggested a "Yissachar" that he undertake to support -- a serious scholar in Bnei Brak by the name of Rabbi S. Yudaikin, a descendent of the Vilna Gaon, who was dedicating his life to learning Torah and serving G-d.

Rabbi Yudaikin, when approached about the proposition, refused to accept more than his most meager requirements, just enough to get by, and these were sent to him by R' Zussman on a regular basis. The partnership was very satisfying to both of them. Years passed by, with this arrangement continuing to be maintained.

One day, R. Yisroel was travelling to New York on a business trip. Before he left, he received a sudden frantic phone call from a relative. She told him that she had heard that he was travelling to New York, and she had an important request to make of him. He said he would be glad to help her, whereupon she asked him to promise that he would fulfill her request. Cautious (realizing that this would be no simple request) and curious, he assured her that he would, and went over to her house to hear from her what it was that she desired.

When he arrived, his relative, who was expecting, informed him tearfully that she had just been diagnosed with a malignant tumor the previous day, and the doctors ordered immediate treatment of chemo-therapy.

However, the issue of her pregnancy complicated matters. The doctors felt that it was crucial for her to abort. They told her that if she didn't terminate her pregnancy, then either the baby would be severely damaged in any case, or it would be an orphan.

Her doctor empathized with her about the difficult decision that she had to make. However, he said to her: "If you were my daughter, I would unhesitatingly tell you to abort".

The desperate woman now tearfully beseeched her cousin, 'Please, when you are in NY, use the opportunity to approach the Lubavitcher Rebbe on my behalf. He is known for the wonders that he has performed, and I will follow whatever he advises.

Rabbi Zussman could not refuse her desperate plea, and Sunday found him in "770" (Lubavitch International Headquarters), waiting his turn in line to receive a dollar from the Rebbe.

The date was 26 Adar 1 5752. It was one minute before 7 p.m., during the last hour of the dollar distribution of that day (and the last hour of the dollar distribution to date***). The Rebbe's attendants and their helpers were focusing all of their energies on rushing things along as fast as possible in order to finish asap.

R. Yisroel later related: "As I neared the place of the Rebbe, I noticed the great efforts in hurrying everyone along. The truth is, I understood them well. There were, after all, thousands of people in line, and if everyone would take just one extra moment, it would amount to additional hours. However, I felt that the issue about which I had come was a matter of pikuach nefesh--lives were at stake--and I determined to present my question. I decided that when I reached my turn I would grasp tightly the stand that the Rebbe was leaning on, so that no one could remove me until I was done.

'I reached the place and stood in front of the Rebbe. I felt hands grasping me to pull me along, and I noticed the Rebbe glance at them sharply, to indicate that they should allow me to say my piece. I quickly described the dilemma of my relative and her question.

'The Rebbe asked me for her name and the name of her mother, which I provided. Suddenly, the Rebbe closed his eyes for a moment, right in front of me, and then opened them. I had the sense that he took a quick trip to higher realms and then came back down to us.

'The Rebbe then turned to me and said: 'It's not the disease that you said, it's something else. The doctors should be told to look for something else.'"

R. Yisroel stood there in shock, not knowing how to react, but the Rebbe continued: "What she has is not that disease, so there is no place for her other question (about terminating the pregnancy). She will give birth, and it will be a very special child!"

Completely overwhelmed, R. Yisroel found himself outside, and immediately ran to a telephone to convey the exact words of the Rebbe to his relative. New tests were taken, and they showed no trace of cancer. She completed the pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby.

The professor who had been treating her was flabbergasted; the last tests completely contradicted all the earlier ones. She began to interrogate her patient, asking what special foods she ate or what treatments she had undergone to bring about this miraculous change.

R. Yisroel, upon his return to Israel, visited this professor, and personally shared with her the exact details of what had transpired. Visibly moved, she banged on the table with her hand and exclaimed emotionally; "Indeed, there is a G-d!"

R. Yisroel decided to share the story with his "business" partner. He related to Rabbi Yudaikin the entire story, saying: "Listen, I know that you and I are both from a Lithuanian background without any connection to the way of the chasidim at all, but this is a miracle that I have personally experienced!"

Rabbi Yudaikin responded: "It's a hard story to believe. I need to verify it before I can accept it. But if I can verify all the details, I promise to begin to study Chassidus."

True to his word, Rabbi Yudaikin (after verifying the story) began diligently learning Chassidus. It is said that he recently printed a 500 plus-page book of his notes on Tanya, the foundational work of Chabad Chassidus.****

Editor's notes:
* (See "Connection" below)
** Until nearly the end of his life. He passed away last week (12/12) at the at the age of 104 (!). His funeral in Bnei Brak was attended by over 100,000 people.
*** The next day, 27 Adar I 5752 (March 1, 1992), the Rebbe suffered a debilitating stroke. R. Yisroel Zussman was probably one of the last people to receive a face-to-face blessing from him.
**** Rabbi Shmuel Gad HaKohen Yudaikin is also the author or compiler or editor of a number of significant Torah works on Talmud and other topics.

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from http://stories770.blogspot.co.il/.

Connection: Weekly Torah Reading -- the Yissascher-Zevulun arrangement. (Gen. 49:13 with Rashi's explanation)

Biographical note:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe : [11 Nissan 5662 - 3 Tammuz 5754 (April 1902 - June 1994 C.E.)], became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law's passing on 10 Shvat 5710 (1950 C.E.). 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.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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