Weekly Chasidic Story #1050 (s5778-19/ 6 Shevat 5778)

Struck By Lightning

The Rebbe Rayatz requested to be met at the station by "a fine Jew," but not a Chabad chasid as that woulkd likely cause chaos.

Connection: Seasonal -- Friday is the 68th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Shneersohn, the sixth Lubvitcher Rebbe.

Struck By Lightning


Rabbi Yoel Hakohen R. Lipszye, was a shochet--a kosher slaughterer. In the 1930's he lived in Paris, France. He was friendly with Rabbi Shneur-Zalman Schneerson, a cousin of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at that time, Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Shneersohn. R. Lipszye and Rabbi Zalman would study together on a regular basis.

One day, Rabbi Zalman showed R. Lipszye a telegram which he had recently received from the Rebbe's office. The Rebbe wrote that he would be coming to Paris to meet with a foot specialist. He asked that Rabbi Zalman should arrange for 'a fine Jew' to pick him up at the train station and take him wherever he needs to go. He specifically requested that it not be a Chabad chasid, as that would create too much chaos.

R. Lipszye was a Gerrer chassid, from a long line of Gerrer chasidim, so Rabbi Zalman asked him if he would be willing to be that person. Of course, R. Lipszye agreed.

When R. Lipszye picked up the Rebbe Rayatz at the train station, the Rebbe asked him his name, to which he responded: "Yoel ben Yitzchak Meir Hakohen." These were the only words R. Lipszye said to the Rebbe during the entire time he spent with him!

Despite the precautions, word did get out in Paris that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was there. Many people asked for appointments to meet him in private, known as yechidus. The Rebbe did agree to have one general yechidus session for all of those requesting together. Rabbi Zalman pointed out to R. Lipszye this would be an excellent opportunity for him to also enter the room for yechidus.

R. Lipszye refused, saying that it didn't feel right for him to go in since he was a Gerrer chassid. Nevertheless, Rabbi Zalman encouraged my father to enter the room with the group, at least to receive a blessing for his wife, who was pregnant at the time. To this R. Lipszye agreed.

After the Rebbe finished speaking to the group, he motioned for everyone to leave the room except R. Lipszye. The Rebbe's attendant also stayed, as was the custom. Since the Rebbe had a stroke, it was difficult to understand his speech; the attendant would stay in the room and repeat clearly the Rebbe's words to whoever was present.

However, this time the Rebbe signaled his attendant to leave the room. This left R. Lipszye confused. First, he was worried that perhaps he would not understand the Rebbe's words. Also, perhaps the Rebbe was going to rebuke him for something and that was why he sent out the attendant.

The Rebbe saw that R. Lipszye was nervous and conveyed to him with a smile to relax. After the attendant left, the Rebbe turned to R. Lipszye and said in clear words, "Tell your wife that the lightning is not meant for her."

R. Lipszye did not understand what the Rebbe was referring to but he heard those words clearly. It was also clear to him that his private audience had come to an end.

He left the room and continued his daily routine which included Torah study, prayers, etc, not arriving home that day until five hours later. By then he had forgotten the message the Lubavitcher Rebbe had given him, particularly since he didn't understand what the Rebbe had meant.

Four months went by. One day, my father was in Rabbi Zalman's house, upstairs with him, while my mother was downstairs with Rabbi Zalman's wife. Suddenly the Rebbetzin began to shout for my father to come down.

Both my father and Rabbi Zalman ran quickly down the stairs and found my mother standing still and stiff, as if in shock. The Rebbetzin pointed to a hole in the window and explained that a lightning bolt had come through the window, went around my mother, stopped and went back out the way it had come in. The lightning did not touch my mother. At that point my father understood the message the Rebbe had given him when he said: "The lightning in not meant for her."

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from a WhatsApp story group post, apparently based on an article in Beis Moshiach, which was written by Yitzchak Lipszyc (son of the rabbi in the story) in first-person perspective.

Connection: Seasonal -- Friday is the 68th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Shneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn [of blessed memory: 12 Tammuz 5640 - 10 Shvat 5710 (Jan. 1880-June 1950 C.E.)], known as the Rebbe Rayatz, was the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, from 1920 to 1950. He established a network of Jewish educational institutions and Chassidim that was the single most significant factor for the preservation of Judaism during the dread reign of the communist Soviets. . In 1940 he moved to the USA, established Chabad world-wide headquarters in Brooklyn and launched the global campaign to renew and spread Judaism in all languages and in every corner of the world, the campaign continued and expanded so remarkably successfully by his son-in-law and successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.


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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