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