Weekly Chasidic Story #1068 (s5778-37/ 15 Sivan 5778)

"If Only I Knew!"

"Request what you want; your wish will be fulfilled."

Connection: Weekly Reading of Baha'alotecha (Num. 11:5) -- "longing for the fish"

"If Only I Knew!"


On the date of Hei [5th] Teves in the Hebrew year 5747 (1987), the Chabad movement received the affirmative court ruling concerning the ownership of their huge priceless library. Two days later, the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced on an international hookup that whatever anyone requested [in writing], their wishes will be fulfilled!

The Jewish world went wild. Requests were pouring into Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn round the clock. Fax technology was fairly new then. The Chabad emissary in Paris, Rabbi Shmuel "Mula" Azimov went to Air France and borrowed 3 fax machines from them, which were then in operation for 24 hours straight!

Rabbi Motti Hasofer was then a Lubavitcher emissary in Melbourne, Australia. When the directive came from the Rebbe, he and his wife were visiting her parents in Sydney. They called everyone they knew back in Melbourne, telegrammed others (before email), and went from door to door in the Sidney neighborhood they were staying in asking people to write in.

Everyone was intrigued. Only one person refused outright to write in a request -- the young Mrs. Hasofer's father! A holocaust survivor from Europe, he would answer every approach to him about anything Jewish with, "Where was G-d during the holocaust?"

After speaking to everyone they could, the daughter again asked her father to please reconsider and request something. He said that he wouldn't, but she can request for him that tomorrow when he goes fishing he should get a good catch.

So she did.

The following morning at 6AM there was loud knocking on the Hasofer's bedroom door. It was her father. He exclaimed excitedly, "Let me tell you what happened.

"I went out with my friend at 4 this morning to go fishing. When we arrived at our preferred spot, we saw that there was a commercial Italian fishing boat there. With their big nets and other equipment. we thought we wouldn't catch anything.

"My friend and I agreed to try our luck anyway. I put my rod in and immediately caught a fish, then another and another, and more.

"My friend was very despondent because he caught nothing. I told him, 'you know what, let's change places.'

"So we did. I put my rod in, in the place where my friend had been sitting, and caught a fish and then another etc. My friend didn't catch anything, so he felt even worse. I told him, 'Don't feel bad. This is happening because I received a blessing.'

"The boat filled up with fish pretty quickly, so we decided to return to shore. When we passed near the large Italian commercial vessel, the men on deck asked why we were leaving so soon. We replied that our boat was full.

"They pointed up to heaven and said to me, 'Your G-d must have been watching over you. We are not catching anything.'"

Concluding his story, he handed his daughter a huge fish and told her to use it for Shabbos.

That Shabbos he came to shul for the first time since his childhood, and soon after that started coming to shul regularly. On one occasion in the shul, he overheard one boy asking his companion, "Who is that man?"

The other boy replied, "That's the man who could have asked for anything and he asked for some fish."

Source: Rabbi Shmuel Lew told this story on Hei Teves this year (5778) at a Chasidic gathering in honor of the occasion. Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from a report on WhatsApp.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Baha'alotecha (Num. 11:5) -- "longing for the fish"

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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