Weekly Chasidic Story #1103
/22 Shevat 5779)
The Rebbe requested that I try to see to it that his wife, the Rebbetzin Chaya-Mushka,
gets out of the house every day for fresh air. Usually, we would drive out to
a park in Long Island.
Connection: Seasonal -- The 22nd of Shevat (this year: Monday, Jan.
28) is the 31st yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin.
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing.
Told by Chessed Halberstam
The Rebbe requested that I try to see to it that the Rebbetzin gets out of the
house every day for fresh air. Usually, we would drive out to a park in Long
Island. In the years that my son, Ari (may
G-d avenge his blood*) was a young child, we would often drive by his school
on Ocean Parkway to take him along; the Rebbetzin enjoyed playing with him,
pushing him on the swings in the park playground, etc.
One day, as we neared the park, we found our regular route closed off due to
road work, and were forced to proceed instead on a parallel street. As we drove
along that street, we heard the sound of a woman screaming in Russian. When
I stopped at the next traffic light, the Rebbetzin turned to me and said: "I
heard a woman screaming. Can you go back and see what that was about?"
We drove back to the beginning of the street. There we saw a woman standing
on the curb and weeping, while near her, workers were carrying furniture and
household items from a house and loading them on to a truck belonging to the
county marshal. At the Rebbetzin's request, I parked behind the marshal's truck
and went to learn the details of what was going on. The marshal explained that
the woman had not paid her rent for many months, and was now being evicted from
When I reported back to the Rebbetzin, she asked me to go back and inquire
from the marshal how much the woman owed, and if he would accept a personal
check. She also asked that I should not say anything to the family being evicted.
At this point, I still did not realize where all this was leading, but I fulfilled
the Rebbetzin's request. The sum that the family owed was approximately $6,700.
The marshal said that he had no problem accepting a personal check, as long
as he confirms with the bank that the check is covered; he also said that if
he received the payment, his men would carry everything back into the house.
When I informed the Rebbetzin of the details, she took out her checkbook and,
to my amazement, wrote out a check for the full amount, and asked me to give
it to the marshal.
The marshal made a phone call to the bank, and then instructed his workers to
take everything back into the house.
As soon as they began, the Rebbetzin immediately urged me to quickly drive
away, before the woman realized what had transpired.
I was completely amazed at what I had seen. Later, when we were in the park,
I could not contain myself, and asked the Rebbetzin what had prompted her to
give such a large sum to a total stranger.
"Do you really want to know?" asked the Rebbetzin.
"Yes, I do," I replied.
"Then I'll tell you," she said.
"Once, when I was a young girl, my father** took me for a walk in the
park. He sat me down on a bench, and started to tell me about the idea of hashgachah
peratit (specific divine providence). Every time-said Father-when something
causes us to deviate from our normal routine, there is a divinely ordained reason
for this; every time we see something unusual, there is a purpose in why we've
been shown this sight.
"Today," continued the Rebbetzin, "when I saw the 'Detour' sign
instructing us to deviate from our regular route, I remembered my father's words,
and immediately thought to myself: Every day we drive by this street; suddenly
the street's closed off, and we're sent to a different street. What is the purpose
of this? How is this connected to me? Then I heard the sound of a woman crying
and screaming. I realized that we had been sent along this route for a purpose."
Source: Reprinted with permission from //chabad.org/156251 and supplemented
by Yerachmiel Tilles. [Chessed Halberstam worked in the employ of Rebbetzin
Chaya Mushka Schneerson, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, for eighteen years-from
1970 until the Rebbetzin's passing in 1988-performing household chores and serving
as the Rebbetzin's driver.]
* Author's note: Ari Halberstam was murdered by an Arab terrorist in
1994, in the infamous Brooklyn
** Biographical note:
Rebbetzin Chaya Moussia Schneerson (25 Adar 5661- 22 Shvat 5748 / March
1901 - Feb. 1988 C.E.) was the daughter of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Yosef-Yitzchak Schneersohn. On 14 Kislev 5689 (Dec. 1928 C.E.), she married
the future Rebbe, her distant cousin, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in Warsaw,
in a wedding attended by many Chasidic rebbes and leading Torah scholars of
the generation. She devoted herself totally to supporting her husband in his
role as a leader of world Jewry, and was known in her own right for her modesty,
erudition, piety and good deeds.
Connection: Seasonal - Shvat 22 is the 31st yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin.
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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