Weekly Chasidic Story #1132 (s5779-50/18
From Reiki to Rabbi
He opened a Reiki Center in Israel and soon he was making an exorbitant amount
of money. His secretary reported to him, "You are booked for the next two
years and you're almost a millionaire."
Connection: Last week's Reading contains the first section of the "Shma
Yisrael" prayer; this week's Reading, Vaet'chanan, concludes
with the second section.
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing.
From Reiki to Rabbi
Rabbi Yitzchak Fanger from Israel tells the following story about himself.
After finishing his army service in the IDF, he decided to learn Reiki, a Japanese
technique for healing. After taking courses and excelling in his new trade,
his Reiki teacher urged him to go to the Far East to become a Reiki master.
Fanger obeyed and traveled to India. He pursued more learning and he became
heavily involved in Buddhism. Eventually, he became a Buddhist priest and was
encouraged to go for an extended stay at a type of monastery up in the mountains
to further enhance his career. There, one was forbidden to speak. Their task
was to concentrate on meditation and yoga, and to try to achieve Nirvana ('enlightenment').
A few months went by and Yitzchak was becoming antsy. He had an urge to talk,
to hear his own voice. So he ran away far from earshot of the retreat. He arrived
at a brook and he opened his mouth to speak. The first words that came out of
his mouth, after months of silence, were from his Bar-Mitzvah portion that he
read from the Torah, 13 years before. He was shocked. Why those words? He had
no affiliation with Judaism and no desire for it either. He came back to the
monastery and put the incident out of his mind.
A few days later, Yitzchak was ready to go to sleep, but he had an uneasy feeling
about sleeping in his room. He decided to pick up his sleeping bag and go sleep
outside. As he reached for it, a scorpion jumped out from the part of the bag
where his head was supposed to be. He realized then his life was just saved,
and there was somebody watching over him.
About a week later, in the evening, after practicing his meditation, the candle
in Yitzchak's room went out. He went to search his bag for more candles and
found a card with Hebrew print on it. It was then that he remembered; when he
was in an airport in Israel, a [Chabad] Chassidic man was passing out cards
to people. He told Yitzchak, "Keep it and it will protect you."
He picked up the card and figured he'd meditate on those words instead of the
Japanese words that he was used to meditating on. He held up the card and started
to read, and it said, "Shma Yisrael HaShem Elokeinu HaShem Echad".
(Hear Israel, G-d your G-d is One"). At that moment, Yitzchak had a burst
of spiritual enlightenment and decided, enough was enough, he was going back
In Israel, Fanger right away began attending lectures on Judaism and became
inspired. He started to grow in Jewish knowledge, awareness and lifestyle, until
eventually he became fully religious.
To earn a living, he opened up his own Reiki Center in Israel and it caught
on fast. Throngs of people were flocking to his center, and he was making an
exorbitant amount of money. His mother, who was also his secretary, called him
one day and said, "Yitzchak, you are booked for the next two years and
you are almost a millionaire!"
A couple of days after that, a religious Jewish woman attended his class. Afterwards
she approached him and asked if what he was teaching was Kosher.
Yitzchak was taken aback. He decided to consult with an authoritive rabbi,
and was advised to consult with Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein.
The rabbi's answer was that what he is doing is based on Avodah Zara
('idol worship') and forbidden to teach.
But this was his whole career, and a highly prosperous one at that. What would
After letting the leading rabbi's words settle on him, he said, "I'm willing
to give up everything for you, Ribono shel Olam, (Master of the Universe)
just please don't leave me, ever."
Still uncertain what to do, he was told to consult next with Rav Chaim Kanievsky
for advice. The Rabbi told him, "Before you decide what you are
going to do, go learn Torah in a Yeshiva for three months."
He listened and went to Yeshivat Ohr Sameach. He was so mesmerized by the learning,
he decided to stay in Yeshiva. He got married a year later and continued
to study Torah full time in yeshivas for nine more years.
Finally, he went back to Rabbi Zilberstein and consulted with him again. He
said, "I gave up my career, I gave up Reiki; I studied Torah intensively
for ten years. Now I'm ready to start something. What should I do now?"
Rabbi Zilberstein's reply changed Yitzchak Fanger's life forever. He told him
about a Holocaust survivor who comes to him every year on a certain day to cry
over the losses of his loved ones.
Rabbi Zilberstein asked this man why he chose that particular day each year?
The man replied that he had lost his family at the beginning of the war and
all he had left was his older brother. He and his brother were forced into doing
slave labor every day in a concentration camp.
One night, they had to work until 4:00 am. They were exhausted, but they knew
they had to be up for roll call at 5:00 am, or else it would be over for them.
He decided he wouldn't go to sleep because it was too risky, but his brother
didn't have an ounce of strength left. His brother said, "Please, I'm going
to go to sleep, wake me up in 45 minutes."
A short while later, a Nazi grabbed the man and forced him to do a job. He
got so caught up with it that he forgot to wake his brother. After roll call,
he went to the barracks to find his brother, and found that he was killed. He
screamed in anguish, "Why didn't I wake up my brother?" This thought
haunts him, and, every year, on his brother's yahrtzeit, he gets emotional
and comes to talk to the Rabbi.
Zilberstein then looked at Yitzchak Fanger in the eye and said, "G-d woke
you up and saved your life, but there are still so many of your brothers asleep
who don't know anything about Judaism. You have talent; you have charisma. You
don't want, Chas v'Shalom, ('G-d forbid') after 120 years for your brothers
to ask you why you didn't wake them up. You should dedicate your life to spreading
waking up your sleeping brothers."
Rabbi Fanger took this advice and he has spent years now teaching Torah all
over the world. Tens of thousands of people are listening to his classes online.
One of those classes has had over 140,000 people listen to it [so far, as of
1/1/19 -- ed.]. The Holy One led him in the right direction to fulfill his purpose
and he made the right decisions. The few inspired words of encouragement from
Rabbi Zilberstein went a long way.
One of the most respected authorities on Jewish Law in Israel.
One of the most respected authorities on Jewish Law in Israel, and unofficial
leader of the Lithuanian Yeshiva world.
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the emailing of "Shabbos
Stories for Parshas Vayechi 5779" (firstname.lastname@example.org), based on the article
by Rabbi David Ashear in the December 4, 2018 email of Emunah Daily.
Connection: Weekly readings - Last week's contained the first
section of the Shma Yisrael prayer, and this week has the second.
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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