Weekly Chasidic Story #1193 (s5781-05/1
Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Oct.19, 2020) This week
Here was a man who was not religious, sitting in front of
me without a yarmulke, and he was telling me to consult the Lubavitcher Rebbe!
about a major life decision. I almost fell off my chair.
Weekly Reading of Noach ( building the 'Tower of Bavel', the world's first
skyscraper, was a significant techical-logistical achievement)
format for more convenient printing.
the Six Day War, in 1967, my wife and I decided to move from the United States
to Israel with our young family. Before the move, I went over on a pilot trip
and was granted a job interview at the Israeli Ministry of Defense. After they
conducted a lengthy investigation I was hired, to my great joy. I went to work
for the Ministry of Defense using my skills as a Harvard-educated lawyer to negotiate
contracts for the purchase of defense equipment including submarines.
three years of doing this, I got a better offer; I went to my boss, the general
counsel of the Ministry of Defense, Joseph Ciechanover, and told him about my
plan. His response to me was, "Did you ask the Rebbe about this?"
almost fell off my chair. Here was a man who was not religious, sitting in front
of me without a yarmulke, and he was telling me to ask the Lubavitcher Rebbe!
He went on to explain, "There are a number of us who have worked for the
Ministry of the Defense for a long time and we also want to leave, but the Rebbe
won't let us."
I didn't know what to make of his statement at first,
and only later did I figure it out. This was in April of 1973, six months before
the devastating Yom Kippur War. The Rebbe obviously anticipated that something
ominous was on the horizon. A departure of key personnel in the Ministry of Defense
at such a time would have been disastrous. They consulted the Rebbe - as apparently
was the practice of certain Israeli government officials - and they followed his
advice. As for myself, since I was not yet a chasid, I didn't ask the Rebbe; I
simply left and took the better paying job, as general counsel at Etz Lavud, a
big Israeli company then selling mostly wood and plywood.
While at Etz
Lavud, I came across a difficult personal issue, involving Yosef Kremerman. He
was the company's CEO as well as one of the principal shareholders, and my boss.
Being a former member of the Irgun (the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces),
he had signed guarantees for monies paid out to the widows of Irgun fighters,
and that put a tremendous amount of financial pressure on him. I saw that this
situation was affecting the company, and I was actually considering leaving. I
really didn't know what to do, so I consulted my uncle, Rabbi Leibel Kramer, who
said, "This kind of question you ask the Rebbe."
He asked on
my behalf and quickly came back with an unbelievable response. The Rebbe had said,
"Since this is something which is dependent on the situation in Israel -
when you will need to make this decision, you should consult with a friend who
understands the matter. I will pray for you at the resting place of my father-in-law,
the Previous Rebbe."
The Rebbe's response influenced me to stay. I
understood him to be telling me that quitting was something far in the future
and that when I must eventually leave, it should be done with the advice of a
As it turned out, a year or so later, in 1977, Menachem Begin became
prime minister and took over the obligation of supporting the widows of Irgun
fighters; this relieved Kremerman of his financial burden and the pressure on
Then there came a time, some years later, when I had to decide
if I should stay at Etz Lavud or join Laser Industries, a start-up subsidiary
working on developing a medical laser. And that is when I remembered the Rebbe's
advice and consulted "a friend who understands the matter." The advice
I got was that the future was with Laser Industries, and I followed this advice,
which proved to be completely correct. The company became highly successful. It
is now known as Lumenis Ltd. and is a recognized leader in the hi-tech medical
field. From the stock options, I was able to marry off most of my children.
seven years, I changed jobs again. This was in 1987, when I met Professor Herman
Branover, the scientist and famed refusnik, who told me that the Rebbe
was predicting a huge influx of Russian immigrants into Israel. At the time, Russian
Jews were virtual prisoners of the Soviet Union and nobody could imagine such
a thing. But Professor Branover believed the Rebbe, who knew better.
Rebbe also apparently knew that when the exodus of Russian Jews would begin, there
would be many highly-educated, scientifically-oriented immigrants who would need
a place to incubate their ideas, inventions, and innovations. And so, on the Rebbe's
advice, Professor Branover set up SATEC (Shamir Advanced Technology Engineering
Company), one of the first science-based incubator companies in Israel, for Russian
Jewish scientists who would soon be coming out.
People still don't realize
how much new technology in Israel and worldwide is the result of the Russian aliyah.
But in my opinion, the Rebbe understood that it would happen before it happened.
which I assisted Professor Branover in founding, was developing products such
as heating elements and power meters. I went to see the Rebbe while he was giving
out dollars for charity to ask him for a blessing for SATEC to succeed. He responded,
"Minoga Hatzlachah! - Great Success!" using the Russian word for "great"
and the Hebrew word for "success." And, indeed, SATEC has become a success.
1978, my wife and I were fortunate to have a personal audience with the Rebbe,
which I remember vividly. The audience lasted five minutes but it was life-changing.
I recall that his office was a simple, small room, but at the time it seemed to
me enormous, and I was keenly aware of the Rebbe's dominating presence.
that audience, the Rebbe said to me, "You are a lawyer and lawyers are used
to making compromises. But you should always show the world that Torah is truth
and that Torah is life." He used the words Torat emmet and Torat chaim. This
was a message that I have carried with me ever since.
It was clear to me
that the Rebbe did his best to infuse people like me who were involved in hi-tech
industries with the desire to bring Torah into their workplaces because he understood
that hi-tech would be the future of Israel. The country wouldn't be exporting
oranges as much as start-ups. And we have all seen that. Israel is the leading
hi-tech innovator in the world (except for the United States). There's no other
country that does anything like it with a population of only 8.5 million people.
So it's obvious to me that Israel has been especially blessed in this regard,
and I do believe that the Rebbe has had a hand in that blessing.
has no significant natural resources - except for gas, but that is in a relatively
early stage of development - and so all it has besides agriculture is Jewish brains.
What do Jewish brains do best in the modern world? Hi-tech. There is no question
in my mind that the Rebbe anticipated that.
While the Rebbe did not live
in Israel physically, he lived in Israel spiritually. And he understood everything
that was going on and what was best for the country.
These are the reasons
why I became a chasid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. And I consider myself such to
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel
Tilles from a mailing of "JEM - Here's My Story" (JEmedia.org), as part
of their extraordinary "My Encounter with the Rebbe" project, documenting
the life of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson of righteous memory,
in one of the 1000+ videotaped interviews conducted to date.
Halpern is a Harvard-educated attorney who presently resides in Karnei Shomron,
Israel, where he was interviewed in March, 2010.]
Connection: Weekly Reading
of Noach (building the 'Tower of Bavel', the world's first skyscraper, was a significant
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.
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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