#553 (s5768-43 / 28 Sivan 5768)

The Body Switcher

The rabbi suggested that I write a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I told my friend: "Do me a favor; get this rabbi out of my sight."

The Body Switcher

Tuvia Bolton


On a Friday afternoon, I was driving back home to Kfar Chabad from Tel Aviv. It was late and, with no time to waste, I took a bit of a short-cut to save ten minutes. My short-cut put no other drivers in danger; but it did involve me driving over a solid white line.

Before I knew it, a policeman jumped out into the street and motioned to me to pull over. I opened my window, admitted my guilt, and requested that he dispense with me as quickly as possible as Shabbat was approaching.

He told me to get out of the car as he wanted to check on the computer if I had other offenses. By the time I got to his car he was already writing the ticket. He stopped writing for a second and said, "You're Tuvia Bolton? That name is familiar. Where do I know that name from?"

"From jail?" I replied, as jovially as possible.

"Jail?" he asked me in shock.

"Yes," I replied, "I've been there to read the Scroll of Esther on Purim, to light the Chanuka candles, and to put tefilin on the prisoners, not as a prisoner myself, of course," I explained.
He just looked down and continued writing. When he finished writing, he got out of his car and asked, "You are from Chabad, right?"

"Yes," I admitted, wondering if this revelation would make it more or less likely that he would tear up the ticket. He handed the paper to me. Then he said, "I had a big miracle from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. A big miracle."

"Tell me the story," I said. "At least this way I'll get my money's worth!"

"It was 20 years ago, 1986," he began. "I was a motorcycle cop on my way to someone trapped in an overturned car when suddenly an Arab slammed into me and flipped me and my bike over a guard-rail into a 14 foot-deep ravine.

"My spine and neck were broken and they thought I'd be paralyzed for life. The doctors operated and succeeded in returning control to the left half of my body but my entire right side was totally paralyzed. Everyone told me I was lucky to be alive. The doctors said there was nothing more to do. So I began to visit healers and try alternative medicine. I spent a fortune, but nothing helped.

"Then, after four years our family doctor called to tell me about an operation that had been developed in Germany. It was still experimental but he felt that because my situation was deteriorating, I should take the chance.

"I contacted the doctors and the operation was scheduled in two weeks time. I was nervous but I kept telling myself that anything would be better than being half-paralyzed.

"A few days later, on Friday, a friend brought a young Chabad rabbi to my house. I had never been involved in Judaism and I had a dislike for religious people. But he had told the rabbi my story and the rabbi suggested that I write a letter to the Rebbe of Lubavitch. I told my friend: "Do me a favor; get this rabbi out of my sight."

"The rabbi explained that he didn't take money so I agreed. All I wrote in the letter was: 'I want health and livelihood.' I signed my name and faxed it off from my house. That Saturday night, some nine hours after Shabbat, my fax rang. It was a letter from the Rebbe's office. My wife took it and read it aloud, word for word: 'Do not make the operation, it is not necessary. With G-d's help you will return to work as before.'

"I took the letter and read it myself. 'This is from the great rabbi? I didn't say anything about any operation! That Chabadnik must have written and told him! That's how he knew. And he writes that I'll return to work!' I shouted. I crumpled the fax and threw it angrily in the trash.

"That was Saturday night. Two days later, at about 6:00 a.m., my phone rang. Still half asleep I picked it up. 'Who is this?' I mumbled.

"The voice on the other end said, 'This is Eddy from the traffic police. We're making a new group and we want you to be part of it.'

"'Just what I need,' I said to myself, 'a practical joker first thing in the morning! I just slammed the phone down and rolled back over to try to sleep. But suddenly I realized that I had picked up the phone with my right hand - the one that had been paralyzed! I thought that maybe I was dreaming, but after a few seconds I held up my right hand in front of my face and moved it! The phone rang again. I picked it up with my right hand again.

"'Did you just hang up on me?' asked the voice on the other end. I explained that I thought it was a prank phone call but before I could finish he told me that if I was interested I should come to the station on Wednesday and he hung up.

"When I drove to the station it was the first time I had driven a car in four years. All the police were new there, which probably explains the confusion of how they called me. Anyway, I had to go through a whole standard physical exam including x-rays. They told me to return on Sunday for the results. When I returned on Sunday, I casually showed the doctor my old x-rays and he asked, 'Wow, who is this poor fellow?' When I pointed to my name and to myself he almost fell over. He exclaimed, 'I see it, but what I see is impossible; on this old picture there are broken bones and scars from your operations. On these new x-rays all this is gone! It seems that the Rebbe gave you a new body!'

"If anyone asks me," the policeman concluded his story, "I say the Lubavitcher Rebbe is here with us today, this very moment! If he could give me a new body for sure he can be here!"

We hugged each other and then I stepped back and said, "My friend, I don't know how much this ticket is but it's worth every shekel just to have heard that story!"

He replied with a smile, "Ticket? It's a warning!"


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition of his friend and colleague Rabbi Tuvia Bolton, the popular teacher, musician and storyteller, in his weekly email for the yeshiva which he heads, Ohr Tmimim (ohrtmimim.org/torah), as posted on lchaimweekly.org].

Biographical note:

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (11 Nissan 1902 - 3 Tammuz 1994), became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, passed away in Brooklyn on 10 Shvat 1950. 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 editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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