Weekly Chasidic Story #1244(s5782-06) 5 Cheshvan 5782/Oct.11, 2021

"The Timely Delayed Dollar"

"I have no interest in your religious wedding ceremony! In fact, it pains me; it simply conflicts with everything I stand for! My son, I love you and would do anything you ask of me, but I cannot attend a religious wedding."

Connection-weekly reading of Lech Lecha (17:10): "This is my covenant which you must preserve between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised."

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The Timely Delayed Dollar

Aside from the horrendous loss of life World War II dealt us, another disastrous effect of the Holocaust was, for many survivors, loss of faith. After all they had experienced they tragically threw off any remnant of their Jewish past and their lineage.

One such man survived the Holocaust in body, but not in spirit. He was "angry" with G-d and vowed to shake off anything to do with religion. After some time in a DP camp, he boarded a ship that brought him to New York. There he resettled in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn [which was then not a Lubavitch neighborhood --YT] and soon married a similarly disenchanted woman. They had a son who was the apple of their eye, but they were careful to raise him without any Yiddishkeit [Judaism]; no bris mila [circumcision], no Shabbos, no Torah.

The child grew up with only the slightest awareness of his religion. As it happened, he married a Jewish woman, but there was nothing even remotely religious about their lifestyle. Just as his father had done, he carefully and intentionally instilled a dislike for religion in his children and never celebrated Jewish holidays.

This worked for all of his children-except one. To the man's displeasure and chagrin, one of his sons became a ba'al teshuva and adapted a religious Jewish lifestyle!

Although they lived in very different worlds, the religious son remained close to his anti-religious father. And so, when the young man called to inform him of the happy news that he was engaged to be married and he wanted his father to attend his chasunah [wedding ceremony], he was shocked by his father's hostile reaction.

"I have no interest in your religious ceremony! In fact, it pains me. My son, I love you and would do anything you ask of me, but I cannot attend a religious wedding. It simply conflicts with everything I stand for!"

The son took a few moments to digest this information. Then he seized the moment. "Okay, Dad, so don't come if it bothers you so much. But when you say you will do anything else I ask of you…do you really mean it?"

"Yes, anything. If I can physically do it, I will do it for you. I give you my word."

The son didn't hesitate. "Okay, Dad. If that's the case, then the one thing I ask of you is that you have a circumcision!"

A circumcision! The father was shocked. A bris mila was something he always avoided, for it was the quintessential sign of Judaism, the one thing he disliked most. On the other hand, he had given his word to his son to physically perform anything he asked, and also, many non-Jewish men are also circumcised. Nevertheless, at first he said no, but after quite a bit of arguing, eventually he agreed and underwent the procedure.

It seemed that the bris had an immediate effect on his psyche, for a few days later, while still recuperating from the difficult surgery, he began to reconsider his decision not to attend his son's religious wedding. He would come for a short while, he told himself, definitely not long enough to be influenced by the religious fanatics.

At the wedding, the father was so impressed by the enthusiasm of his son's friends that he found himself dancing enthusiastically and just couldn't pull himself away! At one point, the caterer approached the father and said, "Sir, I am so inspired by your joyous countenance and your delight in your son's new life that I wish to present you with a gift, something which is very precious. It is a dollar bill that was blessed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R' Menachem-Mendel Schneerson before he passed from the world."

The father looked at the man and then at the bill. Suddenly, he turned pale and collapsed in a faint. When he regained consciousness, the first words he uttered were, "That's my dollar bill!" Then he fainted again.

When finally he was fully revived, he explained his dramatic reaction.

"As a teenager growing up in Crown Heights, I once went with a few of my public school buddies on a Sunday morning to an old man who we heard gave out dollar bills each week for no reason. We stood on line giddily watching as the bearded man handed out dollar after dollar.

When my turn arrived, he extended me a bill which I greedily took hold of, but to my surprise he did not relinquish it. Instead he held it back tightly and at the same time asked me if I had a circumcision. I told him no, and upon hearing my answer, he continued to withhold the dollar. Cryptically, he proclaimed, 'When you have your bris mila, I will give you back your dollar.'"

The father shook his head in wonder. "Well, I just had my bris last week, and now, all these years later, I see that the rabbi sure kept his word!"

Source: https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/354885/amazing-story-of-the-lubavitcher-rebbe.html (where it is excerpted from Torah Tavlin vol. 3, with permission).

Editor's note:
I held back from using this story for several years because there are so many differing versions for a story that happened not so long ago -- even within Chabad. For example, was it the caterer, the kashrut supervisor, or a (prestigious) rabbi guest, or a friend of the chatan, who gave the dollar? Another is that some say that first happened the wedding, inspired the father to circumcise the next day; and then he did not receive the dollar until the seventh and last day of the traditional extended wedding celebration. I finally decided to go with this version, because the variances are not in the essential details (and also for me it adds another dimension to stories about the Lubavitcher Rebbe when they come from non-Chabad sources!).

Connection-weekly reading of Lech Lecha (17:10): "This is my covenant which you must preserve between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised."

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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