#150 (s5760-50/29 Av)


"The Rebbe of Lubavitch lives in New York. Perhaps he can save you from this terrible affliction."



Yigal and his wife Nechamah, both of whom had grown up on a kibbutz, decided to leave Israel and try life in the United States. There, they settled in Minnesota, where, for several years, they and their two children, Eitan and Michal, enjoyed ordinary, satisfying lives. But then, a bizarre problem overshadowed their peaceful existence.

Nechamah was seized by hallucinations. They would last for an hour or two at a time, during which her behavior would be unpredictable and wild. Afterwards, it would be as if nothing unusual had happened. She had no idea what was going on with her. When the attacks came, she felt as if some mysterious, alien entity was pushing her to do strange things, and that she was powerless to stop it.

The couple visited many doctors, but not one could diagnose the cause of the problem. Their situation deteriorated daily. The children could no longer stay at home; it was dangerous for them to be left alone with their mother when she was under the "spell" of one of her attacks. Nechamah was constantly tense, never knowing when the next attack would come, and having no idea what to do about them. It was a difficult time for Yigal as well. In addition to his other responsibilities, he now had to care for the children too.

In desperation, Nechamah turned to a local Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Mannis Friedman, the well-known teacher and speaker. She begged him to help her. "I am not a doctor," he replied to her, "nor do I possess magical powers. However, I can give you some good advice.

"I am a chassid of the Rebbe of Lubavitch," he explained. "The Rebbe lives in New York. Perhaps he can save you from this terrible affliction."

Nechamah and Yigal wrote a tearful, imploring letter to the Rebbe. A response arrived quickly. The Rebbe advised that the whole family should begin to observe the laws of kashrut. If they would, they could be assured that the hallucinations would cease.

For Nechamah, the Rebbe's words were like a lifeboat. She began to study the laws with great enthusiasm. "On the kibbutz, I never heard about kashrut," she told Rabbi Friedman's wife, Chanah, who encouraged Nechamah and accompanied her to shop at local stores where kosher food was available. Soon Nechamah started to put into practice her newfound knowledge. Within a short time, she adjusted the family menu and was buying only products with kashrut certification.

Yigal was not at all pleased by this turn of events. Since his wife was ill and the doctors were unable to help her, he accepted that they had to try every reasonable possibility. But this kosher stuff- who knew where it all would lead to? Nechama might even decide to become religious!

One day, seeking respite from the pressures at home, Yigal went out with a group of friends. As they were sitting and talking, one of them related what he had heard about an elderly gentile woman who supposedly was able to predict the future. It was said that she had performed all sorts of wonders and miracles. Yigal became excited. Perhaps this was the solution to his wife's problems. While his friends debated whether or not these stories were true, Yigal already decided that he would seek to enlist this unusual woman's aid. After all, what did he have to lose.

The next day, Yigal went to see her. He described to her in detail about his wife's affliction and her hallucinations. The old lady looked at him. "You're a Jew, aren't you?" she asked.

Surprised by the question, Yigal nodded his head.

"I thought so. But then, why are you here?" she continued in a firm tone. "You should be getting in touch with the great rabbi of the Jews who lives in New York. He is totally dedicated to his people. And he is much more powerful than I."

Yigal was stunned. "What's going on here?" he thought, looking around and blinking to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Why should this gentile woman, who admitted she had powers, be trying to direct him to the Lubavitcher Rebbe? He felt very confused.

"Well," he finally replied, "we already wrote to him. All he said was that we should observe the Jewish dietary laws and that would help."

"Then what's the problem?" the woman asked. "Do the Jewish diet, like he said. Why do you come to me?"

Yigal wanted to explain: "You don't understand. The laws of kashrut are very complex-special food, problems with dishes and pots, no restaurants, and anyway....The words stuck in his mouth. Their lives were being destroyed by his wife's mysterious ailment. How could he be so petty?

Today, thank G-d, the family lives once again in healthy tranquillity. The horrors of those days are barely remembered. Only the picture of the Rebbe in the living room quietly reminds them of the strange episode which altered their lives. Many are the messengers of G-d!


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Kovetz Bedidi Hu Uvda, p. 14-16 (previously published in Kfar Chabad Magazine).]

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.


Yrachmiel 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.

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