#189 (s5761-36/9 Sivan 5761)


At the wedding he had the opportunity to meet Rabbi Aharon Yechiel Leifer, the Nadvorner-Bania Rebbe of Zefat. He was very impressed.



Shortly before Passover in 1995, when Dr. Rafael Rosen married his wife, Adina, an old friend of his from the States attended his wedding. Noah Betterman was also a medical practitioner, an acupuncturist, who was visiting Israel at the time. When he first came he didn't know about his friend's nuptial plans, but when he found out, he was happy to participate in the celebration.

At the wedding, Noah had the opportunity to meet Rabbi Leifer. He was very impressed, but regretted not being able to communicate with him, as he spoke neither Hebrew or Yiddish (or Romanian or Hungarian). With only a few days remaining to his trip before he had to fly back, he asked Rafael to arrange a meeting with the Rebbe for him and to act as a translator.

On Shabbat HaGadol, after the kiddush featuring Rebbetzen Leifer's world-famous cholent, the three sat down face-to-face. When Rabbi Leifer heard about Noah's travel plans, he immediately told him to delay his departure. When Noah shrugged his inability, the Rebbe insisted, telling him it would be beneficial for him both in matters of health and in finding his soulmate. Noah began listing the reasons why he must return: work obligations, Seder commitments, a sick uncle, etc. To his surprise, Dr. Rosen refused to translate his protests, saying that either Noah would heed the Rebbe's advice or not, as he chose, but by no means would he help him to oppose the Rebbe's words. The Rebbe blessed Noah, who left with his plans unchanged, content.

"Man proposes, G-d disposes," as they say. Just a day or two before his scheduled departure, Noah became seriously sick-so much so that he had to cancel his flight. He remained in Jerusalem for Passover, and there he encountered Tamar, someone he had met previously. Their relationship deepened and they agreed to pursue the possibility of marriage seriously. They both returned to the States, which constituted no obstacle, as he lived in Berkeley California at the time and she in San Francisco, just across the Bay!

Shortly thereafter they married, and having decided to begin their life together in the Holy Land, moved to Israel and eventually ended up in Zefat. The following Shabbat HaGadol, Noah went to speak to Rabbi Leifer again. By this time he was able to manage in Hebrew by himself, without a translator. He related to the Rebbe the story of all that had transpired over the course of the year, and expressed his amazement and delight at the series of seeming coincidences that had so quickly and dramatically altered his life.

"But you had a blessing," Rabbi Leifer responded offhandedly. "Why are you so surprised?"


[As told to Yerachmiel Tilles by Rafael Rosen.]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Aharon Yechiel Leifer
[?- 1 Sivan, 2000], was born in Bania, Rumania, where his father, Dovid, served as Rebbe, a descendent of the famous Galitzean dynasty of Nodvorna rebbes. As a young man he served as the Rabbi of Shatz, his wife's birthplace, also in Rumania. He arrived in Israel shortly after the war of Liberation in 1948. Previously he had lost an entire family in the Holocaust, but had married his deceased wife's sister and started a whole new family. Legendary in Zefat for his hospitality and kindness to those in need, his home and shul were a center for Jews of all stripes for fifty-two years. Beloved equally by Chassidim, Sephardim and Ashkenazism, by Europeans, Israelis and Americans, his death a little before (or after!) the age of ninety marked the end of an era in Zefat.

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.

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

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