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Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 12 Adar I 5784
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My Responsibility

"Are you Jewish?" the two chassidic youths asked the tall, long-haired man who answered their knock at his door. The two were canvassing the neighborhood, looking for Jews with whom to share the mitzvah of lulav and etrog.

"I sure am," answered the man. "And I have already made the blessing on the lulav and etrog," he said, anticipating their question.

Noticing the puzzlement on their faces, the man invited them in. "I have a very interesting story to tell you about the Lubavitcher Rebbe."

"Not long ago, I was sick with a serious illness. I was hospitalized and went into a coma. The doctors gave up on my life. Suddenly, one day I woke up. To everyone's surprise, I made a quick recovery. The doctors called it a medical miracle, and they were right. But no one knew the real reason for my unexpected recovery.

"While I was still lying in a coma, I saw myself being brought before the Heavenly court. A crowd had gathered to hear the verdict being pronounced on my soul. Would I return to life or not? I had not been Torah-observant all my life and had few mitzvot to my credit. Then a member of the audience, a distinguished looking Jew with a white beard, announced: 'If he will be returned to life, I personally will take responsibility for his soul!'

"The judge glanced over at the petitioner and said: 'If the Lubavitcher Rebbe is taking responsibility for this young man's life, we may rely upon him.' That was the turning point, and I began to recover from my illness.

"I recuperated completely and I pushed the vision completely out of my mind. I was not sure if it was a vision, a dream or a hallucination. The name 'Lubavitcher Rebbe' meant nothing to me and I was not sure how I, a completely assimilated Jew, had any connection to this Rebbe.

"A few months went by, when I happened to see an advertisement in a newspaper. It was an announcement about the activities of the Chabad movement. The picture I saw peering out of the advertisement looked familiar, although I couldn’t place it exactly.

"Suddenly I realized that the face was of the man who had taken responsibility for my soul, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In his merit I had been returned to life.

"I still was not sure what he had to do with me, but I decided that at the very least, I should be in touch with the person to whom I owed my life. There was a telephone number in the advertisement, and I called immediately.

"The secretary who took my call listened to my story with great interest. He asked me to wait on the line. I assumed that he was speaking to the Rebbe.

"A few minutes later he picked up the phone again. He got straight to the point: 'The Rebbe wants to see you immediately.'

"A short while later I was on my way to New York, and arrived in Crown Heights, the Rebbe's neighborhood. I identified myself to the Rebbe's secretaries, and they arranged an immediate audience for me with the Rebbe. When I came into the Rebbe's room, I was stunned because that was the face I had seen in my vision.

"'Yes,' the Rebbe said to me, 'I have taken responsibility for your soul. However, you need to do your part. Are you ready?' I agreed with all my heart to whatever conditions the Rebbe would place on me. The Rebbe told me to take upon myself to do mitzvot. The first mitzvah that he told me about was shaking the lulav and etrog on Sukkot.

Wrapping up his tale, the man concluded: "That's how it came about that in this town, where there are few Jews, you found me, a Jew who already made a blessing on the lulav and etrog!"


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