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At Just the Right Moment

Malka P. was born in Florida, and she spent her childhood living with her parents in a typical Jewish-American home in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the education she had received as a young girl was based on proper ethics and morals, it was devoid of any Torah values or mitzvah observance. One day years later, when she was a psychology student at Arizona State University, she meandered into the campus Chabad House, run by the Rebbe’s emissary, Rabbi Shmuel Teichtel. 

Slowly but surely, Malka’s connection with the Chabad House became stronger and she participated regularly in Torah classes and gatherings. Last year, she heard about a special Shabbaton for college students in Chabad World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, and she naturally signed up immediately.

After hearing once in the Chabad House about the importance of connecting each Jew to the Rebbe, the head of the Jewish people in our day, she sat down and wrote a letter to the Rebbe, detailing the change taking place in her Jewish life over time. “Help me to know exactly what your role is in my Judaism,” she asked the Rebbe. 

That same day, a Chabad woman in Crown Heights approached Rabbi Teichtel, and handed him an envelope containing several dollars she had received from the Rebbe back in the seventies. “You are an emissary of the Rebbe,” she said to him. “Give these special dollars to anyone you consider appropriate.” Rabbi Teichtel thanked her profusely and then placed the dollars in his case.

At the end of the Shabbaton, all of the students returned home, and Malka continued her participation in the Torah classes at the ASU Chabad House. Rabbi Teichtel had become quite impressed by Malka’s seriousness and intensity when she was learning Torah and Chassidus, and he decided to give her a dollar from the Rebbe as a gift.

For some reason, presenting Malka with the gift was delayed for about a month. Although Malka arrived several times at the Chabad House, something always came up and the dollar remained in Rabbi Teichtel’s office.

In the meantime, Malka’s family was not very encouraging, to say the least, of the steps she was taking to embrace Judaism. Her mother pressured her to forget about the Chabad House and invest all her energies in her psychology studies.

One day, Malka got a telephone call from a friend who had also gone through a similar process, who recommended that Malka study Judaism at the Machon Alte Institute in Safed, Israel.

After she hung up the phone, Malka began to think about everything that had led her recently to get closer to her Jewish roots. She eventually came to the conclusion that she must make a decision, one way or another: continuing her psychology studies or going to learn in a Torah institute. She decided to register in Machon Alte. She went online and filled out an application. Before clicking, she closed her eyes and asked from the depth of her heart: “Please, Hashem, send me a sign so I’ll know that this is my destiny – to learn in a Chabad religious institution!”

Just then, Malka remembered that one of her regular Torah classes was about to take place in the Chabad House, and she immediately started in that direction. On her way there, she called her mother and told her that she had registered to learn with Machon Alte in Israel.

Her mother was not pleased at all. She declared her strong opposition to this decision of hers, adding that she would not pay a single cent towards her tuition there. She particularly rejected the idea of her daughter traveling to Israel despite the tenuous security situation in the Middle East.

Malka was plagued by tremendous uncertainty, and her mother’s harsh reaction to her decision seriously affected her mood.

Rabbi Teichtel, who was delivering the lecture, called specifically on her among the 15 people participating in the class and asked that she read a portion of a story about the Rebbe. Malka then began to read the following (excerpted from the book “Towards a Meaningful Life”):

The Rebbe was separated from his parents in the late 1920’s, when he was 26 years old, and did not reunite with his mother until 1947. His father had passed away three years earlier. The Rebbe often expressed his anguish at not having had the opportunity to fulfill his obligation of honoring his parents for so many years. 

“Once the Rebbe was reunited with his mother, he visited her every day, walking to her house in the late afternoons to serve her tea and to spend time talking. 

“Soon after his mother died in 1964, the Rebbe was visited by a teenage girl who wanted to discuss a conflict she was having with her mother. The girl was angry that her mother would not give her as much money as she felt she needed. 

“The Rebbe replied with sadness: ‘I just lost my mother this year. Do you know how much money I would give to see her just once more? You have your mother with you, and yet you allow money to tear you apart.’”

The Divine Providence stunned Malka. The story was speaking directly to her and the current situation. 

After the class, she wanted to go over to Rabbi Teichtel to tell him what had just happened. However, as soon as she approached him, the Rabbi said, “Oh, Malka, it’s good that you came over! Wait here just a minute and I’ll give you the gift that’s been waiting for you in my office for a month…”

Rabbi Teichtel went into his office and came back holding an envelope. She excitedly opened the envelope and was amazed to see a dollar from the Rebbe. She told Rabbi Teichtel about her conversation with her mother and its connection to the reading material in the class immediately afterwards. As a result, it gave her the encouragement and motivation to make every effort to maintain a good connection with her mother.

Later, Malka decided on the advice of her Rabbi that studying in Machon Chana in Brooklyn would be a better option for her, thus removing any concern her mother might have for her safety. Malka began learning in Machon Chana, named after the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, of blessed memory. The students there are called “the Rebbe’s daughters,” and she is happy and pleased that she has discovered Judaism, as illuminated through the inner teachings of the Torah.

 

 


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