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Unexpected Stop
by Rabbi Dovid Cohen

I grew up in Israel, in a religious community that strongly opposed the teachings of Chassidism.  At every opportunity, I used to ridicule or attack Chassidim.  Everyone in my family knew of my strong hostility to Chassidism.

My younger sister has twin daughters.  When they were ten years old, one of the twins suddenly became very ill.  The doctors tried their best but could not cure her illness.  One of my sister's friends, a Chabad Chassid, advised her to turn to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a blessing.

Although my sister believed in the power of a tzadik's blessing, she was afraid of my reaction, knowing of my strong opposition.  She told her friend that while she herself wanted to write to the Rebbe, her family was very important to her and she did not dare do anything that would risk her pleasant relationship with them.

Her daughter's condition worsened and it reached a point where the doctors gave up.  They advised my sister to fly to Columbia University hospital in Manhattan, since the doctors there were experts in her daughter's condition.

When my sister's Chabad friend heard of her plans, she urged her to see the Rebbe on Sunday when the Rebbe distributed dollars for charity.  Because of the limited time she had in New York, my sister politely demurred.  A few hours later, she and her husband and daughter were on a flight to New York.

Upon disembarking from their flight in New York, they rushed towards the exit and took the first available taxi to the hospital.  After a half-hour of driving, the driver stopped the car.  My sister looked out the window but did not see the hospital.  In broken English, she asked the driver why he stopped.  He answered that they had arrived at 770 Eastern Parkway.

"But we didn't ask to be taken here!" my sister protested.

The driver was taken aback.  He explained that he often picked up passengers arriving from Israel and they always asked to stop first at 770.  He apologized for the misunderstanding and offered to waive his fee.  He was ready to drive on when my sister stopped him.  Her mind racing, she concluded that the unscheduled stop in 770 was not happenstance.  She decided to get out and have the taxi wait for her.

My sister and her daughter joined the line of people waiting to see the Rebbe.  When it was her turn, my sister didn't say a word; she was overcome with emotion.  The Rebbe gave her and her daughter a dollar and they left, but then the Rebbe asked that they be called back.

The Rebbe looked at my sister and daughter and blessed the girl with good health.  He asked her to be his emissary to do a mitzvah.  The girl nodded, and the Rebbe gave her one dollar for herself, a dollar for her twin, two dollars for her parents, and one each for her brothers.  Finally the Rebbe gave her one more dollar for her "older uncle."

My sister left the Rebbe in shock.  She hadn't said a word about her family or her daughter's illness.  How had the Rebbe known that her daughter had a twin, as well as the exact number of children in the family? 

They didn't have much time to ponder.  They quickly went back to the taxi, which brought them to the hospital.  With G-d's help, the operation was a success and the child recovered.

When they returned to Israel, my sister made a feast of gratitude to thank G-d for the miracle.  When she met her Chabad friend, she excitedly told her the story.  "You are the first person that I told.  The opposition to Chabad is so strong in my family that I'm afraid to tell them what happened or give them these dollars."

Her friend urged her to carry out the Rebbe's instructions and give out the dollars to her family members.  After a long period of hesitation and fear, it was decided that the girl herself would speak of her encounter with the Rebbe.  With childish innocence, she described how the Rebbe made her his emissary to give a dollar to each of her family members, including her "older uncle."

I was at that gathering, and when I heard my niece's story I was touched.  I felt that all my hatred towards Chassidism had vanished, and I realized that the Rebbe was truly a great Jewish leader. 

 

 


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