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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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A Girl Named Rachel

David and Tzipora Brik* left the doctor's office in tears. He had just informed them unequivocally that there was no hope that they'd ever bear children. The couple, originally from Russia, had met in Belgium, where they were married. At a certain point they met Mrs. Batsheva Silberstein, a Chabad chassid, who drew them close to traditional Judaism.

The Briks confided in Batsheva their longing for a child and their hopelessness over the doctor's diagnosis. She comforted them and tried to persuade them to follow the Jewish laws of family purity. "This will open the channels of blessing in Heaven." At first the two were bemused, but eventually they agreed to try it, in the hopes that it would lead to the long-awaited blessing.

A short while after they began to observe the intricate laws, the miracle came to pass. Tzipora informed David that their dream was about to come true. The revealed miracle led them to take further steps in their Jewish observance, until the two decided to make aliya to Israel. They settled in Migdal Haemek, where their first son was born.

Several months later, David and Tzipora were ready to conceive a second child. They knew that they could not expect a second miracle, but still they prayed that G-d bless them with another child. One day the couple heard of the custom of requesting a blessing from the Rebbe by writing a letter and inserting it at random into a page of Igrot Kodesh, the collected published letters of the Rebbe. Tzipora asked her husband to find such a book and they would place their letter inside.

That day David composed a letter. With trembling hands he wrote about how difficult it was for him to make peace with the possibility that they would never have more children, and asked for a blessing for another miracle child. He brought his letter to the local Chabad synagogue and placed his letter into a volume of Igrot Kodesh. The letter he opened to at random spoke of the need to be careful with modesty, and concluded with a blessing.

Tzipora took upon herself to cover her hair, as is the custom for married Jewish women, and hoped that this would be a vessel to draw down G-d's blessing.

One day Tzipora was invited to attend a lecture for women in a private home. She decided to accept. At the end of the lecture, as people were leaving, Tzipora stayed back to chat with the hostess, Mrs. Levi, and the two formed a warm relationship. In time Tzipora told Mrs. Levi about her hopes for another child.

Mrs. Levi empathized with Tzipora, and made her an offer that touched Tzipora immensely. "I have 24 dollar bills that I received from the Rebbe. Please take one and it will be a blessing for you." Tzipora looked at her with shining eyes and thanked her.

Within a few weeks Tzipora found out that she was expecting again. This time she hoped for a girl, and the parents had already picked out a name, Rachel. Not long afterwards David traveled to Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, where he prayed for his wife, that her pregnancy go well and the child be born healthy. He promised at that sacred spot that if the baby was a girl they'd name her Rachel.

Two weeks before her due date, Tzipora suddenly felt unwell. David rushed her to the hospital, and before they left he asked a friend to insert a request for a blessing into the Igrot Kodesh. The friend called back to read him the letter on the page. David gave a start when he came to the end of the letter, which concluded, "Best wishes to the entire family, and to Rachel..."

Two weeks later, David and Tzipora welcomed their little daughter, Rachel, beautiful, healthy and whole.

David adds, "When Racheli was a few months old, we started to have some serious problems with the apartment we had lived in since coming to Israel. We were forced to move out and live in a small rented room. It was the height of summer, and all four of us crowded into one stifling room.

"As new immigrants, we tried to obtain a better apartment, but despite all our efforts nothing worked. Near despair, we wrote to the Rebbe once again, and from the letter it implied that we should wait until Chanukah. We remained in those cramped conditions for another six months.

"I believed the Rebbe's blessing would come true, but to sit for half a year doing nothing was not in my nature. I consulted with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Segal, who told me to take action so that the Rebbe's blessing would come about in a natural way. He suggested that I write to the Absorption Office and describe our horrid situation. With G-d's help, we would find an acceptable living arrangement.

"I followed his advice but in fact it did not lead to any great salvation. The office offered to give us a two-room apartment, which I refused. I insisted that we needed a larger home. Just at that time, to our deep shock, Tzipora found out that she was expecting our third child, and for this reason I held out for a larger apartment.

"It was Kislev, and I wrote again to the Housing Ministry and tried to put pressure, but they persisted in offering me the same two-room apartment, with a living space of only 51 square meters. I did not know where to turn.

"Two days before Chanukah, Tzipora and I came to the conclusion that we would just have to take whichever apartment they offered us. We returned to the office and this time I was astounded -- the clerk said they had a four-room apartment available for us! She gave us the addresses of two such apartments, so we could choose the one we preferred.

"Just as the Rebbe had written, by Chanukah we moved into our new apartment."


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