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A Sacred Mission
Rabbi Yosef Rodal, of blessed memory, was a respected figure in the chassidic community of Montreal, Canada. Some knew him due to his position as the director of the Lubavitch Yeshiva of Montreal, while others recognized him as the owner of the local Judaica store. In both positions, he was known as a tireless, dedicated worker.

His position as yeshiva director was assigned to him by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson. The previous Rebbe had a special affection for Yosef Rodal. For example, he sent him a sum of money towards the purchase of a summer home, where he could relax with his family while maintaining his heavy workload on behalf of the yeshiva.

At a certain point, Rabbi Rodal decided to open a Judaica store, in addition to his duties at the yeshiva, since the salary he received barely sufficed for his growing family. As a chassid, he would take no step without asking the Rebbe's advice. The previous Rebbe had already  passed on, in 1950, so Rabbi Rodal consulted with his successor, the present Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

To Rabbi Rodal's joy, the Rebbe agreed, and the business was opened. Truthfully, it's somewhat of an exaggeration to call it a "business," as it consisted of nothing more than a single display cabinet with prayerbooks, Chumashim, tallitot and other Judaica items.

However, this was only the beginning. Rabbi Rodal's Judaica store quickly became a popular address among the Jewish community of Montreal, and even beyond its borders. Soon the small cabinet was not large enough to contain the great quantities of Judaica items that people wanted to purchase. As demand grew, Rabbi Rodal expanded his business into a respectable sized store. His wife managed the store during the day, and in the evening, after putting in a full day's work at the yeshiva, Rabbi Rodal would return to the store.

The natural growth of the Montreal community led to increased business for Rodal's Judaica, and soon Rabbi Rodal opened a second branch.

Running two branches of his store, in addition to serving as the director of the yeshiva, sapped Rabbi Rodal of his strength. He continued to dedicate himself diligently to both, feeling that running a Judaica store was a spiritual mission of sorts. Many Jewish homes in Montreal had mezuzot affixed on their doors, not to mention shelves with Jewish books and sets of tefillin, only thanks to Rodal's Judaica. Rabbi Rodal asked for and received permission of the Rebbe to leave his job at the yeshiva to devote all his time to the store.

Rabbi Rodal continued to work extremely hard in the store, until matters came to a head in 1971, when he suffered a severe heart attack. The doctors who were treating him informed his children of the seriousness of his condition. He needed heart bypass surgery, a complicated procedure, especially at that time. In addition, he also suffered from diabetes. In their opinion, Rabbi Rodal needed to give up his work completely. The doctors warned the family that if he did not cease his stressful job completely, his days were numbered, G-d forbid.

Rabbi Rodal, at that time, was not that advanced in age. His sons decided to write to the Rebbe and ask his advice. In the letter, they described his situation at length. They mentioned three possibilities: One was to take in one of the brothers as a partner in the store. One son, Shmuel, had recently moved to Italy as an emissary of the Rebbe, but was willing to return to help his father in the store, if the Rebbe would so advise. Another option was to take in a non-related partner, or to sell the business altogether. They also included a fourth option, which seemed the least realistic--to ignore the doctor's advice and for Rabbi Rodal to go back to his work in the store as if nothing had happened.

To their surprise, the Rebbe rejected the first three suggestions and chose the fourth option. The Rebbe underlined it with a pen and wrote next to it, "blessing."

The Rebbe's blessing proved itself true to the fullest. Rabbi Rodal recovered and went back to run the store for the next sixteen years, retiring two years before his passing in 1989. Rodal's Judaica is still in business on Van Horne Avenue in Montreal.



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