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Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 13 Tishrei 5784
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Severities to Blessings
On Sunday, the 25th of Iyar, when Rabbi Yehuda Kubalkin of Crown Heights asked the Rebbe for a blessing in a certain matter, he opened at random to a page in Igrot Kodesh, the Rebbe’s published letters. At the time, he didn’t understand the profound meaning concealed within the answer.

“In reply to his letter from [the day of] ‘g’vura sh’b’g’vura’ [severity within severity] and afterward,” the Rebbe wrote, “may it be G-d’s will that the aforementioned will be as is explained in Chassidus in numerous places regarding the Divine severities, the concept of which is ‘a strengthening of the blessing.’

He was happy to receive the Rebbe’s answer regarding “a strengthening of the blessing.” He never could have imagined in his darkest nightmares the “severities within severities” that his family would encounter during that week, and how badly they would need the Divine attribute of stern judgment to be transformed into Divine Mercy in that fateful hour…

Two days later, Rabbi Kubalkin’s oldest daughter was standing with her aunt near the front counter at the entrance to the Finkelstein Memorial Library in Spring Valley, New York, 40 miles away from New York City.

It was 7:43 p.m. They were speaking with the librarian, and behind them sat about 50 people – men, women, and children – including many who had come to enjoy reading the library’s numerous Jewish books and other essential learning texts.

All of a sudden, the silence was broken by the roaring sound of a car engine. A split second later, the library’s glass door shattered with a thunderous smash, and a black Toyota RAV4 SUV stormed into the reading room, dislodged the front counter from its place, and sent it flying together with the woman and her niece. As they were sprawled on the floor, the front counter landed on top of them with a crash. Then, the SUV, weighing over four thousand pounds, slammed onto the counter. After 30 feet of total destruction, the car came to a complete stop.

On the security cameras that caught those chilling moments, you can see the vehicle entering the library parking lot, intensifying in speed, passing between two cement pillars designed to prevent such an occurrence (yet irrationally placed in a way that it left a gap large enough for a vehicle to pass between them), smashing the glass door into thousands of pieces, pushing the counter onto the women, and finally stopping on the counter and threatening to crush them at any moment, G-d forbid.

Ms. Kubalkin was trapped by the section of the counter underneath the car, while her aunt was stuck by the other half that hadn’t been crushed by the car wheels. The counter itself was quite heavy, and the aunt wasn’t able to free herself at first. She cried “Shma Yisroel” and began to think about her children… Suddenly, she felt infused with an unearthly strength, and she managed to lift the counter slightly and get out from under it. However, her niece was still pinned underneath the counter and the SUV.

With sirens and broken glass in the background, mothers screamed hysterically for their children to be careful, trying to direct them toward the emergency exits. Several women looked on with increasing horror, as they noticed the girl’s legs sticking out from under the vehicle and desperately called for help.

Ambulances quickly arrived at the location. There was one special paramedic unit that immediately got to work on lifting the heavy vehicle, using expanding air cushions to extricate the young girl trapped underneath. As the other injured cried for help, the firefighters moved quickly and with tremendous care to raise the car.

The Jewish volunteer rescue squad, Hatzalah, also came to offer their assistance. Arriving within a few minutes after the call went out, the first volunteers made a speedy appraisal of the situation. After surveying the dreadful scene, including the fact that a 15-year-old girl was still trapped under a minivan, they immediately sent for a medical helicopter. The nearest hospital was 40 minutes away by car, and in such emergency cases, time is of essence and every delay is critical.

Meanwhile, the paramedics treated another five injured people, including the girl’s aunt, who escaped the incident with only minor cuts and scrapes.

After twenty minutes of terrifying fear and anxiety, the rescue forces finally succeeded in lifting the huge vehicle. Those present were prepared for the worst, after the girl had spent so much time under the crushing weight.

There are no words to describe their shock when they saw the girl lying among the remains of the splintered wood-and-glass counter – alive, conscious, and completely uninjured. Not even the slightest scratch – nothing!

The local media repeatedly showed the heart stopping videotapes from the security cameras at the moment of impact. They emphasized that there was only one word to describe such an event – miracle! The stunned field reporters told their viewers about the amazing incident, interviewing witnesses who expressed their astonishment over what had happened before their very eyes.

After seeing the miraculous aftermath, Hatzalah volunteers realized that there was no need for a helicopter, and they ordered the pilot to return to the airfield. They transported the girl and her aunt to the hospital for a comprehensive series of tests. The girl remained there for two full days, while the doctor ran every form of medical examination to rule out any possibility of injury. On Friday, she was finally released, as the doctors summed up the entire incident as an incredible miracle.*

At a Chassidic gathering the following Shabbat, the girl’s father, Rabbi Yehuda Kubalkin, stood up and with great emotion, he told the story of what had happened to his daughter. He emphasized that everything was connected to the reply he had received from the Rebbe just two days earlier about transforming the Divine Severities into Divine Kindness and Mercy!


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