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Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 20 Adar I 5784
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Lost Soul

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Levy, emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the Philippines, related this story.

The Israeli consul in the Philippines told Rabbi Levy, “I heard about an older Jew who is incarcerated in a prison about a two-hour flight away from Manila.”

Rabbi Levy felt sorry for the incarcerated Jew, and in his mind he addressed the Rebbe and said, “Rebbe, I really want to go see him and see how I can be of help to him, but I don’t have the money for a ticket. If G-d will send me money for a ticket, I will go and see him.”

Not long afterward, Rabbi Levi received a phone call from one of the kosher supervision agencies. “We would like you to fly to a certain area of the Philippines in order to supervise the production of a food item in a local factory.”

Rabbi Levy felt like pinching himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He had just asked G-d to send him money for a ticket and here it was! The area the factory was located in was precisely the place where the jail was.

The kashrut agency ordered a ticket and Rabbi Levy took the flight. Upon arriving at the prison and managing to get in, he met the older Jew, who was excited to see him. The man told him, “I was very wealthy and doing well in business until things began going downhill. As a result, I got caught up in scams involving large sums of money. I was caught and sentenced to sit here in jail. The conditions here are horrendous and after a while I decided to end my life.”

The man showed Rabbi Levy the knife he had prepared and added, “I decided to give myself one last chance. I said to G-d that if he didn’t want me to take this drastic step, he should give me a sign. And you arrived! You are the sign!”

Rabbi Levy understood why G-d had sent him to that forsaken place. From that point on, he took care of the incarcerated Jew. He was able to bring tefillin to the prison, and from that day on the man put on tefillin every day.

At a certain point, the prisoner was transferred to Manila, where he was closer to Rabbi Levy. On Pesach night, Rabbi Levy walked a long way in order to bring him matzot and bolster his spirits. He told the man about the Rebbe and about Judaism, and the man’s faith became stronger.

On his walk back to the Chabad house, Rabbi Levy and his brother-in-law, who had accompanied him, stopped for a rest. They met a couple who told them that their ancestors were Marranos from Spain who had arrived in the Philippines via Cuba. The couple asked Rabbi Levy and his brother-in-law where they were coming from and Rabbi Levy told them. It turned out that the couple was very wealthy and they owned a business located directly opposite the prison the man was in. They began delivering food products to him, which greatly lifted his spirits.

Rabbi Levy also arranged for a Filipino, who observes the Noahide laws, to visit the inmate and bring him food packages. One day this Filipino told Rabbi Levy that the man had died in jail. The community brought him to a Jewish burial in Manila. Although he unfortunately was unable to taste freedom before his death, he died embraced with the love of the Jewish community and the emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who had been sent to his post just in the right time.



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