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Miracle of Miracles

The paramedics and police who gathered at the spot could not believe their eyes. They looked at each other in shock, not sure how the two young men in front of them had managed to survive.

It all started a few weeks earlier. One of the young men, Rabbi Aaron Eliezer Ceitlin of blessed memory, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s representative in Safed, was organizing a benefit dinner in New York for his organization. Organizing dinners was something Rabbi Ceitlin was quite experienced in, but the response he received from the Rebbe was unusual even for him. Two weeks before the event the Rebbe sent him a letter blessing him with especial success, as well as two $20 bills as his participation in the dinner.

On Thursday, two days before the event, Rabbi Ceitlin was busy with final preparations. On his way he passed the Rebbe’s synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway and felt a sudden urge to enter for a few minutes. As soon as he walked in he heard people calling his name. “Did anyone see Rabbi Ceitlin?” He understood that the Rebbe’s staff was looking for him.

One of the Rebbe’s secretaries shook his hand in excitement and told him, “The Rebbe set aside for you 50 single dollar bills and a small bottle of vodka. The Rebbe also included a note which says, ‘as participation in the dinner, I am including nu”n [50 in Hebrew] bills and a bottle of spirits.’” He used the word kankan, an archaic term for bottle.

The Rebbe’s secretaries were quite used to miracles, but this time they sensed that something unusual was afoot. For one thing, the Rebbe had already sent his blessing and participation in the dinner. For another, the handwritten note was quite out of the ordinary, and the Rebbe had spelled out the letter nu”n, for 50. Rabbi Ceitlin knew that he was about to face something highly unexpected.

With almost dancing steps, Rabbi Ceitlin headed to the house of his brother-in-law, Naftali Greenwald, who was not home at the time. He stayed there for just a few minutes to grab a quick bite and then he was off in a rush.

On his way, Rabbi Ceitlin met his brother-in-law driving in his car. Greenwald stopped and the two engaged in a conversation that quickly turned into an impromptu chassidic gathering. Rabbi Ceitlin told his brother-in-law about the special gifts he had received from the Rebbe, and the two wondered about what it meant and why he had been given that honor. Little did they know that the answer was about to unfold...

As they were speaking, with Rabbi Ceitlin leaning inside the driver’s side window, he suddenly felt himself bear-hugged from behind. He slowly turned around with a smile to see which friend of his was greeting him. But towering over him was a huge black male with a gun in his hand...

The would-be mugger pointed his gun directly at Rabbi Ceitlin’s stomach and started to speak quickly. Due to stress, shock and fear, Rabbi Ceitlin did not know quite what the criminal wanted from him, but was sure he wanted money.

His hands were frozen in place, clutching the 50 dollar bills from the Rebbe. He had no thought of giving them up to the mugger. It simply was not possible. His brother-in-law Naftali, sitting helplessly in the car, was not sure what to do. He pressed on the accelerator, hoping the noise would scare off the mugger. In response, the criminal fired one shot towards the car and then shot another bullet at point-blank range directly into Rabbi Ceitlin’s abdomen.

Naftali quickly gunned his engine and drove off at top speed to seek help. And Rabbi Ceitlin? He continued walking to the other side of the street...

The mugger’s eyes widened in shock. He well knew that he had shot the rabbi at point-blank range. What had happened? How could the man still be on his feet? Out of shock and fear of the living dead, the mugger took off at a run.

Moments later the area was swarming with police as well as bystanders who had heard the gunshots. Paramedics arrived as well to examine Rabbi Ceitlin while police secured the area. He was completely unharmed. His brother-in-law was lightly wounded in the hand.

At the dinner, which was most successful, one of the speakers mentioned a quote from the Talmud, Tractate Brachot: If one sees the word “huna” in a dream (which has one letter nun), he will experience a miracle. If someone sees the word Chanina (which has two nuns), he will have miracles upon miracles. Now Rabbi Ceitlin connected the dots. The Rebbe had given him 50 dollar bills and wrote that he was including nu”n dollars. The Rebbe also used the word kankan for bottle—which also has two nun’s. The Rebbe was underlining that he should expect great miracles.



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