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Tuesday, October 3, 2023 - 18 Tishrei 5784
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A Time to Bless

Eliyahu Turgeman arrived home and called out to his wife, “Did you hear? The court ruled in the Rebbe's favor!”

The court case in question took place 25 years ago, when a relative of the Lubavitcher Rebbe began to stealthily remove priceless volumes from the Chabad Chassidic Library. When the theft was discovered, the relative claimed that the books were rightfully his, as a descendant of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson.

The matter was taken to court, and after a protracted battle the judge ruled decisively in favor of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. In the judge's ruling, she made clear that the previous Rebbe had purchased the books not as a private individual but on behalf of the movement. As such, they were not inherited by hi descendants but remained as the property of the Chabad Chassidim.

Three days after the favorable ruling was issued, in January 1987, the Rebbe announced that it was an opportune moment in heaven, when G-d would grant people their requests and prayers. The Rebbe said that if possible, people could send letters to him, or just place them at the gravesite of any righteous person.

The Turgeman family, who lived in Netanya, took the Rebbe's suggestion greatly to heart, as did many other Jews. The whole family, even the youngest children, sat down and composed letters expressing their deepest needs and desires.

At the end of that day a stack of letters had piled up on their dining room table – both the family's own letters as well as letters of neighbors and friends who asked to join them.

Late that night, after all the visitors had left, Eliyahu and his wife sat down to write their own letter. For many years they lived in a small 3-room apartment in a public housing unit in Netanya. At first the apartment had been suitable for their needs, but as the family grew it had become increasingly cramped. Now their family numbered nine souls, and it was essential for them to move to larger quarters.

The Turgeman family had repeatedly turned to the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction, asking for help to find a more suitable dwelling, but their requests were denied for one reason or another. This time they decided to send their request to the chief “housing official” of them all – the Almighty Himself. They requested a blessing to be able to move to a new, spacious apartment, suitable for their growing family.

Several weeks later, the phone rang in their modest home. Eliyahu lifted the receiver and spoke to a woman who introduced herself as Sarah. “I am an official in the Housing Ministry in Jerusalem. I am now reviewing your case, and have decided to approve your application to move to a larger apartment.”

Eliyahu pinched himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. He had not sent in an application to the Housing Ministry in a while, since he had faced so many disappointments in his dealings with them. This call seemed less realistic to him than winning a lottery.

“I don't believe this,” he mumbled into the receiver. “Are you really serious?

“Please understand,” Eliyahu explained, “I have applied so many times for a bigger apartment and was denied. I'm just finding it hard to digest that suddenly you are calling to tell me that my request was approved.”

To ensure that it was all for real, Eliyahu asked the official for her full name as well as the address and phone number of her office. “When can I come to your office to pick up the approval?” he asked.

“That's not how it works,” answered Sarah. “First you find a suitable apartment, which is vacant and meets your family's needs, and let me know. I will send an appraiser to look over the apartment, and based on his estimate we will approve the funding to help pay your rent.”

For endless days, Eliyahu and his wife combed the town of Netanya, looking for a suitable apartment. After exhaustive searching they finally found a vacant apartment that would suit their needs. They called the number that Sarah gave him, the appraiser was sent and the rental was concluded to everyone's satisfaction.

Several days later Eliyahu called Sarah to thank her for all her help. Instead of Sarah, another woman answered. “Sarah was promoted to a higher position and doesn't work here anymore. Who is calling?”

Eliyahu asked the new official to please pass on his deepest thanks to Sarah for everything she had done for them. “With pleasure,” she responded. “I am familiar with your case. It was the last one Sarah worked on before she was promoted.”

Later, Eliyahu met a friend, who had been responsible for gathering everyone's letters and bringing them to the gravesite of a righteous person. He told the friend of his request for a bigger apartment, and of the angel, Sarah, who had stepped in and helped them so much. 

“Very interesting,” said the friend, “your family's letters were brought to Hebron, to the gravesite of our foremother, Sarah.”“Very interesting,” said the friend, “your family's letters were brought to Hebron, to the gravesite of our foremother, Sarah.”



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