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A Year of Strength
by Aharon Bleich

I was born in Paris, and grew up in a home that was completely free of Torah observance. A visit with one of my relatives, Rabbi Eliyahu Turgeman (who today lives in Netanya), changed my life completely. I learned Tanya and Chassidus with him, and I felt that I  had found the answers to all my questions. He told me about the Rebbe and his miraculous abilities, and at the first opportunity, I traveled to New York to meet the Rebbe. In 5748 (1988), I met my wife, Chaya Ora, and we were married soon afterwards.

We established our residence in Safed, Israel, and I joined a kollel, a Torah study program for married men. In Tishrei 5749 and 5750 (1989-90), we were in New York and went by the Rebbe to receive the customary blessing and dollar for charity. We asked the Rebbe for a blessing, and merited to receive the standard blessing he gives to all those who come to him. At that point we still were not stressed over the fact that we hadn’t become parents yet. We were certain that everything would work out fine with the passage of time.

However, as the months and years passed, we realized that we had not merited to have things go smoothly in this matter. We spent much time going around to all the doctors and we went through numerous treatments. We didn’t give up, although we were often disappointed. Every failed treatment brought with it a deep sense of frustration.

One year during the 1990s, we took advantage of a visit with the Rebbe to ask him for his blessing that we should have children. It wasn’t easy for my wife to get up her nerve to ask, but she did, and the Rebbe blessed her.

The Rebbe’s words were a source of tremendous encouragement and strength for us during the years that followed. Later, we sent a letter to the Rebbe asking for a blessing on a variety of issues, including a blessing for children, and the Rebbe replied, “Bracha v’hatzlacha. Blessings and success. I’ll mention it at the Tzion [the gravesite of his father-in-law].” These clear blessings were what gave us hope.

What also helped us a great deal were the Chassidic gatherings in our neighborhood in Kiryat Chabad, Safed. Anyone who is familiar with our marvelous community of chassidim knows how much love flows through their veins. At every gathering, people would give us their heartfelt blessings that we should merit to have children. I felt that my friends and neighbors in the Chabad community were partners in my efforts, and they helped me to remain buoyant in my faith.

In all the years that passed, we were privileged to receive much spiritual strength and clear blessings from the Rebbe via Igros Kodesh, the Rebbe’s published letters. Every time we opened the book at random, we would come upon a page with the most marvelous blessings that were also relevant to our situation. These letters encouraged us and instilled us with hope.

It is interesting to note that in many of these letters, the Rebbe expressed his support for conventional medicine, preferring it to naturalistic healing approaches.

The chassidic outlook on faith despite everything, the understanding that G-d runs the world regardless of the hiding and concealment, is what brought me to the teachings of Chassidus, strengthening me and getting me back on my feet time after time.

Before this year began, we knew that this was a special year – the Year of  770 in the Hebrew calendar, which is not only the address of the Rebbe’s synagogue but also the numerical value of  “Beis Moshiach,”—the House of Moshiach, as well as the word u’faratzta—You shall burst forth. This was a year that required no acronyms, as the number itself was sufficient to establish it for a blessing.

We were filled with hope that this would be the year when we would merit the long-awaited miracle, and when it came, our joy and happiness knew no bounds. This is the year of  Redemption. We experienced our own personal redemption, when, after 22 years of marriage, my wife and I merited the birth of our first child, a daughter Rivka. And with G-d’s help, it will be a year of overall redemption for the Jewish People. 



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