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A Wandering Dollar

Rabbi Zalman and Mrs. Shaindy Bernstein got married in the winter of 2009. About a year after their marriage, with the Rebbe’s blessings, they moved to India and opened a Chabad House in the city of Cochin. 

The Bernsteins hoped to start a family right away, but as the months passed without progress, they began to seek medical treatment. During every visit back home to Israel, they would arrange appointments with specialists in fertility and gynecology, without much success.

In the spring of 2012, Rabbi Bernstein heard about a childless chassid living in Safed who had traveled to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn for the holiday of Simchat Torah. A local chassid, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Spalter, also with a history of infertility, gave him a dollar which he had received personally from the Rebbe with a blessing for “viable children.” The chassid from Safed became a father that same year.

Rabbi Spalter himself had been married for seven years without having any children, and after receiving the Rebbe’s blessing and two dollars for viable offspring, he and his wife were blessed with twins. Excited by this discovery, Rabbi Bernstein decided to meet him and ask for one of the dollars. 

By divine providence, Rabbi Bernstein met Rabbi Spalter on the street and told him about himself, his mission in India and his lengthy wait to be blessed with children. He then asked Rabbi Spalter to lend him one of the dollars he had received from the Rebbe.

While Rabbi Spalter was very touched by the situation, he said that he was on his way to the airport for a very important flight. The Rebbe’s dollar was locked away in his safe at home, but no one besides him had access to it. He added that the first dollar was still in Israel with the chassid from Safed. He suggested that Rabbi Bernstein approach the man directly and ask for the dollar.

When Rabbi Bernstein got back to Israel he contacted the chassid in Safed, but he informed him that there was a long line of Chassidim ahead of us, and the dollar was making its way around several local families.

Rabbi Bernstein relates:

“I was very disappointed about this delay, and I asked him to add our name to the waiting list.

 “In the meantime, the Tishrei holidays of 5773 were getting closer. We decided that since Simchat Torah is an auspicious time for unique personal salvation, I would travel to 770 and ask for the Rebbe’s blessing.

“On the evening of Shmini Atzeres, I again met Rabbi Spalter and told him about the dollar creating tremendous miracles and wonders among Chabad families in Israel. I asked if he could possibly leave the second dollar with me. While I could see that this was not an easy thing for him to do, he eventually gave his consent and asked me to come to his house after Simchat Torah. 

“On the night of Shmini Atzeret, about a hundred young men and yeshivah students came to the sukkah of Rabbi Amos Cohen to hear Kiddush. Suddenly, one of the yeshivah students got up on a bench and proclaimed that there’s a rabbi from India present who has been married for three and a half years without any children, and he asked everyone to give us a blessing. They all said ‘Amen,’ and blessed us from the depths of their hearts. For the first time, I had a good feeling that this Simchat Torah would elicit the Divine blessing we had been waiting for so long. 

“After Kiddush we happily walked back to 770 for Hakafos, and I gave a ‘L’chaim’ to everyone I met that night, asking each of them to bless us with ‘zera chaya v’kayama,’ living and viable children. It’s difficult to describe the sense of brotherly love I experienced that night. I went around that Yom tov in a state of sheer spiritual elation.

“On Wednesday, Isru Chag, I was supposed to go to Rabbi Spalter’s house and ask for the Rebbe’s dollar. Before leaving 770, I met my friend and fellow shliach, Rabbi Ran Shamir, Chabad House director in Kodai Kanal, India, and we chatted for a few minutes. He’s my closest ‘neighbor’ on shlichus, and we naturally coordinate our activities with guests traveling between our two cities. As we were talking, a young man passed near us and started speaking with Rabbi Shamir, who immediately introduced us. This Chassid, Rabbi Berel Pashtar, serves as a mashpia at the Chabad yeshiva in Brunoy, France.

“The three of us began a friendly conversation, a kind of stand-up farbrengen that can only happen in 770. We told stories of the Divine Providence and the challenges we encounter on our shlichus in India, while he related his own experiences over the years in the Rebbe’s synagogue. We stood talking for three hours, paying no attention to the passing time. When I saw that it was already past midnight, I decided to postpone going to Rabbi Spalter’s house to pick up the dollar until the following day.

“I had some regret over this, as this dollar was very important to me and I didn’t want to waste this opportunity. Nevertheless, it was quite clear to me that I simply could not leave a Chassidic farbrengen in the middle.

 “Towards the end of this impromptu farbrengen, at around one o’clock, Rabbi Pashtar said that while we had never met before, he knew me quite well. How? From an article written about us in the ‘Beis Moshiach’ Magazine the year before. He said that before a Chassidic gathering (farbrengen), the magazine had arrived at his home. He read the article before going out for the gathering with the yeshiva students, and the farbrengen dealt primarily with stories on shlichus about the Chabad representatives in Cochin. 

“Rabbi Pashtar added quite casually that a young man with no children had participated in the farbrengen, and as he [Rabbi Pashtar] customarily did on such occasions, he took a dollar out of his pocket that he had received from the Rebbe and gave it to this young man. Less than a year later, he was blessed with the birth of his first-born son.

“I immediately told him about our years of waiting for children of our own. Rabbi Pashtar was deeply moved, and he took out the one dollar he had in his pocket and gave it to me. I initially felt that I lost out on receiving the Rebbe’s dollar because of this farbrengen, and here the Rebbe miraculously sends me another dollar in its place…

 “Shortly after Simchat Torah, I returned to Eretz HaKodesh with great faith and confidence.

 “In the beginning of Kislev, we got the news we had long been waiting for. We were simply overjoyed. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

 “On the 21st of Elul, we saw the realization of the Rebbe’s blessing with our own eyes – at the birth of our three sons, healthy and strong.”


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