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Sunday, January 29, 2023 - 7 Shevat 5783
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The Rebbe’s Message

“What will be with me?” thought Yaakov to himself, depressed. “When will my luck start to change?”

It was only a few short years since Yaakov ben Ari had made the decision to return to Jewish observance and had become close to Chabad Chassidism. He had studied in various Chabad yeshivos, including a stint in the Rebbe’s own yeshivah in Brooklyn. Now Yaakov was close to 30 years old and eager to start a family of his own. However, his unique background and his relatively advanced age compared to his peers made this no simple endeavor.

At the time Yaakov was studying in a yeshivah in Kfar Chabad, Israel. One night, while sleeping in the yeshivah dormitory, Yaakov dreamt that he saw the Rebbe, surrounded by throngs of chassidim. As the Rebbe and the chassidim passed, Yaakov tried to join them but did not succeed. At one point he was able to grab the jacket of one of the chassidim, and asked him, begged him, to please approach the Rebbe and ask him for a blessing to get married. The chassid agreed happily, approached the Rebbe and then returned to Yaakov and said, “The Rebbe says that you should speak to Rabbi Abuchatzeira.”

When Yaakov woke up, the dream was still vivid in his mind and he was at a loss to interpret its meaning. Why was the Rebbe sending him to Rabbi Abuchatzeira?

He also did not know exactly where to turn, as the famous kabbalist Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzeira, the Baba Sali of blessed memory, had recently passed away. Yaakov happened to have been one of the last people to receive a blessing from Rabbi Abuchatzeira. It was on Shabbat, 3 Shvat, 1984, the day before the Baba Sali’s passing. Yaakov had been invited for a Shabbat meal with a family in Beersheba who lived not far from him. That week, one of the guests was the rabbi of the nearby Soroka hospital. After the meal, the rabbi mentioned that he was going to walk to the hospital and visit Baba Sali, who was then hospitalized. He suggested that Yaakov join him.

When Yaakov ben Ari entered the Baba Sali’s room, the attendant introduced him as a returnee to Judaism who had become close to Chabad. The Baba Sali, despite his frailty and pain, raised himself up, placed his hands on Yaakov’s head and gave him a blessing.

Now Yaakov wondered if there was a connection between that event and his dream. He also wondered who he should turn to now, after the passing of the Baba Sali.

After consulting with his rav, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Wilschansky, the head of the Chabad yeshivah in Safed, Yaakov decided that he would visit a kabbalist of the Abuchatzeira family who lived in his city of Beersheba. Thus, Yaakov arrived at the home of Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira of blessed memory, a grandson of the Baba Sali.

As was his wont, Baba Elazar sat with his head downcast and his eyes closed. An attendant was also present in the room, and Yaakov told the attendant, in the rabbi’s presence, the purpose of his visit. He described his dream in short and asked for a blessing to get married. The attendant repeated his words to the rabbi and the Baba Elazar blessed him – “may it be immediately.”

Yaakov left his home encouraged and full of hope. He returned to yeshivah in Kfar Chabad and waited to see what the outcome would be.

Shortly afterwards, Yaakov became ill and suffered from terrible abdominal pains. From experience he knew that eating plain rice would help with this illness.

A good friend by the name of Yehudah Adot, who lived in Kfar Chabad, offered his assistance. “My wife will be happy to prepare the rice for you. Come to my house this afternoon.”

When Yaakov came to the Adot home for lunch, it occurred to Ms. Adot that he would be a perfect match for one of her friends. She took upon herself to be the matchmaker and arranged a meeting between Yaakov and her friend. Indeed, the two enjoyed each other’s company, and after a short courtship they both wrote to the Rebbe, asking for his blessing for the match.

It did not take long and they received the Rebbe’s blessing for their engagement. The two stood under the chuppah together on the 28th of Sivan, 5744 (1984). 

Baba Elazar’s blessing, that it should happen immediately, was fulfilled in its entirety. Yaakov, today Rabbi Yaakov Ben Ari, conducts Chabad activities on a number of Israeli kibbutzim. He does not know exactly why the blessing had to come via the Baba Elazar, but “the main thing is that the blessing was fulfilled,” he concludes happily.



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