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Those Who Bless You, I Will Bless

Ofer Richshtadt is quite a presence in the Chabad synagogue in Rosh Pina. A talented guitarist and composer, he creates a magical air around him whenever he performs.

Ofer has produced his first album and it will soon hit the market. If Ofer had launched his first album only a few short years ago, the songs would have sounded quite different. Just as Ofer, himself, looks quite different today than he did a few years ago.

Ofer moved to Rosh Pina 12 years ago, looking for a quiet and peaceful community. He happened to move onto a street that boasted a Chabad House. Whenever a Chassidic gathering would be held in the Chabad House, the sound of the Chassidic melodies would waft out and reach Ofer's home. The enchanting melodies touched his soul deeply.

As a musician, Ofer was especially drawn to the depth in the Chassidic niggunim. More than once, he found himself sitting enraptured, listening to the captivating songs pouring out of the nearby building. Sometimes he even burst into tears.

It took a while for Ofer to work up the courage, but finally one day he crossed the threshold of the Chabad House to join one of those heartwarming gatherings. For the first time in his life, he was exposed to the beauty of Chabad Chassidic teachings, and to the influence and personality of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The rabbi of the local Chabad community, Rabbi Shlomo Berkowitz, introduced him to the Chassidic way of life, which spoke to Ofer's poetic soul. Here, in the company of the Chassidim, he felt his inner truth being given expression.

Slowly within him the resolve grew, that he could not approach the truth and then escape from it. If this path in life rang true for him, he needed to follow it to the fullest extent. And so, on his birthday, four years ago, he took upon himself to live his life as a chassid.

Two years ago, on the 19th of Kislev, the "New Year" for Chassidus, a Chabad pre-school asked Ofer if he would come and perform for the children. At first he refused. He had never played for children before and was worried that he would not be able to relate to them.

However, shortly afterwards Ofer was reading an article that described the spiritual power of small children; in the merit of their pure prayers the world stays in existence. He took this as a sign from heaven that he should accept the invitation of the pre-school. On the spot he called them and said that he would perform.

On the designated day, the teachers prepared the children for Ofer's visit. As soon as he entered the pre-school his misgivings vanished. The children loved his music and eagerly joined in the singing. The event was a success. The children thanked him and blessed him that in the upcoming year, he should merit to get married and establish a Jewish home.

To his great joy, the blessing of the children bore fruit. Less than a year later Ofer celebrated his engagement. Rabbi Berkowitz--the man who to this day continues to exert a strong, positive influence on Ofer's life, was naturally present. At one point he took out a dollar that he had received from the Rebbe. He told Ofer, "I don't know for whom, exactly, this dollar was intended. But it makes no difference. The important thing is that this is a holy dollar. On this occasion in your life I am pleased to present you with this dollar from the Rebbe, which will surely bring you blessing and success in whatever you do.

Ofer was deeply moved. He had heard many stories about the power of the Rebbe's dollars, and here he was given one of his own. He took a close look at the dollar and saw that it was given out on the occasion of a gathering on the 19th of Kislev.

At first Ofer did not realize the significance of that date. But one of the pre-school teachers, who attended his engagement party, pointed out the connection. "See, it was worthwhile to come and perform for us.”



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