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A Kidney and a Promise

"Hello, my name is Yakov. Is this Rabbi Kaye? I am calling you because I read an article about your work in the newspaper."

Rabbi Eliyahu Kaye works for Ascent Institute in Safed, which offers a wide range of Jewish educational programming for adults. Rabbi Kaye runs a special program, in which he uses computer technology to locate the verses in Torah that match an individual's name. Using the Torah portion of the week of their birthday, the computer program scans the verses to find the person's name in equidistant letter sequences. Very often, these verses have a unique significance and life message for that individual. His work had been publicized in the media, which led to Yakov making this call.

Rabbi Kaye asked Yakov for his full name and date of birth. With this information he easily found the Torah portion of the week Yakov was born, and then found his name by searching for the letters within a certain interval.

"I see the letters of your name featured in a verse that speaks about removing the fat above the kidneys of an animal brought for an offering," he told Yakov.

At first Rabbi Kaye thought that Yakov had hung up, so deep was the silence on the other end. "Hello? Yakov?"

At that he heard a choking sound, like someone about to burst into tears. Rabbi Kaye understood that something he had just said had a powerful meaning to Yakov. He waited a short time and continued, "The kidneys are also called 'advisors," and correspond to the spiritual powers of victory (endurance) and glory (humility). One whose Torah code name corresponds to the kidneys has the power to give counsel and advice.

"The kidneys," Rabbi Kaye went on, "also have a spiritual connection to having children." As he spoke, he had no idea how closely his words mirrored Yakov's life experiences.


Yakov and his wife were married for over 25 years. Shortly after their marriage they went on a honeymoon in the United States. A friend of his wife's who was close to Chabad convinced her that her trip would not be worthwhile without a visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. They agreed to work it into their vacation plans.

One Sunday morning, the young couple made their way to the Rebbe's synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway to receive the Rebbe's blessing along with a dollar for charity. "Blessing and success," the Rebbe greeted them with his standard good wish. Then the Rebbe turned to his wife and gave her an additional dollar, saying, "This is for your children."

The experience was otherworldly for them, particularly the blessing for children. They left the Rebbe's presence feeling uplifted and euphoric.

However, a year went by and the blessing was yet to be fulfilled. Two years, three years, and there was no change. Yakov and his wife consulted with many doctors, experts in their field, but none could offer any help. They began to despair of ever having a child. "What happened to the Rebbe's blessing?" they asked each other time after time.

In recent years Yakov developed a close relationship with the Rabbi of a nearby Chabad House. He admired the Rabbi greatly and tried to help him in his work.

About four years ago, the Rabbi was preparing to travel to  New York to spend time in the Rebbe's synagogue, and offered his congregants the opportunity to send letters to the Rebbe. "How about you, Yakov?" the Rabbi suggested. "Write whatever is on your heart."

Yakov turned down the Rabbi's suggestion. "I already received the Rebbe's blessing and it didn't help," he said bitterly.

On the day of the Rabbi's flight, Yakov regretted that he had not written a letter to the Rebbe. He decided to write a note, and made the Rabbi promise that he would read his letter outside the Rebbe's room, regardless of what it said. The note he wrote was brief: "Dear Rebbe, you made a promise and have not fulfilled it!"

The Rabbi was somewhat reluctant to give the Rebbe this message, but he kept his promise to Yakov and read the letter at the door of the Rebbe's room. About a week later, Yakov suddenly began to feel strong pains in his back. After a series of tests, Yakov was informed that he had a cancerous tumor in his kidney.

According to the doctors, the growth had been there for many years, but for some reason it had recently begun to grow and spread. It seems that the condition started as a result of Yakov's service in the Israeli Army. He had been assigned to a unit that performed many operations in the Kishon River, which was polluted with industrial waste. Apparently his exposure to the water caused the growth in his kidney.

The doctors convinced Yakov that the best thing for him would be to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. They successfully operated on Yakov, thank G-d, and he recovered rapidly. Shortly after his surgery, Yakov received unexpected but delightful news:  his wife was expecting. Their dream was about to be fulfilled.

"It is exactly as you explained it to me," Yakov said to Rabbi Kaye. "All these years, the growth on my kidneys prevented us from having children. As soon as it was removed, the channel was opened to draw down the Rebbe's blessings." 

On the 10th of Shvat, the day the Rebbe accepted the leadership of the Chabad movement, Yakov's wife gave birth to twin boys.



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