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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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Splitting the German Sea

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, a group of Chassidim gathered for a farbrengen in Paris, France. The Lubavitcher Rebbe at the time was Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, who resided in Poland. Present at the farbrengen was his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who would succeed him ten years later as the next Lubavitcher Rebbe.

One of the assembled Chassidim related a miraculous experience that he had had two years earlier. The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe had left Russia after narrowly escaping execution under the communist regime. He had moved his headquarters to Poland, and many Chassidim moved there to be with him. During the course of his stay, the Rebbe instructed many Chassidim to leave Poland and settle in other countries. The Chassid relating his story had been part of a group of five who were told by the Rebbe to move to France.

Crossing from Poland into France at that time was no simple task. There were several borders to pass, including the dreaded Germany. To make matters worse, one of the Chassidim had an non-valid passport and there was no time to get a new one. The Rebbe told them to leave Poland immediately.

The five Chassidim devised a plan to escape Poland: On the trains, one of them would lie on the bench and the other four would sit on him, covering him with their long winter coats to avoid the passport checks. In this manner, they somehow managed to pass the Polish and Czechoslovakian borders. But the check post at the German border was notoriously dangerous, especially for Jews. For Jews with no passports, it was almost suicide.

As the group neared the front of the line at the German checkpoint, they heard shouting and screaming from inside the inspection center, then a pistol shot followed by a moan and silence. The Chassidim tried to look as confident as possible, but inside, they were trembling. If not for the Rebbe’s blessing, they would all have turned back and returned to Poland on the spot.

The Chassidim braced themselves for a grilling as they approached the checkpoint window. To their amazement, when the first Chassid got to the window, the official snatched his passport from his hand and stamped it without asking questions. The same thing happened to the second Chassid. Then he began talking on the phone, and stamped the remaining three passports without even looking at them!

But their problems were far from over. The border crossing was swarming with cruel roboteyed policemen and soldiers checking and rechecking everyone. Strangely, though, the police paid no attention to the Chassidim. They walked through the station as though they were invisible, hailed a taxi, and left. One half hour later, they were in a telegraph office sending a message back to the Rebbe that they were free! It was a miracle!

The Chassid at the farbrengen finished his tale, as the Rebbe’s son-in-law listened attentively. The Rebbe's son-in-law then asked the Chassid he asked for the exact date and time of the miracle. After the Chassid told him, he smiled and said, “Now I understand something that was a mystery to me these last two years.

“The Rebbe, my father-in-law, had a nurse who came in every day to give him an injection because of his health. (After his imprisonment and torture in Stalin's prisons he became increasingly paralyzed).

"One day the nurse came in and saw a frightening sight: the Rebbe was sitting rigidly in his chair with eyes slightly open, completely unresponsive. She was sure that he was having a catatonic attack of some sort, and immediately called the Rebbe’s wife. When the Rebbitzen entered, she began weeping frantically, but before they called a doctor they called for me.

“When I entered I also was shocked at first, but then I noticed something that made me realize that there was noting to worry about. Almost imperceptibly, the Rebbe’s lips were moving, and he was saying or reciting something!

“I bent down and listened, then straightened up and announced that there was, in fact, no cause for alarm. The Rebbe was saying “Az Yashir Moshe” (The song that the Jews sang after crossing Yam Suf. (Shmot 15:1 –19)! After ten minutes, the Rebbe opened his eyes and returned to normal.

“I never asked the Rebbe for an explanation but now I understand. This incident happened at the exact time that your group was crossing the German border. The Rebbe's prayers passed you all through the German inspection, like Moshe passed the Jews through the sea!"



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