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A Special Gift
Rabbi Amram Moyal of Safed, Israel, had always been drawn to the field of technology. He was always among the first to adopt the latest innovation, and would buy all the latest gadgets and accessories. Over the years he amassed a wealth of knowledge, whether through self-study or formal classes.

In 1991, when the following story took place, Rabbi Moyal was applying his knowledge to benefit the Chabad Center of his hometown of Safed, directed by Rabbi Gavriel Marzel. The town attracts a great number of tourists, and Rabbi Marzel would make presentations for them on topics in Judaism, utilizing various audiovisual formats. Rabbi Moyal used his technological skills to prepare these presentations.

In the summer of that year, the Lubavitcher Rebbe began to speak of the importance of studying Torah sources on the theme of Moshiach and Redemption. The Rebbe said that study of these topics is the "most direct path" to the Redemption.

When Rabbi Moyal read these words of the Rebbe, he instinctively thought about how he could use his knowledge of technology to compile references to Moshiach dispersed throughout the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash. He recalled that a short time before, Rabbi Marzel had purchased one of the first Torah databases ever produced. The 20-megabyte disk -- a large amount of memory for that time -- contained a wealth of Torah texts. It was an expensive purchase, but Rabbi Marzel felt it was a worthwhile investment for his Chabad House.

Now Rabbi Moyal had an idea. The virtual library enabled a complete search of the text by keywords, within a short time he could compile all references to Moshiach and Redemption, and organize them into headings and sub-headings. He chose some basic terms related to Redemption, such as “ben David,” “Geulah,” etc., and soon had a collection of thousands of verses and paragraphs related to the theme.

Today, when we can perform a sophisticated search of the entire world wide web in a fraction of an instant, it is hard to imagine what a breakthrough this was. But 20 years ago, his collection of references was priceless, something it would take human scholars countless hours to perform.

Several weeks later, Rabbi Moyal joined an Israeli group that was traveling to New York to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Moyal took along the disk with his compilation of excerpts on Moshiach and Redemption. He kept the disk in his personal bag, which he never let out of his sight.

In New York, Rabbi Moyal and his group participated in all of the prayers with the minyan of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When the Rebbe entered the synagogue, the crowd would split to form an aisle through which the Rebbe would pass. On one occasion, Rabbi Moyal was standing along the edge of the aisle as the Rebbe was passing through. When the Rebbe reached that spot, the Rebbe paused and gave Rabbi Moyal a penetrating look. He then lowered his eyes to the bag that Rabbi Moyal was holding and gave it a long gaze, and looked once again at Rabbi Moyal's face.

Rabbi Moyal held his breath. There were thousands of people crowded into the synagogue, and the Rebbe had stopped in front of him. His legs began to tremble and he felt he was about to faint. At that moment the Rebbe waved his arm at him in encouragement and quickly exited the synagogue.

As soon as the Rebbe left, hundreds of chassidim surrounded Rabbi Moyal, eager to solve the mystery of the Rebbe's special look. “What is in your bag? Why did the Rebbe give you that look and that wave of encouragement?”

At first Rabbi Moyal could not get words out of his mouth. As soon as he collected himself, he realized that the Rebbe was somehow aware of the disk in his bag. He told the chassidim of his project, to compile the sources related to Moshiach and Redemption using a computer database. Immediately he was informed that at that very moment, there was a circle of scholars at work on the same project, but without the benefit of advanced technology. They were working the old-fashioned way, by painstakingly combing through book after book to compile the references. His information would be a goldmine for them.

Rabbi Moyal quickly arranged to print out all the material on his disk, and brought it to the scholars. He also sent a copy of the disk to the Rebbe, through one of his secretaries.

The Rebbe's answer was not long in coming: “May it be an ongoing project. Thank you, and I will mention it at the gravesite” [of his father-in-law, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe].



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