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Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 18 Adar I 5784
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Sudden Recovery

It was a typical winter Shabbat in Philadelphia. The morning prayers had concluded, and as was their custom, the congregants in the central Chabad synagogue sat down for a Chassidic gathering. Wine and refreshments were laid out on the table and they began to sing Chassidic melodies. The atmosphere was pleasant and relaxing, when suddenly the door opened. A woman stood there, her face pale and worried. It was clear that she was not used to coming and going in a synagogue. She spoke no English, only Russian and a bit of Yiddish. Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the local Chabad rabbi, was fluent in Russian and rushed to her side to find out how he could help.

A few minutes passed until the woman had composed herself enough to tell her story. Her father was an immigrant from the Soviet Union. As a child, before the communist revolution, he had studied under Chabad tutors and had even learned in a branch of the Chabad yeshivah Tomchei Temimim. However, after the communist revolution he succumbed to the intense pressure and became a communist. Yet the education he had received in his youth stayed buried deep within him, and despite all the communist brainwashing he retained warm feelings for Judaism and for Chabad. As soon as he left Russia and came to America, his first act was to seek out a Chabad synagogue and join the congregation.

Now the group recalled the elderly Russian Jew who used to attend synagogue regularly and had become an integral part of the community. At some point he had stopped coming, and three weeks earlier, his sister had come to the synagogue and told them that he no longer came to prayers because he was ill.

“Now he is hospitalized, and the doctors say his condition is critical. The doctor are already preparing us for the worst,” she said, lowering her eyes, trying not to burst into tears. “You know that my brother in his soul has always been a chassid of Chabad. He asked that we mention his name to the Rebbe, to pray on his behalf.”

Right after Shabbat, Rabbi Shemtov hastened to fulfill her request. He called the Rebbe’s secretary and asked him to deliver the information to the Rebbe about the man’s difficult situation.

Three weeks later, the man’s daughter showed up in the synagogue to share the rest of the story.

 “Less than a day passed since that Shabbat. On Sunday afternoon, my father was at a routine doctor’s visit. They checked this, examined that. In his condition, he had little hope in the effectiveness of a doctor’s visit. His previous doctor appointments had not done him any good. Still, there was something different about this visit. The doctors whispered among themselves, reviewing the results of the tests and weighing their options in subdued tones. My father sensed a certain change in the air but didn’t know if it was for the good, or perhaps, G-d forbid, his situation had worsened.

“Much later, the doctors called us in and started to speak to the patient while we stood around listening. “Listen, sir,” one of the senior doctors began. “We see that the approach we have taken so far has not been effective. So we will try a different treatment that we hope will be an improvement.” My father was skeptical, and reluctantly nodded his head. He had little faith that their treatment would make any difference.

“To our great surprise, the new treatment was indeed effective and his condition improved incredibly, to the point that by the next Shabbat—two weeks ago—he was already home!

The hearts of all those present swelled with pride. What a miracle! Even though they had heard many stories of the Rebbe’s miracles, the personal connection in this case made it even more moving.

The daughter was even more moved than they were. “I was raised on communist atheism, and the whole concept of writing to the Rebbe to ask for a blessing was out of the question. But now,” she said emotionally, “it is clear to me that even I believe in G-d and in the power of faith and miracles.”



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