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Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 20 Adar I 5784
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The Rabbi from Netivot

This story took place in Israel during the '70's, after the Yom Kippur war. Due to the traumas of war and terrorist attacks, the people decided to organize and form a citizen's patrol. Every able-bodied citizen was assigned to a shift protecting the neighborhood he lived in. Even those who were exempt from military duty were responsible to take part in this patrol.Baba Sali, Chabad

On wintry evening in a town in Northern Israel, the patrol consisted of an unlikely pair: Ilan, a secular Israeli in his thirties, and Yankel, a Chabad Chassid. As they got to know each other, they quickly found a common language and forged a close friendship. Their relationship also extended to their families, as their wives and children bonded with each other. Through Yankel, Ilan and his family grew to know the beauty of a Torah lifestyle.

One day Ilan confided in Yankel that his wife Jacqueline suffered from severe pains in her legs. Yankel immediately recommended that they write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to receive his blessing. The Rebbe's answer was not long in coming: "Be very scrupulous in eating and drinking only kosher food."

Ilan and Jacqueline decided to fulfill the Rebbe's directive without any compromise, and Jacqueline's health began to improve. Her condition stabilized, and the severe attacks, which often necessitated hospitalization, ceased.

When summer vacation arrived, Ilan and Jacqueline wanted to follow their usual plan of visiting Jacqueline's brother in Southern Israel. This time, due to their newfound scrupulousness in eating only kosher food, the arrangements were a bit more complicated than usual. Still, Jacqueline organized everything to the best of her ability. Before her trip, she purchased kosher food supplies and took along dishes and pots from her own kitchen.

Despite everyone's best intentions, however, it was not easy to keep kosher in her brother's non-kosher home. Their dishes often got mixed up, usually thanks to the small children who found it difficult to keep track of what belonged to whom.

Unfortunately, Jacqueline experienced a relapse in her condition, and had to be hospitalized. At the same time, Ilan needed to return to his job in Northern Israel, leaving Jacqueline alone in the hospital, and their children in the care of Jacqueline's brother.

Some time passed with no improvement for Jacqueline. Ilan decided to write again to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a blessing. The answer came promptly: "Follow the advice of the Rabbi from Netivot."

Ilan was somewhat confused. He assumed that the Rebbe was referring to R. Yisrael Abuchatzeira, known as the Baba Sali. But why? Was his wife not worthy of receiving a blessing directly from the Rebbe?

In the meantime, Jacqueline's brother, who had taken over her care, came to see her in the hospital. Since he was familiar with the Baba Sali, he decided that he would approach him and ask for a blessing for Jacqueline. To his surprise, Jacqueline rejected the idea! "I appreciate your good intentions, but I'm only interested in the Lubavitcher Rebbe's blessings."

Her brother could not understand her obstinacy. What difference did it make whom he would ask for a blessing? Why was the Lubavitcher Rebbe's blessing any better than the Baba Sali's? He decided that he would go to the Baba Sali, without mentioning anything to his sister.

The next day, he appeared at her bedside with a bottle of water from the Baba Sali. "Jacqueline, I decided to go to the tzadik, and he gave me this water for you to drink."

Jacqueline wasn't sure how to react. On the one hand, she was touched by her brother's concern. On the other hand, she really wanted the blessing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself. "Thank you," she said. "Please leave it on the bedside table, and I'll decide what to do with it."

Shortly afterwards, her husband called and told her the Rebbe's answer - "Follow the advice of the Rabbi from Netivot." Now it was clear to both of them why the Rebbe had given this directive. Jacqueline drank the water as instructed, and soon felt completely restored to health. Today, Ilan and Jacqueline run a completely Torah observant home, and even draw others closer to Judaism - with the help of their amazing story.


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