Stories about the Rebbe

Check Your Tefillin

by Moshe Cheshin, translated from the Israeli newspaper, Maariv
The religious community in Jerusalem was recently astounded by an amazing story concerning the Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rabbi Schneerson. The Rebbe is famous for enabling childless couples to conceive with his blessings for fertility. At first, this story was known only to a few people, but later it became the talk of the town.
The story revolves around a couple who had been childless for seventeen years. The woman had already been treated by the best doctors and professors in Israel. She had tried all the remedies, natural and supernatural. She spared no effort, but nothing helped. The couple visited various rabbis and sages, asking for a blessing for children. They had even discussed starting new lives, separately. In fact they had been at the point of requesting a divorce.
A friend advised them to write a letter to the Rebbe before they took this last, drastic step. They rushed a letter to the Rebbe, pouring out their bitterness and begging him for a blessing for children. With nervous anticipation they awaited the response. Ten days later, the hoped-for letter arrived from New York. With trembling hands and pounding hearts they opened it and pored over every word. A glimmer of light shone in their eyes. "The Rebbe instructs me to check my tefilin," the man said to his wife.
The RebbeThe man took his tefilin, and he and his wife went straight to a scribe who lived nearby. They followed the scribe's work with great anxiety. Nervous silence filled the workroom. Not two minutes passed before the scribe jumped from his seat as if bitten by a snake. He held his head in his hands and shouted, "Look what I see!"
The couple were amazed at what they saw. "Look at that! An entire word is missing! An entire word. And look at which word--rechem." He repeated the word slowly, emphasizing each letter.
The man turned pale. In the very first verse of the section beginning with the words "Sanctify for me the firstborn--peter rechem--of your animals." The word "rechem," which means "womb" was missing. Trepidation was soon replaced with joy. It appeared that this was the solution to the mystery of their years of childlessness.
He told the scribe to prepare new tefilin parchment for him on the spot. Then he sent a thank you letter to the Rebbe, describing what had happened. A second letter quickly came from the Rebbe, containing a blessing for children. The Rebbe wrote that he was now sure that the couple would be able to fulfill the words of the verse fully.
A short time later, the woman joyously informed her husband that she was pregnant.
A few months ago, a baby boy was born to the happy couple.
News of this wonder quickly spread through Jerusalem and made a deep impression in many circles. People began bringing in their tefilin for inspection, and scribes were willing to check tefilin free of charge. In fact, I have been told by those who were involved in the campaign that many tefilin were found to be missing letters, or words, or to have extra letters. In one case, they even found a pair of tefilin that had photocopies inside. They have now been replaced with tefilin written by hand on parchment as required by Jewish law.

The Hostages Lit Their Menorah in Iran

"I first met the Rebbe during the lifetime of his father-in-law and predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchack of Lubavitch," related Rabbi Avrohom Mordechai Hershberg, the past Chief Rabbi of Mexico. "I asked the previous Rebbe about a Rabbinic position I was offered in Chicago. He told me to consult his son-in-law.
rebbe3.jpg"I spent nearly an entire night with the Rebbe. Our discussion covered tractate after tractate of the Talmud, and the scope of the Rebbe's knowledge and his genius totally amazed me. From that night onward, I maintained a relationship with the Rebbe, and I consulted with him regarding numerous personal and public matters."
In 1980, during the Iranian occupation of the American embassy, Rabbi Hershberg was scheduled to travel to Iran for a public service project. Because of the tense atmosphere at the time, many tried to persuade him to postpone his trip. The Rebbe, by contrast, encouraged him: "Go with blessing," he answered. "You are certain to light the Chanukah menorah in Iran."
Rabbi Hershberg was puzzled by the Rebbe's closing words. He was not necessarily planning to stay in Iran for Chanukah. But if he would, there was no question that he would light a menorah. He did not understand the Rebbe's reference, nor the emphatic tone in his words.
Afterwards, it became clear. His mission in Iran took longer than expected, during which time he developed a relationship with some Iranian officials. He knew that there were six Jews among the hostages in the American embassy and he asked permission to light the menorah with them. "Just as we have granted permission for a priest to meet with the Christian hostages on their holiday," the Iranians replied, "we will allow you entry as well."
And so it was in the barricaded American embassy in Iran that Rabbi Hershberg lit the Chanukah menorah that year.

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