Stories about the Rebbe

The Blessing of Writing a Torah


Alex Beim
by Tzvi Jacobs


About 250 years ago, a Jewish community in Russia was suffering from a devastating epidemic. The Baal Shem Tov advised the people to write a Sefer Torah (a handwritten scroll). They wrote the Torah and the plague stopped.

Salek and Chaya Beim of Morristown, New Jersey, commissioned a sofer, a Jewish scribe, to write a Sefer Torah in the merit that their two daughters, who suffered from a severe Lupus condition, should each have a complete recovery.

rebbe smile.jpgOn September 11, 1992, six months after the sofer started this year-long project, the Beim's son, Danny, became the proud father of a six-pound, twelve-ounce baby boy.

As an obstetrician, Danny had seen many newborns, and his bright- faced, blonde-haired baby boy looked quite healthy. Danny's wife, Pam, needed a couple of days to rest up, but she looked forward to going home with her baby and taking an extended break from her work as a dentist.

Two days after the birth, a nurse went to get the Beim baby from the hospital nursery and noticed that he was barely breathing.

She rushed him into the intensive care unit. The doctors could not find the cause. After two days of testing, they believed that the faulty breathing stemmed from a congenital metabolic disorder which, in turn, was affecting the heart.

The doctors did an EEG on the baby. "Neurologically, it doesn't look good," the neurologist told Danny and his parents. He explained that the heart apparently was not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the baby's brain.

"The EEG indicated extensive brain damage. He will never walk, talk..." the neurologist said.

Later, the neonatologist advised Danny and Pam to forget about surgery and let nature take its course. "If we fix the heart, your baby may survive, but he will be institutionalized for the rest of his life," the doctor said.

That evening Danny's sister Betty called and asked to speak to Pam. Betty worked for El Al.

"I'm going to get you a bracha," Betty said. "What does that mean?" asked Pam.

"A bracha? A blessing. There's a rabbi who works in the El Al terminal at Kennedy Airport who knows a rabbi who can pray for your baby. His name is Rabbi Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe." Betty had recently met Rabbi Yekutiel 'Kuti' Rapp, the Lubavitch emissary in Kennedy Airport.

Rabbi Rapp called to report, "The Rebbe's answer is that the baby's brain will be okay; just fix his heart."

With this needed encouragement, the parents transferred their baby to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, famous for its advanced work in neonatology. The doctors there discovered that the trunks of the two main arteries leaving the baby's heart, the pulmonary and the aorta, were fused together.

The "old" and the "new" blood were mixing together, resulting in a severe lack of oxygen reaching the brain. Many risky operations had to be performed to fix this rare defect, termed persistent trunchus arteriosus, before the baby would be able to use his own heart.

In the meantime, Danny and Pam became co-sponsors in the writing of the Sefer Torah, in the merit that their son would live and be healthy.

So with the baby also in mind, the sofer continued inscribing letters in the Torah Scroll.

The baby had been in Columbia-Presbyterian for three weeks while the doctors evaluated his condition. "This is the worst case I have seen in 22 years of practice," said the neonatologist. "You have a very sick baby. I am very sorry, but you will never be able to take him home."

"I guess I just want a miracle for my son," Pam cried.

Hanging onto the Rebbe's blessing, Danny and Pam decided to transfer their baby to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There, a team of doctors, headed by a Dr. Norwood, specialized in operating on babies with truncus.

The doctors at CHOP scheduled surgery on the baby's tiny heart. The delicate surgery involved dividing the arterial trunk: taking tissue from the baby's lung, and creating a wall between the divided trunks of the two arteries. This procedure had been developed only four years earlier and there were only 25 doctors in the world who were skilled at doing this type of heart surgery.

The Beim's baby was not strong--he weighed less than 10 pounds-- so the surgery was doubly risky, but the Beim's gave the go ahead with it.

The sofer dipped his quill in the black bottle of ink, day after day, month after month. Then, on July 4, 1993, under an open tent on the lawn of Congregation Ahavas Yisroel in Morristown, New Jersey, the final 250 letters of the Torah Scroll were filled in by many friends of the Beim family.

Salek Beim filled in the last letter of the Torah, and exuberant singing erupted. The Torah was rolled up and covered with a velvet mantle, and everyone danced the Torah down Sussex Avenue to the Rabbinical College of America campus.

A robust, ten-month old boy, held in the arms of his smiling father, leaned over and gave the Torah a kiss. This healthy, bright boy was Avrohom Chaim "Alex" Beim.

"What can I say? You saw my baby today," said Danny, at the dinner following the Torah dedication ceremony. "I attribute Alex's miraculous recovery to the Rebbe's blessings and guidance. The Rebbe is proof that there is a G-d in this world.

Rabbi, Save my Daughter

Back in the 'seventies, distraught parents often placed long-distance phone calls to Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Drizin, the Shliach in Berkeley, California. They sought help in communicating with their children who had joined cults and communes, or who were drifting about on the permissive West Coast shores.

So he was not fazed when a worried father, Mr. Friedman, called from New York to ask for help in contacting his daughter, Adina.

"She's a lovely girl, a student at Columbia," Mr. Friedman's words tumbled out in confusion. "They're in Immigrant Gap, California now.... Our family tries to keep Shabbos... but her black boyfriend is a missionary Christian.... Tomorrow night, he's taking her to Hawaii to convert her to Christianity. I think she's only doing it to please him. Please help."

Rabbi Drizin promised that he would do what he could. However, it was Friday. He wasn't even sure that he could find Immigrant Gap.

"I hesitated," recalled Rabbi Drizin. "I had heard the town's name before and I believed that it was somewhere near Sacramento. But I had no address, I didn't want to run late shortly before Shabbos. Could I really influence a stranger and bring about a change on such a critical issue on one short visit?"

"Yet, I was prompted to go. I planned what I thought was enough time to get there and back, left another two hours for discussion, and an hour to get ready for Shabbos. Instinctively, I hurried over to the Chabad House to pick up my tallis. I brushed by a poster announcing our Saturday night program, and again reminded myself that I must be home for Shabbos.

"After setting out on my journey, I realized that I had miscalculated. Immigrant Gap was further than I thought, but I had already traveled so far that I could not turn back. I arrived at five thirty, only a few hours before sunset. The residents of the tiny village could not direct me to the person I described. Realizing that I would have to stay here over Shabbos, I notified my family and then bought some kosher food. Finally, after an intense search, I located the people in a cottage atop a hill on the outskirts of town.

"It was just a few minutes before Shabbos when I knocked on the door. The owners, a devout Christian family, invited me in, and I saw their guests - the man and woman in the dining room - Adina and her friend. I introduced myself and told Adina the purpose of my visit. She showed no interest and left the room. Her missionary companion, in contrast, was more friendly. Perhaps he thought I would be an interesting challenge.

"I asked the houseowners if I could spend the night and the next day. They cordially offered me a spacious room.

"That Shabbos was quite an experience. Most of the day was spent in intense conversation. I often regretted being pitted against Adina, whose responses alternated between indifference and hostility. Instead of speaking to her directly, I spent most of the time speaking to her friend, trying to impress both of them with one concept: Before Adina should consider adopting a different religion, she should know more about her own.

"Late Saturday night, shortly before their scheduled flight to Hawaii, Adina surprised me by agreeing to attend a course on Judaism. I immediately placed two phone calls: one to Bais Chanah - a Lubavitch institute for girls in Minnesota - and the other to an airline ticket office. Early Sunday morning, I drove Adina to the airport in Sacramento.

"On the road, Adina broke the tense silence between us: 'I assure you, Rabbi, that you have no idea why I decided to accompany you. Not only that, but I'm sure that you have no idea what you are doing here in the first place!'

"Her outburst caught me unprepared. I had naively concluded that my extensive persuasion had finally borne fruit.

" 'You see,' she continued, 'fifteen years ago, when I was growing up in New York, my father and I visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I did notrebbe_photo_lrg.jpg understand what was being said at that meeting, but over the years, my father explained it to me.

" 'While the Rebbe was granting us blessings, he stopped and said to my father: 'A day will come when you will need assistance with this child - contact us and we will help.'

" 'Initially, I was not impressed when you introduced yourself on Friday as an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Then, on Saturday, the profound prophecy of those words struck me. Nothing you said convinced me to change my plans. I still want to go to Hawaii, but I cannot disregard those far-sighted words of your Rebbe. I decided to go only out of respect for his profound vision.'

Today, Adina is the mother of a lovely, observant family in Jerusalem.

From 'To know and to care' Volume 1 Page 90 (c) by Sichos in English

What A Wedding

Thousands of Jews were crowded into the huge synagogue of the Chabad Chassidim in Brooklyn New York to hear the Lubavitcher Rebbe speak. And although it was Shabbat and he didn't use a microphone somehow every single person heard every word he said. Not only religious Chassidim but all sorts of Jews were there and even those who didn't understand a word of Yiddish were hypnotized by the awesomeness of the man. It was said that he could do miracles, tell the future and that he never made a mistake, some even said he was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for thousands of years.

20051222164500!Rebbe.jpgMr. Dovid Asulin came to see for himself and, although he didn't exactly belive all the stories, he was glad he came. He had been born in Morocco. There everyone believed in Tzadikim; unique Jews who were more G-dly than human. So all this wasn't completely new to him. In fact since he moved to France twenty years ago he had almost forgotten about the Tzadikim and now he felt at home.

This was his first visit to America, he was going for business, and his friends told him that if he wanted an unforgettable experience he had to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe. And it was just as they said.

After about two of listening, with ten minute pauses between topics people began to stand up and form lines to the Rebbe which eventually became one line and when they reached him he would give each one a bottle of vodka.

Mr. Asulin didn't understand that the bottles were only for those people that were making special events throughout the world, he thought that everyone was entitled to a bottle. So he got in line as well!

When it came his turn and he was face to face with the Rebbe, the Rebbe smiled, gave him a large bottle and said in French "This is for the wedding."

He was amazed; how did the Rebbe knew he spoke French! That was astounding, it just verified all the other stories he had heard. The Rebbe certainly had uncanny powers!

But one thing for also proved he wasn't infallible. Dovid had been happily married for years! What he said about the wedding was clearly wrong.

A week later he returned to France, unpacked, and when he showed his wife the bottle they had a good laugh over what the Rebbe said.

But when he visited his local Chabad house (Rabbi Chiam Malul in Cartel France) the Rabbi didn't agree with Dovid's conclusion and assured him that in time he would see that it was no mistake.

"The Rabbi is certainly a bit brainwashed." David jested to himself, "But he is a nice man, very dedicated. So what if the Rebbe made a little mistake." and forgot the entire incident.

Months later he happened to open the cabinet where he had put the bottle and it reminded him of his experience in Brooklyn. "You know" he said to his wife, "It's a shame that this should just remain unused. Let's make a party, invite all our friends and family and give them all to drink a Le'chiam. It will be fun for everyone and a blessing as well. And I'm sure they will all come."

They began making plans. At first they thought of making the party at their home but at the last moment decided it would be less trouble to move it to the small wedding hall of the local synagogue (in Rancee near Paris) and to have it catered by a local kosher restaurant.

The day of the party arrived and the guests began arriving in good spirits. A small band played happy music and people were exchanging greetings and handshakes. But as they were sitting down to begin the meal the Rabbi of the synagogue entered the room with a smile, looked around for Dovid and when he found him took him aside and whispered something in his ear.

Dovid turned to the crowd and said: "The Rabbi needs nine men to join him to make a minyan. It will only take a few minutes, who wants to come? I'm going to go."

In no time he had the required number following the Rabbi to the next room for what they thought would be prayer (Jews are supposed to pray in groups of at least ten adult males) but they were in for a surprise.

In the room stood a bride and groom alone; it was a wedding!

In fifteen minutes the entire ceremony was over. Dovid and the other men shook the groom's hand, wished the newlyweds 'Mazal Tov' and gingerly asked where the wedding meal would be (they also were wondering why there were no guests but were ashamed to ask).

When the groom answered that no meal had been arranged Dovid joyously announced that they were invited to his. Dovid's informal party suddenly became a real wedding.

The band played merrily and the men began to dance on one side of the room with the groom and the women on the other with his new wife and when the dancing finished they all sat down to eat.

Then in the middle of the meal Dovid stood, held up the Rebbe's bottle, cleared his throat for silence and told the story of the Rebbe saying it was "For the Wedding!". Now he understood that the Rebbe wasn't mistaken at all.

"What!" exclaimed the bride. "That bottle is from the Lubavitcher Rebbe for my wedding?" and she burst into tears; she was weeping from sheer joy.

When she calmed down she explained. This was her second marriage. Her first ended in a bitter divorce that, coupled with the fact that she decided to be an observant Jew, resulted in a major rift in her family and none of her relatives showed up. No one came from her husband's side either but his reason was more simple. He converted to Judaism and simply had no family.

She felt so uncertain and alone that she felt she was going out of her mind. Then someone suggested she write a letter to the Rebbe. And a few weeks ago she did it and in the letter she asked for some sign that the marriage would succeed. "And here you are with the Rebbe's blessing!!"

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