Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Rebbe, Family Purity and Tefillin

This story was on of the recent ones sent out by Ascent, it has been adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles:
A certain well known Jewish lecturer-professor in Europe was very dedicated to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He had had several private audiences with the Rebbe since the seventies and after Summer 1994 was accustomed to visit the Rebbe's grave (called the 'Ohel') in the Montifiori Cemetery in the Queens section of New York City every time he was in the area.
In 2002 he was flown to New York to give a lecture. The organizers sent a driver to pick him up from the airport. After the lecture he told the driver that on the way back to the airport he wanted to stop in at the 'Ohel' for just five or ten minutes to pray at the Rebbe's gravesite.
The driver became interested and began asking questions. He said that he was Jewish, but admitted that he had never in his life done anything Jewish. Nevertheless he was sure that both he and his wife were Jews and their parents were Jews.
The driver then said that he was considering going into the Ohel as well. He asked the professor if he could get him a ticket to enter. When he heard that it was open 24 hours a day to everyone, for free, he announced that he definitely was going.
He parked the car. The professor gave him a yarmulke for his bare head and together they entered the cemetery and then to the grave.
As soon as they found a place to stand, the taxi-driver closed his eyes for a moment and then burst into uncontrollable crying. His body was shaking as he held his face in his hands, weeping aloud like a child.
The professor was astounded but he managed to ignore the sobbing for a few moments and say his own prayer. When he finished he tapped the driver on the shoulder and they both returned to the taxi.
The driver blew his nose, wiped his eyes and started the car. "What was that about?" asked the professor. "What happened? What is wrong? Why were you weeping?"
"My dog!" He was barely able to say it. "Our dog, Freddy, is having an operation!" His eyes still were all red and puffy and he seemed almost about to begin crying again.
"Your what?" asked the professor incredulously. "Your DOG?! Are you kidding?" he said, covering his mouth so the driver wouldn't see his smirk, staring at him to see if it was really true. "Really? I can't believe it!"
'Yes," the driver said sadly as he started driving. "The doctors all say that I and my wife can't have children, so we adopted a dog. Such a special, wonderful dog! He is everything to us. But last week he had a stroke." He was in tears again. "And the vet said that there's no chance he will ever be well. The best he can do is try to save his life by an operation, and he has doubts if even that will work. The operation is tomorrow and my wife and I are going crazy! That's what I prayed for; that the operation should succeed."
The professor was trying to empathize but he wasn't doing a good job, especially when he said, "Listen my friend, if worse comes to worse you can always buy another dog." The driver began whimpering so heavily he almost had to pull over to the side of the road and stop.
When they got to the airport the professor gave the driver a nice tip together with his calling card and said. "Listen, I wish you and your family the best. Please excuse me if I said anything that upset you. I'm really interested to know what happens to your dog. Here is my number. Call me after the operation. Call collect." The driver thanked him for everything and they parted.
A year passed and the entire incident was forgotten…almost.
One year later the professor received a collect call from New York. Not recognizing the caller and not expecting any collect calls, he didn't accept. But after the same person called five times he decided to accept the charges.
It was the taxi driver.
"Hello professor. How are you?"
Thank G-d, fine, my friend. It's been a long time. I apologize for not accepting the charges right away, I forgot your name completely. Tell me, how was the operation?"
"Thank G-d, Thank G-d. It was a miracle. A real miracle! Our Freddy came back to life and is healthier than ever. You should see him! You have no idea how grateful we are to you and the Rebbe. He is so healthy and happy. Even the doctor said it was a miracle!"
Well, that is really good news. I'm so happy for you," responded the professor enthusiastically. "But why did you wait for a year? Why didn't you call immediately like I asked you to? Why did you wait so long?"
"Well," the driver answered. "I saw back then that you really didn't understand about my dog, so I figured that I wouldn't waste your money calling you collect or your time by calling direct. I figured that I had bothered you enough."
"Oh, a shame," replied the professor. "I certainly would have liked to have heard the good news back then and I'm happy to hear it now." He hesitated a second and continued. "But, tell me, if you didn't call back then when it happened, why are you calling now, a whole year later?"
The driver answered. "Aha, that's the point.
"See, after Freddy got better my wife and I were so happy that we went back to the 'Ohel' to say thanks, and when we were there we asked one of the chasidim what we could do to show our gratitude. We had in mind a donation, but he said that what the Rebbe wants most is for every Jew to do the commandments. He suggested that we each take on at least one commandment.
"So we discussed it for a while and finally decided that I would put on tefilin every day and my wife would keep family purity, you know, going to the mikveh and all that. The chasid even set up a time to come to our house and teach us.
"So that's why I'm calling you. After we started doing all this, keeping the tefilin and mikveh and everything, well.... my wife got pregnant!
"That was months ago, professor, and, well, you won't believe it, but we had a baby boy and today is the bris mila of our son! And it is all thanks to you and the Rebbe!
And that is why I am calling now. Maybe you don't understand dogs, but I knew you would appreciate this!"
P.S. Today the taxi-driver and his wife are completely observant Jews.

We have several mitzvah projects on the go. Amongst them is our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity, and a project to help Jews coming back to Torah to obtain a pair of Tefillin, including Rabeinu Tam Tefillin as is the Chabad custom. The above story illustrates the power of these mitzvos.
Please give generously to either assist Jewish women with their mitzvah of Family Purity or Jewish men with their mitzvah of Tefillin.
Thank you for your kindness.

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