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Wednesday
May022012

THE LETTER REACHED ITS DESTINATION 

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

I opened the letter and saw the words “Danny Ben-Gavriel: Blessing and success for complete health. I will mention it at the Tziyun.” I was stunned. I was the one who had written to the Rebbe, not him, and I didn’t even mention his name in the letter. Why did the Rebbe address the answer to him, and how did he know his name?

Danny and Tova Ben-Gavriel are well known in Eretz Yisroel for their therapeutic services. They give lectures and work in their chosen field, while choosing to live and raise their children on the peaceful settlement of Bat Ayin, located in the center of the Gush Etzion region. Tova is considered a strong adherent to the teachings of the Rebbe and Chabad chassidus. While her spiritual journey towards greater Torah observance had actually begun in the more Litvishe circles, the one who had exposed her to the great luminary of our generation was her cousin, Mrs. Nechama Chaya Navon, principal of the Ohr Menachem School for Girls, when their two families spent Tishrei 5745 together with the Rebbe in 770.

When she saw the Rebbe for the first time, she decided to choose the path of Chabad. When people ask her what impressed her so much, she replies that she really can’t put it into words. “It was a connection of the soul,” she says.

Even today, she doesn’t take any serious steps without consulting the Rebbe through Igros Kodesh. She speaks about the wondrous miracles she has personally experienced and the clear answers she has been privileged to receive.

We have chosen to focus on two very interesting stories that occurred with her family. The first took place during her visit to the Rebbe, and the second happened several years later, when her husband was on army reserve duty. “What happened that day has not ceased to amaze me,” she recalls.

A PROFESSION IN THE MERIT OF THE REBBE’S BRACHA

“During the Mem’im (eighties), we were a young couple becoming more involved in mitzvah observance. We had both been raised in unaffiliated homes, and we were searching for greater depth and meaning in our lives. We had each found our roots through different sources. My husband, Danny, had first been exposed to observant Judaism through the Litvishe Ohr Sameiach organization, while I had come to a similar place geared specifically for women – Neve Yerushalayim.

“Until then, our knowledge about Chabad and the Rebbe was very minimal. Similar to most Israelis, we had heard about the Rebbe and his activities, but little more than that.

“By Divine Providence, my cousin, Mrs. Nechama Chaya Navon, had become quite close to Chabad chassidus and recently had even married a Chabad Chassid. It was specifically from her that we heard about the Rebbe’s distinctive enthusiasm and his holy teachings.

“In 5745, we boarded a flight for a trip to the great city of New York. My husband had plans to take part in a series of mystical soul-searching workshops somewhere in the United States. My cousin informed me that she and her husband would also be traveling to New York. Their purpose was not a pleasure trip, but rather to visit 770 Eastern Parkway and spend the High Holiday season there with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She invited us to join them, telling me numerous accounts of the Rebbe, his activities, his wisdom, and his guidance. Since we were with another pair of friends, we decided to add 770 to our itinerary.

“We had many exciting moments during our time with the Rebbe. I’ll never forget as we waited to receive dollars. There were Jews who came from all over the world, young and old, speaking in a variety of languages, a vast cross-section of Am Yisroel from all walks of life. They all stood in line and passed by the Rebbe, and he managed to touch the soul of each one of them with a few words and a shining countenance. At that moment, when I saw the Rebbe’s look and his piercing blue eyes, I knew that I had a connection with this tzaddik.

“I have great difficulty describing how I felt, because this was something very intense that touched the depths of my soul. Only someone who actually stood before the Rebbe can understand what I experienced.

“In addition, I was deeply awed by the tremendous hospitality I encountered in Crown Heights. For people such as us who came from a world of self-absorption, where each person was busy feathering his own nest, it was quite touching to see so many Jews devoting themselves to their fellow brethren. We were grateful to stay with a family that kept a vegetarian diet as we did.

“During that visit, something happened that has accompanied my husband and me to this very day. My husband, Danny, had wanted to travel to join a group participating in a workshop on mysticism. He had made some initial inquiries, and its theme of emotional service aroused his curiosity. The only problem was that it had no foundation in Torah and mitzvos, and this bothered me very much. When we realized that the Rebbe had knowledge in matters beyond the world of Talmud, we quickly submitted a letter through his secretaries.

“Along with his desire to take part in this workshop, he also had plans to begin a course of study in occupational therapy at Hebrew University in Yerushalayim, but this too was a cause for concern. I had learned there myself, and I knew that there was no semblance of modesty there. Since we were a new baal t’shuva couple, I didn’t think that this would be appropriate, and I wrote to the Rebbe about this as well. The secretaries brought out the Rebbe’s answer, which was not long in coming. The Rebbe wrote that my husband should definitely learn a profession; he merely needs a rav and mashpia to give him guidance. The Rebbe referred us to one of the local rabbanim, Rabbi Nissan Mangel, to seek his advice.

“That same day, we were sitting in Rabbi Mangel’s home and explained the whole situation to him. Rabbi Mangel said that since my husband needs work, there is nothing that should keep him from going to Hebrew University upon his return to Eretz Yisroel and studying his chosen profession. However, he did reject the idea of his participation in the mysticism workshop, adding that my husband should find a mashpia who can advise him on any indecision or uncertainty regarding his future.

“That’s exactly what happened. My husband gave up his plans for that trip to the mystic festival, and immediately upon his return to Eretz Yisroel, he began his studies at Hebrew University. To this day, I remind him that his profession is due to the Rebbe’s bracha.”

THE REBBE’S LETTER AND THE MIRACLE IN THE STREETS OF GAZA

“Several years later, at the start of the Nun’im (nineties), when our second son was born, the doctors discovered that he had certain health problems. After some time had passed, the doctors concluded that he needed to undergo an operation. Since we were already quite familiar with the Rebbe’s greatness, we decided that we would not take such a major step without receiving the Rebbe’s bracha. In the fax that I sent to the Rebbe requesting his bracha, I included only my name and our son’s name. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, yet there was no answer.

“At first, I kept waiting and hoping for an answer, but I eventually stopped waiting. They explained to me that the Rebbe’s bracha is there as soon as you write the letter. I came to believe that, and the operation was performed without a direct answer from the Rebbe.

“Then the amazing happened. After seven months, the Rebbe’s letter arrived while my husband was in the midst of some intensive reserve duty, serving with the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip. This was during the days of the first intifada, and IDF soldiers were pelted by stones, metal rods, and anything else the Arabs got their hands on. The entire army stood by helpless against the public uprising of an uncontrolled rabble.

“I remember to this day that it was on a Sunday. I opened the letter and saw the words ‘Danny Ben-Gavriel: Blessing and success for complete health. I will mention it at the Tziyun.’ I was stunned. I was the one who had written to the Rebbe, not him, and I didn’t even mention his name in the letter. Why did the Rebbe address the answer to him, and how did he know his name? I quickly called my Chabad cousin, and she explained that there’s no such thing as a ‘mistake’ when one is talking about the Rebbe. The Rebbe knows what he’s saying; if it’s not clear now, we will understand the meaning behind this ‘mistake’ in the near future.

“The next day, Monday morning, there was a knock at the door, and Danny suddenly came into the house unexpected. He had received leave from his reserve duty.

“I was planning to show him the letter, but before I could open my mouth, he began to tell his own story:

“‘You have no idea what I went through yesterday,’ he said. ‘I have to say Birkas HaGomel!’ He told how he was driving in Gaza, when someone threw a huge cement block from a nearby balcony. It was a miracle that it didn’t land on his head, missing it by a fraction of an inch. However, it did graze his back, which turned red from the force of the blow.

“As he was telling me all this, I immediately thought of the letter that had arrived the day before.

“The Rebbe apparently knew about this incident and sent him a bracha at exactly the moment when it occurred. Now I surprised him with news of the letter, and he too was stunned beyond belief. We had sent a letter to the Rebbe regarding the health of our son, yet the Rebbe’s response contained a bracha for my husband’s health. The Rebbe apparently had true prophetic vision. We were deeply moved upon realizing the tremendous Divine Providence we had experienced. This wasn’t some clerical error by one of his secretaries. My cousin was right: The Rebbe makes no mistakes.

“Naturally, my husband said Birkas HaGomel, and his faith in and hiskashrus with the Rebbe became stronger.”

As mentioned above, the Ben-Gavriels live today on the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin, and they are an integral part of the local Chabad community. Tova takes no meaningful steps in life without requesting the advice of the Rebbe and receiving his bracha via Igros Kodesh. In recent years, she has personally experienced numerous stories of an obviously Divine nature after the Rebbe provided her with clear answers in Igros Kodesh regarding various personal and family matters.

“The Rebbe continues to respond,” she declared without hesitation.

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