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Tuesday
Mar132018

AN UNEXPECTED GUEST IN THE AIRLINE TERMINAL

A Chassidic shliach was standing in the check-in line on his way to the Rebbe MH”M, when he suddenly met a Poilishe chassid standing near him. “Where are you heading?” he inquired in a characteristically Jewish manner. “I don’t know why I’m here or whether I’m even boarding a flight,” the man replied. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe just sent me here…”

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

One Shabbos last winter, several young avreichim in the Chabad community in Tzfas gathered for a “Shalom Zachor” at the home of a community member recently blessed with the birth of a son. As is customary at such gatherings, the participants gave over divrei Torah and told miracle stories that occurred because of the blessings of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach.

Among the most prominent participants in attendance was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shvicha, the Rebbe’s shliach at the renewed settlement of Charish, and he had a thrilling story to tell, one that he had experienced first-hand.

“I DON’T KNOW WHY I CAME HERE”

“This year, my wife and I were privileged to fly to the Rebbe for the Chanukah holiday. We had already been running our programs in Charish for three years and the local Chabad community had grown and developed significantly. It had fifteen families (kein ayin ha’ra), mikvaos, and a Chabad synagogue with daily minyanim. As a result of our continuous activities, it wasn’t always possible to pack up our suitcases and fly to the Rebbe.

“When Chanukah approached, we felt that this was a golden opportunity to see and be seen in his holy presence. We arrived at the airport shortly before midnight and started for the ticket check-in. Standing near us was the Chassidic chazzan and singer, R’ Berel Zucker, who was also scheduled to board our flight.

“As soon as we got in line, we noticed another chareidi Jew standing not far from us; his attire and outward appearance seemed to indicate that he belonged to one of the Poilishe Chassidic groups. Rabbi Zucker, who knew the man from Beitar Illit, waved hello to him while I exchanged a few friendly words with this chassid. After I casually asked him where he was flying, he replied to my great surprise that he didn’t know… I thought that he was kidding me or that he wasn’t particularly focused on our conversation, to put it mildly…

“I didn’t know how to react, so I remained silent. I saw that even R’ Berel Zucker, who was acquainted with the man, seemed quite perplexed. After several long minutes, the man again began to speak. ‘While I may be standing in line here, I don’t have an airline ticket or even a suitcase. I don’t have the slightest idea if I’m flying, and if I am, where I’m going.’ At that very moment, I realized that there was a hidden message behind his words, and I asked him to explain.

“‘What are you doing here at the airport if you’re not planning on flying anywhere?’ I asked.

“The man gave a heavy sigh and started to talk. He said that up until recently, he had been affiliated with one of the Poilishe rebbes, but he regrettably no longer felt any connection there. After experiencing numerous disappointments, he began a spiritual journey in search of a better alternative, which eventually led him to discover the light of the teachings of Chabad Chassidus. He became connected to the Rebbe’s tremendous Ahavas Yisroel and began attending classes in Chassidus, even appearing quite regularly at one of the Chabad shuls in Beitar Illit.

“Not long ago, he started suffering serious problems in his parnasa. Even though he and his wife worked hard for a living, it simply wasn’t enough to provide adequately for their children, and some of them had even reached marriageable age. What does a chassid do in times of trouble? He turns to the Rebbe and asks for a bracha. One evening, this Jew came to the ‘Beis Menachem’ Synagogue in Kfar Chabad. He stood in one of the corners of the shul and fervently poured out his heart in prayer in clear words without p’shetlach. He asked for proper parnasa.

“A flood of tears welled in his eyes. He made his request from the depths of his heart. As he finished, he sat for a moment on one of the benches. Numerous s’farim were on the shelves facing him, among them a volume of ‘Igros Kodesh.’ He randomly opened the seifer and read the letter on the page, in which the Rebbe wrote to one of his chassidim, thanking him for going to the airport to greet his shliach.

“This Jew was a man of simple faith. ‘If I had just davened and these were the Rebbe’s words that I received immediately thereafter, this is a sign that the matter pertains to me and this is what I must do,’ he said. He started up his car and drove to the airport, hoping and praying that he would find his salvation there.”

THE CORRECT ADDRESS

“The four of us stood there – my wife and I, Berel Zucker, and this Jew. We heard his words yet didn’t know how to react.

“After we had arranged our check-in and sent our suitcases through to the plane, we headed for the terminal’s waiting area towards the entrance for those boarding aircraft. Anyone without an airline ticket for a soon-to-be departing flight or someone not an airport employee could not enter this area. This Poilishe chassid continue to follow us, even standing in line with the other travelers…

“I looked at R’ Berel Zucker and saw that he was just as surprised as I was. ‘I know him as a very intelligent and level-headed person, completely normal,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘I don’t understand what’s happening here,’ he added. When I heard this, I became even more curious to see how things would develop.

“There were undoubtedly some long moments of anxiety here – a most unusual situation. Suddenly, we saw our ‘hero’ leaving the line to go and speak with a Jew whose attire was of a modern Orthodox style. They conversed with each other, and although I could not hear their discussion, I noticed clear signs of emotion on the chassid’s face. At a certain point, the two shook hands and parted from one another. Then, the man ran towards us.

“His voice was choking with emotion and we realized that something dramatic had just happened before our very eyes. It turns out that the Jew with whom he had spoken headed one of the largest dairies in Eretz Yisroel. He had been acquainted with him a long time ago through his work as a fundraiser for Torah institutions. When he recognized him now, he quickly went over to him and told him about his parnasa difficulties. This dairy owner thought for a moment and then said, ‘You don’t live far from me. Instead of traveling to some distant foreign country, where people don’t give as much as they once did, come to my office once a month and I’ll give you a nice sum of money,’ he promised him.

“Tears of joy streaked the chassid’s cheeks as he heard this promise. He immediately told his benefactor about how the Rebbe’s bracha had brought him to the airport. ‘Nu, there you go. The Rebbe didn’t tell you to fly. He only said that you should come to the airport. Go back to your family and children and you can be sure that I’ll assist you.’

“The man stood before us, unable to stop crying. We too were positively astounded by the amazing miracle we had just witnessed for ourselves. We watched as he left the airport terminal with a feeling of tremendous relief. For us, this was the best possible preparation for a trip to the Rebbe - a lesson in pure faith.”

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