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Wednesday
Mar252015

AT THE LAST MINUTE

Lubavitcher Chassid was making a simcha.  He went to look for a hall that would meet all his needs.  After much research he went to a certain hall in a hotel in Netanya.

After looking it over and long discussions, the Chassid and the hotel owner sat down to finalize the details.  As the contract was being signed, the hotel owner opened his wallet for something and something familiar could be seen in it, a picture of the Rebbe.

The Chassid expressed his surprise and curiosity.  What connection did the hotel owner have with the Rebbe? Was it the natural connection that every Jew has, the Rebbe being the “comprehensive soul” of the generation or was there a more personal reason?

He asked the hotel owner who was happy to share his story:

I was born and raised in Tunisia where I lived for many years.  As a businessman, I supported the work of the shliach, R’ Nissan Pinson.  I donated as much as I could and admired him and Chabad in general.

Then something happened to change my mind about Chabad, and not for the positive.  I heard that a Jew from our town had asked the Rebbe whether to make aliya and the answer was negative.  I concluded from this that the Rebbe was anti-Zionist.  I could not make peace with the fact that I was supporting the institutions of someone who was anti-Zionist.  I decided to immediately stop supporting R’ Pinson’s institutions.  I love Eretz Yisroel and there was no way that I would support institutions that were anti-Zionist.

When R’ Pinson heard that I was stopping my contributions, he wanted to know why.  I explained to him that I was disappointed with the Rebbe’s extreme position regarding aliya and therefore wanted no part in supporting his institutions.

R’ Pinson tried to calm me down.  He explained that the Rebbe should not be accused of being opposed to Eretz Yisroel, G-d forbid.  He suggested: Why don’t I go to the Rebbe myself, have yechidus, and speak to him directly about it?

His suggestion was reasonable and I was happy to comply.  I flew to the US to find out what the Rebbe’s view and position is on aliya.

I had yechidus and presented my position to the Rebbe with all due respect.  I was in for a surprise.  The Rebbe told me that if I wanted to move to Eretz Yisroel, I should do so happily and he even blessed me for making such a move.  The Rebbe asked about my plans, what did I think I would do there? How would I make a living?

I told the Rebbe my plans for financial stability in Eretz Yisroel.  I said I was planning on becoming business partners with some people and I was also considering going into the hotel business.  I wanted to build a new hotel from the ground up.

As to the first idea, the Rebbe offered his opinion that I should not join a partnership.  As for the second idea, the Rebbe was decisive and said hotels, yes; but construction, no.  I should buy a hotel, not build a new one.

I left the Rebbe’s room for the street with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, now it was 100% clear to me that the Rebbe had nothing against Eretz Yisroel.  He had given me his bracha to make aliya and be successful.

But as far as his business advice, I wasn’t so pleased.  What did a Rebbe know of business? Matters of holiness, Eretz Yisroel, there he was the expert for that was his field and I accepted his view.  But business? What could he understand of business? In this area, I was the knowledgeable one and I would do as I saw fit without taking the Rebbe’s view into account, as great as he was.

* * *

I followed through on my plans and moved to Eretz Yisroel.  After the initial settling in, I pursued the second half of my aliya process, establishing myself financially.

I continued with my plan of becoming partners with local businessmen.  We had taken care of most of the details beforehand and now we were at the stage of signing a contract.  Remember, this was the partnership that the Rebbe was opposed to, but I have a business sense and I know better …

We were sitting with the documents and were about to sign them.  The businessman sitting next to me blurted out a few words to one of his assistants, words that could barely be heard, but I heard them and was on the alert.  Something began to smell not altogether kosher.  When I asked him what he meant by what he said a moment earlier, he was momentarily confused.  Then I knew that I had been about to fall prey to something unkosher.  Yes, me the know-it-all when it came to business.  I knew and the Rebbe didn’t know …

Boruch Hashem, I was saved from a big loss.  The Rebbe tried to prevent any aggravation but I wasn’t smart enough to listen.  But boruch Hashem, his bracha stood by me at the last moment.

As for hotels, here too I thought I knew it all.  Every hotel that I bought was successful and every hotel that I built was unsuccessful and I only had losses.  It’s interesting that the hotels that I bought are so profitable that they cover the losses of the other hotels!

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