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Tuesday
Mar292016

CHANA’LE, DON’T FORGET TO LIGHT

By Nechama Bar

“Hurry, hurry!” the Nazi guards urged on the unfortunate Jews. It was hours already that all the Jews of the town, men, women and children, had been walking in the freezing cold to some unknown destination. They had been forced to leave their homes and possessions behind, along with all the nice memories of the good days before the horrific war. Each one took a small bundle containing his most essential items so as not to be overburdened on the long journey.
After many hours, the (surviving) Jews arrived at a train station. They were in pain, starving, and terrified. They did not know what awaited them but braced themselves for the worst. They had heard rumors of trains that took Jews to places from which they never returned.
Little Chana’le was on this terrible march. Near her were her mother, sisters and her good friend, Leah’le, with her family. Being next to her mother gave her a bit of confidence in the face of the terrifying German soldiers.
The Germans had surrounded the entire train station where masses of Jews had been gathered for days. The Germans gave them just one piece of bread each. The hunger, thirst, and cold were unbearable. But worse than anything else was the worry about what would be their end.
The sound of the train could be heard in the distance. “Get ready to travel, your train has arrived,” they were told.
The Jews collected the little bit they had with them and got ready to leave. The train was very small compared to the number of people who had to board. The crowding was terrible and there was hardly any air to breathe.
Chana’le and Leah’le had walked away somewhat from the train. The soldiers finished stuffing everyone onto the train and miraculously, Chana’le and Leah’le were left behind.
The two girls stood alone and watched as the train began to move. In the meantime, Chana’le’s mother was frantically searching for her daughter on the train. “Where is my Chana’le?” she shouted.
Then she got a glimpse out of the window and saw her! In the remaining seconds, she managed to shout through the window, “Chana’le, zolst nisht fargessen untzinden Shabbos licht (don’t forget to light Shabbos candles)!”
Chana’le heard her mother’s familiar voice and her final words were etched deep into her heart. They were the last words she heard from her mother.
Thank G-d, Chana’le miraculously survived the war. When the war was over, she discovered that nobody from her town had remained alive. She was the sole survivor of her family.
Chana’le constantly remembered her mother’s final request and she lit Shabbos candles every week.
Years went by. Slowly, Chana’s connection to Torah and mitzvos waned. At first she still remembered words of the davening and said them but as time passed her mitzva observance weakened and she even stopped lighting Shabbos candles.
Chana moved to Eretz Yisroel where she married and had a family. She got a job working for the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency works to help Jews living outside of Eretz Yisroel. They have representatives living in many places in the world. Chana’s job was to monitor the employees working outside of Eretz Yisroel and to ensure that they were doing their jobs well.
One day, a delegation from the Jewish Agency went to New York. The delegation consisted of two men and two women, including Chana.

“If you are going to New York, it pays for you to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He is a big tzaddik and miracle worker,” said a friend of one of the delegates.
They accepted this advice and one Sunday, they stood on line to receive dollars for tz’daka from the Rebbe. The two men waited on the men’s line and the two women on the women’s line. This was the first time they were visiting the Rebbe and they were excited. They felt it would be a meaningful experience but did not know how special it would turn out to be.
“Hatzolah! Hatzolah! A woman fainted!”
The Hatzolah people came quickly and the woman was able to stand up. She was pale and was trembling.
“Did you hear? One of the women fainted. For some reason, I think it has to do with us,” said Benny from the delegation to his friend.
“There are hundreds of women here, why do you think so?”
“When we leave, we’ll find out,” Benny replied.
The encounter with the Rebbe was special and made a deep impression. From 770 they went to the hotel where they were staying. Benny asked whether it was one of the women from their delegation who had fainted.
Chana’s pale face demonstrated that indeed, it was she.
“What happened?” they wondered.
Chana took a deep breath and in a shaky voice she told them about her painful past. She described the war and the train and her mother’s final words.
They listened with interest but did not see what this had to do with the fainting spell.
Chana went on. “I waited on line to receive a dollar from the Rebbe like everyone else. When it was my turn, I was very emotional. The Rebbe’s face radiated majesty and holiness. He gave me a dollar and I moved on but then they indicated that the Rebbe wanted me to come back. I went back and the Rebbe looked at me and said, ‘Chana’le, zolst nisht fargessen untzinden Shabbos licht.’
“All at once, memories came back. I could see the train and my mother’s face at the window and her shouting these words. Those were the final words I heard my mother say. Along with the great pain, I also felt an amazing feeling, like that of a little child next to her beloved father. I felt that the Rebbe knows my past history, everything I experienced, and understands me and was giving me new strength.
“The Rebbe reminded me of my mother’s request and at that moment, of course I decided to light Shabbos candles again.
“The Rebbe lit up my neshama.”

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