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Wednesday
Mar022016

DELAYED BUT TIMELY DELIVERY

The wealthy Feivel of Galicia heard about the holy Baal Shem Tov.  He was intrigued by the stories he heard and decided to travel and see the tzaddik who was so highly praised.

When Feivel entered the Baal Shem Tov’s room, the tzaddik asked him whether he needed a blessing for anything.  Feivel demurred, saying, “I have everything I need; I came just to meet his honor.”

The Baal Shem Tov persisted, asking him whether perhaps he needed a blessing for parnasa or health, but Feivel proudly repeated that thank G-d, he had plenty of parnasa and was in good health, and he was not in need of a blessing.

The Baal Shem Tov thought a bit and then said, “If so, I will ask you to do me a favor. Please give this letter to Rabbi Tzadok, the rosh ha’kahal (community leader) in … (and he named a town).”

Feivel was happy to help, and after the tzaddik finished writing a few words on a paper, he took the letter and put it in the pocket of his jacket.  He returned home but forgot the Baal Shem Tov’s request, and the letter remained in his pocket.

PART II

Twenty years went by and the Baal Shem Tov had long since left this world.  Feivel’s fortune had turned and he was now a poor man.  He sold his property, many possessions, and moved to a little hut.  He eventually had to pawn everything he owned of value.  On one very difficult day, he saw that all he owned had been sold but he and his family were starving.  He paced the room and did not know where to turn.  He finally decided to check again to see whether something of value could be found in the house.

In the course of his searching, Feivel found an old coat that reminded him of better times.  He rummaged through the pockets, hoping he would find a forgotten coin, when suddenly, he found the Baal Shem Tov’s letter!

He was shocked.  He recalled meeting the Baal Shem Tov and his refusal to accept a blessing from the tzaddik, as well as the tzaddik’s request that he deliver a letter to Rabbi Tzadok, the rosh ha’kahal of a certain town. 

“Probably my poverty and suffering are a result of not having carried out the tzaddik’s request,” Feivel thought sorrowfully.  “I will travel to that town immediately and maybe that person is still alive and I can carry out the tzaddik’s request.”

PART III

 He quickly traveled to the town the Baal Shem Tov had specified in order to look for Rabbi Tzadok and give him the letter.  Upon arriving there, he made inquiries about a rosh ha’kahal named Rabbi Tzadok. How surprised he was to hear that nobody knew who he was. How could it be that nobody knew a man by that name, especially when he was a rosh ha’kahal?  Feivel figured that perhaps shortly after the tzaddik had sent the letter twenty years ago, the man left the city and people had forgotten about him.

As he stood in the central shul of the town, a boy ran in and shouted, “Mazal tov, mazal tov! Rabbi Tzadok has just been elected as rosh ha’kahal!”

Feivel could not believe his ears.  The Baal Shem Tov had sent the letter with him twenty years earlier for Rabbi Tzadok, the rosh ha’kahal, and now he was hearing that just today, right now, Rabbi Tzadok had been appointed the rosh ha’kahal!

He realized that the Baal Shem Tov saw with his holy vision the events that would transpire.  Now, more than ever, he wanted to carry out the Baal Shem Tov’s request.

Feivel hurried to the house of Rabbi Tzadok and started telling him what happened.  “Twenty years ago I went to see the Baal Shem Tov and he gave me a letter for the rosh ha’kahal of this town.  I forgot all about it until just this week  when I found the letter and I hurried here, thinking perhaps the man is still alive. And now I hear that someone by the name of Rabbi Tzadok was appointed as the rosh ha’kahal! I have no doubt that this letter is for you and the holy Baal Shem Tov foresaw that this would transpire.”

The astonished rosh ha’kahal opened the letter and to his amazement he read the following, “The one who gave you this letter is poverty stricken, although he used to be rich many years ago.  Please help him to the best of your ability.”

PART IV

This incredible story happened not only in the time of the holy Baal Shem Tov but also in our time, with the Rebbe.  This is what my friend, R’ Zalman Garelik, shliach in Beer Sheva, told me:

I was a bachur learning in 770 in 5749, the year which the Rebbe proclaimed as the Shnas HaBinyan (Year of Construction).  On many occasions he asked everyone, the shluchim in particular, to build homes and neighborhoods, even additions to houses.  The Rebbe said he would contribute a token $100 to whoever reported about building a new building or an addition to an existing building.

At that time, Yisroel Rosenberg was living in Beer Sheva and davened in a small shul that was open only on Shabbos.  This shul was located in the old building of Beer Sheva University, the HIAS House.  In light of the Rebbe’s call for construction, he got the gaboim of the shul excited about the idea that it was an auspicious year for building and that they should try to find a plot of land to build a Chabad shul.  They agreed to the idea and he wrote to the Rebbe in their names.  A few weeks later, he received a letter of blessing from the Rebbe with a check for a hundred dollars enclosed.

This motivated him to work along with the gaboim to move the project forward.  From that point on began a protracted, complicated process at the municipal offices to obtain permits to build.  They had to first obtain permits to get land and then they had to get building permits.  After all the running around to various committees, the land was lined up and ready to build, but then they were told that they could not allow construction because the land was too close to a gas station.  Meanwhile, Rosenberg moved to a different neighborhood in Beer Sheva, and after a few years moved to Nachalat Har Chabad, so that there was nobody around to continue pursuing the building project.  That is how the situation remained for many years.

Eleven years went by.  In 5760, the Chabad community in Beer Sheva celebrated a moving event.  We laid the cornerstone for a new Chabad center that would eventually also include a shul, as the bomb shelter where the Chabad House was located at the time was too small for our activities.  The building consisted of a small room that was used as an office and two other rooms, not particularly large, which served in hodgepodge all-purpose fashion as a shul, men and women’s sections, a library, Kollel Levi Yitzchok, an auditorium for events, classrooms, and on occasion as exhibition rooms and assorted  other activities.

After years of running around to the various government offices, the central Chabad House in the city was given a spacious lot.  That was the stage when we began fundraising for the project with the goal of completing the building as quickly as possible.

PART V

The second half of the story is completed by R’ Yisrael Rosenberg of Nachalat Har Chabad.

One day, my friend Zalman Garelik, director of the central Chabad House in Beer Sheva, paid me a visit in my home in Nachala and told me he had managed to get the permits to build a Chabad House and he asked me for a donation.

I opened the drawer in my desk to take out my checkbook and among my papers I came across a closed envelope.  Immediately it seemed like a lightning bolt flashed in my memory. This was a letter along with a check we had received from the Rebbe to build a Chabad shul in Beer Sheva!

All excited, I showed him what I had found, and told him that in addition to my donation I would give him the check and the letter.  “I guess the Rebbe sent a check for you to use to build this building now, because that building in 5749 never happened.”

The check had waited for years until the time came to forward it to its intended recipient.

***

At the Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen that took place that year in Beer Sheva, R’ Yisrael Rosenberg gave R’ Zalman Garelik the Rebbe’s check for the building of the Chabad House in Beer Sheva, which was sent years before he ever dreamed that he would end up as a shliach in Beer Sheva.  This inspired a fundraising drive, with the central feature being a raffle among all the donors for the Rebbe’s check.

“It turns out,” concluded Yisrael Rosenberg after having shared the above story of the Baal Shem Tov, “that even now the Rebbe finds ways of answering us and even sends a dollar for bracha and hatzlacha as in earlier times.”

PART VI

On Pesach 5771, the Chabad House inaugurated the new building which took seven years to build.  The three-story building is in the center of Beer Sheva and consists of an active shul with three daily minyanim for Shacharis, Mincha, and two minyanim for Maariv.  There is a men’s mikva, a hall where events for the community and holiday events for the residents of the city take place.  There is a women’s learning program, the biggest library for children in the south of the country with over 1000 books, an active service center and a Judaica shop.  The Chabad House is a central hub for all matters Jewish and is working to prepare Beer Sheva to greet Moshiach.

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