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Wednesday
Feb132013

FROM KATHMANDU TO BEIT SHE’AN – AND IN BETWEEN

An amazing story of Divine Providence, when a shliach from Nepal suddenly knocked on the door of the home of Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz, asking to speak with him. A third Jew later joined the conversation, thereby closing the circle in a most miraculous and fascinating manner.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

Recent days have not been pleasant for the Rebbe MH”M’s shliach in Beit She’an, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Shmuelevitz, and his family. With great vigor and determination, he has been fighting a fierce battle against terminal illness, while continuing to prepare his city for the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu. However, there have also been times when the physical pain and discomfort have definitely taken a heavy emotional toll.

This is what happened recently when Rabbi Shmuelevitz underwent a series of difficult treatments. However, despite the pain and suffering, it was amazing to see the Creator at work. Through His Great Divine Providence, He sent aid and comfort to the shliach, as Rabbi Shmuelevitz told the participants during the “Shabbos Sh’Kula Moshiach,” which recently took place at the Ramada Hotel in Yerushalayim.

Many of those in the large crowd that had gathered to hear him speak were deeply moved to tears, as the intensity of his passionate story made a strong impression upon them. Everyone present offered his prayers to Alm-ghty G-d that He should immediately remove this shliach’s pain and restore this dear shliach to a state of full health with the true and complete Redemption.

THE SHLIACH WHO ARRIVED AT JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT – FROM OVER THE JORDANIAN BORDER

“I’ve already been dealing with this illness for some time now,” said Rabbi Shmuelevitz as he began his story. “Regrettably, my health has recently worsened, and as a result, I required a series of unpleasant treatments, culminating in my seclusion in an isolated room for a whole week. When I came out of the isolation, you can imagine that I wasn’t in a particularly cheerful mood. As I recall that difficult time now, my whole body starts to tremble.

“My friends and acquaintances know that I usually try to remain strong and unbreakable in my faith. I simply refused to allow my physical condition to have an adverse effect upon my emotional state, and I have continued the wide range of activities I had established prior to the serious deterioration of my health. However, this time was different, and I asked my wife to invite one of my friends and acquaintances to the house. I desperately needed to speak with someone and unburden my heart. I thought for a while about who could help me in this matter, and we eventually decided to call upon the principal of the city’s religious school, my good friend R’ David Horvitz.

“Just then, there was a sudden knock at the door. There was someone asking for me. ‘Who is it?’ I asked from my bed. ‘Is it someone for me or the Chabad House?’ My daughters came into the room and said that the man was asking for me personally. As I approached the door, I was surprised to see who it was. Standing there was Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz, the Rebbe’s shliach in Kathmandu, Nepal. Since I’d known him for a long time, I was astounded to see him dressed without a hat and jacket. He told me that he had just arrived from Kathmandu, and he wanted to daven Shacharis. I made certain to get him something to eat when he told me that it had been a whole day since his last meal – a sandwich and nothing more.

“When he finished davening and finally ate something, my wife told him that it was no accident that he had come now to Beit She’an. It was obvious that Divine Providence had brought him to us.

“‘What happened?’ he asked. My wife proceeded to tell him about me, my poor state of health, and how I had just asked her to invite someone to the house with whom I could talk and get everything off my chest. ‘You arrived just at the right time, like an angel from Heaven. Only G-d knows how you landed here.’ His jaw dropped in stunned disbelief when he heard the whole story.

“‘Now I understand everything,’ he said to my wife. He later said the same thing to me. And this is his side of the story that he told me:

“‘Twenty four hours ago, I had a scheduled flight to Eretz Yisroel via Europe. However, in Nepal, as in most Third World countries, anything can happen at any moment when you least expect it. And so it was. When I got to the airport check-in counter, they stoically informed me that my flight had been cancelled. An alternative flight had been scheduled via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with its final destination in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Since my trip to Eretz Yisroel was most urgent and there would not be another flight that day, I decided to take it. Before boarding this Arab aircraft, I slightly changed my Chassidic appearance in order not to attract any extra attention. After all, this was Dubai…

“‘I started looking for Jews from the moment I boarded the flight until I left Jordan to enter Eretz Yisroel. As far as I was concerned, if G-d was sending me to these places, there must be some hidden purpose here for spreading Judaism. Throughout this strange journey, I kept asking myself: Why did I have to go through all this? Our Rebbeim have taught us that every step a Jew takes is by Divine Providence. Thus, I entered the territory of Eretz Yisroel without understanding why I had to endure this turmoil.

“‘Now, as I crossed the Israeli-Jordanian border near Beit She’an, I immediately came to your house, where everything has now become clear,’ said R’ Chezky Lifshitz, as he concluded his story.

“We sat together for a long time discussing a variety of subjects. He told me about his thrilling shlichus, and slowly he succeeded in easing my emotional and physical anguish. Rabbi Lifshitz is an energetic shliach with a great record of achievement and self-sacrifice. He also knows the right things to say on matters of faith and trust in G-d, bringing the relevant Chassidic sources along with a host of stories that he personally experienced in his many years on a most unique shlichus.

“In the meantime, R’ David Horvitz arrived at my house and I introduced him to Rabbi Lifshitz. When he heard that I was hosting the shliach from Kathmandu, he became very excited. It turned out that his two daughters had recently been touring in Kathmandu and got a nice hot meal at the Chabad House. When they returned home, they couldn’t say enough in praise of the shliach there, the man standing before him now… In addition, there had recently been a television series based on the lives of Rabbi Lifshitz and his wife, and the religious kibbutz school principal made sure not to miss a single episode. He took the opportunity to ask the shliach about the accuracy of the stories portrayed in the series. The atmosphere became very warm and friendly. The recent pain and discomfort associated with my illness seemed to fade away. They were replaced by a feeling of deep emuna and hiskashrus to the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, through stories of shlichus and Divine Providence. I realized that Rabbi Lifshitz was a faithful shliach, and the Rebbe had seen my anguish and sent him from faraway Kathmandu to my home in Beit She’an.

“Just before Rabbi Lifshitz had to leave, I asked him how involved he was in the production of the series and whether they included the messages he wanted to convey. He replied that the program was not geared for Chabad Chassidim or other chareidi communities, noting that it would probably never get an authoritative rabbinical stamp of approval. However, he managed to integrate various Chassidic themes into the scripts, and he even received numerous positive reactions from the public at-large. Many people internalized the messages, and they began to get closer to the path of Torah and mitzvos and take a greater interest in Yiddishkait as a result of it.”

THE EXECUTIVE 
WHO DISCOVERED 
HIS FORBEARER – 
THE ALTER REBBE

“R’ Chezky told how everything began and about the interesting incident that he experienced before the series was broadcast:

“One day, two tourists, professional film producers, entered the Chabad House. As they were exposed to the tremendous activity and self-sacrifice of the local shluchim, they decided that there was ‘a good story line’ here for a television series. They didn’t cut any corners. They devoted several long sessions to interviewing the shliach and his wife, spent Shabbasos in Kfar Chabad, and listened for hours to classes in Chassidic philosophy. They wanted to acquire a deeper recognition of the Rebbe, Chabad Chassidus, and its ways and customs. They felt that they needed to have full knowledge of the relevant background before beginning to write the screenplay. Later, they chose appropriate actors and flew them to Kathmandu, where they filmed the series.

“After preparing all the material and editing the shows, they presented the finished product to one of the broadcasting directors in charge of content and design. After viewing the episodes, he told his colleagues that there were certain episodes with too much Torah and not enough action. Therefore, he wanted to delete the messages of Yiddishkait, and to replace them with more exciting and dramatic scenes.

“The producers were constantly in close contact with Rabbi Lifshitz, and when they told him about the decision to edit out the meaningful portions on Judaism, he became very annoyed. ‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘I only agreed to all this exposure if something beneficial would come out of it. Otherwise, what good does it do me?’ For their part, the producers referred him to the broadcasting director. ‘He’s the authority on such matters,’ they said. R’ Chezky didn’t waste a moment, and he arranged for an appointment to see this director and make his case.

“One of the key sections that the director wanted to delete involved a story where the shliach asked permission from his wife to travel to an uncivilized region in Nepal to save a Jew in distress there. His wife tried to dissuade him, claiming that it would be far too dangerous, but the shliach reassured her. He quoted the Alter Rebbe, who said that a Jew comes into this world and lives for seventy, eighty years to do a spiritual or material favor for another Jew. When the shlucha heard these words from her husband, she gave her consent. The director found this whole story line to be ‘too religious,’ but Rabbi Lifshitz was determined to fight for it.

“At first, the meeting was very charged. The director told Rabbi Lifshitz that the viewers watching these episodes are not Chabad Chassidim, and he wanted the scenes of action and adventure to have greater prominence. Rabbi Lifshitz proceeded to explain to the director that he was making a serious mistake, and they began a lengthy discussion on the issue. Suddenly, the director asked, ‘Who is this ‘Alter’ that you so stubbornly want to quote?’ He naively thought that he was referring to some old Jew known for a wise and poignant Chassidic saying. Rabbi Lifshitz then explained that he was quoting the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement and the author of the Tanya.

“The director didn’t respond right away. He seemed to be lost in thought for a moment.

“‘Did you say Shneur Zalman?’ he asked. ‘Is there an organization in Eretz Yisroel that reunites his descendants?’ The director put two and two together, and eventually discovered that he was a direct descendant of the Alter Rebbe. In fact, his name appeared in the register listing the Alter Rebbe’s descendants, and he had even been in contact with the directors of Igud HaTze’etzoim. ‘If that’s the case, I won’t remove anything said by my great-great-grandfather,’ he declared in a sudden change of tone. ‘It’s strange how you should be fighting with me over whether to include things that he said. Of course, I’ll put it all back into the final production.’ The director had stunned Rabbi Lifshitz, who still couldn’t believe this dramatic transformation… He added that he would stringently maintain all the Chassidic messages brought throughout each chapter of the series.

Rabbi Shmuelevitz told this and many other stories at the “Shabbos Sh’Kula Moshiach” in Yerushalayim. The audience sat mesmerized as the words of pure faith flowed from his heart, and their own faith was reinforced as a result.

This story should serve in his merit, as we all pray from the depths of our hearts on behalf of Yaakov Aryeh ben Rochel. May Alm-ghty G-d grant him a long and fruitful life, continuing his avoda on shlichus in Beit She’an with even greater strength and fortitude, together with his family, and he should lead all the residents of his city to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, immediately, mamash, NOW!!

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