FROM TEMPE, ARIZONA TO MACHON CHANA
January 22, 2015
Chaim Brook in #958, Miracle Story

Why was a psychology student moved to tears after a class at the Chabad House about honoring ones parents? What was behind the gift that was delayed for a month in the office of the Rebbe MHMs shliach at Arizona State University? And what did an on-line registration form with the Machon Alte Institute in Tzfas have to do with all this? An emotional story from the annual college studentsShabbaton at Beis Chayeinu - 770


Rabbi Shmuel Teichtel and friendTranslated by Michoel Leib Dobry

 Malka P., a young Jewish woman in her early twenties, sat in front of her computer deeply immersed in thought. On the screen was an on-line registration form for the Machon Alte Institute in Tzfas. She had filled out most of the details, and the only thing left was to fill in the last box, stating the reason why she wanted to come and learn in Machon Alte.

 

She became deeply pensive. Eventually, she entered a few words, scrolled down to the bottom of the page, and placed the cursor on the box marked “Send”. Before clicking, she closed her eyes and asked from the depth of her heart: “Please, Hashem, send me a sign so I’ll know that this is my destiny – to learn in a Chabad religious institution and become a follower of the Rebbe!”

She then took the computer mouse and clicked “Send”. 

The screen flashed the standard reply that her form had been received successfully and her request for acceptance to Machon Alte would be processed. 

Who is Malka, what caused her to register with the institute, and why was she so uncertain before making this decision?

To give you a more complete picture, we have to provide a little background…

THE DEVELOPMENT
OF A MIRACLE

Each year, a special Shabbaton takes place during Cheshvan in Beis Chayeinu-770 for college students. On that Shabbos, k’vutza students, older students, and Anash members find notices from the shul’s gabbaim hanging on their seats, requesting that they vacate their places immediately after Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv to make room for the hundreds of students coming to daven shortly after.

The older students and balabatim are already used to this. As soon as they clear the area, the front section of 770 is set up for a unique style of t’filla, combining fervent singing and dancing. The hundreds of students in attendance take part with a special brand of enthusiasm.

This year’s Shabbaton brought to light a fascinating miracle story that occurred last year not long after the previous Shabbaton. On Shabbos Parshas Lech Lecha, the week before the event, I was talking with Rabbi Shmuel Spitzer, who serves on the Rebbe MH”M’s shlichus on behalf of Jewish prison inmates throughout the United States. He shared a story with me that he had just heard from the young woman who had personally experienced it, when she had been a guest in his home in Crown Heights for Shabbos meals. 

The following Shabbos, in an incredible case of Divine Providence, I met Rabbi Shmuel Teichtel, the Rebbe MH”M’s shliach at Arizona State University in Tempe, who had been an active participant in this story and had just arrived in Crown Heights for the Shabbaton with a group of students from his campus. I was privileged to experience up-close the unique activities organized for the students as part of this Shabbaton in the homes of local Anash families. Later, Rabbi Teichtel translated the whole story for me directly from the baalas HaMaaseh (as requested, her full name does not appear in print).

Here now is her story:

“REBBE, WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN MY JUDAISM?”

Malka P. was born in Florida, and she spent her childhood living with her parents in a typical Jewish-American home in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the education she had received as a young girl was based on proper ethics and morals, it was devoid of any Torah values or mitzvah observance. One day years later, when she was a psychology student at Arizona State University, she meandered into the campus Chabad House, run by the Rebbe’s shliach, Rabbi Teichtel. 

Another year passed, and she didn’t visit the Chabad House again during this time. However, that one-time visit had left an indelible and powerful impression upon her. When she passed by the Chabad House a second time, she came in again and her interest in Judaism and Chassidus began to grow. As a result, she broke off all contact with the Gentile.

Slowly but surely, as Malka’s connection with the Chabad House became stronger, she participated regularly in Torah classes and farbrengens. Thus, when she heard last year shortly before Shabbos Parshas VaYeira 5774 about a special Shabbaton for students in 770, the Rebbe’s beis midrash, with Shabbos hospitality at Anash homes in Crown Heights, she naturally signed up immediately. 

In the days leading up to the Shabbaton and her stay with the Rebbe, the feeling sharpened within her that her frequent visits to the Chabad House and her regular participation in Torah classes and various programs were leading her to a serious change in her Jewish life. After hearing once in the Chabad House about the importance of connecting each Jew to the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, who is the Rosh B’nei Yisroel, she sat down and wrote a letter to the Rebbe, detailing the change taking place in her Jewish life over time. “Help me to know exactly what your role is in my Judaism…,” she asked the Rebbe. 

NEWS OF A GIFT THAT CAME BEFORE ITS TIME

That same day, around the time Malka was sitting and writing her letter to the Rebbe, one of the Chabad women of Crown Heights approached the Rebbe’s shliach, Rabbi Shmuel Teichtel, and handed him an envelope containing several dollars she had received from the Rebbe back in the seventies. “You are a shliach of the Rebbe,” she said to him. “Give these special dollars to anyone you consider appropriate.” Rabbi Teichtel thanked her profusely and then placed the dollars in his case.

At the end of the Shabbaton, all of the students returned home, and Malka continued her participation in the Torah classes at the ASU Chabad House. Rabbi Teichtel had become quite impressed by Malka’s seriousness and intensity when she was learning Torah and Chassidus, and he decided to give her a dollar from the Rebbe as a gift.

He telephoned her to say that he had something for her without revealing what it was, and he would give it to her in a few days when she came to the Chabad House.

For some reason, presenting Malka with the gift was delayed for about a month. Although Malka arrived several times at the Chabad House, something always came up and the dollar remained in Rabbi Teichtel’s office.

In the meantime, Malka’s family was not very encouraging, to say the least, of the steps she was taking towards Yiddishkait. Her mother pressured her to forget about the Chabad House and invest all her energies in her psychology studies. While this did little to strengthen the relations between them, Malka remained steadfast in the path she had chosen. However, she still would not dare to leave her psychology studies and register to learn in a Chabad institute for women.

SERIOUS INDECISION BEFORE TAKING A MOMENTOUS STEP

One day, Malka got a telephone call from a friend who had also gone through a kiruv process and had studied in Tzfas’ Machon Alte Institute. During the conversation, the friend asked her: “Malka, aren’t you interested in coming to Machon Alte to learn Judaism and Chassidus on a more intense level?” 

Malka replied: “Of course, I do, but this is a serious step, and it will require making a very difficult decision. It’s not easy for me to decide to take this step…” The friend tried to encourage her to make this decision and make further progress in her personal journey along the path of Torah and mitzvos.

After she hung up the phone, Malka began to think about everything that had led her recently to get closer to her Jewish roots. She eventually came to the conclusion that she must make a decision, one way or another: continuing her psychology studies or going to learn in a Torah institute.

She turned on the computer, and after a few clicks, the screen displayed the on-line registration form for the Machon Alte Institute in Tzfas. She filled out her personal data, and the only thing left was to fill in the last box, stating the reason why she wanted to come and learn in Machon Alte.

She again immersed herself in thought. Eventually, she wrote a few words, scrolled down to the bottom of the page, and placed the cursor on the box marked “Send”. Before clicking, she closed her eyes and asked from the depth of her heart: “Please, Hashem, send me a sign so I’ll know that this is my destiny – to learn in a Chabad religious institution and become a follower of the Rebbe!”

She then took the computer mouse and clicked “Send”…

The screen flashed the standard reply that her form had been received successfully and her request for acceptance to Machon Alte would be processed.

Just then, Malka remembered that one of her regular Torah classes was about to take place in the Chabad House, and she immediately started in that direction. On her way there, she called her mother and told her that she had registered to learn with Machon Alte in Eretz Yisroel.

Her mother was not pleased at all. She declared her strong opposition to this decision of hers, adding that she would not pay a single cent towards her tuition there. She particularly rejected the idea of her daughter traveling to Israel despite the tenuous security situation in the Middle East. The conversation didn’t finish on a very pleasant note…

THE RIGHT STORY TO THE RIGHT PERSON AT THE RIGHT TIME

Malka was beside herself. She was plagued by tremendous uncertainty, and her mother’s harsh reaction to her decision seriously affected her mood. She went in for the class at the Chabad House feeling deeply troubled. However, once the class began, she tried to join the other participants and concentrate on the learning material undisturbed.

The shliach, Rabbi Teichtel, who was giving over the shiur, was of course unaware of Malka’s unsettling phone call with her mother. He called specifically on her among the fifteen people participating in the class and asked that she read a portion of a story about the Rebbe. Malka then began to read the following (excerpted from the book “Towards a Meaningful Life”):

The Rebbe was separated from his parents in the late 1920’s, when he was twenty-six years old, and did not reunite with his mother until 1947. His father had passed away three years earlier. The Rebbe often expressed his anguish at not having had the opportunity to fulfill his obligation of honoring his parents for so many years. 

“When the Rebbe first met his mother after all their years of separation, they embraced for twenty minutes without uttering a sound. Once he was reunited with his mother, he visited her every day, walking to her house in the late afternoons to serve her tea and to spend time talking. 

“Soon after his mother died in 1964, the Rebbe was visited by a teenage girl who wanted to discuss a conflict she was having with her mother. The girl was angry that her mother would not give her as much money as she felt she needed. 

“The Rebbe replied with sadness: ‘I just lost my mother this year. Do you know how much money I would give to see her just once more? You have your mother with you, and yet you allow money to tear you apart.’”

The Divine Providence stunned Malka. The story was speaking directly to her and the current situation. 

After the class, she wanted to go over to Rabbi Teichtel to tell him what had just transpired and ask how he knew to let her, of all people, read the right story at the right time. However, as soon as she approached him, the shliach said, “Oh, Malka, it’s good that you came over! Wait here just a minute and I’ll give you the gift that’s been waiting for you in my office for a month…”

A HEAVENLY SIGN SENT IN 5738 REACHES ITS DESTINATION

Rabbi Teichtel went into his office and came back holding an envelope. She excitedly opened the envelope and was amazed to see a dollar from the Rebbe. She was simply thunderstruck. The sentence she had whispered a short while earlier, just before sending the on-line registration form to Machon Alte, still resonated in her mind with the utmost clarity: “Please, Hashem, send me a sign so I’ll know that this is my destiny – to learn in a Chabad religious institution and become a follower of the Rebbe!”

As Malka held the dollar with trembling hands, she noticed that the Rebbe had given the dollar on the 15th of Shvat 5738. “I don’t believe it,” she muttered as tears welled in her eyes. Then, she immediately corrected herself: “That is to say – now I do believe…”

Rabbi Teichtel was certain that she was overcome with emotion to receive such a special gift, and he felt her elation as he realized that she understood that this was an actual dollar given by the Rebbe himself. However, when Malka explained the recent developments, the shliach’s excitement grew even stronger.

Malka read the date on the dollar again and again, and then said, “This means that the Rebbe was thinking about me even before I was born. It’s clear that on the 15th of Shvat 5738, when the Rebbe gave this dollar, he knew that it would reach its correct destination today – and I would receive it now as a sign to strengthen my decision to become a follower of the Rebbe! I feel that the Rebbe is telling me through this sign: ‘A blessing for success in your current decision for new growth and progress in your Judaism!’” 

After she had calmed down a bit from her excitement, she told Rabbi Teichtel about her conversation with her mother and its connection to the reading material in the class immediately afterwards. As a result, it gave her the encouragement and motivation to make every effort to maintain a good connection with her mother, such that her process of coming closer to her Jewish roots would not cast a shadow upon it.

Later, after the security situation in Eretz Yisroel became even more hazardous with the start of Operation “Protective Edge,” she decided at the advice of Rabbi Teichtel to register instead with the Machon Chana Women’s Institute in Crown Heights, thereby removing any concern her mother might have for her safety. 

Malka began learning in Machon Chana, named after the mother of the king, the righteous Rebbetzin Chana Schneersohn, of blessed memory. The students there are called “the Rebbe’s daughters,” and she is happy and pleased that she has discovered Yiddishkait, as illuminated through the inner teachings of the Torah. With G-d’s help, when the right time comes, she plans to establish a proper Chassidic home, instilled with hiskashrus to Rosh B’nei Yisroel, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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