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Friday
Feb242017

I AM NO LONGER ALONE

About a hundred guests attended the exclusive, invitation only event that was held in the Chabad yeshiva in Ramat Aviv. * The speech that moved everyone most was given by a businessman, Mr. Moshe Katz, who spoke briefly but powerfully about a spontaneous visit to 770 and the surprising transformation that followed. * The full speech is presented here

With permission from the rabbanim, good evening to all. I came here this evening to share with you an experience that changed my life.

My story begins with my childhood. I grew up as an only child in the Tel Kabir neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv. For those who are not familiar, some call it a high crime neighborhood; it is certainly not a simple place. It is definitely not one of the better neighborhoods that each of you would have wanted to grow up in.

At thirteen I found a best friend, a friend for life. We had something in common; we were both only children without sisters or brothers, which served to strengthen our bond. We were like brothers. At a relatively young age we became partners, and we built ourselves up in the world of business. Boruch Hashem, together we did well.

Then suddenly, at the age of 39, my dear friend died suddenly. I took it very hard. Life as I knew it had suddenly been cut short. I felt alone. The next day already, I left the country. I told my wife that I had to leave. We packed and took a flight to the US.

As is common by Israelis, we headed straight for Manhattan. A few brief days just to recover went by and then I said to my wife, “I must go and see the Rebbe’s house.” I figured I would go for a few minutes, take a picture outside, and come back.

I arrived there and saw the beautiful, impressive looking building, what you see in the pictures. I took a picture and then, on the spur of the moment, I went inside to take a look.

I opened the door and stood there in amazement and said wow! There were so many people praying, learning, what a commotion, and I said to myself: Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should go back out? Within a few seconds, as I stood there and wondered, two guys came over to me and invited me to join them. I hesitated, wondering what they wanted from me.

Then one of them smilingly introduced himself as Yosef and he escorted me in. I quickly found myself in the middle of a large crowd. I felt myself being swept up in a special and unfamiliar experience. I slowly began to feel drawn in by it. It touched me. I wanted to see the places he was talking about and he took the time to explain where the Rebbe prayed and farbrenged.

Throughout the visit, he showed me on his tablet images to explain and demonstrate what transpired in each place. I did not need the tablet because what my eyes saw and what my heart felt were the best tangible demonstration for me.

I saw all the yeshiva bachurim praying and heard the noise around us, but in my own silence I felt a feeling of something that cannot be explained in words. I am sure that everyone has felt this within themselves. I enjoyed it tremendously and felt that something was happening to me, deep inside.

At first, I did not think that the tour would take longer than a few minutes, but I can tell you that the few minutes I designated for the visit turned into a few hours. I opened up and began to show more interest. The bachur challenged me and I tried to challenge him back with questions. I wanted to know more and more, proofs and explanations, and he knew how to answer me on everything. It was so interesting to me to hear and to learn that I did not want to leave.

That is how several pleasant hours of a unique experience passed in the house of the Rebbe, touring and comprehending what I was experiencing, seeing and feeling what they were all talking about the Rebbe. For me, it was something from which I felt quite distant. And then I sat down to write a letter to the Rebbe. Yosef told me, “Take something upon yourself, a good resolution, and you don’t have to tell anyone.”

I thought of two things that I would be happy to accept upon myself. What would happen down the road, I had no idea, “Perhaps I will leave here and forget about it.” But friends, I could not be sure, so I looked heavenward and said “Elokim gadol” (G-d is great), maybe things will work out and I will be able to keep to it with Hashem’s help.

Afterward, the young man didn’t leave me. He accompanied me and helped me get a taxi back to the hotel. It ended up being a few hours that he was with me and I simply felt good. I said fine, I’m going back to the hotel and life will go on.

However, the story did not end there for me. I began to live with the sense that this visit to the Rebbe’s house really was doing something to me. What I had said to myself that I would do, is actually happening. I took upon myself resolutions and I am keeping to them. A year and a half has passed since that visit and today I can tell you that we are being more careful with keeping Shabbos and family purity.

Those were the things about which I had said to myself “Elokim gadol,” and perhaps I would succeed in doing them. I feel that the visit to the Rebbe really strengthened me when I was feeling so alone. My partner and I were like brothers since age thirteen and suddenly I felt all alone. However, since that encounter I am no longer alone.

Since then I have had the opportunity to visit and see many Chabad Houses in Eretz Yisroel and around the world. That is when I understood just how important a Chabad House is when you are out in the world, especially when you only eat kosher; you have to get your food at the Chabad House because you don’t eat elsewhere. You can’t live very long on just bananas and orange juice.

I can tell that what people like me experience, how we feel and become strengthened in our emuna, that is the merit that all of you have a part in. Also, today I would like to announce that I will in the near future be conducting a Hachnasas Seifer Torah in memory of my dear friend. And that is hardly all. I am also a partner in establishing Chabad Houses in a number of places around the world. Of course, we are only a conduit. G-d is delivering something through us, nothing really belongs to us. With Hashem’s help, I hope to do much more.

When I heard about this evening’s event and its purpose, I promised myself that I would attend. I am standing before you today and find myself being moved all over again. Those moments spent in the Rebbe’s house were not simply a transient encounter of a few hours that came and went. It was an experience that changed my whole life. To this very day, I am still in touch with Yosef as a result of that encounter.

You should just know this: It is a wonderful feeling that chevra like you take upon yourselves, sincerely and seriously, the job of giving and sharing with simple folk like me. Yes, you need to know how to talk, to say the right word, to give each person care and attention, because we all have the Jewish spark inside, we all come from the same source. On the shlichus of the Rebbe you ignite that spark and open it up.

This is a major undertaking, and whoever takes part in it has an enormous merit.

Thank you for inviting me to this special evening. It is an amazing feeling for me, and I think we still have more to do to fulfill what the Rebbe instructed and guided everything towards – to bring the Geula.

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