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Thursday
Aug292019

LETTERS ON THE TABLE

One of the customs of the month of Elul is to check tefillin and mezuzos. The following is an amazing story about this.

In 5749, Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Weiss, rav of the Neve Achiezer neighborhood in Bnei Brak, did not feel well. His temperature was high and he lay sick and weak in bed. One doctor after another could not diagnose what was wrong with him.

Although the Weiss family is not Lubavitch, they knew about the Rebbe’s greatness. They faxed a letter to the Rebbe. The Rebbe’s answer was to check tefillin and mezuzos, I will mention it at the tziyun.

R’ Weiss had very special tefillin. He inherited his Rashi tefillin from his father who put them on since his bar mitzva for almost 90 years! They were written by a distinguished scribe by the name of R’ Chaim Sofer who was known to be G-d fearing and on a high spiritual level. His Rabeinu Tam tefillin were also special. He had these tefillin with him during the Holocaust. But if the Rebbe said to check them, that had to be done.

R’ Weiss’ son hurried to bring the tefillin and mezuzos to a place where they would be checked. The results were: five out of seven mezuzos were pasul!

What about the tefillin?

“The Rabeinu Tam tefillin are old and should be replaced,” advised the expert scribes. Then they examined the Rashi tefillin. One of them shouted, “Wow! These are special tefillin! The parshiyos are beautiful. Despite their age, they look new as though they were just written.”

The son was happy to hear this, for these tefillin were very dear to his father.

“Still,” said the scribes, “we recommend changing the battim (the black squares) because they aren’t perfectly square. In the past, rabbanim allowed the height and width to be non-identical but now we try to avoid this.”

The Weiss family agreed and new battim were purchased. The mezuzos were changed, the tefillin were checked but not only did R’ Weiss not recover; his condition got worse and the family were told he was sick with a terrible sickness.

The children made inquiries to find the best doctors. The doctors recommended a series of treatments. However, before they started treatments, the doctors saw that the spleen was enlarged, eight times the normal size.

The doctors said, “In this condition he cannot receive medication because the spleen will absorb it all and it won’t be effective.”

R’ Weiss was in the hospital and he decided to write to the Rebbe. “As the Rebbe instructed, we checked the tefillin and mezuzos. The mezuzos were changed for kosher ones and the Rabeinu Tam tefillin were also changed. The battim of the Rashi tefillin were changed and yet, my medical condition is very serious …” And he went on to say what the doctors told him.

The Rebbe’s answer was puzzling. “Your letter was received and it would be good to check the tefillin. I will mention it at the tziyun.”

“It can’t be! There seems to be a misunderstanding here,” thought the son. “We checked the tefillin already. Why is the Rebbe saying to check them again?”

“It looks like a mistake,” he said to his father and he did not rush to check the tefillin again. They were busy with caring for their father and who had time to recheck tefillin?

But the father, R’ Weiss, disagreed. “If the Lubavitcher Rebbe said so, I don’t want to use my tefillin. I will use different ones,” and he began using his son’s tefillin.

His condition continued to deteriorate; each day was worse than the day before. A few days went by and the son, who was devastated by his father’s condition, decided to check the tefillin again, as the Rebbe said to do.

He went to Rabbi Kenner of Bnei Brak and asked him to check the tefillin. R’ Kenner was a busy scribe. Many people wanted him to check their tefillin and mezuzos and there was a long wait.

R’ Kenner took the tefillin and said, “Come back in a few weeks …”

R’ Weiss’ son exclaimed, “I can’t wait even a moment! My father’s condition is critical …” He was nearly in tears.

Hearing that, R’ Kenner set aside everything else and went to his workroom. There, he opened the tefillin.

Wonder of wonders! Just by opening the tefillin, letters fell off on to the table. About thirty letters were on the table, leaving the parchment smooth and clean with no ink. It seems that at the previous place, they had put the parshiyos back in the battim roughly and this caused letters to fall off.

The son, amazed by the Rebbe’s ruach ha’kodesh, quickly bought new tefillin. The next morning, he went to the hospital to bring the new tefillin to his father. He helped his father put them on and his father davened.

While R’ Weiss was wearing tallis and tefillin, a doctor came in and said, “Although, according to the rules, treatment would not be done in your condition, I want to try anyway.”

The family members were surprised since they had waited for treatment for so long and the doctors refused to provide it. Now, suddenly, for no apparent reason, the doctor was offering to give the treatment immediately. R’ Weiss was treated that same day.

The following day, the doctor took an X-ray. To his amazement, the spleen had gone down a quarter of its size.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “Nothing like this appears in the medical books. It’s a miracle! Because when the spleen is that large, it absorbs all the drugs and has no effect …”

R’ Weiss continued to recover, most astonishingly. On Shavuos of that year, he traveled to the Rebbe to thank him. After that, he said about himself that he was a Chabad Chassid. He told this story a lot and strengthened people’s belief in the prophet of the generation.

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