Two miracle stories, told by Rabbi Pinchas Baumgarten and Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow.
OPEN MIRACLE IN THE REBBE’S ROOM
R’ Pinchas Baumgarten of Buenos Aires, Argentina, told the following story:
When I was in 770 as a bachur, in Av 5733/1973, I was called to the secretaries’ office by the secretary, Rabbi Binyamin Klein a”h. I had no idea why, but of course I rushed over. There I found three people waiting. I later learned that the three men were brothers. They begged the secretary to allow them to enter the Rebbe’s room since one of them was very sick and the doctors had given him a short time to live.
Since they were wealthy, and they were sure that money would get them what they wanted, they did not understand why they were being refused.
There actually wasn’t much of a conversation between them and the secretary, since the brothers spoke Spanish and the secretary did not know that language. I knew Spanish because of our years on shlichus in Argentina, with my father, R’ Berel, serving as the main shliach there.
R’ Klein asked me to be the translator and told me to say that the Rebbe was not meeting with anybody at this time, during the Nine Days between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B’Av.
After I explained this to them, I asked how they were doing and where they were staying. They had taken rooms in an expensive hotel and they had brought along the doctor from Argentina.
After I explained the protocol to them, they understood that they had to wait a few days until after Tisha B’Av. The secretary understood the urgency of the matter and gave them an appointment on one of the days following Tisha B’Av.
In the interim, I met with them and we even farbrenged together. Before their yechidus, I suggested they make some good commitment as a means to better receive the Rebbe’s blessing. They immediately agreed and that same day we bought three pairs of t’fillin. Every morning, I went to put t’fillin on with them.
On the day of their appointment with the Rebbe, I wrote to the Rebbe all the details that I knew about them. The sick man, his wife and two brothers arrived at 770 and I also joined the yechidus as per the secretaries’ request, so I could translate what the Rebbe said for them. I entered the Rebbe’s room with awe and stood on the left side of the Rebbe.
The Rebbe asked them to sit. After reading the letter that I wrote, the Rebbe said to them that if they wanted their brother to recover, they had to commit to kashrus.
I tried to translate what the Rebbe said, but apparently I did not translate it properly. The Rebbe corrected me and said, “That is not what I meant.” I tried again and the Rebbe nodded his satisfaction.
Then the Rebbe addressed the sick man and asked him to show him where the disease was. The man had skin cancer and he got up to show the Rebbe. The Rebbe put on his glasses and looked where the man pointed and said, “Pinye, tell him that I see nothing.” Then the Rebbe began blessing them with numerous blessings.
When he finished, he asked to see the exact spot again. He put on his glasses again and stared at it and then said again, “Tell him that I see nothing.”
They got up to leave but I couldn’t move. Even after they left the room, I remained stuck in my place so that R’ Leibel Groner had to literally pull me out.
The next day, the couple went to the hospital, where to the amazement of the doctors, the growth had disappeared. The family was ecstatic and of course they began keeping kashrus punctiliously. From New York they went to Miami and they kept kashrus there too.
A few months later, in Kislev 5734, I got married. Since my father was very close to them, they were invited to my wedding, but they didn’t come. I asked my father why they didn’t come, but he didn’t answer me. I asked him again the next day and he told me that the couple had gone on vacation to Punta del Este where they were less careful about kashrus. Within a short time the cancer returned and a week later, the man died.
When I heard this, I went to console the family, as it was still during the Shiva. At the entrance to the house I met one of the brothers whom I had met previously in New York. Before I could say a word, he said to me sadly, “See what happens when you don’t listen to what the Rebbe says …”
FAITH THAT SAVED
This story, told by R’ Pinye Baumgarten, spread quickly among the shluchim. One shliach in Canada, R’ Eliezer Gurkow, upon hearing it, decided to share his own story with fellow shluchim. It happened after 3 Tammuz 5754. This is his story:
There was a person in our community who called me and said he wanted to say goodbye. When I asked him why, he said his doctors had diagnosed him with a critical and rare disease. In the medical literature there are only fifteen cases in the world and most of them died within six weeks of diagnoses. I was shocked.
That same day I went to his home to boost his spirits. After that, I visited him frequently. I visited him many times including Purim and I read the Megilla for him.
Some months passed and he was still alive, despite the doctors’ dire predictions. The doctors wanted to do a medical experiment to try and see what might be effective against the disease but he said he didn’t want it because he didn’t know what it might do to him.
One day, he invited me to his home and asked for my advice. The doctors really wanted to go ahead with their medical experiments and they had even threatened him to agree. They felt that their professional prestige was at stake.
Despite my opinion on the matter, I explained to him the idea of writing to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh and that now too, we can receive answers from the Rebbe.
I will admit that back then I was still confused myself about writing to the Rebbe in this way, so I told him not to put the full weight of his decision on a letter that wasn’t even addressed to him. I suggested that he read the answer as advice and guidance to be taken into consideration together with the other advice he was given.
He agreed to write to the Rebbe and the truth is, I was afraid. I knew that this entailed a life and death matter and I did not feel confident…
The volume was opened to a letter the Rebbe wrote to someone who told him that his wife was sick with a neurological disease, and the doctors were advising a new treatment that was unconventional and not yet accepted. The Rebbe wrote not to do it unless the doctor would explain his reason for doing it to two other doctors and they agreed with him. In the meantime, suggested the Rebbe, he should take medication to treat the disease.
I saw that he was excited by this answer that was so on target. I said goodbye and didn’t hear anything from him for a while. From mutual acquaintances, I heard that he remained adamant and did not agree to the experiments.
Six weeks went by and I got a phone call from him. He sounded jubilant. He told me that he had just returned from the hospital where the doctors found problems with his blood. It turned out that if he had listened to the doctors and had done the experiment, he would no longer be alive. When he finished he said, “Rabbi, you need to start believing more in your Rebbe … You told me to take the Rebbe’s view as just one factor in my decision, but I took it as the only factor and thanks to that, my life was saved!”