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Tuesday
Nov152016

SHNAS HAKHEL - THE HARTMAN FAMILY

Whenever I told my story, there were people who repeated the Chassidic aphorism - the Rebbe does not remain a debtor. I did not understand why the Rebbe owes us anything when he arranged everything for us in the best possible way, our flights and our terrific apartment. I myself did not realize what miracle was on the way. * R’ Mendy Hartman tells about his trip to the Rebbe

It has been many years now that I have been going to 770 every Tishrei. Some years I go from Rosh HaShana and some years just from Sukkos and on. From 5749 (except for one year) I was with the Rebbe every Tishrei.

Before this past Hakhel year, I wanted very much to go to the Rebbe with the whole family, my wife and six children. This desire only intensified in the face of the passionate faith and yearning that only grew from year to year. The chayus that you get from being in 770 gives a chayus to all of one’s conduct as a Chassid throughout the rest of the year. I wanted my wife and children to experience what thousands of Chassidim experience in the place of the Nasi Ha’dor, determined to bring about the hisgalus.

What stood in our way was the expense of eight tickets and then more money to be able to stay somewhere. It costs a fortune and this is what gave me no peace already from the year before.

I shared my desire numerous times with my wife and those close to me and of course, the Rebbe too from whom I asked a bracha. I wrote to the Rebbe that I committed to doing Hakhel activities - mivtza t’fillin and shiurim, and it should be a segula for us to be able to raise the money we needed for the whole family to go to Crown Heights. The Rebbe’s answer was clear and very encouraging. It said, “Surely his flight was arranged on El-Al.” I read it and was amazed. The Rebbe wasn’t just blessing us that we go to him but was suggesting direct flights.

Another two months went by and it was Gimmel Tammuz. The Hakhel year was about to begin. What would I do? Where would I get the money?

Shabbos afternoon, I sat alone in a shul in B’nei Brak and sang the niggun, “Im esak Shamayim,” while I yearned to be able to go to the Rebbe. I cried and in my heart I pleaded to the Rebbe that we all be able to go to 770. What was I asking for already? To see Father and be with him. I made this request brokenheartedly.

When the door opened and someone walked in, I buried my face in my hands so he wouldn’t see that I had been crying.

On Motzaei Shabbos, during Melaveh Malka, I raised the topic again with my wife and we pondered what we could do. She said, “Since I see that this means so much to you, let us think of new gateways that perhaps can be opened for us.” She mentioned looking into a certain option. She works as a teacher and she asked whether she could get an advance on her sabbatical salary from the Education Ministry.

I felt hopeful and the next morning she wrote a letter which she sent to the Education Ministry. We didn’t even know whether they would respond, never mind with a positive response.

How excited we were to receive a response within a relatively short time with a positive answer that we would be advanced 35,000 shekels. I was touched by my wife’s mesirus nefesh - instead of using the money to buy a new kitchen or for other projects she might have wanted to do, she was willing to spend all the money on our trip to the Rebbe. We took a loan against that amount and bought the tickets on El-Al.

Then we had to look for a place to stay in Crown Heights. We looked and looked and didn’t find anything. We should have started looking earlier. It was 18 Elul and we still had no place to stay. I knew that I could not show up at 770 with a wife and six children without a place to stay, but all our attempts to find accommodations did not work out. Upon consulting with my wife, we donated the kiddush at the shul where I daven and hoped this would be a segula that we get to 770 and things work out in the best possible way.

Sunday morning I wrote to the Rebbe again and asked for his bracha. The Rebbe’s bracha was that we inform the secretaries and they should deduct the expenses. We did not understand the connection but were happy that we got a clear bracha about expenses. We anticipated a miracle and it happened far sooner than we thought it would.

A woman from Crown Heights, not far from 770, who owns a basement, whom we had called and who said she already had tenants, called us back and asked whether we were still looking for a place. She said that her previous tenants changed their mind at the last minute and she urged us to hurry and decide because she was getting many calls. The cost was $3600. In light of the Rebbe’s brachos, we decided to go l’chat’chilla aribber. We agreed to rent it and rushed to the bank for another loan.

I also got some panim to deliver to the Rebbe from the bank officials and a good friend from mivtzaim gave me a loan of $2000. I knew I would have to contend with these big debts over the next year, but I was happy that at least the lion’s share of the money, for the tickets, we got in such an amazing way.

We arrived at 770 and the intensity of what we experienced cannot be described in words. The children kissed the mezuza at the entrance to 770, held the doorknob and said SheHechiyanu. During our stay they attended farbrengens, Tahalucha, the dancing, and kissed the Torah of Moshiach. These are experiences that they talk about till today. Our physical circumstances were wonderful, the best I ever had. The fridge was always full and we hosted people. The basement was located very close to 770. It was a beautiful and clean place with a cleaning lady who changed the linens and towels and cleaned up.

In every sukka that we were hosted, and at Chassidishe farbrengens that I attended, I told the story of how our entire family came to the Rebbe and all were amazed. During the two weeks we were there, I asked the Rebbe that we be an inspiration for others, and we were. People met me and said what a pity we didn’t hear your story before we came or we would have brought more of our family to the Rebbe.

After Simchas Torah and Moshiach still didn’t appear, we had to return to Eretz Yisroel, but the children didn’t want to leave. They wanted to stay in 770.

Whenever I told my story, there were those who repeated the Chassidic saying - the Rebbe does not remain a debtor. I did not understand why the Rebbe owes us anything when he arranged everything for us in the best possible way, our flights and our terrific apartment. I myself did not realize what miracles we were about to experience, because indeed, the Rebbe does not remain in debt, and one who believes sees salvation and wonders.

When we returned home, tired but satisfied, a surprise was waiting for me in my mailbox, a letter from Bituach Leumi - the Israeli National Insurance. I opened the letter and saw they were demanding 5000 shekels. I was despondent. It isn’t pleasant to see something like this on your return home (or ever). Was this the present that was waiting for us on our return from 770?

This feeling lasted just a few hours, for that evening, my wife checked our bank account and was surprised. In addition to the 35,000 shekels that were deposited by the Education Ministry, there were another 30,000 shekels from another government office. We had no idea why the latter had been deposited in our account.

The Rebbe covered not only our tickets, but our entire stay in Crown Heights. In fact, the Rebbe did not remain in debt. Not only that, but we had money left over for another ticket.

Since everything in a Hakhel year needs to be done in a manner of increasing, upon consulting my wife we decided that with the remaining amount I would fly back for the Kinus HaShluchim. Here too, the Rebbe did not remain owing and at the lottery held at the Kinus, I won $1000 which covered the ticket.

Then and there I decided to give this money to my wife so she could also fly for the Kinus HaShluchos on 22 Shvat.

Then came an even bigger surprise. During her visit for the Kinus HaShluchos, she discovered that she was in the early stages of pregnancy with our daughter who was born in the Hakhel year. We named her Chaya Mushka.

So this past year we merited manifold blessings and miracles from the Rebbe. The spiritual elevation we experienced during the Hakhel year was incomparable to any visit I made to the Rebbe in the past, and I had gone many times. We saw that if you open your eyes and don’t cave in to the darkness of this world, you merit miracles.

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