THE POWER OF KADDISH
November 3, 2015
Nosson Avrohom in #994, Shlichus Stories

A middle-aged, non-observant woman who lived on a kibbutz passed away and left behind some divinely inspired messages, according to her son and her friend, about her desire that they say Kaddish for her. One phone call to the “U’faratzta Kibbutzim” Chabad House brought a solution to the problem.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
“Just as we tend to a Jew’s needs during his lifetime, similarly, we must be concerned for him after his passing, especially if his family members, who received an atheistic education, won’t do this on their own.” With these words, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Ben-Ari, the Rebbe MH”M’s shliach on kibbutzim, began his fascinating story, told for the first time during the Shabbos B’Reishis farbrengen at the Heichal Levi Yitzchak Synagogue in the Chabad community of Tzfas.

The most amazing fact was that the details were made public by the central figure of this story – a member of a kibbutz in northern Eretz Yisroel, a cultured middle-aged man, who after a series of Heavenly inspired experiences, began to believe how Divine Providence runs the world. He revealed some of these personal experiences on his Facebook page with accompanying pictures. This elicited some amazing responses among his kibbutz friends and even from other kibbutzim in the region.

SOMETHING’S REALLY HAPPENING…

“It all began about a month ago,” said Rabbi Ben-Ari. “My personal telephone number is publicized in many places in order that I can fulfill my shlichus and come to the spiritual assistance of any Jew living on one of these kibbutzim. We use the approach of ‘spreading the wellsprings,’ i.e., we don’t wait until they come to us. With G-d’s help, the arousal to greater adherence to the time-honored traditions of the Jewish People in recent years has not passed by the kibbutz communities. Virtually on a daily basis we receive appeals and requests for assistance in matters of Yiddishkait.

“So it was this past Elul, when I got a telephone call from a woman in Ramat Gan who had obtained my number from one of the Rebbe’s shluchim in her city.

“She told me that she was a kibbutz native who has since gotten married, raised a family, and moved to the central region of the country. She said that a few weeks earlier she had organized a reunion of former kibbutz residents. She participated in the gathering and was pleased to see her old friends again after so many years. They updated one another on what each had been doing, and at the conclusion of the event, they exchanged personal information in order that they could continue to be in contact with one another. A few days later, as she checked the Facebook pages of one of these friends, she was saddened to learn of the passing of his mother, a woman with whom she had been acquainted.

“She had passed away at a ripe old age this past Chai Elul, and the woman calling me had known her since her childhood as a good and loving person. Naturally, she immediately called this friend to offer her condolences, even traveling to the kibbutz later in the week to comfort the family in person. As she left their home, she was concerned by the fact that nothing of a spiritual nature was being done in the woman’s memory: her son and family members were very far from the path of Torah and mitzvos.

“This fact saddened her even more because in recent years she had gone through her own process of kiruv to traditional Judaism. She was fully aware of the contrast between the education provided on the kibbutz and the truth of Torah values she was now learning. After being absorbed with these thoughts for a day or two, she went back to her routine life and forgot about the whole matter.

“Then one night, she had a frightening dream that roused her from her sleep. In this dream she saw her departed friend walking along the kibbutz road, looking at her son walking nearby with an angry expression on her face. After she woke up from this dream, she wasn’t able to fall asleep again. When she told her husband about this, he suggested that she speak to her late friend’s son about saying Kaddish for her mother. However, she rejected the idea; she knew all too well that this was totally unrealistic. The son had never set foot in a synagogue before – what connection did he possibly have to saying Kaddish?

“After she told me all this over the phone, she asked me for advice how to proceed. I listened to her most attentively, and when she finished, I told her that by Divine Providence she had come to the right place at the right time. Just a few months ago, the U’faratzta Kibbutzim Chabad House started a new project. Since most kibbutz members of the second and third generation do not attend synagogue services and surely don’t say Kaddish, we chose to accept the responsibility of saying Mourner’s Kaddish during the three daily prayer services in memory of departed kibbutznikim. I had a list with their names in my pocket at all times, and I made certain to look at this list before each t’filla. If I realized that I might be stuck without a minyan for davening, a member of the Chabad House staff would always have access to the list and would back me up by saying Kaddish in my place.

“I suggested that she add this woman’s name to my list for the Kaddish project, and I asked to give her son a few suggestions in my name. First, he should try to have a ‘weekly candle’ lit in her house during the year of mourning. I also suggested that he should make some good resolutions, e.g., refraining from participating in joyous events for the duration of the mourning period.

“She did try to call the man, the bereaved son, several times – but there was no answer. She thought that her heightened interest had apparently unnerved him a bit. That night, she sent me a post that he had added to his Facebook page. In the post, he shows a picture of rosin from a tree, dripping on the mourning announcement attached to the front door of his mother’s house. Anyone who understands trees knows that there is no logical explanation for a tree that was uprooted forty or fifty years ago to start dripping rosin, a liquid substance that comes out of a tree when it’s alive and growing. Since such a sight was quite unbelievable, he posted the picture as an illustration of this fact.

“I was truly amazed, and I asked her to find the name of the deceased woman’s father as soon as possible in order that we could immediately start saying Kaddish for her. Getting the name turned out to be quite easy. The woman was the sister of one of Eretz Yisroel’s most famous poets and his entire life’s history and family background appeared on Wikipedia. Thus, by the very next day, her name had been added to the list and we began reciting Kaddish in her memory.

“A few days passed, and the period of Shiva came to an end. One day, the woman from Ramat Gan called me again. This time, she wanted to send me another post that her late friend’s son had put on his personal Facebook page. As with the previous post, it was accompanied by a photo. ‘As on every morning since then,’ the post began, ‘I woke up with a heavy longing in my heart, and I asked my mother for a sign that she’s close by and still here somehow. Afterward, I found this where my car was parked.’ He attached a picture of his car parked near the house. On the dust that had accumulated on the rear windshield, someone had written two words: ‘Love, Mom.’

“He felt that his mother had given him a sign that she’s nearby and she’s happy. Only later, he received a phone call from that woman in Ramat Gan, his childhood friend, who told him about the angry dream and the Kaddish they had begun to say in his mother’s memory. Thus, there closed the circle that had brought him such tremendous excitement with the two signs he had received: the doorpost to his house dripping resin, and after the recitation of Kaddish, there appeared the words, ‘Love, Mom.’”

A BLESSED INITIATIVE

Rabbi Ben-Ari, who already thought that he had seen it all over his decades of outreach work on the kibbutzim, was deeply moved. In his estimation, this was more than just a sign to a mourning son; this was also a personal sign for him that his Kaddish project was a welcome initiative. “I only started this project in the past few months, and I often thought about whether I was doing the right thing. I didn’t see that the Rebbe ever spoke about this, and then this story came along and gave me a sign of approval for my actions.

“Just as I tend to a kibbutznik during his lifetime with ‘apple and honey,’ shmura matza, and a Chanukah menorah, I will also tend to him after his passing with the reciting of Kaddish in his memory. I want to take this important and unique opportunity to call upon additional shluchim to adopt this initiative and tend also to those who are no longer with us.”

 

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