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Wednesday
Mar022016

THE REBBE RETURNED THE SUITCASE

By Nechama Bar

Chana Cohen and her husband, from Ashkelon, made a trip to the Rebbe.  Although, unfortunately, we cannot currently see the Rebbe, they knew and felt that the Rebbe has not abandoned us and even today, he waits for us to come to 770.

The wheels of the plane touched down in New York, the doors opened, and the passengers got up and began exiting. 

The Cohens had an inspiring experience in Crown Heights and spent a few weeks there.  A few days before their trip home, Chana spent some time shopping for gifts for her family.  Her husband, a sofer, took the opportunity to buy parchment, ink, and other items for his job.

All the expensive things they bought were packed into one large suitcase.  As they packed, the phone rang.  Chana heard the voice of her husband’s brother.  “We miss you,” he said.  “I will come and pick you up from the airport.  You don’t have to take a taxi.”

Indeed, when the plane landed at Ben Gurion airport, he was excitedly waiting for them.  They quickly loaded the suitcases onto the roof of his car and set out.  The couple shared their experiences with him and he was very interested in hearing the details.

Suddenly, they heard loud honking from a car behind them.  The three of them ignored it but the honking became more frequent and insistent.  The brother-in-law slowed down and looked at the driver who had driven up alongside him.

The driver glared and said, “You nearly caused an accident! One of your suitcases fell off the roof!”

The brother-in-law immediately parked the car on the side of the road and went out to retrieve the lost suitcase.  It was a rainy, wintry night and he looked right and left but did not see a suitcase.

He tried walking further along but the darkness and the rain made it very hard to see. He had no choice but to return to the car and tell his passengers that the suitcase was gone.

“Don’t worry,” he tried to reassure them.  “You wrote your name and information on the suitcase and surely someone will find it and return it to you.”

He drove them to his parents’ house where the couple would be resting up for a few days and then would return home.  When they got out of the car Chana checked to see which suitcase was missing.  How upset she was when she realized it was the most valuable suitcase of all, the one with all the presents and expensive items they had bought.

All the encouraging and consoling words of her family did nothing to calm her.  She had a hard time making peace with the fact that such an expensive item had been lost.

The next day, they made calls to have an ad placed about their loss.  One of the sisters-in-law suggested they go back home right away since the phone number on the suitcase was their home number.

They went home where Chana jumped every time the phone rang.  Maybe it would be the call announcing that someone had found their suitcase!

Days passed and she began to despair.  Then one day the phone rang.  She answered the phone without much hope.

“Is this the Cohen family?” she heard a male voice say.

“Yes,” she answered tensely.

“I found your suitcase.  Can I come and bring it to you now?”

“Wow! Great! Please don’t bother. I will come to you.”

“No, I’m coming right over,” said the man.

A few hours later their bell rang.  Chana hurried to the door.  There stood a burly fellow wearing a T-shirt and jeans.  His long hair and tough demeanor did not make the best impression.  In his hand was the long-awaited suitcase.

The man looked at the large picture of the Rebbe on the wall and said, “If not for him, you would never have gotten this suitcase back.”

Chana looked at him in astonishment, not understanding what he meant.  The man explained:

“Until a short time ago, I was in prison for a few years for theft.  I am not married and I am living with my mother.  That day that you traveled with the suitcases, I was behind you and I saw the suitcase fall off the roof of the car you were traveling in.  I immediately stopped and put your suitcase in my car.  I was happy it happened and hoped there would be valuable things in it.  I got home and opened it and started dividing the contents with my mother.  Then I noticed a picture of this tzaddik,” he said, pointing at the Rebbe’s picture.

“I looked at the picture and realized that I was doing something wrong but I still did not consider returning the suitcase to its owner.

“That night, I dreamed that I saw the man in the picture calling to me and saying, ‘Return the suitcase to its owner the way you found it.’  I woke up and began thinking about it.  On the one hand, I wanted the suitcase and had already given my mother some things.  On the other hand, the dream really bothered me.  But then I put the dream out of my mind.

“The next night, the man came to me in a dream again and said, ‘Return the suitcase to its owner!’

“I woke up in a fright.  The dream was so real.  I was afraid to go against what he said so I called you.”

Chana stood there in shock. She opened the suitcase and nothing was missing.  She offered the man a reward but he refused to take anything.  She thanked him warmly and when she closed the door behind him she looked at the Rebbe’s picture and said, “Thank you, Rebbe.”

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