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Wednesday
Jan062016

THE REBBE REVEALED THE SECRET

By Nechama Bar

“You must decide what you’re doing.  If you want to convert, then we will get married.  Otherwise, we are parting ways.”  A thunderous silence could be heard on the line.

“You know what I’ve decided.  What I’ve been is what I will be.  I am not interested in changing my identity.  My family will be furious if I do that.”  She sounded sure of herself and her decision.

“All right then, this is our final conversation.” Yuval hung up the phone.  He felt he had done the right thing, even though it was very difficult.

Yuval was Israeli and from an irreligious family.  He had met a woman named Jacqueline and all was fine and they thought of marrying.  Then Jacqueline told him that she wasn’t Jewish! She was European, from a Christian family and had no connection to the Jewish people.  She had gone to Eretz Yisroel to work.  She wanted to marry him but refused to convert for that purpose. 

Although Yuval came from an irreligious family, he would not consider marrying a non-Jew.  He tried to convince Jacqueline to convert but she remained firm in her decision not to (it should be mentioned that according to halacha, you cannot convert in order to marry a Jew, for only someone who truly wants to take on the yoke of mitzvos can convert).  The two sadly parted ways.

Yuval was a worldly person who traveled a lot.  He went to New York and was there for a long time. 

One day, he was slowly walking home at the end of a hard day’s work.  It was a crisp autumn day and the street was lined with beautiful trees.  He walked through the fallen leaves of all colors.

“Yuval!” he suddenly heard his name being called.  The voice sounded familiar.  He turned around, looking for who had called his name.

“Jacqueline, you’re here too in America?!”

“You see … we meet again.  Well, did you change your mind?” she asked with a pleading tone.

“Definitely not.  Maybe you changed your mind?”

Jacqueline shook her head no. 

An idea suddenly occurred to Yuval about how to get her to see things his way.  He planned on being in 770 for Simchas Torah with the Rebbe.  A friend had recommended it and said it was the best place to be on Simchas Torah.  The friend said that the simcha overflowed.  Maybe Jacqueline would come to see what Jewish simcha looked like and would be drawn to Judaism.  He tried his luck and suggested that she wait near 770 on Simchas Torah. 

Jacqueline wasn’t opposed to the idea.  She was open-minded and always enjoyed experiencing other cultures.  She had no idea how deep and moving the experience would be.  She pushed into the crowded women’s section.  A nice lady brought her into the front row.  Jacqueline looked in amazement at the path that opened like the Splitting of the Sea.  She watched the Rebbe stride majestically, his face like an angel’s.  She had never seen such a combination of greatness and humility and simplicity.  The nonstop simcha and dancing with the Torah were new to her and something inside of her was moved.

She wanted with all her might to meet this very special man who lifted everybody up.  The day after Simchas Torah she asked for an appointment with the Rebbe.  Yuval was curious to know what the Rebbe said to her.

Jacqueline left the yechidus emotional and somewhat confused.  She told him what happened in the Rebbe’s office:

I told the Rebbe that I am a gentile and that I know a Jewish man and want to marry him but he insists that I first convert.  What should I do?

The Rebbe looked at me with his piercing eyes and I looked downward.  I could not look at his face.  A light radiated from him.

The Rebbe said to me, “You are not a gentile.  You are a Jew.  You can marry.”

I was floored by the Rebbe’s reaction.  “But Rebbe, you don’t know me.  This is the first time I am meeting you.  I am not Jewish.  I come from a Christian, European family.  Every Sunday I go to church and I celebrate all the Christian holidays!”

The Rebbe was not impressed.  “Ask your mother whether you are Jewish or not.”

A spark of hope flared in Yuval’s eyes.  Maybe Jacqueline was actually Jewish!

At first, Jacqueline was not going to pursue it, but Yuval urged her to try.  “What do you have to lose?” he asked.

That same day, Jacqueline called her mother and asked her whether she was Jewish.  Her mother hung up the phone without replying.  Jacqueline realized that the phone was not the way to get the information she wanted.  She ordered a ticket and flew home.  She asked her mother once again whether she was Jewish.  Her mother said, “When Father is at home, do not mention anything about Jews or Judaism.  Tomorrow we will go to the park and I will tell you.”

The next day the two walked slowly in the park.  The colorful flowers did not draw their attention for even a moment.  Then the mother revealed the family secret.

“Yes, I am Jewish and your father is Jewish.  All the grandparents were Jewish.  Father went through the Holocaust and suffered greatly.  He decided to cut all ties with his Jewish roots.”

Jacqueline was incredulous.  “The Rebbe does not know me.  He certainly does not know you.  And yet he knew about our history!”

She quickly returned to New York with good news for Yuval.  She had yechidus again and told the Rebbe what she had learned.  The Rebbe told her how to rid herself of all the impurity that had clung to her from the church and he gave his blessing for their marriage.



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