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Tuesday
Jan032017

THE SECRET

The man asked if he could read the answer himself and then asked me: ‘The Rebbe is explicitly writing here about my son. Why dont you ask me about him?’” Two astoundingIgros Kodeshstories as told by Rabbi Yaakov Segal, the Rebbes shliach in Neve Monosson.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

For thirty years, Rabbi Yaakov Segal has been on the Rebbe MHMs shlichus in Neve Monosson, a communal settlement in Eretz Yisroel now merged with the adjacent city of Yehud and renamed Yehud-Monosson. Rabbi Segal is a versatile and highly active shliach. Alongside his running of the local Chabad House, he has served for decades HaPleitaSynagogue, where he has served as rav for many years as an educator and principal of the Talmud Torah in Kfar Chabad. In addition, he spends Shabbos and Yom tov in theShearit.

Many people in Yehud-Monosson are familiar with Rabbi Segal’s presence, and not simply because he has lived there with his family for many years. Anyone familiar with Rabbi Segal knows that he is a ‘people’s person.’ He has a warm and caring smile, knows how to get into a friendly conversation with anyone, and represents the address for all things Jewish. Local residents know where to turn in times of trouble or doubt, difficulty or concern, and with Rabbi Segal’s help, they write to the Rebbe via Igros Kodesh and are privileged to receive his advice and blessing.

Over the years, Rabbi Segal has accumulated a large number of thrilling stories, most of which he declines to tell in detail for reasons of confidentiality and modesty. When we pressured him a little, he agreed to share the following two stories with us.

A FATHER’S CONCERN FOR HIS SON

“One night, I received a telephone call from a close friend who asked if he could come over to my house accompanied by one of his colleagues. When I inquired about what was so urgent, he told me that it was a health matter. I happily agreed to see them in my house. When the two men came in, I immediately identified my friend’s companion and my heart jumped. I had known this person for many years as a prominent businessman in our community. Since he usually looked very strong and husky, you can imagine my disbelief when I saw him so gaunt and thin.

“Naturally, I welcomed them with a warm smile and asked them to sit down. The businessman got straight to the matter that had brought them to see me. He said that his doctor had recently discovered a malignant tumor in his abdomen, and he had been undergoing a series of operations. During the most serious surgical procedure, ninety percent of his stomach had been removed, resulting in his emaciated appearance.

“As I do with everyone else, I asked him to put the anguish he felt in writing, instructing him on how to compose a letter to the Rebbe.

“When he finished writing, I asked him to make a good resolution and he pondered this for a good long while. Finally, he asked me to choose something for him. When I asked him if he stringently put on t’fillin, he told me that he had been putting on t’fillin for some time with the shliach in Yehud, Rabbi Shimon Weiner, but he was afraid to make a daily commitment. He eventually suggested that he make a generous contribution to the Chabad House and become a partner in its activities. I accepted his suggestion and quoted to him the saying of our Sages, ‘Charity saves from death.’

“The man went over to our library, removed a volume of Igros Kodesh from the shelf, and placed his letter inside. He asked me to read and explain the response. I read the letter in amazement. The Rebbe wrote in regard to the health of the writer’s son, happy to hear that it is continually improving. At the conclusion of the letter, the Rebbe suggested that he give tz’daka to hasten his recovery. The three of us were stunned that the Rebbe referred to his good resolution to make a contribution to the Chabad House.

“The man asked if he could read the answer himself and then asked me: ‘The Rebbe is explicitly writing here about my son. Why don’t you ask me about him?’ Surprised by his question, I asked if he could give me some information, and he proceeded to tell me something amazing. His son, who was serving in the IDF at the time, had been complaining of severe stomach pains in recent months. The doctors took x-rays, and while the results showed nothing to be concerned about, his son felt very dejected and depressed. ‘The Rebbe wrote that he too will have good health,’ the man said excitedly.

“It was amazing to see how the man accepted the Rebbe’s reply with simple faith. In his words, if the Rebbe is writing about his son, then there’s nothing to discuss – the Rebbe means his son. He came to my house with a desire to write about himself, and he left happy about the answer he had been privileged to receive for his son.

“I gave the man a lot of encouragement, instilling him with hope regarding his own health, and the meeting ended.

“A couple of days later, I was walking through the streets of Yehud when my mobile phone suddenly rang. I looked at the display and saw the number of my friend who had brought the businessman to my home.

“My friend began to speak in a voice filled with tremendous excitement:

“‘Are you standing or sitting?’ he asked breathlessly.

“‘I’m walking,’ I replied.

“‘Well, then you’d better grab a light post or a tree,’ he said excitedly. ‘Have you heard the radio today?’ he inquired, and I replied that I had not. ‘What? You didn’t hear? The whole country is abuzz,’ he exclaimed. It was two days before Israel Independence Day, and people were busy erecting a special platform for the IDF Memorial Day ceremonies scheduled for Mt. Herzl in Yerushalayim.

“One of the construction companies had built a structure of iron and light fixtures on the dais. The businessman’s son had been assigned to a security position, while his friends did practice rehearsals in preparation for their appearance the following day before the nation’s leaders. The businessman’s son was standing under one of the heavy iron frames and spoke with a female soldier named Hila Betzaleli. At a certain point she asked him to fill her water bottle, and he left his guard post and walked over to the drinking fountain.

“Suddenly and tragically, just at that very moment, there was a powerful ‘boom.’ He turned around and saw the entire structure collapse on the head of the unfortunate soldier with whom he had been speaking only a moment before. Rescue forces were called to the scene to try and save the young woman’s life, but it was too late. The businessman’s son was stunned by the intensity of the miracle he had just experienced.

“Just two days previously, his father had sat in my house and resolved to make a charitable donation before writing to the Rebbe in the belief that tz’daka would save from death, and the reply dealt entirely with the improvement of his son’s health. Indeed, he had experienced a tremendous miracle.

“Some time later, the father informed me that his son’s severe stomach pains had also stopped.

“A few days ago, three years after that evening visit to my house to write a letter to the Rebbe, we received word that this businessman had passed away. I recalled that the entire answer in Igros dealt with the son, not the father. In fact, even the father acknowledged this quite matter-of-factly.”

THE TRAGEDY IN THE BACKGROUND

Among his many activities, Rabbi Segal conducts house visits throughout his community, many of which revolve around the subject of “shalom bayis.”

“We experienced a heart stopping story a few years ago with a local couple closely associated with our programs. They were among the first to come to the Chabad House, talk about their problems, and ask for advice. I got involved and tried to help them with advice based on the teachings of Chassidus.

“One night, my telephone rang. The wife was on the line, crying and terribly agitated. She said that her husband had recently come home from work, and when she failed to greet him in a proper manner, he stormed out of the house. She noted that she was calling me because she knew that she hadn’t acted appropriately, and surely not according to the guidelines I had given them. She asked me to call her husband and assuage him on her behalf. I promised her that I would call him, and when he answered the phone, I could hear from his voice that he was still very upset and insulted.

“When I asked him if he was aware who had called me to find out where he was, he knew right away. However, he said that this time she had gone too far in her unacceptable behavior. He said that he felt helpless and didn’t know what to do. I suggested that he should try and calm the situation, while promising to call his wife to set up a meeting between them. When I called the wife, I was surprised to hear what she had to say.

“She now sounded far less conciliatory. She cried and said that she had made up her mind to get a divorce. ‘It’s a pity that I should suffer and it’s a pity that he should suffer,’ she said with a determined voice.

“‘Before you take such a drastic step,’ I said, ‘write a letter to the Rebbe and ask for his opinion whether it would be appropriate to break up your married life. After all, you can get a divorce any time…’

“I arranged a meeting for that evening at my house. Naturally, they were both very upset; the wife couldn’t stop crying while the husband remained withdrawn and reticent.

“I tried for several minutes to lower the tension between the two. After the wife made a good resolution, she wrote a letter to the Rebbe and placed it in a volume of Igros. I took the seifer and read the answer. In his reply, the Rebbe wrote that his answer is in response to three letters sent to him in Tishrei, Cheshvan, and Kislev respectively. The Rebbe added that it would be important for the woman to seek advice from someone who will strengthen her faith.

“At this point, I gave her the seifer and let her read the answer for herself. I have noticed that when people write to the Rebbe, they pick up on different messages, even when they hadn’t raised a certain issue in their letter.

“After the woman read the letter, I gave it to her husband. Suddenly, he looked up from the seifer and dropped a bombshell: ‘When did your boyfriend pass away, the one you were supposed to marry?’ She replied, and the look of shock was apparent on both their faces. It was the first date mentioned at the start of the Rebbe’s reply.

“This was the first time I heard the following story, which had thus far been kept as a secret between the husband and wife. It turns out that the woman had previously been engaged to another man, and they had even set a date for their wedding. Tragically, however, just two weeks before the scheduled event, after everything had been prepared, the groom contracted a deadly virus and passed away a few days later. The bride’s world came crumbling down and she had a difficult time picking up the pieces. Her family tried to extricate her from her despair and depression, and they suggested that she quickly move on with her life. ‘Build a new life for yourself,’ they encouraged her, and she eventually became engaged to the man who was now her husband.

“The woman apparently had not been able to cut herself off emotionally from her late fiancé. Even after her wedding, she continued to visit his grave twice a week and speak with him. This was the first time she had ever told this to her current husband. ‘I have nothing against you,’ she said to him, as he sat in stunned disbelief. ‘I was just so frustrated by the situation.’ Now, as she told her story, the Rebbe’s words about seeking the advice of someone who would strengthen her faith became even clearer to me. I noticed that as soon as the woman revealed her secret, she looked as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Understanding that she was in great emotional distress, she pleaded with me to help her.

“I wasted no time and immediately called a friend who regularly handles such issues. He referred me to a psychologist working with IDF widows who deals with extremely complex and difficult cases – a professional of the highest order. I arranged an appointment for them to meet with her the very next day, and after a short period of time, their married life began to settle down. The Rebbe’s advice saved the couple. The Rebbe’s bracha and the referral to a specialist had rescued a Jewish home on the verge of collapse.

“They live today very happily together with their three children. I was even privileged to serve as sandek at the bris of their son…”

* * *

Rabbi Segal asked to conclude this article with an important insight he has acquired over the years: “Despite the many amazing stories with clear answers, we don’t have to find a clear and precise answer to the prevailing situation every time we write to the Rebbe. As Chassidim,” Rabbi Segal says, “we know that just writing to the Rebbe is enough to elicit his bracha,” adding that he has seen this himself on countless occasions.

 

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