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Wednesday
May112016

THE T’FILLIN SAVED HIM

By Nechama Bar

It was many nights already that Sarah, Yair’s mother, did not sleep well. Disturbing thoughts constantly raced through her mind. She was very worried. Yair, her dear son, was far from home. He was enlisted in the US army.

A tough war was being waged between the United States and Vietnam. Many civilians were hurt and quite a few soldiers did not return home. Not surprisingly, Yair’s mother was consumed with worry. She did not know what would be and she prayed to Hashem that the war end quickly and Yair return safely.

Familiar knocks could be heard at the door and they interrupted her train of thought. Sarah opened the door and exclaimed, “Yair! How good it is to see you!” She hugged her son and cried.

“How are you Yair? Do you have good news to tell me?”

“Um … one piece of news that is good and one that is less so. I’ll start with the good news. They gave me two weeks off! The less good news is that after this break, we are going to the front lines…”

Sarah sighed deeply.

“Since you are here, I will call the Rebbe’s office and try to arrange an appointment for you with the Rebbe. I want the Rebbe to bless you that you return home safely. I am very nervous…”

Yair nodded.

A few days later, Yair and his parents were in the Rebbe’s office. The Rebbe’s eyes gave them a secure feeling.

Yair asked for a bracha that he return home soon, healthy and whole.

The Rebbe said, “I will give you a pair of t’fillin which you should take with you.”

Yair smiled. “Rebbe, I live here, in Crown Heights, and I am religious. I have my own t’fillin which I put on every day.”

But the Rebbe insisted. “Leave your t’fillin at home and take the t’fillin I will give you.”

Yair was surprised by this request but obeyed it. A few days later a pair of t’fillin from the Rebbe was waiting for him in the secretaries’ office. Yair took the t’fillin with him and kept a close watch over them.

The furlough passed by quickly and he returned to his base. The t’fillin were always in his personal bag so they wouldn’t get lost. And of course, he put them on every day.

“Soldiers, get ready to leave. In precisely two hours we are heading out to the airport. We are flying to Hawaii and from there to Vietnam,” said their officer.

The soldiers got ready quickly and took their duffle bags and waited for the next order. Yair felt his bag again and made sure that his precious t’fillin were there.

The soldiers landed in Hawaii and within a few days their commanding officer told them to go to the airport. At the appointed time the soldiers stood ready and waiting for the plane to take them to war. There was utter silence. The atmosphere was tense as each soldier was immersed in his thoughts, trying not to think what might happen. They had heard the bad news from the front lines. Many soldiers had been killed and the battle did not seem to be going in their favor.

In another hour the soldiers would be boarding the plane. Suddenly, a US colonel appeared. He ran over to the commanding officer and spoke to him agitatedly. “I must get on this flight! I have an important job to take care of.”

“I am sorry, but there is no room. All the seats are taken by my soldiers,” apologized the officer.

“What do you mean there is no room?” screamed the colonel. “I told you I have an urgent matter to take care of. I must board that plane. If there is no other choice, then one soldier must remain here. When a new group of soldiers comes, he will join them.”

The officer did not respond. He was not happy about carrying out the colonel’s order but had to do so.

Throughout the dialogue, Yair stood near the officer and the colonel and heard every word that was said.

The colonel momentarily looked up and noticed Yair. He pointed at him, looked at the officer, and declared, “This soldier will remain here. He can travel another time. I will take his place.”

The officer nodded, having no choice, and Yair was separated from the other soldiers in his regiment and remained alone at the airport. He later returned to a nearby base and waited for further orders. Some days passed and a new group of soldiers arrived. They were also heading toward the front lines in Vietnam.

He joined these soldiers he did not know and traveled with them to the airport. They all boarded a plane. Yair embraced his t’fillin. He felt confident and protected. He knew that the Rebbe’s bracha accompanied him. With all the difficulties and worries, he was sure he would eventually return home in good shape.

Several hours passed and then the plane landed in Vietnam. The first thing Yair wanted to do was locate the battalion he belonged to and rejoin his buddies from whom he had parted. But he could not find them.

He asked the officer who commanded the battalion he had joined, “Please find my battalion and arrange a way for me to join them.”

“I am so surprised they are not here. This is the place where they are supposed to be,” said the officer in surprise. He took his communications radio out of his pocket and contacted someone, then waited for a reply.

Silence.

“Do you hear me?” he asked.

“I hear you … but … I don’t have good news,” said the commander as he chose his words. “Uh, the plane they were traveling on was shot down by the enemy and it fell into the sea. The plane sank and nobody survived.”

“Your G-d loves you. You were given your life as a gift,” said the officer to an emotional Yair. Yair knew good and well in what merit his life had been saved. He hugged the t’fillin he had gotten from the Rebbe as he cried.

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