WHAT’S IN A NAME?
May 12, 2015
Beis Moshiach in #973, Tzivos Hashem

Thursday. At the Chabad House in Cochin, India the shluchim are working on preparing Shabbos meals from the few items they can purchase (don’t worry, the food always comes out tasty and everyone enjoys it). Now and then, Israeli backpackers walk in, schmooze, learn, help in the kitchen … It’s a typical day on shlichus.

R’ Zalman BernsteinOne of the guests who walked in that Thursday was a religious man by the name of Naftali Tal. His daughter was touring India and he had decided to visit her. In the course of his visit he walked into the Chabad House in the city which is run by the Bernstein family.

The shliach spoke to him and saw that the man knew a lot of Chabad Chassidus. When the shliach suggested that they learn Chassidus together, he didn’t say no. On the contrary, he wanted to learn a deep maamer from Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe.

The surprised shliach looked at the man who, outwardly, did not look at all connected to Chabad, and yet had a broad knowledge of Chassidus. “What is your connection to Chabad, may I ask?”

“Ah, I’ve been learning Chassidus for years and I have a close relationship with a number of Lubavitchers,” said Naftali briefly.

“Do you have any story about the Rebbe for me?” asked the shliach, trying to get him to say some more about his connection to Chabad.

“The truth is, yes, I have a story. A very personal story. I will tell it to everyone on Friday night,” he said, leaving the shliach very curious.

Friday night. The uplifting Shabbos meal in this far-off city in India was beautiful. The people at the table felt connected to one another as Jews and the meal turned into a farbrengen.

At some point, R’ Zalman winked at Naftali to signal him to tell his story. Naftali cleared his throat and began to speak:

This happened thirty years ago. I lived in Yerushalayim and at that time, an organization to promote Chassidus opened there. The Lubavitchers who ran the organization were dynamic and erudite but they needed more manpower. You know that Chabadnikim don’t do anything without consulting the Rebbe and so they asked the Rebbe, who suggested that they add another person to the staff. From the list of names they submitted, the Rebbe chose me. I don’t know why, but apparently the Rebbe saw that this is my shlichus.

I accepted the job and boruch Hashem, I did it very well. I slowly became friendly with Lubavitchers. I did not become a Chassid but I became somewhat enthusiastic in what they did and I learned a lot of Chassidus.

One day, one of them said to me, “Have you already written to the Rebbe?”

“No,” I said, and I had no intention of doing so.

“You have to write to the Rebbe!” the Chassid tried to convince me.

“What should I write? Boruch Hashem, all is well. I have a family, a wife and children, thank G-d we are healthy, I make a living. I don’t have any particular problem for which I need a bracha.”

“All the more reason to write,” they all exclaimed. “Write good things to the Rebbe. Usually people write him their problems but you can write him good news. Tell the Rebbe about the good things Hashem has granted you and he will be happy to hear it.”

I was convinced. I wrote a letter to the Rebbe with their guidance. I wrote that we were in the midst of building a house and asked for success in that.

Not much time passed when I received a response. When the Lubavitchers came to show me the letter, they first dragged me to the mikva. “A day like this, when you receive a letter from the Rebbe, is a special day,” they said. “It’s a special z’chus and you need to prepare for it properly.”

I opened the letter with some excitement. I was happy to see the Rebbe’s bracha for the move to the new house. The Rebbe enclosed $20 as his token contribution toward the construction. Just one “error” caught my attention. At the top of the letter, where it says the name of the addressee and his address, it said: Naftali Tal, Harei Yehuda.

“Harei Yehuda?” I wondered out loud. I was living in Yerushalayim, definitely not in Harei Yehuda.

I showed my friends the Rebbe’s brachos and pointed out the error.

“The Rebbe doesn’t make mistakes,” they said.

“What are you saying? Do you mean to tell me that I live in Harei Yehuda?” I smiled.

“Maybe …” they smiled too. “What we know for sure is that there is no mistake here. The Rebbe never makes a mistake. Maybe one day you will understand it.”

I left them, still holding the letter. At home, I took out something to learn. When I was finished, I put the letter into it. I don’t know why it occurred to me to put this precious letter into the pages of a book. I did it without thinking.

Days went by, then weeks and months. I would occasionally think of the letter from the Rebbe. I wanted to look at it again but did not remember where I had put it. I searched the house but did not find it. Until today, I don’t know how, before Pesach, with all the thorough cleaning, we did not find it. It was as though from heaven they hid its existence from us.

Nine years went by. Nine years in which the letter was hidden in a book in my big library in the living room.

It was 5748 when a group of national-religious people decided to start a yishuv in the Harei Yehuda to be called Bat Ayin. I decided to join this nucleus and to move from Yerushalayim to the new yishuv. When we packed our things, I dismantled my library and put the books into boxes. As I packed, suddenly, out of nowhere, an envelope fell out with red and blue on the edges. The envelope was very familiar for it was the letter from the Rebbe!

I picked up the letter with great excitement. I had looked for the letter for nine years and here, suddenly, it appeared as I was packing. I opened the letter again and there, at the top of the page it said: Naftali Tal, Harei Yehuda.

Harei Yehuda …

The Rebbe never makes a mistake …

I felt as though the room was turning around me. The book I was holding nearly fell out of my hand. I was flabbergasted.

On the very day that I was preparing to move to Bat Ayin, in the heart of Harei Yehuda, I received the Rebbe’s bracha for the new place!

Since then, my connection to the Rebbe has become stronger and I delve into the study of Chassidus.

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