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Tuesday
Sep082015

“YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE GOOD JEWS AND GOOD HUMAN BEINGS”

This amazing story began nearly forty years ago with the Rebbe’s shluchim in Missouri at a large bar-mitzvah that took place on the instructions of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, and concluded about a month ago at Moshav Magshimim, near Yehud, at the bar-mitzvah celebration of HaTamim Menachem Mendel Rosen.

What happened in the meantime during those years? And who revealed the results of the shliach’s activities shortly before his passing?

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

In his letter to Rabbi Alperowitz, the Rebbe instructed him to organize the bar-mitzvah specifically in the place of his shlichus | Rabbi Dovid Rosen with his son, HaTamim Menachem Mendel“A few months before the scheduled day of the bar-mitzvah, as my wife Yafit and I started organizing the event, we had absolutely no doubt where it would take place. It was clear to us that despite the logistical problems, it would be held on the moshav,” said Rabbi Dovid Rosen as he began his incredible story, which is making the rounds throughout Anash communities.

“One of the important links in this story is Rabbi Sholom Dovber Alperowitz, of blessed memory, who passed away a few months ago. It can be said with the utmost certainty that in the merit of this man, who briefly worked on the Rebbe’s shlichus in S. Louis, Missouri, where my parents lived, I, and my twin brother Naftali living in Tzfas, were educated in Chabad institutions and established Chassidic families.”

How did this happen? And what is the connection to the bar-mitzvah of the shliach’s son on the moshav? Rabbi Rosen brings us the story now:

THE REBBE’S SURPRISING INSTRUCTION

“My mother Rochel was born in New York to an egalitarian Jewish family, and she got involved with the teachings of Chassidus when she was a student at the University of Maryland.

“During the month of Elul, shortly after beginning her studies in College Park, she met Rabbi Moishe Silverman, the Rebbe’s shliach in charge of campus outreach activities, as he mingled among the students in search of Jews. When he found a Jewish student, he would blow the shofar for him. This continued for several hours as she looked on. She was deeply moved by the shliach’s dedication and concern, and she became a regular guest in the Silvermans’ home, even participating in Chabad programs on campus.

“She soon began to follow the path of Torah and mitzvos. She left college and made her way to Minnesota, and with the guidance of the shluchim, she registered as a student with the Bais Chana Women’s Seminary, run by the shliach Rabbi Manis Friedman. My mother loved the teaching staff there, and she took her initial kiruv steps with the help of the rabbis. She eventually became engaged to my father, who came from a much stronger Jewish background than my mother. His parents and family belonged to the Litvishe community.

“After their engagement, my mother declared that she wanted to go in with my father for a yechidus with the Rebbe before their wedding, as was customary in those days, and receive his blessing. At first, my father’s parents expressed their fierce opposition to his meeting with the Rebbe, but my mother was determined and they eventually gave their consent. My parents went in for yechidus a few weeks before their wedding in 5735, and my mother requested a bracha for success in arranging a place to live and the means to make a proper living. However, she forgot to ask for a bracha for children.

“The Rebbe blessed my mother in everything she requested, and then he added in English: ‘Your children will be good Jews and good human beings.’ She left the yechidus with great joy and emotion, particularly from the Rebbe’s final bracha.

“Immediately after the sheva brachos, my parents received an offer to relocate to S. Louis, Missouri. It was home to a small Jewish community, and its leaders wanted to expand and bring more Jewish families to live there. Their idea was to found a seminary for girls as a way of drawing young women from all over the United States to learn in the city. In addition, staff members came to establish their permanent residence in S. Louis, and the community naturally grew. My father took a position with this new institution, and he and my mother packed their belongings, said goodbye to their families, and headed for the Show Me State.

“About a year later, in the summer of 5737, another guest came to settle in S. Louis, the Rebbe’s shliach, Rabbi Sholom Ber Alperowitz, of blessed memory, and his wife (may she live and be well). The Alperowitz children were already grown up and had gone to raise their own families. They still had one young child left at home, a twelve-year old boy learning back in Crown Heights. A few months later, on Erev Rosh Chodesh Teves 5738, it was a stormy winter night. Local residents were advised to remain in their homes due to the turbulent weather conditions. Suddenly, my mother went into labor, and with the help of paramedic and ambulance services, she was transported to the hospital in time to give birth to me and my twin brother Naftali.

“A month after we were born, Rabbi Alperowitz’s son reached the age of thirteen. The Alperowitzs had been planning to travel back to New York, where they would celebrate a proper Chassidic bar-mitzvah for the extended family, close friends, and acquaintances. There was no kosher catering in Missouri, and since the shluchim were relatively new in the area, they still hadn’t managed to establish contact with the city’s business community.

“However, the Rebbe had a different idea in mind. In a reply sent to Rabbi Alperowitz, the Rebbe instructed the shluchim to make a public bar-mitzvah celebration specifically in the place of their shlichus and invite the entire Jewish community.

“The change in plans required considerable reorganization, and the shluchim worked quite vigorously to arrange this. As the joyous day approached, invitations were sent to all members of the city’s Jewish community. While they didn’t know how many people to expect at the grand hotel hosting the event, it drew a very large crowd, including my parents who brought my brother and me along in a double stroller. It was a celebration that most Jews in Missouri had never experienced before, and it also gave many of them an opportunity to meet the shluchim for the first time.

“At a certain point, Rabbi Alperowitz asked everyone to be quiet, and his son furrowed his brow with intense concentration as he began to recite the bar-mitzvah discourse by heart. My father looked at the shliach’s son with great excitement and amazement. He turned to my mother and said, ‘I want our sons to be just like this young man.’ During this period, my parents were Torah-observant Jews, albeit not Chabad Chassidim. This bar-mitzvah celebration sharpened my father’s desire to send us to learn specifically in Chabad educational institutions, and it created a great emotional closeness to Chabad.

“Not long afterward, in 5740, two Jewish families left the S. Louis community. The Alperowitzs returned to New York, while my parents emigrated to Eretz Yisroel, establishing their residence in Yerushalayim’s Sanhedria neighborhood. My mother often told me that she feels that the Rebbe sent the Alperowitz couple to the remote location where they were living for the sole purpose of bringing them to Lubavitch…

“Upon our arrival in Eretz Yisroel, my father didn’t forget his promise, and he sent us to learn at the Chabad Toras Emes cheider in Yerushalayim.

“While we often heard at home from our parents the story behind the fact that we learned in Chabad institutions, they never told us the name of the shluchim. In fact, when we finally asked them to tell us the names of those shluchim, they had already forgotten. Incredibly, my brother and I both learned in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Kiryat Gat, and it never dawned on us that the yeshiva’s mashpia, Rabbi Meshulam Zusha Alperowitz, was the son of the shluchim in whose merit we had gone to learn there…

INFORMATION FOUND, CIRCLE CLOSED

“Many years passed, and my son Menachem Mendel reached the age of thirteen. Together with my work with the Chabad yeshiva in Ohr Yehuda, we are privileged to serve as the Rebbe’s shluchim on Moshav Magshimim, near Yehud. Naturally, my wife and I decided that regardless of the difficulties, we would make the bar-mitzvah celebration on the moshav. After all, my brother and I had joined the king’s army only in the merit of how impressed our father was by the shliach’s son on the day of his bar-mitzvah.

“Once it was decided to make the bar-mitzvah in Magshimim, not in Kfar Chabad, I resolved that I must find out, once and for all, the identity of those chassidim on shlichus in S. Louis at that time who led us along the path to Lubavitch. I felt that this represented the closing of a circle. I called a friend who learned with me in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Mendy Greisman, the Rebbe’s shliach in northwest Arkansas.

“I told him the story and he was very moved. He immediately noted that his son was also about to have a bar-mitzvah, and he had been considering the possibility of making it in Eretz Yisroel or some other Chabad center. However, he saw this story as a clear sign from the Rebbe to organize his son’s bar-mitzvah celebration specifically in the place of his shlichus, using the opportunity to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus.

“I asked him to inquire for me among his friends, the more veteran shluchim, who had been on shlichus in S. Louis in the late seventies. He promised to help me out, and the very next day, he already had an answer. He knew who those shluchim were, and he even contacted the Alperowitz family and told them the whole story. They were astounded, overwhelmed by the blessed results of the bar-mitzvah celebration that the Rebbe had asked them to make in Missouri.

“When I called to speak with them personally, Mrs. Alperowitz told me that her husband lives the Rebbe’s instruction in that matter with every fiber of his body, telling people about it at every opportunity. Regrettably, I wasn’t able to speak with Rabbi Alperowitz, as he was already very ill. However, by Divine Providence, his wife did tell him the end of the story before his passing.

“Needless to say, during my son’s bar-mitzvah celebration last month, together with the reciting of the traditional maamer, I also told this story, which sharpened the Baal Shem Tov’s message on the Divine Providence found in every detail of our lives.”

* * *

As Rabbi Rosen concluded his story, he expressed his deep regret over the recent passing of Rabbi Alperowitz. He said that he had been planning to meet with him at the upcoming International Shluchim Conference.

“While I can’t necessarily characterize this story as a ‘Baal Shem’ske maaseh,’ I haven’t the slightest doubt that G-d had arranged for Rabbi Alperowitz a”h to hear the end of the story before he departed from this world.”

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