Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

The Rebbe Knew

AI generated image via Designer

This year at Passover seder, I had the privilege to sit next to an elderly Jewish lady, whom I’ll call Esther. We sat together at a Chabad seder, and on the wall next to us was a beautiful painting of the Rebbe.

My wife and I were spellbound by his lifelike holy image, especially his knowing, piercing blue eyes. In fact, we joked that it would be funny if the eyes started to move back and forth in the painting. Esther, who was sitting directly next to me, overheard us and proceeded to tell me some amazing stories about the Rebbe, which I am pleased to be able to share with all of you.

The 1967 War

Esther and her family had immigrated to Israel from Morocco. Her parents, who wanted her to get a good Jewish education, put her and her siblings in the Kfar Chabad school. She was 14 years old when the Arabs massed for war with Israel. In this time of peril, the Chabad school administrators instructed the children to write letters to the Rebbe in New York to ask for his guidance.

Esther told me how a week before the war started on June 5, the children received a response from the Rebbe. She told me how while the Israelis were preparing for the worst, digging mass graves in the parks for what they believed was the imminent slaughter of the Jews, incredibly, the Rebbe’s letter reassured them that not only would Israel be victorious in the upcoming war, but also that it would last just six days, which it did, and hence it is known as the Six Day War.

Whether to Tie The Knot or Not

Esther’s sister was dating a young man, and things were getting serious. It looked like they would be getting married soon, and so her sister, looking for the Rebbe’s blessing, sent him a letter asking about this. However, instead of the Rebbe’s blessing for the young couple, the Rebbe told her to not marry the young man because, as he disclosed to her, the fiance was not Jewish! The Rebbe’s perceptive comment was all the more amazing in that he had no idea who she was dating. Ultimately, she found another young man who shared her religious identity and beliefs, and they were happily married.

What’s in Store for My Future

As Esther grew, she appreciated her Chabad education but personally remained at arm’s length from religious Judaism. She was confused between her schooling and her home life, and she again took the opportunity to reach out to the Rebbe for his guidance. Before she knew it, she received a response from him that encouraged her to keep on learning and following in the ways of Hashem, but to her exact question on what was in store for her future, the Rebbe wrote that “she would never change.” Sure enough, Esther laughed out loud and told me, “And it was completely true; I have always been the same and have not been very religious my whole life, but my hope is for my son to be more religious than me.”

While unfortunately, the Rebbe is not with us today, we pray for the coming of the Mashiach speedily and in our days, so that our lives can be filled with holiness and knowledge of Hashem. Interestingly enough, in the Haftarah for Shabbat Chol Hamoed of Passover today, we read the vision of Ezekiel and the dry bones. In this famous prophecy, G-d resurrects the dry bones of Israel, puts flesh on them, and breathes life into them again. I couldn’t help wondering whether we’ll be seeing the Rebbe again soon and all the hate, terror. and war that we are experiencing will be forever just a bad memory, the hostages will come back home, and we will be able to live holy lives with all of Israel again. And the world will come to know the One true G-d in our lifetimes.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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