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The Man Who Could Have Been a Gaon and Became a Chassidic Doctor

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Dr. Seligson receiving a piece of ‘Lekach’ from the Rebbe

Dr. Avrohom Aba Seligson, the Rebbe’s doctor, a’h, whose yortseit falls on the 25th of Shvat, was born in Krakow in 5667, to his father, Rabbi Michoel Aharon, a descendant of the Alter Rebbe, who had the merit to host the Rebbe Rayatz in his home just about the time, Reb Avrohom Aba was born. A few years later he opened a Chassidus class in his house at the expressed wish of the Rebbe Rayatz, and being that there were no Chabadniks in the area, the attendees were Gerer and Belzer Chassidim, who arrived to study ‘Torah Or’ and ‘Likutei Torah’.

Reb Avrohom Aba studied medicine in Vilna and completed his studies successfully to a degree that he was considered an expert doctor prior to World War 2 and he had the merit of having Yechidus with the Rebbe Rayatz in 5696.

During the war he resided in Shanghai, China together with the Tmimim who fled there from the battlefront. With great dedication, he saved many Jews from diseases. After the war, when he received a doctor’s certificate in the U.S. he notified the Rebbe Rayatz about this and the Rebbe, in turn, sent him a letter of blessings in his profession.

In the last years of the Rebbe Rayatz, his son-in-law, the Rebbe, asked him to join him in his visits to his father-in-law and when he passed away, Rabbi Avrohom Aba was the ‘Yisroel’ (Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Eichorn and Rabbi Shmuel Levitin were the Cohen and Levi). Since then, Dr. Seligson became the official doctor of the Rebbe’s home and he also treated Rebbetzin Chana, the mother of the Rebbe.

Prior to his wedding, the Chosson, Reb Avrohom Aba, asked the Rebbe whether he ought to add portions of his Torah Study since he was marrying the daughter of a Cohen, the Rebbe said he ought not to worry (despite the fact that the Rebbe told several Chossons, about to marry daughters of Cohen’s to study a tractate by heart so that they be considered Scholars – as customary).

At the Farbrengen in his memory it was related that when one of the important Rabbis of Chicago asked the Rebbe about Dr. Seligson, the Rebbe replied that if he had remained by the Misnagdim, he would be considered a Gaon.

Rabbi Seligson would dedicate many hours at night for Torah study and the Rebbe said about him that he was modest and only a few members of Anash would hold Torah discussions with him. He wrote comments to the Tanya and made note of the sources of every quote from the Torah. When the Rebbe saw the Tanya with his notes, he asked the doctor for it and it is now located in the Aguch library.

In a private Yechidus to one of Anash the Rebbe said about Dr. Seligson that he is ‘One of the greatest doctors in our times’. But in the eyes of Rabbi Seligson, he only served as the channel for performing miracles of the Rebbe.

Once when an individual asked the Rebbe about whom to turn to for medical problems the Rebbe pointed out Rabbi Seligson saying: “If there is someone who preoccupied his G-dly soul with the Shulchan Oruch and his natural soul in medicine, what more do we need?”

In a different case, the Rebbe directed the daughter of an ill Chossid to Rabbi Seligson for the treatment of her father, although a different doctor was already called on. When the Chassid’s condition improved, the Rebbe said, “You see, I sent you to the correct doctor”.

At a subsequent Farbrengen, the Rebbe not only gave a piece of cake to the son of the mentioned Chossid, but he turned to Dr. Seligson and gave him some wine and a piece of cake saying, “Just as it is has been ruled that when the Cohanim eat, the owner of the offering is forgiven, in the same way you ought to eat the cake and the ill person will recover”.

The Rebbe told Rabbi Seligson: “You ought to know that you are a great doctor and even if others do not think so, you should know that you a great doctor, and if other doctors do not agree with you, you ought to cooperate with me and it will be considered that a doctor gave the instruction”.

A tale related in the name of the late Rabbi Leibel Raskin, a’h, Shliach to Morocco occurred in 5774. Rabbi Raskin testified that his son was seriously wounded during the preparations for ‘Hakofos’ of that year in 770.

Rabbi Raskin laid his son down in a room to rest and then approached the Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Chodokov, asking for a blessing of the Rebbe. But Rabbi Chodokov refused this at first, and only agreed to tell the Rebbe about the incident when he heard of the severity of the case. To this the Rebbe replied that Dr. Seligson should be alerted.

When Dr. Seligson saw the boy, he said that the boy had no problem, and the father notified the Rebbe that the child had recovered.

Following this anecdote, the doctor said that the Rebbe had once told him that if he, as a doctor concludes that the case involved is not of a medical concern then it is possible to instill supernatural powers into a natural condition and bring to a recovery.

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