Weekly Story: You Were Not Abandoned, Part 2

Continued from last week – You Were Not Abandoned, Pt. 1

by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon

In the Hagadah we say that the Jews in Mitzrayim stood out. Our Chazal inform us, this was because of three of their actions; they did not change their language, their names or their style of clothing. I therefore decided to use this story for Shabbos Hagadol.

As noted in last weeks’ story, when Malka came to 770 for her yearly meeting with the Rebbe, almost every year she would receive guidance from the Rebbe in regards to enhancing her observance of Shabbos and kashrus. In this weeks’ story we will find out about the one time the Rebbe “visited” her, in her town.

I am writing it in first person as this is taken from Malka’s correspondence with me.

As I noted previously, all my audiences with the Rebbe, besides the first one when I went with my parents into his [yechidus] room, were by a nod or a glimpse as he walked down the final two steps onto the sidewalk as he was going into the car.

But I had one “strange audience”:

One year, around ten years after the passing of my adopted parents and my immediate decision to move as far away as one can, a Rabbi showed up in my village on my doorstep asking if I am Jewish. I was shocked, as I thought I will never be found, but I answered truthfully, “Yes.” But then I asked him, “How do you know?”

He told me that he has a small package containing matza for me from the Rebbe.

I asked him how he found me, and why would he think that I am the Jewish person he was searching for?

He replied that the Rebbe told him to bring matza to this village and to give it to the [single] Jew living there. He was given no name or address or any other information. But as a follower of the Rebbe, he accepted the mission and set out to fulfill it.

When he arrived in the village, he started to ask the Gentile people if there is anyone Jewish in the village. Nearly everyone he asked answered that there is no one Jewish in this village, as I never told anyone that I am Jewish. Finally, he met a few people who said that they suspect I might be Jewish because I am the only person in the village that does not ever attend the community church.

The funny thing is that I was always invited to go to the church and join my neighbors. The social pressure was building and I had decided that I will attend church that coming Sunday so that I will fit in with the rest of the people living in the village. I figured it is no big deal; I am a Jew and will always be a Jew. Attending a church once in a while in a social setting, and not as a religious act, won’t change that!

It was exactly then, that week, that I had decided to go to church the coming Sunday. It was a week or so before Passover. And that was when this rabbi showed up at my door!

It made me think hard and deep: The ONLY way he found me and the ONLY “sign” that I am a Jew is that I don’t attend church. Do I want to really give up that sign??? If I attend church I DO lose something huge: my identity as the Jew in this village. Yes, it is going to change things and in a big way.

It was at that moment that I decided to keep my identity and sign of being Jewish and NEVER go into the church. It was the one and only time that I received something from the Rebbe – he knew I needed it at that moment and he was sending me a message that he is watching out for me.

The greatness in this was twofold: If he would have asked the messenger to deliver it to me by name, I would never have received this important message. I would have been happy that he sent me something, but not necessarily would I have connected it as a message to not attend the gathering in the Church.

Secondly, he allowed me to understand it on my own, without telling it to me straight out. It was my decision and resolve, not his. I maintain this resolve till this day, decades later.

Being that this week is called Shabbos Hagodol, I will share another encounter Malka enjoyed and shared with me. In her words:

Just a few months after [my adopted parents passed away and] I decided to rebel against all mitzvos, I visited the Rebbe. It was shortly before Pesach.

The Rebbe reminded me that I promised to keep Shabbos and therefore I cannot do any melacha forbidden on Yom Tov.

I laughed and said, “No, the promise was only for Shabbos, not Yom Tov! Yom Tov wasn’t my promise!!”

The Rebbe smiled and said something like, “Yom tov is also called Shabbos”.

I felt he was “cheating” on the agreement and asked him incredulously, “Since when?!”

He answered something like, “We start counting Sefiras HaOmer ‘Mimochoras HaShabbos’ (the day after Shabbos). So, you see the Torah calls Yom Tov “Shabbos”. Therefore, you must keep your promise to refrain from any forbidden melachos on Yom Tov too.”

The Rebbe gently, yet firmly demanded and insisted, and I had to acquiesce. He didn’t leave any options. There were no compromises. As stubborn as I was, he always won the “debate”.

Malka now continues addressing us, the readers of her amazing story. She states:

As a personal note to the readers of this column, a story without a message is a wasted opportunity.

My personal message to readers: These days I hear there are many young people who are angry, let down and disappointed by real or perceived trauma. These young people are turned off and choose to rebel. Many go “Off the Derech” (a cliche I read plenty about) and live a self-destructive physical and spiritually suicidal life. I say to them and their parents, I have been there and have done that too.

If anyone feels angry at G-d – it is me. I was orphaned twice: from both of my birth parents whom I never knew and then sixteen years later, from my adopted parents whom I loved. I had one anchor to being Jewish and that was my annual visits to the Rebbe. However, I lost that one anchor too when I lost the ability to see the Rebbe.

As an Orthodox observant young teenager I gave up on Judaism and chose to live away from it all – I moved to a place with no Jews. But, I keep connected to the Rebbe as I promised years ago. I visited him then at 770 and now at his grave site annually (and the graves of both my sets of parents), and I keep Shabbos and kosher, as I promised years ago. (I am now building an eruv around my property to enjoy the longer Shabbos days outdoors with a book and only kosher snacks).

I feel I have a right to be angry (as many of you also feel)! I am rebellious! But I am still a daughter of G-d and the Rebbe told me that G-d loves me no matter how angry I am at Him. I keep my promises of observing Shabbos and kosher without procrastination, while I wait for Him to finally keep His long overdue promise to take us all out of this painful exile.

I suggest to the youth (and those older) who are angry: Consider coming (at least) once a year to visit the Rebbe. I visit and I cry the whole time until there are no more tears, and then I leave behind the pain as a comfort settles on me with a feeling of being connected to something greater than me. I am uplifted from despair as I internalize the message that the Rebbe told me so long ago, that Hashem is my parent and that even this rebellious daughter is loved by Hashem. One day, maybe I will understand why, maybe not, but life is not just about me, for as I learned in Hebrew Day School, if I live only for myself – what am I? By myself I am insignificant. When connected to something greater than us, you and I will reach greater heights.  Therefore, I advise and indeed implore you; even if presently you are rebellious and angry, be connected to something greater than your individual self.

I celebrate Passover alone without any family as they were taken from me and I chose to celebrate alone away from any other Jews. I, the Rebellious Daughter, ask of you the Rebellious Son or Daughter (no son or daughter is really “wicked” – just rebellious, and may sometimes feel fully justifiable to rebel), to come join whatever family you have for the Seder. Appreciate that you do have family, and join their Seder because the Seder has a special place dedicated just for you. After all, we are one of those Four Sons/Daughters, who belong at our family’s seder table.

I will always be a daughter who is loved by Hashem.

Malka

Part 3 – How the Rebbe guided me when I had a serious medical illness. Will come next week iy”h.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech in the United Lubavitch Yeshiva Ocean Parkway and the author of numerous books. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be reached at avtzonbooks@gmail.com.

41 Comments

  • 1. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

    Zahava your two poems in loshon hakodesh touched Malka.
    She asked me and also posted last night on last week’s story asking if you can please contact me directly at avtzonbooks@gmail.com
    Thank you

    Reply
    • 2. זהבה wrote:

      כבוד הרב אבצן
      אני לא מחב”ד
      הסיפור של חיי מלכה מעונין מאוד
      כתבתי
      לה דברי חיזוק ועודדות
      אבל אין לי שייכות לקירוב רחוקים
      יותר טוב שמומחים ישתדלו להחזירה בתשובה
      בכבוד
      זהבה

  • 5. Devora Layah wrote:

    Malka, You are soooo AMAZING. When I read part one, I cried the whole time. Reading part two was just as dramatic. I wish I could hug you. When I light shabbos candles I will think of you each week. Be strong because Moshiach is soon coming and we will all be together in Eretz Yisroel. I cant wait to meet you. Your BFF. Love XOXO, D.L.

    Reply
  • 6. I waited all week to read the continuation of this story wrote:

    And wow is not the word.
    Thank you, Malka, for sharing part 2, but even more significantly, thank you for sharing your postscript. Your message is so true and so powerful. I’d love to meet you one day.
    I wish you a happy and kosher pesach and look forward to reading part 3.

    Reply
  • 7. From Malka to Zehava wrote:

    Your words, quoting the words of the Novee, I learned long ago in High School but had long forgotten.

    These words touched the very deepest part of my soul, my core.

    I am haunted by the words:
    מִנְעִי קוֹלֵךְ מִבֶּכִי, וְעֵינַיִךְ, מִדִּמְעָה: כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ
    עַל כֵּן הָמוּ מֵעַי לוֹ רַחֵם אֲרַחֲמֶנּוּ נְאֻם ה
    וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב. וְיֵשׁ תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ נְאֻם ה’ וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם

    It is so spooky, I am haunted by these words!!

    Would you like to have contact?

    I feel I need to. It would mean a great deal to me.

    If you would be interested, please contact Rabbi Avtzon. He told me he would be willing to make the arrangements.

    I understand if you decline because you value your privacy which I respect and also expect.

    Malka, known as Melissa

    Reply
    • 8. זהבה wrote:

      סליחה אבל פגישה לא שייך וגם לא ענין שלי זהבה

  • 9. From Malka to Zehava wrote:

    Zehava,

    You posted two interesting comments on Part of my story.

    My life plan was to remain here in this village till the end.

    I arranged with an attorney that when the time comes, to have my remains sent to Israel and buried in a Jewish cemetery there (I paid for all this).

    All my assets will be donated to two worthy organizations I chose, one that helps Jewish orphans and one that treats Jewish couples struggling with fertility.

    I think it is a good plan.

    At the end of my life I will do: וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב. וְיֵשׁ תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ נְאֻם ה’ וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם

    But it would be precious for me to meet you because you wrote words that touched the deepest part of my soul.

    If you decline to meet, please explain: Why did you choose those specific words?

    Malka, Melissa

    Reply
    • 10. זהבה wrote:

      הפסוק מבטיח שכל יהודי הנמצא בארץ אויב
      גם אלה
      בגלות פרטי במקום של גוים
      כל אחד ואחת ישובו בנפשם ובגופם
      למקום יהודים
      ואסור להתיאש
      כי יש תקוה שיהיה בסדר גמור
      כי לא ידח ממנו נדח
      הקב”ה מבטיח זה
      כל יהודי יחזור למקומו ונחלתו וגבולו
      בלי מצרים של גלות
      והכל יסתדר
      הקב”ה יעזור
      כי אנחנו לא לבד
      גם את לא לבד
      זהבה

    • 11. From Malka to Zehava wrote:

      Zehava,

      I am asking why you chose that particular passage
      וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב. וְיֵשׁ תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ נְאֻם ה’ וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם
      because that is the exact passage I had asked in my Will to be written as an epitaph on my tombstone when I will be buried in Israel.

      I felt is summed the finality of my life: To finally be brought back to rest among my people.

      That is why I am haunted that you wrote those particular words.

      Besides my attorney who wrote my Will, no one else knew of this!

      I hope you understand.

      And that is why I would love to met you. Something draws me to do so.

      Malka

  • 12. Oneg Shabbes wrote:

    I read this story and tell it to my family at the shabbes meal. Sipuray tzaddikim that lived in our times. Yasher kochacha.

    Reply
  • 14. Critic wrote:

    I did not like the comments posted by Zahava. Who does she think she is to give mussar to our Malka? I find it very disturbing for Zahava to quote p’sukim that shtech instead of uplift.

    Zahava quoted a hit song from Avermel Fried, how is it that Malka did not ever hear that song and thought it was an original poem from Zahava?

    Reply
    • 15. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

      Your intentions are well intended
      However,I can tell you first hand that Malka was inspired by Zahava’s comment and asks that Zahava contact me directly so I can relay to her Malka’s personal message.of thanks and….
      Thank you
      avtzonbooks@gmail.com

    • 16. Nechama wrote:

      For some reason the words of Zahava were meaningful to Malka, maybe they were dvorim hayotzim min halev. It is evident that Malka is trying to contact Zahava because of her message. It shows that we never know what words we use will touch someone.

  • 17. West Coast Shlucha wrote:

    Malka, you would make a great shlucha. Your message is inspirational. If you are near any Chabad House drop in and say hello. I am strengthened by your strength. I march forward with your resolve. You are my hero. Shabbat Shalom!

    Reply
  • 18. How old is Malka? wrote:

    I pictured Malka as a young person in her twenties, but now I realize she must be at least 40 or maybe even 50 years old. She is not a child (as someone asked if her name is actually Malkie). She might even be a grandmother with einiklech. How long has she been away from yidden?

    Reply
    • 19. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

      Yes her actual name is Malka
      (and that is why she agreed to participate this year in Esther haMalka’s festival

    • 21. Malka or Malkie wrote:

      No matter her age, she is Hashem’s Malka’leh. We all are.

  • 22. I get it wrote:

    You, Malka, are a keli. The Rebbe knew you are a keli so he worked with you. You appreciated him and he appreciated you. It was a special relationship. How lucky you are. You must be a very smart and sensitive person. I know you are special to the Rebbe and Hashem.

    Reply
  • 23. Hashem keep your promise wrote:

    Ribbono hel olom,
    Don’t you see that Malka keeps her promise. When, oh when, will YOU keep Your promise and bring Moshiach? Enough is enough. It is time to bring Moshiach. Hashem keep your promise, NOW!

    Reply
  • 24. A Grateful Parent wrote:

    I sent Malka’s message to my son who was not planning to join us for the Seder. As much as we tried, he hasn’t come to the Seder for the past 3 years. IO sent Malka’s message. It worked! He will be coming for the Seder and bringing a friend with him. Thank you for making our family whole again for the Seder.

    Reply
  • 25. Great Melaveh Malka Story wrote:

    Just shared the story at my family Melaveh Malka – a story about Malka, how appropriate!

    Reply
  • 26. kalman wrote:

    Seems that Malka will be alone for the Seder nights. Would anyone living near her invite her?

    Reply
  • 28. Please forgive me but................. wrote:

    Please forgive me but I have a very strong intuition that this story is totally fictitious. It is a made up story from beginnng to end and it belongs in a book written by an author commonly known as Grimms. Have a happy and kosher Passover.

    Reply
    • 29. Chosid wrote:

      I am sure you don’t believe in ANY stories of the Rabbeim and probably think the Baal Shem Tov never existed.I question if you believe in kriyas yam suf too, or consider it a natural event. You have no emunas tzadikim and are probably a snag who has no shaychus to such thinks that cannot be proven scientifically.

    • 30. Katnei Emunah wrote:

      You write: “I have a very strong intuition”, a strong hergesh. Your co-heretic writes: “It is so shockingly clear for many reasons”, not just a very strong intuition but “clear” and with “many reasons”. Yhis is the derech of the samech mem, he starts with a thought or theory and develops it to factual, as with evolution, that the heretics have a strong intuition against Creation, and then become shocking clear for many reasons in their heresy.

  • 31. There is no truth to this story. wrote:

    It is so shockingly clear for many reasons that there is absolutely no truth to this story. Someone is feeding Rabbi (gullible) Avtzon with a total and complete fairy tale.

    Reply
    • 32. Chosid wrote:

      clear for many reasons…YET YOU DO NOT SAY EVEN ONE REASON. Instead you resort to childish name calling (gullible), because that is your ability, to mock and make fun, you must be mezerah Amolaik, asher korcha baderech, bigmatriya sofek.

    • 33. The world needs mockingbirds wrote:

      אמר רב כהנא : סנהדרין
      שראו
      כולן לחובה
      פוטרין אותו
      There is a purpose for a mockingbird.
      If all say yes, one must say no.
      You have a purpose.

    • 34. Katnei Emunah wrote:

      Reading again both negative comments, it is obvious they are from the same author. The first mentions “it belongs in a book written by an author commonly known as Grimms”, while the second calls it a “complete fairy tale”. The one who wrote it is not the first kofer. Shame that he trafficks his poisonous kefira like a drug dealer.

  • 38. Montreal wrote:

    This story blew me away … I never heard before the Rebbe giving over such nevuha be’galuy ! I was also wondering how old Malkie is, sounds like she doesn’t have children. She must be such a special person !

    Reply
    • 39. Mendy wrote:

      We all heard MANY stories of “nevuha be`galuy” by medical issues, when dr’s say an operation was needed and Rebbe said no. We recently heard it by the hurricane in Miami when the people were ordered to evacuate and the Rebbe said they should stay. And we heard it during the Gulf War when ” “gedolim” sent their bochurim to chutz l’aretz and allowed shaving of beards to be prepared for gas masks and the Rebbe said Eretz Yisroel is the safest place. Also in predicting the war will be over by Purim etc etc etc. This is a very small “”nevuha be`galuy” compared to those!!!

  • 40. זהבה wrote:

    מלכה
    וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם
    הפסוק הזה, הלקוח מספר ירמיהו, פוגע בנקודה רגישה וכל פעם מרטיט מחדש את מיתרי ליבנו, ולא לשווא.
    הפסוק נאמר על בניה של רחל אימנו, אשר מתה בזמן שכרעה ללדת את בנה השני, בנימין.
    אולם ברבות השנים פירושו של הפסוק הפך עבורנו לכזה המתאר את בני ישראל כולם,
    הבנים של כולנו
    כאב עצום, מפני שזה סוג של אבל, את כותבת כאן על הצער הגדול, מסכנים
    עלוב נפש; אומלל
    אני רוצה להגיד לך שלאחות במצבים האלה, יש כוח עצום
    דעי לך שבכי, פשוט בכי,
    דמעות של אחים ואחיות על ילד שמרגישים חלילה הולך וטובע
    אני יכולה להגיד לך כולם חוזרים לקב”ה,
    ומנקודת מוצא בריאה בהרבה, נקודת מוצא של געגוע
    לכי לאמא רחל ותגידי:
    ושבו בנים לגבולם
    כתוב
    “ זרוק חוטרא לאוירא אעיקריה קאי “
    תזרוק מקל
    לאוויר הוא יחזור חזרה
    בדיוק למקום שהוא נזרק ממנו
    תבשרי לי בשורה טובה
    זהבה

    Reply
  • 41. Sam wrote:

    I was just forwarded this article and enjoyed reading it. Thank you for carrying such inspirational stories.

    Reply

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