Weekly Story: Chanukah Live
by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
I heard the following story at a farbrengen from Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky sheyichye, and it occurred with his son Tzvi. I thank him for sharing it with me and once again repeat my request to those who know of encounters with the Rebbe to please share them with me so that I can publicize them.
Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated and welcomed.
Tzvi, together with a group of partners, own some nursing homes. Looking to expand, they informed brokers who deal with nursing homes that they are interested in purchasing some more.
One day a broker calls him and says, “I have a nursing home that is available, however, it is located in a different state.”
Tzvi replied that is was not a problem and asked for details of the nursing home such as how many beds it contained, as well as what was the asking price.
After reviewing all the paperwork he called back the broker and said, “We are interested in purchasing it, please proceed and inform the seller that you have a buyer.”
The broker replied that the sellers are a group of nuns who have various business ventures. They have a rule that they don’t sell anything unless they meet the buyer in person. So if you are willing to travel to their state, then you can buy it.
A date was arranged, and Tzvi came to the appointment. After a few moments, an elderly woman entered and introduced herself as the leader of the group.
She then asked him to say something about himself.
He said, “I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and I went to the Lubavitcher Yeshiva. After my marriage I moved from Crown Heights to Florida, where I presently reside with my wife and children.”
The lady asked, “Is that where the Rebbe lives?”
He replied in the affirmative.
“Can you please tell us something about him,” she asked.
While he was somewhat perplexed at this request, he proceeded to speak. “For many years the Rebbe would accept people for private audiences. One of the occasions a person could ask for such an audience with him was in honor of the person’s birthday.
“Years ago my mother, may she be well, had an audience and after answering and replying to what she wrote, the Rebbe said, ‘I think you should have another child.’
“I would love to ” replied my mother, however, the doctor told me not to because of…….
“Nevertheless,” replied the Rebbe, “I think you should.”
Concluding this narrative Tzvi said, “And I am that child.”
He then asked the lady how she knows the Rebbe.
She replied with the following anecdote.
We own some real estate and a sizeable amount of it is in Ireland. Since we live in the United States we needed someone to manage it for us, so we hired someone from the Church in Ireland.
Every few years I would fly to Ireland, and the manager would update me about the properties etc.
The last time I went there, in midst of discussing the properties with him, he excused himself and said that he had to attend to something extremely important. Since I was staying for another day I told him no problem.
After a few minutes I decided to take a stroll around the grounds and I noticed a small hut with its door slightly ajar. Out of curiosity I peeked inside, and I was dumbfounded. There was the manager of the Church wrapped up in a Tallis and Tefillin and praying from a siddur.
If you want to know how I know about Jewish traditions, I grew up in the Bronx when a lot of Jews lived there and I was friends with many of them. They would invite me to their bar and bat mitzvah, as well as ask me to be the gentle who was needed to do work that a Jew is forbidden to do on the Sabbath, such as turning on or off the fire.
I hastily returned to our meeting place, so that I don’t disturb him. However, when he rejoined me, I asked him if he can explain what I just witnessed.
He replied that it all started some time ago. Night after night a man came to me in my dream and asked me, “What are you doing here? It is not your place. Know you are a Jew.”
Originally, I simply dismissed it, however the following nights this dream kept on reoccurring. One night I couldn’t sleep so I turned on the television and I saw Jews in Israel, France, Russia, and elsewhere lighting the candles of Hanukkah.
This whole thing was being done under the guidance of a Rabbi in Brooklyn NY. I immediately recognized the Rabbi as the man who was coming to me.
At that point I decided to do some research about myself. I discovered that my parents were indeed Jewish and as the German army was advancing towards their town, they asked a non-Jewish family to watch me until the war ends.
My parents didn’t survive, and my adoptive parents, who were extremely devout, raised me as a catholic. When I became of age, I entered the Church and remained here for my entire life.
Yet I am Jewish, so you saw what you saw.
“But the story doesn’t end there,” the lady said.
When I returned to the United States I called the Rebbe’s secretariat and requested an audience with him. The man replied that presently the Rebbe does not grant private audiences, however, every Sunday thousands of individuals come to him, and he gives them a dollar and a blessing. You are welcome to come any Sunday and there is no need for an appointment.
So I decided to go to New York and visit him in his synagogue.
Unable to contain his curiosity, Tzvi asked, “Do you come to him in this attire?”
“No,” she replied, “I dressed up in a modest dress and covered my hair with a hat as the Jewish women in the Bronx did and I visited him”
The line was long and my turn finally came. He gave me a dollar and said some words and I continued on my way.
However, after taking just a few steps I was called back.
The Rebbe gave me another dollar and said in English, “This is for Ireland “.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their Chassidim. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gut voch! How many thousands if not more stories like this are waiting to be discovered? Every second at dollars was a Ruach HaKodesh moment.
Moshiach Roshei teiveis Madlik Shmona Yemei Chanuka
This reminds me of the Malka story who was revealed to be a Jew & then lived her life among Gentiles.
This story is “missing” many details, like:
Do we know who this Irish Jew is?
Is he connected to the shaliach in Ireland? (He had no Jewish background, someone must have taught him about talis, tefillin and davening!)
What is his level of observance, does he keeps any other mitzvos?