Weekly Story: Why So much Suffering?
As today is Vov Tishrei, the Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana, we present our weekly story – one final chapter in the story of Malka, the orphaned girl who learned from the Rebbe that she wasn’t abandoned, and her incredible encounter with Rebbetzin Chana.
by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon
Today, Vov Tishrei, is the yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana. The following episode gives us an additional glimpse into her greatness.
Around six months ago, I chronicled 5 segments of Malka’s remarkable connection and interaction with the Rebbe, which captivated Jews around the world. It was titled “You Weren’t Abandoned” and on the fifth one I write Finale – for the time being. During the ensuing months, I have had additional correspondences with Malka and she informed me of numerous happenings.
As I mentioned in those articles, she is not looking for fame or recognition, to the contrary, that is something she shuns; but she is reluctantly allowing me to share with our readership and all Anash certain things that bring out the greatness of the Rebbe, and the power of his messages, which although were said 40, 50 and even 60 years ago are relevant today as when he said it then.
However, there are certain points of her life and conversations with the Rebbe, that are extremely private, which are not for a public forum. So just as when you tell someone a point of your life in confidence and you don’t want that person to share it with others, respect someone else’s wishes as well. Please appreciate the sacrifice it took to share and thereby reliving these painful situations, in order to benefit others.
Her criteria in allowing me to publish certain things is, if it would be beneficial to others; that dear readers is a tremendous responsibility and after much contemplation, and consultation with mashpi’im I decided not to go into gray areas, and only publicize what is definitely beneficial. Besides the point that too much information in one article dilutes the message.
The story so far was, In the 1950’s Malka looked forward to her bas mitzvah and the importance of growing as a bas yisroel. Then her loving parents informed her that she was adopted as a very young child. Being that they have no idea of who her birth parents were, she must undergo a geirus m’sufek (conversion just in case).
This news broke her spirits, as she felt she was abandoned by her birth parents, and these individuals who raised her had misled her for so many years. She replied she won’t go through the conversion process and if Hashem created her as a non-Jew, maybe that is what her destiny was.
Upon the advice of the Rabbi of their community, they came to the Rebbe and he informed her that her birth parents are Jewish and they had not forsaken her, rather they died in a car accident and are buried in…. . But, they still love her as does Hashem, who is the Father of all orphans. However, being that there are no witnesses to say who her parents are; she should go through the conversion process.
The Rebbe then asked her to promise him three things; A) she would always keep Shabbos B) she would also eat only kosher and C) she would visit him once a year. Promises which she keeps to this very day.
She graduated with honors, was accepted into an outstanding seminary and then tragedy struck again, her beloved adopted parents both passed away. Being the only survivors in their families, there were no relatives and her world was turned upside down once again. She then decided to study medicine.
After recovering from this she entered the shiddich scene and met a fine Jewish boy. However, after he heard that she went through a geirus process l’chumra, they had to break off, since he was a Kohen, and a kohen is forbidden from marrying a convert.
After recovering emotionally from this break-up, Malka went for her yearly visit and short talk with the Rebbe.
With this introduction I will now share some of the additional information which Malka informed me of, using her words:
Many ask why I merited witnessing this unique dimension of the Rebbe? Perhaps, his chassidim were shown his greatness in his teachings and holy books, but not his person. That dimension he occasionally would let some outsiders glimpse at, and for whatever reason, I was blessed to be one of those individuals.
Another part to the story of Malka: To me, this isn’t a “story” – it is life. And very private and personal. If it can help someone or inspire others, then I am willing to allow you to share it with the public and if you want, you may compose all these pieces of information (including the seamstress and her daughter’s information that dear readers is a separate story in due time) into a “story”. But ONLY if this information is beneficial to others.
The Rebbe’s Mother: The Rebbe’s Mother had a very hard life of suffering! When I asked the Rebbe [after we had to break the shidduch], why Hashem makes so much suffering he told me that [it is best] for me to speak to his mother that afternoon [immediately following his 4 pm visit to his mother – so I should come to her apartment at around 5 pm], stating that his Mother is better and more able to explain that to me – which she did!
I would rather not repeat certain parts of it – too personal. She told me things about my past that I did not know or was unaware of and she mapped out my entire future life…
I could share part of our conversation, two points (of 4) that she spoke about [in answer to my question]: “Why Hashem makes so much suffering?”, ( the OTHER 2 POINTS – I cannot share!)
She spoke at length about Yaakov, the “chosen”/greatest of the Avos, and all the unbearable suffering and personal tragedies he endured!
– starting with the “injustice” of his Father Yitzchok favoring his wicked brother (imagine the hurt and the feeling of not being appreciated! Yaakov knew what his brother was all about!),
– the need to flee the home of his parents (becoming a “refugee”! Leaving the home of not just his parents but his Rebbe/Role Model/Place of Spirituality!),
– living with Lavan (who was worse than Pharaoh and imagine the diminishing of Yaakov’s reputation by associating with Lavan – making a deal with the Devil! -which was needed to build the 12 tribes of Israel!),
– the abduction and defilement of his daughter Dina (whom he hid and protected from Essuv but destiny cannot be altered!)
– the loss of his favorite wife Rochel (and being separated from her eternally by burying her on the way, and meanwhile seeing the necessity of her to cry in the future for his exiled children!),
– the rivalry among his sons (not just to Yossef, but the disharmony between the tribes, discrimination to the maid-servants tribes and among themselves),
– the loss of Yossef (not just a favorite son but Yaakov’s true “chossid” believed to be torn apart by a wild beast, his “first born” from Rochel, his future replacement, and one from who will be born Moshiach Ben Yossef – all gone!!),
– the exile from Israel to Egypt (leaving voluntarily from the Promised Land to the Nakedness of the Land, a country that the streets are treif and impossible to remain Jewish there)…
– till his final years of old age reunited with his son in Egypt and seeing all his grandchildren and the survival of the nation.
She spoke all this as if it was HER life of suffering and connecting EACH stage to her own (and Rebbe’s) past! (sometimes becoming very emotional)
(somethings she hinted or alluded to, and here is not the place to put down my own thoughts as to what she was alluding to, while other things she said directly). For example she said:
After all of her own stages of suffering, she, like Yaakov left the Land of Her Fathers, arrived in America which is like Egypt, the Nakedness of the Land with treif streets, to live out the final years of her life.
Here in America, she, like Yaakov, was once again reunited with her son, the Rebbe, whom she did not see for so many years and never thought she will ever see again!
More so, she was able to see, like Yaakov saw the growth of his family, she saw the rebirth of Lubavitch, the growth of chassidim and accomplishments of Lubavitch in this land, a land that did not have the merit of hosting the Rebbes of past generations.
To see Lubavitch grow in a country that never absorbed the blood sweat and tears of self sacrificing chassidim is simply an affirmation that it is part of the Master Plan of Hashem… that here, in the “Egypt of America” she sees the fruits of generations of labor and self-sacrifice. It is a miracle to see that “what was planted there grows here”!
Of note: She stressed this point of “what was planted there grows here”! She even asked me after she said it, “Do you understand?”
After telling me of Yaakov’s life and her own life – she told me about all the stages of my own life…(very personal!!)…and that my all suffering and also hers and Yaakov’s (and all the suffering of the generations) is all part of the Master Plan, and then she explained to me certain things that I feel I cannot and must not ever repeat.
A second point that Rebbetzin Chana shared with me.
She spoke about her husband, a great kabbalist that was even able to discern the “sources” of an individual’s neshama and their specific life mission (including if that neshama will have children……) and then she mapped out my neshama and the reasons for everything that happened and then she spoke about what will happen…
She sat at the end/head of the table and I sat at the side corner next to her. In middle of our conversation, after she spoke about her and the Rebbe’s life, she began to speak about mine. She then took hold of my hand in a compassionate and tender hold as she gently informed me that I won’t ever have physical children (but I too can have spiritual children – by helping orphans and partnering with Hashem who is the Father of all orphans (and noted that although her son and daughter in law – mentioning the Rebbe and Rebbetzin by name – did not have any biological children their marriage merited in bringing back many neshomas to Yiddishkeit and Chassidishkeit, which gives her tremendous joy)).
She also said to me a few times, “You are a true Malka (queen) and your name is Malka, and held my hand again. She then said a few endearing words (maybe Yiddish words that I did not know but probably Russian) – I did not catch the exact meaning of those words, (but they were clearly words of love)!
And then she mapped out the purpose of my neshoma and what my mission in life is. At that time my research was geared towards healing cancer (oncology) but she directed me to shift it to combating infertility and developing treatments.
She said that cancer is an enemy that will claim many victims but I will not be its victim. Instead I am a victim of infertility – like the Avos and the Rebbe.
She further explained that when one is attacked by an enemy, one has greater personal motivation and ultimately success to overcome one’s personal enemy.
She compared it to overcoming one’s personal yetzer hara. She used a chassidic/kabbalistic (or maybe Chazal) expression – which I missed…something like we can know our shlichus by the challenges we face.
Shidduchim is the first step that facilitates towards fertility. It was of primary importance to the Rebbe, he considered making shidduchim true ahavas yisroel. Please pray for and help if you can all singles seeking shidduchim to succeed (in helping Hashem with his mission of making shidduchim). Please pray that all shluchim of the Rebbe continue in his work of giving spiritual life to the world by bringing the light of Hashem’s Torah and mitzvos to their surroundings. And pray that Hashem should finally keep his promise to bring us Moshiach.
Dear readers, please join me in wishing Malka a gmar chasima tova in continued good health and may she indeed have nachas from the several hundred (if not thousands) of Yiddishe neshomas who are not just her spiritual children. May her efforts [monetary and professionally] on behalf of klal Yisroel be even more successful than until now. And may we all merit a gmar chasima tova and be zoche to the geulah shleima speedily in our days.
Another segment to be posted bezras Hashem around Yud Tes Kislev.
At this time, as I begin the third year of posting a weekly story, I ask all of you to please inform me of an unique story that you feel may be beneficial to our readers. Thank you.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and author of numerous books. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.