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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 - 14 Iyyar 5784
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Restored to Life

This story took place on a cold winter night in the middle of Shvat last year on one of the settlements in Israel. The local Chabad emissary (shlucha) had publicized in advance that there would be a gathering on the 22nd of Shvat, in honor of the yahrtzeit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and she had invited all the city’s women. Additional reminders were sent to the growing community of Chabad House supporters.

In text messages and e-mails, the shlucha included the following well-known story:

“Once, a group of Lubavitcher women from Crown Heights sent a floral wreath to the Rebbetzin, in honor of her birthday. Attached to the wreath was an envelope with the names of people in need of a blessing. Rabbi Halberstam, the chassid who ran the Rebbe’s household, gave the wreath to the Rebbetzin and gave the envelope of names to the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at the envelope, and when he saw that the Rebbetzin’s name was written on it, he asked why the envelope hadn’t been given to her. Rabbi Halberstam apologized and said that it contained a list of people who needed a blessing. ‘Nu,’ the Rebbe replied with the utmost sincerity, ‘she can also bless them!’”

The shlucha concluded the brief story with these words: “Even today the Rebbetzin can give a blessing. You are invited to participate in the 22 Shvat gathering and receive a blessing.”

Mrs. R.B. was a friend and supporter of the local Chabad House. “The cold was intense, and the winds were howling outside that night,” she said. “However, I knew that I simply had to ignore the elements and go to participate at the gathering in the Rebbetzin’s honor.”

 “I have a good friend who teaches with me at the local school. She is a much-esteemed woman with a tremendous reputation due to her success in Jewish education. However, during that winter, her physical health, and subsequently her emotional health, had begun to weaken from the effects of anorexia nervosa. I would come and visit her almost every day with a special meal, exactly as she had requested. She would enthusiastically describe to me over the phone what she likes to eat, including how to season the dish, how long to brown the onions, how to cut the vegetables, etc. I would prepare it just as she described, but when I got to her house and served her the food, she would always find some excuse why she couldn’t eat it…

 “The state of my friend’s health was beginning to worsen, and all of us on the school staff recommended that she should be hospitalized. For my part, I decided to go to the gathering and ask all those participating to bless her and to request a blessing from the Rebbe through Igros Kodesh, the Rebbe’s published letters, in the merit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, for a complete recovery.”

“Despite the bitter cold, about thirty women came to the gathering. At the end of the event, we sat together and wrote a letter to the Rebbe, and the shlucha placed it in a volume of Igrot Kodesh. When she read out the answer, we almost fainted from excitement. The Rebbe simply analyzed her condition in great detail:

“In the letter (Vol. 9, pg. 258), the Rebbe wrote: ‘…Thus, as in relation to the life of the body, if the person will speak day and night that he believes in the value of food, and he wants to accept it and eat it, yet he constantly doesn’t eat, his body derives no benefit from his talking – and he periodically becomes weak, to the point that he eventually will have no strength to speak about the benefit.’

“As the letter continued, the Rebbe proceeded to elucidate upon this point from a spiritual perspective, as the shlucha later explained: ‘In an actual sense, we also find in relation to the life of the soul: Even though he regularly speaks about how he wants to fulfill the mitzvos and about the value of the mitzvos etc., if he never actually does it, the soul doesn’t become stronger.’

“Then, before closing the letter, the Rebbe wrote special instructions: ‘And if he will listen to my advice, they should immediately check all the mezuzot in their home that they should be properly kosher.’

“The shlucha, may G-d bless her, understood the Rebbe’s words according to their literal interpretation. ‘The Rebbe says immediately. Let’s go right now to her house and take the mezuzot to be checked.’

“We got sufficiently bundled up, and with the wind whipping all around us, we headed toward my friend’s house. We knocked on the door, but no one answered and not a sound could be heard from inside. The shlucha decided that if we had already come this far, we should at least take down the front door mezuzah and have it checked. When the shlucha removed the mezuzah case, we were stunned. There was no mezuzah inside. The case was totally empty…

“I decided right there that I would buy her the most stringently kosher mezuzah available, and I asked the shlucha to make certain that it would be affixed to the front door of my friend’s home that same night. It was only then that I could finally go to sleep, knowing that I had done what I could to help restore my good friend’s health.”

 “The following morning, Friday, I went to work at the school, hoping and praying that everything would turn out all right for my friend. The fact that no had answered her door the previous night, despite our persistent knocking just three meters from her bedroom, worried me very much.

“During one of the breaks, I suddenly received a phone call from her. It turned out that during the previous night, she felt that all her strength was draining out of her. ‘I was on the verge of dying; I was even too weak to pick up the phone and call for an ambulance,’ she said. ‘I have no idea what happened last night, but this morning I got up with a renewed feeling of strength, energy, and a will to live.’

“I smiled. I did have an idea of what happened. I explained about what we had experienced at the gathering: writing the Rebbe, the instructions in his reply, checking the mezuzah, affixing a new mezuzah. ‘My dear,’ I told her, ‘you owe your life to the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. You should know that even today she can give a blessing. Furthermore, in the merit of our participation in the gathering in her memory, we merited to receive a tremendous blessing from the Rebbe! Now, just do me a favor: take care of your health.’”



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