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The Pledge
Avi Piamenta is a musician, a flute virtuoso gifted with the ability to raise people’s spirits and touch their souls with his music. The following story took place when Avi was a young man, shortly after his marriage.

At the time his father-in-law was feeling unwell and was hospitalized. It seemed to be more serious than a flu or passing virus. The doctors examined him and performed a battery of tests, then gravely informed the family, “We found a tumor in his lungs.”

Their advice was to do surgery and remove the diseased section of the lung. Avi was a Chabad chassid and he and his wife knew they could not consent to such a critical step without asking the Rebbe. They wrote to the Rebbe and waited for an answer, but it was delayed in coming. Several days passed, in which their nerves were stretched to a breaking point—but no letter from the Rebbe.

“Any delay in treatment could have fatal consequences,” the doctors informed the family. “At this point it is not possible to perform the surgery. He is too weak to withstand it.”

Avi with his wife and parents went to pray at the gravesite of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, the father-in-law of the present Rebbe, and hoped for a miracle. Through natural means they saw no way out. The doctors gave Avi’s father-in-law only three months to live—six at the most.

The next day, the family once again went to the Rebbe’s gravesite and then all went to the hospital. When they arrived at the wing, the senior doctors were waiting for them. Avi and his wife immediately tensed up—they were sure this did not bode anything good.

 “Look,” said the head of the medical team, clearing his throat. “At this time it seems possible that, um, our results might have been mistaken. The situation is not as dire as we previously believed.”

Well, for such mistakes they could hardly be angry. They were grateful, in fact. Thank G-d the patient was doing better. The doctors also retracted their arrogant prediction of how long he had to live.

Two weeks passed and Avi’s father-in-law was released from the hospital. They all felt that he had been granted a new lease on life. When he arrived home, he gathered the family around and told them about a unique experience he had in the hospital—one that was not connected to any medical treatment he did or did not receive.

“One night,” he said, “I saw the Previous Rebbe in a dream. I told him of my dire medical situation and said that my daughter recently got married and I wanted a few more years to reap nachas from her and her children. I added that I was prepared to give a substantial amount to charity.

“The Rebbe listened to my words but did not bless me right away. I raised the amount of my pledge but still the Rebbe did not answer me. I kept on raising the sum until the Rebbe finally blessed me with long, healthy years.

“Now I ask you,” he said, turning to Avi. “Please write to the present Lubavitcher Rebbe and tell him that I am paying the first installment of $1000 towards the amount of my pledge.”

Naturally, Avi quickly fulfilled his father-in-law’s wish and sent the letter with the money. The Rebbe responded and instructed Avi’s father-in-law to put on tefillin every weekday and to check them first to make sure they were kosher. The Rebbe added, “I will mention it at the resting place” (of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe).

Avi’s father-in-law owned an old pair of tefillin. He sent them to be checked and indeed, they were not kosher. Even the straps were torn. He bought himself a new beautiful pair and as the Rebbe instructed, he was careful to put them on every day.

Once a year he would send another check to the Rebbe to fulfill the pledge he made in his vision. In return, the Rebbe would urge him to take on another mitzvah. Thus he merited to live another seven years and enjoy much nachas from the grandchildren born to his daughter and son-in-law.


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