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The Power of the Tanya

This story took place in 1962. Rabbi Koppel Rosen, a distinguished Jewish leader in London, telephoned Rabbi Bentzion Shemtov, the Rebbe's emissary in London, asking for a meeting.

The following Sunday, Rabbi Shemtov arrived in Rabbi Rosen's home, accompanied by his son-in-law, Rabbi Nachman Sudak. When they entered Rabbi Rosen's home, they found out the sad news: Rabbi Rosen was suffering from leukemia, and the doctors had said that he had only a short time to live.

"You are probably wondering why I called you here," began Rabbi Rosen. "My story begins over twenty years ago, during World War II. Rabbi Yitzchok Horowitz, a great Torah scholar and emissary of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, approached me and gave me a book of Tanya as a gift. I was not a chassid, and my worldview was far from the chassidic approach. I accepted his gift politely, but never opened the book.

"Now that I have only a short time to live, I've been reviewing the events of my life, to see what I've accomplished and what I still need to do. I remembered the book of Tanya that I received as a gift, which I have never looked into. I decided that it's time for me to open it and find out what it teaches.

"I took the book in my hand and read the first chapter. Suddenly, I felt healthy blood coursing through my veins. It was as if my strength was returning to me. I tried walking a few steps - something I've been unable to do for a long
time - and I realized that I was not imagining things. The Tanya I was reading infused me with new life!"

Rabbi Rosen paused for a moment to collect himself. "At that moment, I felt regret for the fact that my whole life, I had been opposed to the teachings of Chassidus. All my opposition was due to my ignorance. On the other hand, I am grateful that at least now, at the end of my life, I have merited to learn just a little of these profound teachings.

"You understand, Rabbi Shemtov - I feel a deep indebtedness to Rabbi Schneur Zalmen of Liadi, the author of Tanya." Rabbi Rosen paused again and cleared his throat. "I have decided," he said in a quavering voice, "to be a Chabad chassid. To be connected to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and continue in the ways of the Baal HaTanya. I invited you here today to help me. Help me understand the words of Chassidus that I'm reading."

Rabbi Sudak immediately set up a regular study session with Rabbi Rosen. After a few sessions, Rabbi Rosen asked Rabbi Sudak if it would be a good idea to travel to New York to meet the Rebbe face-to-face. Rabbi Sudak warmly encouraged this plan, contingent, of course, on the approval of the doctors.

Rabbi Rosen consulted his doctors and they gave their approval for the trip, giving him instructions how to handle various situations that might arise. On the day of the flight, Rabbis Shemtov and Sudak came to the airport to see him off. "Don't forget to ask the Rebbe for a blessing for a complete recovery," said Rabbi Shemtov.

Rabbi Rosen said, "My whole purpose in traveling is to become close to the Rebbe. As for my illness, I sense that my improvement is only temporary. I have already accepted the divine decree."

Arriving in New York, Rabbi Rosen arranged to have a private audience with the Rebbe, and asked the Rebbe to accept him as his chassid. The Rebbe thought a moment and then said, "I will consider you as a partner, but not as a chassid."

Leaving the Rebbe's room, Rabbi Rosen felt completely healthy, with no trace of his illness. In his excitement, he told everyone he met of the great miracle that had happened.

On Sunday, Rabbi Rosen entered the Rebbe's office for a final private audience. He told the Rebbe that when he will return home, he would publicize the miracle everywhere. To his surprise, the Rebbe's face became grave and he said, "The first tablets handed down by Moses on Mount Sinai were broken, since they were given with great tumult." The Rebbe said no more.

The seriousness with which the Rebbe made that statement shook up Rabbi Rosen. But it was too late. The story of his miraculous recovery had already spread throughout the Jewish community.

Unfortunately, after returning home to England, Rabbi Rosen relapsed and passed away shortly thereafter.



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