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Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 16 Tishrei 5780
 
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In-Gathering
The “Sunday Dollar line” stretched for a full city block in Brooklyn, outside the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s synagogue on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Thousands had come for an opportunity to meet the Rebbe and receive his blessing along with a dollar for charity.

Among the multitudes stood Rabbi Mandel, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe somewhere in the United States. While waiting on line he occupied himself with reciting chapters of Psalms, to prepare himself spiritually for his face-to-face meeting with the Rebbe. However, he could not quite filter out the panorama of humanity that surrounded him, all waiting for the same purpose. One person in particular stood out. As he waited he shifted uncomfortably and adjusted the brand-new kippah on his head, which looked as if it had been purchased just for this occasion. He seemed out of place, looking around as if wondering how he had ended up here on this line to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbi Mandel interrupted his recital of Psalms to greet this individual. As an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe he knew that he represented the Rebbe wherever he went, even when he was far from his own Chabad center. He felt an obligation to extend a warm welcome to this man and guide him through the process of meeting the Rebbe. He extended his hand for a warm handshake, introduced himself and said, “Is this your first time?”

From Rabbi Mandel’s point of view, the question was merely out of politeness, by way of introduction. However, the man opposite him seemed quite overwhelmed by emotion. He began to relate his story, which he continued for the rest of the time they waited on line.

“It all started when I was a child, growing up in Israel,” began the man, who introduced himself as Danny. “When I was a child my parents divorced, a nasty and bitter divorce. My parents fought over everything – money, the house, and especially over custody of us, the children. In the end, I don’t know how or why, my father was awarded custody and he raised us. He did this with great devotion and love, but never spoke to us about our mother. He cut us off from her completely.”

“For the next two decades I never saw her. I knew nothing about her and I couldn’t even get in contact with her because I didn’t know where she was. I thought that once I grew up and established a family of my own, my pain would go away, but for me and my siblings, the pain never ended – in fact, it only deepened.

“This is how I lived my life. I married my wife and after we had children of my own, the void I felt for not having a relationship with my own mother gnawed at me constantly. I felt that I had to heal this void somehow, for the sake of my own mental health and for the sake of my children. However, finding my mother was an almost insurmountable challenge. My father continued to be obstinate about refusing us any contact with her, and would not share with us any information that could help us in our quest.

“About a month ago, I was walking the streets of Manhattan with my family when we suddenly noticed a large camper van decorated with colorful Hebrew signs. I learned that this is one of the celebrated Chabad ‘mitzvah tanks,’ that roam the streets of Manhattan looking for Jews to entice them to fulfill mitzvot. Although we are not religious, we are proud Jews, and my children urged me to enter the ‘mitzvah tank.’ After some urging from the yeshivah students manning the tank, I even agreed to put on tefillin.

“While removing the tefillin, the yeshivah students told me about the Rebbe and the ‘Sunday dollar distribution,’ when the Rebbe would give out dollars for charity along with blessings. Apparently, putting on tefillin moved something in my soul, and I shared with them my deep desire to find my mother. When they heard this, the yeshivah students began to persuade me even more that I must come to Crown Heights on Sunday to receive a dollar from the Rebbe. ‘Many miracles have already taken place there, and with G-d’s help, your miracle will happen as well.’

“And so I found myself traveling here that Sunday, and I stood on line for dollars. I was very moved when I came face-to-face with the Rebbe, and I could not open my mouth. The Rebbe handed me a dollar and said, ‘blessings and success.’ Immediately after, he gave me an additional dollar and gave me a blessing for my trip to Israel.

“I had no such plans. Nevertheless, I decided to put the Rebbe’s blessing into effect and fly to Israel for a visit. I went to a travel agent, ordered a ticket and flew to Israel. One day,” here Danny’s voice choked up, “I was wandering the streets in Tel Aviv. Suddenly, a woman tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and she said hesitantly, ‘Danny?’

“It was my mother…

“Now I am here to thank the Rebbe. In another three weeks, my mother will also be here to personally say thank you to the Rebbe as well.”
 

 


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