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A Timely Package

Pinchas Feivish is a well-known entertainer who performs at weddings and other events. His creative and original lyrics (“grammen”) have livened up many a wedding.

His legendary talents have also brought him to some less cheerful places such as hospitals and prisons, to bring joy to the residents. This story takes place during a prison visitation to a family member who had become entangled in financial crimes and was serving a heavy sentence. Pinchas expected the visit to be difficult—his relative was serving a 30-year sentence in a medium security prison under harsh conditions.

Pinchas passed gate after gate, section after section, until he arrived at the unit where his relative was held. He was expecting to see a downcast, broken person. Instead, to his surprise, his relative greeted him with joy and a positive spirit and shared an amazing story that happened to him on Passover.

 “You know that I am not a Chabad chassid,” he began, “but I love and respect the Rebbe. I was at the Lubavitcher Rebbe a number of times, and I also keep some Chabad customs, for example, to eat the ‘meal of Moshiach’ on the last day of Pesach.

 “But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You can imagine that as a Chassidic Jew it is exceedingly difficult to spend holidays in prison, especially Pesach. To my good fortune, one of the guards had pity on me and with the help of my family he slipped me packages of strictly kosher Pesach food—far beyond the usual kosher standard of most prison fare.

 “The holiday passed and finally it was the last day, when we celebrate the ‘meal of Moshiach.’ I waited desperately for the guard to bring me my package. I had already finished my matzah and wine, relying on the fact that I would receive another package. But the guard was late. I knew that he was on duty today and I wondered why he did not come.

 “Much later than usual, he came to my cell and whispered, ‘Another guard saw that I was going to bring you a package, and threatened to report me. I left the package in one of the rooms and apparently the other guard took it and I don’t know where he put it.’

 “A guard who brings in an unauthorized package to a prisoner, especially in such a secure prison, will be disciplined, fined, or perhaps even fired. This guard, who only wanted to help me, added, ‘In any case, I understand that your holiday is almost over.’ How do I explain to him the importance of the ‘meal of Moshiach’?

 “I sat on my bed feeling sorry for myself, thinking about my unfortunate situation. While sunk in these morose thoughts I fell asleep. In my dream, I saw myself in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s shul. I stood opposite the Rebbe and he motioned to me to say l’chaim. In my dream, I argued, ‘How can I say l’chaim when I don’t have matzos or wine?’ The Rebbe assured me that all would be well and there would be good news. I woke up.

 “The dreary prison cell quickly returned me to the bitter reality. Suddenly I heard a commotion. My locked cell was opened and the guard stood in the entrance with a package. My package… He handed it to me and left without saying a word. I was shocked. In the package were matzos and wine. I was moved to the depths of my soul. I felt that I was not alone. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was taking care of me, even in prison.

 “How, indeed, had the jailer managed to get his hands on the package? And why was he not afraid of his colleague? Later the jailer told me that he was sitting guard and suddenly he did something he had never done in 25 years of working there. He fell asleep! As he put it, in his dream a rabbi with a white beard appeared to him and complained why he was not letting the Jew fulfill his traditions. The guard defended himself, saying that his friend threatened to report him and even hid the package he wanted to give. The rabbi told him exactly where to find the package and not to be afraid of his friend. He woke up all shaken. He wanted to see if the dream had any meaning and went to the place where the rabbi in his dream told him. Sure enough, the package was there.

 “’I am sure your rabbi will protect me and that’s why I decided to bring it to you.

The prisoner added that he guessed who had appeared in the guard’s dream, but just to make sure, he asked his family members to send him a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe along with other Rebbes. He asked the guard to identify who had appeared to him, and sure enough he chose the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

 

 


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