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The Little Miracle

Rabbi Michel Vishedsky used to own a shoe store in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He would often visit a shoe wholesaler in the East Side of Manhattan and buy merchandise at a discount.

During one of these trips, he saw a young man standing near the store holding two large suitcases. It looked like he had just landed and come straight from the airport to the store. He stood there with his wife and young daughter, about three years old.

The wholesaler spotted Rabbi Vishedsky and came out to introduce him to his young friend who had just landed from Israel. The young man looked at Rabbi Vishedsky quizzically for a few moments, and then apparently decided that he was trustworthy.

“Tell me, is it true that the Rebbe has divine inspiration? Does he know how to read minds?”

Rabbi Vishedsky smiled. “Our generation is fortunate to be blessed with a leader who has all these gifts. But why do you ask?”

“You see this girl? She was born with a medical condition and the doctors told us she would never be able to walk. We believed them and fell into a depression.

“We are kibbutzniks and follow the original kibbutz ideology. We don’t believe in organized religion and don’t keep Judaism. Recently a Chabad rabbi came to visit our kibbutz and requested permission to speak about Judaism. We agreed and gathered in the clubhouse to listen, even though we don’t believe in anything. It didn’t bother us to listen to a lecture by a religious person. We believe in letting each person have his say.

“After the lecture, the rabbi came up to me and asked why I seemed so down. I was moved by his sincerity and I shared our troubles with him. I told him about our bright, intelligent daughter who was unable to walk.

“Without missing a beat, the rabbi said, ‘Why not write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?’

“I looked at him blankly, unsure whether to laugh or cry. I should write to the Rebbe? I do not believe in anything or anyone, kibbutznik or not. But the chassid proved stubborn. In the end we compromised: He would write the letter in his own words and I would sign my name. I agreed to this idea. He wrote the letter in the appropriate Chabad fashion, and I signed my name and my mother’s name. He explained that this is how we sign a letter to the Rebbe.

“Several weeks passed before we received an answer from the Rebbe. The Rebbe instructed us to keep the laws of family purity and in this merit our daughter will be healthy. I was shocked. How did the Rebbe know that we did not keep these laws? The chassid had written the letter, not me, and all we wrote was our names and mother’s name.

“My wife and I were desperate to do anything that could help our daughter, so we resolved to learn the laws and keep them carefully.

“Three months passed without any change. Our daughter was still not walking, and our family life was greatly disturbed. Then one day I was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper. My wife and daughter were in the kitchen. It was a perfectly ordinary scene. Suddenly I heard a scream and then a thud.

“I rushed to the scene and found that my wife had fainted, and it took me a few minutes to revive her.

“What happened?” I asked, all shaken up. Not only did I have a daughter with a disability, was my wife ill as well? I wouldn’t be able to handle that!

“’Don’t you see?’ said my wife, pointing at our daughter. “She just stood up by herself!” Sure enough, our daughter, who usually just sat in her buggy without moving, had pulled herself to stand.

“The next day we went for a round of visits to the specialists who had treated her in the past, and they could not believe their eyes. They recommended a course of physical therapy, but my daughter made rapid progress on her own.

“You see the results—she is running around in front of your eyes, completely healthy. In our kibbutz our story is known, and there are others who were inspired to keep the laws of family purity. This,” he added with a smile, “is the biggest miracle of all.”


 

 


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