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Before You Ask, I Will Answer

Tzachi, a former high-level employee in the Israeli Intel company, moved to the United States to invest in the local hi-tech market. Whether because of homesickness for Israel, or for other reasons, Tzachi felt drawn towards Judaism. As a result, he formed a relationship with Rabbi Yitzchak Gershovitz, the unofficial rabbi of the Israeli expat community in Tenafly, New Jersey.

Tzachi became a regular guest at the rabbi’s Shabbat table, and enjoyed the deep discussions they would have. Each week, his Jewish worldview broadened and also brought light to his daily life. Tzachi began to keep Shabbat and even to lay Tefillin each day and pray the morning prayers.

When Tzachi learned of the importance of one’s Jewish name and how it is reflected in his soul, he felt a desire to choose a more traditional Hebrew name. He had been named Tzachi at his circumcision, and while it is a Hebrew name, he wanted a more authentic sounding, Biblical name: Yitzchak.

Rabbi Gershovitz explained to him that he really has no need to change his name, but if he desired to do so, it was within his rights. He merely needed to be called to the Torah by the new name, and convince his friends and acquaintances to adopt the new name. “But don’t rush into it,” Rabbi Gershovitz advised. “We’re talking about a serious spiritual step, and it would be appropriate not to make such a decision lightly. Perhaps you should consult with the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

Tzachi had already been inaugurated into the method of consulting with the Rebbe. He would write a letter with his question, place it at random into a volume of the Rebbe’s published letters, and read the letter on the page.

The day was Wednesday, 11 Kislev. Tzachi left Rabbi Gershovitz’s house at 1 a.m. and they agreed that the next morning, after the morning prayers, Tzachi would ask the Rebbe his question. “If you open to a page with a positive answer, we can change your name at the Torah on the upcoming Shabbos.”

Thursday morning, after prayers, Tzachi prepared to write a letter to the Rebbe. However, it seems the Rebbe had his own plans...

One of the regulars at the Chabad House, Yechiel Cohen, owned a large tire factory. Two weeks earlier, Yechiel had told Rabbi Gershovitz that near his factory there was an abandoned trailer, and workers had recently begun to clear it out for new residents. Among the junk in the trailer they found a box of books, which appeared to be Hebrew sefarim. “They appear to be in good condition, despite the rain that’s been falling through the leaky roof of the trailer,” Yechiel told Rabbi Gershovitz. “Maybe you should take a look at them.”

Yechiel promised to bring the books to the Chabad house. And so, at the very same time that Tzachi was sitting down to write a letter to the Rebbe, Yechiel approached the rabbi to come out to his car to look at the books.

The Rabbi asked Tzachi to wait a few minutes and went to the shul’s parking lot. Yechiel took the box out of his trunk and the Rabbi began to look through them. There were some that could be of use to him and he was glad for the expansion of his synagogue’s library.

Suddenly he caught his breath. Out of one book he saw an envelope sticking out, with the name of the Rebbe and the address “770 Eastern Parkway.” Yes! This was a letter sent by the Rebbe to someone. Rabbi Gershovitz felt that finding this letter was no coincidence, particularly since he was about to sit down with someone to write a letter to the Rebbe.

Rabbi Gershovitz thanked Yechiel for the books, and hastened to bring the box into the Chabad house. He washed his hands and then opened the envelope to read the letter from the Rebbe:

14 Kislev, 5753. Brooklyn, New York

Greeting and blessings!

In answer to your letter regarding the names
etc. The Rebbe advises that you should choose for
yourselves.

With blessings for all good,

S.M. Simpson, secretary

Even before Tzachi had written his request, it had already been answered, in such a clear and direct manner!

How had the envelope ended up in a box of books in an abandoned trailer in New Jersey? There was no clear explanation. But Tzachi was moved and overwhelmed at the unexpected answer to his request. On Shabbat, Tzachi was called to the Torah with great joy to assume his chosen name, Yitzchak.

 

 


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