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Miracle at the Rebbe's Ohel

Friday, 5 June, 2020 - 1:24 pm

Going to the Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens gives me a tremendous boost of energy. It enables me to really connect and focus, and before COVID-19 hit I prayed there at least twice a month. 

This week, I went again, weighed down by the overwhelming financial burden our Chabad center is facing. All our programs are on hold, and as the economy has taken a dive so has fundraising. Even for those who are still able to give, it’s very hard to solicit people when both parties are in quarantine. So much of fundraising needs to be done in person. It’s tough. 

As I prayed, I had a very large number in mind to cover immediate debt. But where could that possibly come from at a time like this?

And then—I kid you not—the phone rang. 

I had one psalm remaining and the caller ID said “restricted number.” In the era of sophisticated spam calls I rarely answer the phone unless I recognize the number, but since I was at the Ohel I took the plunge. Lo and behold, it was my friend Ilan*.

“Hi Ilan, how are you? What’s going on? It’s been a while.” 

We made small talk for a few minutes and then he got to the point. 

“It’s been a while since we connected, and I’d like to give your Chabad center some charity,” he explained. 

I’m always touched when people think of us, especially in hard times, but when I heard how much he wanted to give us, I couldn’t believe it. 

It was the exact amount I needed plus ten percent

Wow! I was blown away. This felt like a genuine miracle! 

I said, “Ilan, do you know where I am right now? I’m at the Ohel!” And he started to cry on the phone. 

I hesitated before sharing this story. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s personal. I’m exposing myself. But if it inspires one more person to go to the Ohel, to pray to G-d and connect with the Rebbe, it’s worth it, especially in these uncertain times. 

The Talmud talks about one “who believes in G-d and so he plants.” Planting will naturally yield results. The farmer’s hard labor will be rewarded when he eats the resulting fruit. So why must he believe in G-d and pray for success? The Talmud explains that all our financial worries and successes come from G-d, even when the delivery appears natural. 

Yes, we are living in treacherous and uncertain times. We’ve been in isolation for almost three months, hundreds of thousands have been sick, and now we’re seeing civil unrest on an unprecedented scale. The entire world seems to be in turmoil. But as our forefather Abraham discovered, there is a Master of this universe and He is in charge. It’s His job to sustain us and bring us to better times. We need to strike a balance between surrendering to Him and creating natural pathways for His blessings. 

I am so grateful to my friend Ilan for his incredible generosity, and to G-d for sending the blessings through him. But I cannot relax yet. This check only takes care of the immediate issues; I will be back at the Ohel next week with a lot more on my mind. Will you join me? 

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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