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The Rebbe’s Army

There's no doubt that putting up a building costs money. Lots of money. Especially when we're talking about a sprawling building with several floors, all  tastefully decorated and well-equipped.Chabad Center

The new Chabad Center in Little Rock, Arkansas meets this description. It is the largest Jewish center in the state and includes a synagogue, meeting halls, classrooms and offices. The entire building exudes a warm and homelike atmosphere, inviting all Jewish residents of Arkansas to come and enjoy the vibrant Jewish spirit.

Putting up this building was a success story engineered by the Rebbe's emissary to Arkansas, Rabbi Pinchas Ciment. For Rabbi Ciment, this building is nothing short of a miracle. And not only in his eyes. All those who attended the inauguration ceremony and heard the stories of how he had raised the funds necessary for erecting this building shared in his amazement.

One of the most incredible anecdotes happened towards the end of construction. The building was already up but Rabbi Ciment still needed funds to furnish the building and purchase supplies for the classrooms, in order to open in time for the new school year.

Rabbi Ciment had already exhausted the donations of his usual contributors. What to do? He did what any emissary of the Rebbe would do in similar circumstances--turn to the Rebbe. Rabbi Ciment asked the Rebbe's blessing for raising the necessary amount of money within the short remaining time until the school year would begin.

The next day, Rabbi Ciment received a call from an elderly gentleman, who identified himself as a non-Jewish farmer. The caller said that he had recently read the book "The Rebbe's Army" by Sue Fishkoff, which describes the work of the Rebbe's emissaries throughout the world. Through an internet search he found out that the closest emissary of the Rebbe was Rabbi Ciment in Little Rock, three hours away from his farm. He was calling to let Rabbi Ciment know that he was interested in meeting him and donating to his cause.

The thought of a three-hour trip each way was daunting to Rabbi Ciment, who was busy with numerous projects and appointments. He also had no idea if the caller was legitimate, or whether his donation would even cover the cost of his gas.

However, it was unpleasant for him to completely negate the request of his elderly caller, who revealed that he was 85 years old. "Maybe you are willing to meet me halfway?" he suggested, although he was unsure if the elderly gentleman drove at all at his age.

To his surprise, the farmer agreed happily. They agreed on a meeting point, on the following afternoon at 1 p.m. "I will definitely recognize you, Rabbi. But you will find it easy to recognize me, as well. I will be dressed in overalls and driving an old truck."

When the two met, the farmer told Rabbi Ciment, "All my life I have been seeking a religion that speaks to me, but I have not found it. I am a big believer in the Bible, and any theory that does not match what is written there does not strike me as true. When I read the book "The Rebbe's Army" and found out that there was a movement of people who were prepared to dedicate their entire lives to G-d, according to the principles of the Bible, I was hooked.

"In my eyes, the one who conducts this army is a prophet and anyone who belongs to this army is fulfilling G-d's will in full. I would be happy to join your wonderful army, but I'm sure that in my circumstances it would not be possible for me to become an integral member. However, I would be happy to take part in your activities at least through a donation. Please accept my deepest respect for your activities and the activities of all your colleagues, under the leadership of the Rebbe!"

The farmer reached into his pocket and handed Rabbi Ciment an envelope, and the two parted with a friendly handshake.

When Rabbi Ciment opened the envelope, he found a check for $20,000. He could not believe his eyes. He had the sense that he had not thanked the farmer adequately for such a generous donation. But it was too late. Through his rear-view mirror he saw a trail of dust from under the tires of the farmer's truck. He had already turned around to go home...

The next day, the farmer called Rabbi Ciment again. "I wanted to make sure that you had made it home safely and to thank you again for taking the trouble to meet with me and accept my donation..."

However, the relationship between the two did not end there. The farmer followed up with a friendly visit to the Chabad Center of LIttle Rock. He was so impressed that he decided to give an additional, similar donation. "I am grateful, Rabbi, to have found a place that truly fulfills G-d's desire in this world," he said emotionally, extending his hand to the rabbi.

 

 


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