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A Surprising Request

From childhood, Yitzchak Tzvi Leichtman dreamed of working in printing. When he reached high school age, his father sought a religious environment where he could learn this trade, and he enrolled his son in the Chabad Trade School in Kfar Chabad, Israel.

Yitzchak Tzvi studied in Kfar Chabad for four years. In that time, in addition to learning the skills he needed for a job, he also absorbed religious values and fear of Heaven, and a strong respect for the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

After completing his studies, Yitzchak Tzvi married and found work in Petach Tikvah, Israel. He kept in close contact with his teachers and mentors from Kfar Chabad, and consulted them on major life decisions.

Once a year he would go to Kfar Chabad for the annual reunion. He enjoyed returning to the environment where he had spent several productive years and forged many deep and lasting relationships.

During these events, a lottery would be held, and the winner would win a free ticket to New York, to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe. One year, in the 1970s, Yitzchak Tzvi was the lucky winner.  He was so excited! Finally, after years of hearing and studying about the Rebbe, he would meet this great Jewish leader face to face.

A side benefit of his lucky win was that he would have the opportunity to visit relatives of his who lived in New York. However, these plans almost did not materialize, because once Yitzchak Tzvi set eyes on the Rebbe for the first time he found it hard to tear himself away. He wanted to spend every moment soaking up the special atmosphere in the Rebbe's synagogue.

When he first came to New York, Yitzchak Tzvi went in for a private audience with the Rebbe. As was customary among chassidim, he first immersed in the mikvah, studied Chassidus and recited chapters of Psalms.

In honor of the occasion Yitzchak Tzvi dressed in the standard "uniform" of Chassidim, a black hat and jacket, although this was not his usual manner of dress. He composed a letter to the Rebbe with his requests for blessings. The first was for the health of his mother, who was critically ill at the time. Because of her condition he originally wanted to push off the flight, but his mother insisted that he travel as planned.

Moments before he entered the Rebbe's office, Yitzchak Tzvi was approached by the Rebbe's secretary, who asked if he had written a letter.

When Yitzchak Tzvi showed the secretary the long letter he had written, the secretary shook his head firmly. "Absolutely not," he said. Instead he took out of his pocket a small notepad, tore off one page and handed it to Yitzchak Tzvi. "Write down the language that you would like the Rebbe to address you in, and the names of the  people you wish the Rebbe to pray for." Yitzchak obeyed without protest.

When Yitzchak Tzvi entered the Rebbe's room, the Rebbe began to bless him, but Yitzchak Tzvi could not catch most of what the Rebbe said. Within a moment, the Rebbe's secretary opened the door to signify that his appointment had come to an end. But the Rebbe motioned to him to stay.

Suddenly the Rebbe asked, "Did you write a longer letter than this?"

In complete surprise, Yitzchak Tzvi drew out of  his pocket the original letter that he had written. The Rebbe leafed through it in one glance, and began to bless Yitzchak Tzvi according to all his requests in the letter. Mainly the Rebbe gave blessings for his mother, that she should be completely healed and live a long life.

When the audience ended, the Rebbe took thirty dollars out of his drawer and handed them to Yitzchak Tzvi. "Give ten of these to charity, use ten for a chassidic gathering in Kfar Chabad, and the rest will be for your family."

When it was time for Yitzchak Tzvi to return to Israel, he wanted to see the  Rebbe privately one last time.  He received an appointment for the day of his flight. The Rebbe asked him the time of his flight. When Yitzchak Tzvi told him, the Rebbe suggested that he push off the flight for several days, without offering an explanation. Yitzchak Tzvi agreed to honor the Rebbe's request.

Several days later Yitzchak Tzvi boarded a plane to Israel. In the meantime, he was glad to hear that his mother's condition had improved, to the surprise of the doctors. She went on to live 11 more years, against all expectations.

A short while later, the Israeli media publicized a miracle that Ariel Sharon had had with the Rebbe. Palestinian terrorists had hijacked a plane from New York and forced it to land in Algiers, believing that Sharon was a passenger. However, it turned out that Sharon had missed his flight, also on the suggestion of the Rebbe that he should fly at a different time.

Hearing this story, Yitzchak Tzvi decided to check the exact time of his own original flight. He saw that he had also been scheduled to fly on the same flight... when the Rebbe had asked him to postpone his trip.


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