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Not by Chance

Dr. Yaakov Reich, a highly regarded university professor in the field of mathematics, who has published several articles in distinguished academic journals, seems an unusual person to talk of miracles. But Dr. Reich, who is also a chassid, cherishes his ongoing relationship with the Rebbe, which impacts not only his spiritual life but also his day-to-day decisions.

"Once during a short visit to Jerusalem, my daughter and I were awakened suddenly by a frightening blast, followed by the sounds of ambulances and helicopters. A suicide bomber had just exploded two buses a few hundred yards from where we were staying. There were several dead and wounded. After we overcame our initial shock, I turned to my daughter, who had planned to stay in Israel for the upcoming school year. 'This is it. You are coming back home with me.'Igrot Kodesh

“'Abba,' my daughter reminded me, 'before coming here, I received very clear direction from the Rebbe to come. Why don't we ask the Rebbe again?'

“I agreed and she wrote a letter which she randomly slipped into volume 18 of the Rebbe's letters (known as Igrot Kodesh). She opened the book where her note lay and read, 'Do not fear. The eyes of G-d are on the Land of Israel from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.'

“Needless to say, my daughter stayed in Israel. I appreciated the clarity of direction and thanked G-d for that. But this answer meant even more to me. It was an absolute assurance from the Rebbe that I had nothing to fear. So in spite of the tragic events of this past year, I did not worry about my daughter's safety."

Dr. Reich continues with another example of the Rebbe's continual involvement in his life.

“A prior incident involves a business deal which I was unsure I should conclude. I wrote to the Rebbe. The letter to which I ‘happened’ to open was addressed to someone with the exact same first and last name as the person about whom I was writing! I immediately went ahead with the deal.

“Recently a friend of ours called from Paris for advice. Should she come to New York to meet a young man who had been suggested to her as a possible match? I told her, 'Why don't you ask the Rebbe?' and I explained to her about receiving answers from the Rebbe through the Igrot Kodesh. She asked me to write on her behalf as she does not have any of the Rebbe's letters and also does not know Hebrew.

“Together we composed a letter to the Rebbe after which I placed it into a volume of the Rebbe's letters. The letter was nestled in a page containing an answer from the Rebbe addressed to a woman in Paris. The Rebbe commenced the letter by giving his blessing to meet 'the young man.' Then the Rebbe gave specific instructions to the mother who had some marital problems. (Our friend acknowledged that her parents had been having problems in their relationship and the Rebbe's advice was very much to the point.) At the end of the letter the Rebbe added a postscript. 'I did not hear from you for a while. Please know that I know French, though my secretaries do not.'”

Many might be inclined to brush off these episodes as mere chance or coincidence.

As a professor of mathematics whose specialty is probability, Yaakov Reich is well-qualified to discuss the statistical probability of thousands of people receiving answers in this manner.

“Fundamentally, what is happening here is that you have thousands of people who are independently doing this 'experiment,' known in mathematics as independent trials. The probability in independent trials is multiplied each time an additional trial is performed. For instance, if the probability of my trial coming up with the desired response is 50%, and the probability of your trial coming up with the desired response is 50%, then the probability of both of us coming up with the desired response is 25%,” explains Dr. Reich.

“Thus, if all of the letters any one person could have gotten which relate to their particular question is compared to the total number of letters, this kind of probability is less than 5%, even less than 1%. But let's be very conservative and say that one could somehow relate every 10th letter to his or her question. If there are thousands of people writing letters to the Rebbe to ask for his guidance and blessings, and only 50% get answers, the probability on such a large scale is extremely remote. And, of course, much more than 50% of the people who write to the Rebbe receive answers in this manner. One simply cannot attest this to a matter of interpretation anymore. Also, as happens often, specific details of the question such a s a date, place or name appear in the answer. This reduces the probability of a chance many times.”

On a non-statistical note, Dr. Reich comments, “Looking back through Jewish history, there were times when selected, righteous individuals were able to receive guidance by opening a Bible or other holy book. Now an amazing phenomenon is happening. The Rebbe is accessible to everyone, anywhere, any time. And the Rebbe answers immediately.” In today's day of immediate gratification, an immediate answer is especially appreciated.

Dr. Reich concludes: “As the Rambam explains, the occurrence of myriad of miracles 'while the world continues to operate in the usual manner' is a fundamental innovation of the Messianic Era, where the miracles will be the domain of everyone, not just a select few. As the Rebbe said in 1992, ‘Especially in these days, the days of Moshiach in which we find ourselves, all that is necessary is that we open our eyes.’”


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