Dvar Malchus

Approaching True Unity

Moshiach & Geula

Teives: Time For The Darkness To Illuminate

Action is the Main Thing
Directives Of The Rebbe MH"M For Teives
Shleimus HaAretz
4 Denials & 2 Much Talk
Until The Earth Shakes
Chazara B’Simcha
The Rebbe’s Checks

The Rebbe’s Checks
By Yosef Kaminsky

The incredible story of Isser Pakilchek, a Holocaust survivor from Kovna, who received a total of three checks from the Rebbe MH"M and used them to help people. Shortly after requesting a fourth check, and not receiving a response, Isser passed away.

"Since you merited to see an angel from Heaven, you will be able to help Jews." This is what the Rebbe wrote Isser Pakilchek, a war survivor from Rishon L’Tzion, over forty years ago. The Rebbe enclosed a check for five dollars.

Who was Isser Pakilchek, what was his connection to the Rebbe, and what did he do with the check? Dozens of stories circulated about this man who became a legend in his lifetime, to the point that people from near and far came to him and they called him "Isser Baal HaNeis."

Isser was the sole survivor from his town. He went to Eretz Yisroel at the end of the war, alone and broken. His entire family had perished. After his request for reparations was rejected due to lack of proof, he met the rav of Rechovot, Rabbi Elimelech Bar Shaul, z’l, on a bus, who advised him to write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Isser was a simple Jew who wasn’t particularly mitzva observant, yet he took the advice and wrote the Rebbe about his life. Within two weeks, Isser received a letter from the Rebbe which said that since he had seen an angel from Heaven and was saved, from now on Hashem would help him, and he should help Jews as much as he could. Concerning the reparations, the Rebbe wrote that he would get ten times more than the amount for which he had asked. The Rebbe enclosed a check for five dollars.

Isser didn’t know what to do with the check. Some say he went to the bank to cash it, where somebody advised him to go to the Lubavitcher Chassidim, who would give him more than the amount stated on it. Others say that he met the rav of Rechovot again, who told him that if the Rebbe wrote about helping Jews, there was a connection between that and the check, so he should keep it. Whatever actually happened, he decided to help Jews by means of the Rebbe’s check.

It’s not clear when and how Isser used the check for the first time. According to one account, he was called to Germany to testify in the court case of two Nazi war criminals, who were found guilty based on his testimony. It turned out that the judge was the one who had refused to award him reparations. Impressed by his testimony, the judge reconsidered his case and awarded Isser huge reparations, as the Rebbe had told him would happen.

Another version says that in the Kovno ghetto, he had seen with his own eyes how the Nazis murdered his family, and that he traveled to Germany, located the murderer and beat him up. He was brought to trial, where the accused actually became the accuser, and the murderer was found guilty, and Isser was awarded huge reparations.

From there he went to Stuttgart, Germany. He heard about a baby suffering from hemophilia who couldn’t be circumcised. Isser told the family to prepare for the bris, and he put the Rebbe’s check under the baby’s head. The next day the bris was made and the baby was fine.

The baby had an older sister who saw a paper under the baby’s pillow. She took it and tore it into pieces! Isser was not upset. He took the pieces and sent a letter to the Rebbe in which he explained what happened and asked for a new check! Within two weeks Isser had a new check for five dollars.

Isser went back to Eretz Yisroel to help Jews. Word of the wonder check got around and people came to him for assistance. It’s interesting that throughout all these years, Isser had no connection with Chabad Chassidim; nobody in Kfar Chabad knew him. Lubavitchers only got to know Isser Baal HaNeis after they read about him in that article. After they read about him, the Lubavitchers found out his address, visited him and brought him to Kfar Chabad a few times.

There are countless stories about Isser and his check from the Rebbe. His daughter’s friend had an eight-year-old child suffering from eye trouble, about to undergo an operation. Isser went to the child’s home and told his parents that he had a segula that would heal the child’s eye without an operation. "They looked at me as though I was insane," related Isser, "but I didn’t care. I gave the child the check so that he could sleep on it until the next morning. On the day of the operation, while undergoing the final examination, the surgeon cried out: ‘It’s a miracle! A miracle happened here! The child sees fine and doesn’t need an operation!’"

A girl who studied in Beis Rivka in Kfar Chabad was gravely ill. When the doctors despaired, the family consulted Isser. Since the family lived in the north and Isser wouldn’t part with his check, he told the sister of the sick girl to hold the check and concentrate on helping her sister. Within a few days, the sick girl left the hospital in perfect health.

A teacher in the vocational school of Kfar Chabad wanted to marry but had no money. The man, who lived in Rishon L’Tzion, was referred to Isser by a neighbor. Isser let him hold the check and then told him to buy a lottery ticket. On Friday of that week, the teacher met Isser and hugged and kissed him. He showed Isser that his ticket had won first prize, 30,000 liros, a huge amount in those days! Not long afterwards, the teacher got married.

A man from Kfar Chabad suffered from convulsions and was in serious condition. Isser brought his check and the man recovered.

Over the years, the check wore out, so Isser wrote to the Rebbe again and received yet a third check. Isser’s secretary printed hundreds of copies of the Rebbe’s address in English, and wherever he went, Isser gave out the address to those in need, advising them to write to the Rebbe.

About a month before Rosh HaShana 5742, Isser discovered that his third check was falling apart. He wrote to the Rebbe yet again, asking for a new check, but this time he did not receive an answer. He was very upset and worried, and went to the post office every two days in order to see whether anything had arrived from the U.S., but he received no response.

Shortly after Rosh HaShana, people heard that Isser was in the hospital. A Lubavitcher couple from Lud visited the hospital on Fridays to do mivtzaim. They said they met an old Jew who came over to them and introduced himself as Isser Pakilchek and showed them the check. He had suffered a terrible stroke and the prognosis looked grim. Isser, however, recovered and left the hospital after a few days, baruch Hashem.

He decided to stop driving because of the stroke.

He was brought to Kfar Chabad one more time, where he sat with the Chassidim and told amazing stories about the check. This is one of the stories he told:

"I’m a veteran Likudnik from birth, and on election day for the tenth Knesset, Prime Minister Begin came to visit the voting booths in Rishon L’Tzion. As I exited the voting booth, I met Begin. I said, ‘Mr. Begin, do you want to be prime minister again? I have a check from the Rebbe. Touch it and you will be prime minister!’

"Begin took the check and read it: ‘Isser Pikelchek, five dollars…’ I told him, ‘Now you will definitely be the next prime minister."

Isser finished his story triumphantly: "Begin is the prime minister!"

Before Rosh HaShana 5742, the editorial staff of B’Reshet Chabad decided to interview Isser for their paper. His connection with Chabad and Anash of Kfar Chabad had grown stronger, and late in life he began putting on t’fillin. A meeting was scheduled to take place on Tzom Gedalia.

On Erev Rosh HaShana, somebody from Kfar Chabad went on mivtzaim to Rishon L’Tzion and decided to visit Isser and wish him a good year. He went to the house, only to discover that Isser Baal HaNeis had died and the funeral had taken place that day.

While they discussed who would say Kaddish for him, a Chabad activist suffering from heart trouble came to the house. He had gone for tests and it wasn’t clear whether he would be permitted to travel to the Rebbe for Tishrei. He had heard about Isser and his check and had come… too late.

When they informed the Rebbe about Isser’s death and reported about saying Kaddish for him, a note of thanks was sent, in which the Rebbe underlined "etc." after the word "Kaddish," indicating that they should also say Mishnayos l’ilui nishmaso.

Mishnayos was divided among the residents of Kfar Chabad.

* * *

When Chassidim would relate the amazing story of Isser and his check, people would ask what the Rebbe meant by "the angel from Heaven" that Isser had seen. One Chassid related what Isser had told him:

Before the war, Isser lived in a little village near Kovna. Shortly before the outbreak of war, an eccentric Jew called Zeide’le was seen walking about town. He approached everyone, from the rav to the last Jew in town, shouting: "Tomorrow you will be killed, tomorrow you will be killed!"

Isser, who was a goodhearted fellow, took the Jew into his home and fed and clothed him for some time. Once, towards evening, the man said to him: "You should know, Isser, that great suffering will descend upon the Jews. Tomorrow the Germans will enter and everybody will be killed. You will be saved and remain alive. Whenever you are in trouble remember me and think about me."

The next day the old man disappeared. The town didn’t even have a train station, and Isser had no idea where he could have gone.

When the Germans entered and the Jews were confined to the ghetto, the old man suddenly appeared to Isser and told him that the next day the Germans would kill the Jews of the ghetto. He suggested that Isser come with him and escape. Isser refused, saying he had a wife and children, but the old man importuned him and finally dragged him to the attic and they hid there.

The next day the Germans took out many Jews from the ghetto and killed them. Isser watched from his hiding place. Many Jews, including his family, hid. The Germans brought a car with a loudspeaker and announced in Yiddish: "Jews, come out. We are your brothers."

Many Jews were fooled and went out; among them, Isser’s wife and children. Isser saw them being murdered by the Nazis.

When he wrote his life story to the Rebbe, he received the letter that said that since he had seen an angel from Heaven and had been saved, he was obligated to help Jews.

What happened to the third and last check Isser received from the Rebbe? Fearing that some unscrupulous people might take it from them, one of his sons (who cannot be located) has it in his possession. The family keeps it safeguarded as a segula – as indeed it has been for countless people who were fortunate to meet the man who used it as a bracha from the Rebbe to help them overcome their problems.

(From "B’Reshet Chabad")


The Rebbe MH”M with Reb Isser Pakilchek

Reb Isser holding a check of the Rebbe MH”M






On Friday of that week, the teacher met Isser and hugged and kissed him. He showed Isser that his ticket had won first prize.





Isser discovered that his third check was falling apart. He wrote to the Rebbe yet again, asking for a new check, but this time he did not receive an answer...


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