All The Way To Redemption
By M. ben Yair
with Yoram Sharabi, the driver of the van that was recently shot
at on Purim mivtzaim near Chevron * Yoram’s search for meaning
in life * His becoming acquainted with Rabbi Viktor Atyah of the
Chabad house in Chevron and the subsequent changes in his life
On Purim night, in the middle of a farbrengen
at the central Chabad House in Be’er Sheva, a family member
called and said that a van of Lubavitchers had been shot at in the
Chevron area. “I am positive it was Lubavitchers. They
interviewed the driver and among other things, he said “HaRebbe
Melech HaMoshiach” and “Yechi.”
That’s when we met Yoram Sharabi. His
quick-witted and level-headed response helped save the life of a
severely wounded boy. He raced over to the nearby I.D.F. station
to obtain emergency medical help for the boy, who was then whisked
away to the hospital by helicopter. No doubt Yoram had experienced
similar incidents. In the course of his work as driver for
schoolchildren from Chevron to Kiryat Arba, he had encountered
stone throwing, Molotov cocktails, and roadblocks. Perhaps it was
his experience, or his particular nature, or both, that helped him
keep his wits about him and do what he had to do.
Yoram was born in Petach Tikva-Shaaraya,
where he lost three brothers and his mother. Two brothers were
kidnapped and are still missing, the third brother died, and
shortly after that, his mother also passed away.
With his mother’s death, his home was in a
shambles. His father, who had suffered so terribly, became
depressed and mourned the loss of his loved ones. Yoram and his
other brothers were sent to schools with dormitories, in the hope
that they would be rehabilitated in that environment.
When he came home to visit, he spent most of
his time at weddings, where he threw off his burden of pain and
sorrow by dancing. “I sought joy,” he says. “I was a bubbly
and happy child with a perpetual smile on my face. Everybody loved
pinching my cheeks or kissing my forehead.”
He remembers his mother as a tremendous baalas
chesed. Over the years, she hosted hundreds of elderly
refugees and made sure they had food and clothing. She even bathed
the elderly women herself. “She sought out every hungry Jew and
brought them to her home,” says Yoram, “despite her difficult
circumstances and the poor financial situation.”
When Yoram came of age, he was drafted into
the Israeli army, where he suffered a spiritual descent. “I
abandoned Torah and religion. It didn’t interest me. I wanted to
enjoy myself, to be free.”
He began his army service in the
parachutists division. In the middle of 5733, he transferred to
the tank division and served in the Yom Kippur War. “I didn’t
like the army,” he says. “It was hard for me to see good
friends falling. My heart always sought joy. The army just
wasn’t the place for me.”
After his tour of duty ended, he worked as a
counselor at Noar ha’Oveid v’ha’Lomeid. On one of his many
projects, when he founded a children’s club at Kibbutz
Mishmar HaYarden, he met his wife-to-be, Tzivia. She lived on the kibbutz
and worked as the district secretary. They married at the kibbutz.
When Yoram speaks about life on the kibbutz,
he brightens up. During this period in his life he worked on
perfecting his dancing techniques, as well as his drawing and
handicrafts. He also studied bio-energy, an alternative form of
healing, with an expert in the field.
“At first we formed a terrific group of
dancers. We would dance through the night. Whenever I had the
opportunity, I would disappear for hours to dance. I learned the
art of Yemenite dance, and when I performed, everyone could sense
that it came from my inner being, and they felt the joy I
projected. That’s the feedback I got. A friend and I put
together a small dance troupe, composed primarily of children. We
did a series of performances at weddings for free, the main thing
being to make Jews rejoice. That was my sole desire.”
He could have continued along this path for
years to come if a window hadn’t opened for him to the world
outside the kibbutz. He was asked to work as a truck driver
to deliver agricultural products from the kibbutzim of Emek
Chefer. The many hours he spent in the lap of nature, as well as
getting to know various people, thrilled him. “The fantastic
expanses, the green fields – enflamed my passions.”
He spent many hours in solitude and felt his
soul pining for the truth. He met many elderly people whose emunas
chachomim (trust in the rabbanim) and love for others
were constantly apparent on their faces. He learned about their
lives and yearned to be like them.
At the same time, he met a kibbutz
member who was proficient in music, art, pottery, and metal-works.
They spent many nights together by the light of the fire. He could
play the violin, drums, flute, and sitar, and they spent entire
nights together until sunrise. “The interesting thing,” says
Yoram, “is that this friend, who was a great believer, taught me
about emuna even though he had never studied Torah and kept
“Together we traveled to the deep wadis of
Tzfat, climbed the mountains barefoot, and spoke endlessly. He
taught me true ahavas Hashem, how to be inspired in the
morning by the beauty of creation and the return of one’s soul.
When he got up in the morning he would be inspired, and words
expressing amazement would burst forth from his lips. He saw the
beauty in nature and thanked G-d for it.
“Nevertheless, I realized we were missing
something; I was searching for something. When I discussed teshuva
with my wife, she didn’t want to hear of it. But I didn’t
One day, Yoram went to shul in a
nearby village, where he saw a sight he had never seen before. Two
bearded young Chassidim were dancing up a storm. “I enjoyed it
as I had never enjoyed anything else,” he reminisces. “They
pulled me into the circle and told me that they were Lubavitchers
who had come to print a Tanya in the village, as the Rebbe
had instructed them.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t
understand what they were saying, but one thing I understood: All
the talk at the kibbutz about religious people was
brainwashing. At the kibbutz they instilled a hatred for
the religious, r’l, and they painted them as fanatics and
‘black.’ Here I was meeting two charming, happy young men.
“They invited me into their large vehicle
parked nearby and explained that it was called a Mivtza Tank. They
related teachings from the weekly sidra, which I found very
interesting, though I didn’t understand most of it.”
The two young Lubavitchers accepted
Yoram’s invitation to spend Shabbos at kibbutz Mishmar
HaSharon. “For the first time I saw the Rebbe’s unlimited
powers. I didn’t believe they would come, but they did – and
how! They brought some food with them and we spoke together for a
long time. I asked them to help me improve my difficult situation
at home and within myself. I wanted to make my home kosher and
they promised to help.
“Late one night, apparently after visiting
other homes, they came and kashered my house. I watched
them at work and marveled at their refinement and their
willingness to help. After I had tried so hard to get the help and
guidance I needed, these two tzaddikim arrived and did
everything with joy.
“They told me about the Rebbe and how
every query is answered. On the spot, I decided to write to the
Rebbe. I wrote something like this: ‘Rebbe, I want to leave the kibbutz
and return in genuine teshuva, but how can I do so when my
wife opposes the idea and my children refuse to leave the kibbutz?
I am happy that you have soldiers like these. If only I could be
one of them. With great respect, Yoram Sharabi, Kibbutz Mishmar
“I gave them the letter and asked when I
would receive a response. To my amazement, they explained that
even if the Rebbe would not send a written letter, just by virtue
of sending the letter to the Rebbe, and the fact that the Rebbe
would read it – things would be accomplished. I believed them
and accepted what they said.”
Throughout that time, Yoram continued living
at the kibbutz, taking his first steps towards observance,
such as putting on tefillin every morning. This refined his
attitude to the point that he withdrew from an art school in Tel
Aviv because he did not want to draw forbidden things. He decided
to study with a private teacher, though after some time, he felt
it was too difficult for him. He searched for something happier...
Yoram recalls the wedding of his cousin, who
had become a baal teshuva. After much indecision about
whether to attend this religious wedding in Yerushalayim (for I
remembered the rock-throwing at cars on Shabbos), I decided to go.
It was my wife’s idea, in order not to disrupt family unity.
“At the wedding I began dancing as I
usually did. But some rabbi grabbed my arm (later I discovered he
was a former karate champ) and said, “We don’t do mixed
dancing here.” He dragged me gently into the men’s circle of
dancers, but I – stunned by his nerve – refused. Only after he
apologized, did I agree to follow him.
“The crowd danced before the chatan
and some people did interesting tricks. I had never seen anything
like it before. I decided to get into the center of the circle and
show off my dancing ability. I danced for quite a while and many
people shook my hand in congratulations. The rabbi with the iron
hand said I should become a baal teshuva.
“I returned home exhausted. The next day I
thought it over, and when it came time for the kibbutz
dancing, I began feeling uncomfortable about it and had no desire
for it. Something inexplicable had happened to me.”
“I had a book of Baal Shem Tov stories
that I read every day. I identified strongly with the Baal Shem
Tov and his holy disciples. Their incredible ahavas Yisroel
“I dearly wanted to be one of the Baal
Shem Tov’s students. The holy words and the wondrous dancing of
the Chassidim drew me. I began to take small steps towards
“I wanted to volunteer my services, so I
drove an ambulance for Magen Dovid Adom for a while. At a later
point I became a gardener on the farm, where I became more
acquainted with the earth and its hidden powers.”
Some time passed. The kibbutz
accepted Yoram’s request to study at a yeshiva in
Yerushalayim instead of art. His wife agreed and they traveled to
“I’ll be honest with you. I was
overwrought. Since I had no idea where in Yerushalayim I was
going, I asked the taxi driver whether he knew of a yeshiva
for baalei teshuva. He smiled and said there were many such
yeshivos in Yerushalayim, but he recommended Machon Meir,
which is run by Rabbi Dov Begun.
“He took us to the yeshiva and
refused to accept payment, though I insisted on paying him.
Suddenly my wife jumped up. ‘Hey, Rabbi Begun once served as
Rabbi of Mishmar HaSharon. I know who he is!’ she blurted out.
“We entered the offices of the yeshiva
and were greeted warmly. I felt my inner world in a turmoil. I
recalled the letter I had written to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and saw
how events were beginning to move.
“At first, Rabbi Begun tested out my
sincerity. He told me that he would not accept me into the yeshiva.
‘Why do you want to learn in a yeshiva? Go back to the kibbutz!’
he said. I got up and politely demanded to be allowed to remain.
Rabbi Begun smiled and said it had only been a test to see if I
was truly interested in studying in the yeshiva, or if my
desire was only momentary.
“I was accepted with open arms, and until
now I hold the staff in high esteem. They opened the doors of halacha,
ahavas Yisroe,l and emuna to me, all of which I had
never known about. Ahavas Yisroel is the foundation of that
wonderful yeshiva. Its motto was the Mishna that
says “Be of the students of Aharon the Kohen, love peace and
pursue peace, love [G-d’s] creatures and draw them close to
Ten months later, Yoram moved to
Yerushalayim to find work. He searched for a long time but came up
with nothing. The situation distressed him because he hadn’t yet
moved his family from the kibbutz to Yerushalayim.
He turned to his teacher, Rabbi Uriel Yair
of Chevron, and asked for help. The rav replied that in
Chevron they were looking for a driver to take children to school
in Kiryat Arba. Was he interested?
“My first inclination,” says Yoram,
“was to say absolutely not. I was terrified, because the roads
there are dangerous. The rav didn’t want to pressure me.
He only mentioned that he wanted to help and he thought I would be
perfect for the job since I knew how to make people happy. His
honesty made me change my mind and I said okay. Think about it –
I was leaving the kibbutz for Chevron!
“Rabbi Reider interviewed me and gave me a
quick tour of the Jewish settlement – the Shechunat
Avrohom Avinu, Beit Hadassa, etc. Finally he showed me the vehicle
I would be driving. It was a G.M.C. with no windows (apparently
they were broken in some attack or another), and full of dents
from rock throwing incidents.
“I was in shock. ‘Is this is it?’ I
“Rabbi Reider seemed to read my mind. He
put a hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Don’t worry. Tomorrow
you’ll go to Tel Aviv to have the vehicle armor-plated.’
That’s how I became a bus driver.
“The next day, I davened at the
Meoras HaMachpela for the first time in my life. My davening was
different than anything I had experienced up until then. Since
that day, I daven vasikin at the Meora.”
Yoram began his job with no small measure of
trepidation. He saw the worried mothers who left their homes to
greet their loved ones. He saw the hatred in the eyes of the
Arabs, but he intensified his faith in Hashem.
“Suddenly I had a brainstorm,” says
Yoram. “Ribono Shel Olam, I said to myself, all that I
learned and all the dancing and rejoicing I did was in preparation
for the children and people living here!”
He began singing with the children, both in
order to assuage his nervousness as well as to encourage the
children and distract them from the sights out the window. Stones
were thrown at the van every day, and he was often stopped by
roadblocks of burning tires. When this happened, he would call the
Jewish residents of the city, who would come to his aid.
“I was moved by the daily mesirus
nefesh of the residents there and by their ahavas and achdus
Yisroel. People living in the center of the country have no
idea what is going on here. They don’t know of the sacrifices of
these people, who physically protect the kivrei ha’Avos.
It is because of them that hundreds of thousands of Jews can come
and pour out their heart in prayer here.
“Once again I changed my mind from the way
I used to think at the kibbutz. This time it was about the
settlers. I began to admire and respect them. At the same time, I
looked at the I.D.F. differently, for they were prevented from
reacting to roadblocks, etc.
“With time I gained courage and I made the
trip quite an experience for the little ones. I taught them
Yemenite songs. I made them laugh, and entertained them with Mishnayos
until our vehicle became a veritable Mivtza Tank, full of the
sound of Torah and song.
“I explained to the children that if they
sang loudly they wouldn’t throw the rocks or they would miss.
And that’s just what happened!
The mothers’ worried faces became happy
– all smiles – as they greeted their children each day. The
songs we sang on the road became hits and were sung at people’s
“I also became the postman, and between
jobs I was also a gardener. I cleared away rocks while saying Mishnayos
b’al peh. At first it was very hard for me to take on all
these jobs, but I had no choice. I worked with someone who became
my good friend, Eli Galboa, a tall fellow who was very impressed
by the new simcha that had come to Chevron. Eli turned out
to be an accordion player, so I organized a children’s’ choir
and together we composed songs especially for the precious
children of Chevron, songs that were regularly sung by the
Miracle stories are not lacking in Chevron.
In the course of his work, Yoram has witnessed Divine providence
saving the lives of children. Once, after he picked up the
children from Beit Hadassa, they heard a loud boom. It was a
grenade thrown from a house, aimed at the waiting children.
Miraculously, no one was hurt, for Yoram had picked up the
children a minute before. Three soldiers standing outside the
station had gone inside just seconds earlier.
One day follows another, and one terrorist
incident follows another. Tension in the street was high and the
Arabs began throwing metal objects. Yoram became a quick and
skilled driver as he raced through the streets of Chevron. As the
situation worsened, a soldier accompanied them in the van on every
trip. Yoram quickly saw he was useless. His hands were tied by
military restrictions on opening fire, but Yoram was happy that
the soldier got to learn the songs and words of Torah. The van
continued to bustle with life as though the passengers were
oblivious to the hundreds of rocks flying about outside. The scene
At difficult times, Yoram received
encouragement from Rabbi Moshe and Miriam Levinger, who are
legendary for their mesirus nefesh for Chevron.
Yoram’s family moved to Ramat Mamrei (Givat
HaCharsina) in Kiryat Arba. Yoram’s wife began working as the
secretary at the Yeshiva Shovei Chevron at Beit Romano (where
Toras Emes used to be) in Chevron.
“Who would have believed,” says Yoram
respectfully, “that a woman from a kibbutz would agree to
live in such a dangerous area, and to suffer along with me through
the Arab attacks.”
In 5751, after the Rebbe’s announcement
that “the time for your redemption has arrived,” Yoram became
more interested in the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He was acquainted with
the Rebbe only through the media and from periodicals with the
He asked Rabbi Viktor Atyah, the shaliach
of Kiryat Arba-Chevron, questions about the Rebbe and his
mission in the world. The explanations he heard gave him a deep
respect for the Rebbe.
“The Rebbe’s picture infused me with the
certainty that there was something unique about this spiritual
giant that set him apart from anyone else. I read a little bit of
the publications they sent us each week, and although I didn’t
understand much, they made a deep impression on me.”
In 5753, when the Chassidim began singing
“Yechi” before the Rebbe with the Rebbe’s
encouragement, Yoram accepted it quite readily. His emuna was
strong and he was happy to hear Rabbi Atyah’s explanations about
the Rebbe being Moshiach.
Yoram wanted to visit the Rebbe in person,
but his work with the children did not allow him to leave. Yoram
never met the Rebbe face to face, but he says that the Rebbe
appeared to him in dreams a number of times. These visions made an
indelible impression on him and strengthened his faith in the
Rebbe as Moshiach.
Two years passed. The burden on him was
tremendous and he wanted to retire. He remained, however, for two
more years, after meeting someone who asked him to think about how
Hashem had retrieved him from the depths in order to cheer up the
children of Chevron. This reduced his tension somewhat, and he
continued to live in Chevron.
After four years in Chevron, Yoram wanted to
go back to Machon Meir, but met with resistance from everybody in
Chevron. He agreed to return after a period of time, and he went
to the Yeshiva Nachalat Tzvi in Yerushalayim, a sister school of
Machon Meir. While there, he organized fundraising evenings for
the Jews in Chevron and collected money house to house for their
He conducted these visits with an Uzi in his
hand and joyful songs on his lips. In each house he visited, he
first related to the children, amusing them in his special way
while informing them of the imminent Redemption. Only afterwards
did he turn to the parents and discuss money – and of course,
the coming of Moshiach. He collected many signatures on forms
requesting “Moshiach Now.” After two years he had thousands of
made progress in Torah and Chassidus. He began to wear a sirtuk.
Rabbi Nachshon and Rabbi Atyah sat with him for hours, explaining
the concept of Chassid and the practical implications of being a
Chassid, which Yoram accepted. For hours every night, Yoram went
with Rabbi Nachshon and did mivtzaim, publicizing the besuras
ha’Geula. Neither snow nor rocks deterred them, and they
accomplished a great deal.
years, Yoram gave classes to women on inyanei Moshiach and Geula
in Beis Moshiach in Yerushalayim. He also used various
opportunities in radio interviews to publicize the news that
“behold, Moshiach comes,” and that the Rebbe is Moshiach.
Yoram helps with the tremendous work of the Chabad House of Kiryat
Arba, run by Rabbi Atyah. His most recent project was the
children’s matza baking. His motto is: Dancing All the Way to