Getting The Rebbe’s Bracha
At Four In The Morning
After repeated knocking, the door was opened by the Rebbe’s aide,
Rabbi Shalom Ber Gansburg. “There’s a sick child in critical condition. The
parents urgently request a bracha,” said the woman. Rabbi Gansburg said the
Rebbe was in his room and couldn’t be disturbed, but he’d put a note under the
people came to celebrate the bar mitzva the rav of Kfar Chabad,
Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi made for his son, Sholom Dov Ber. Rabbi
Ashkenazi told his guests that aside from the usual simcha of a bar
mitzva, there was an extra dimension of happiness at this simcha. All
hushed as they listened to the gripping story Rabbi Ashkenazi had to tell about
the bar mitzva boy.
bar mitzva boy was then just a year old that Shavuos. His father had gone
with his fellow rabbanim to Crown Heights for Yom Tov, as is customary.
One day Rabbi Ashkenazi received an urgent call from his wife who told him the
baby had suddenly taken ill and was hospitalized in Tel HaShomer hospital. The
doctors diagnosed his situation as critical. She asked her husband to approach
the Rebbe and ask for a bracha for their child.
Rabbi Ashkenazi was terribly worried, of course, and at the first opportunity he
approached the Rebbe and said, “Rebbe, I ask for rachamei Shamayim for my
son.” The Rebbe looked at him and immediately uttered the child’s name, “Sholom
Dov Ber ben Sima.” The Rebbe paused for a few seconds and then immediately
added, “He’ll get out of it!”
wasn’t only a bracha. It was a guarantee. Rabbi Ashkenazi was thrilled,
but before he could go happily on his way, the Rebbe continued, “it should be to
him for health.” Again it seemed as though the Rebbe had finished, but again,
the Rebbe added, “And you will merit to bring him to Torah, chuppa, and
There was no happier man than he, for he had gotten an explicit bracha-promise
from the Rebbe. He quickly called home and announced that the Rebbe had promised
them the world. Indeed, within a few days the baby had recovered and was
released from the hospital.
months went by and little Sholom Ber developed normally, to the joy of his
parents and family. Then the illness suddenly returned. The doctors examined the
child and tried to diagnose the problem without success. His situation worsened
by the hour.
Ashkenazi rushed to call her relatives in Crown Heights, and asked that somebody
give the Rebbe the child’s name.
you know what time it is here? asked her relative. “It’s four in the morning,
and the Rebbe is not in 770.”
After some deliberations, they decided that the woman would go to the Rebbe’s
house on President Street, knock on the door, and try to get a bracha.
After repeated knocking, the door was opened by Rabbi Sholom Ber Gansburg.
“There’s a sick child in critical condition whose parents urgently request a
bracha,” said the woman nervously.
Rabbi Gansburg said the Rebbe was closeted in his room for hours and it was
impossible to see him. After repeated pleading, he agreed to put a note with the
child’s name on it under the door and to see what would happen.
Within a few minutes the door opened and the Rebbe said, “Follow the advice of a
doctor friend.” The answer was quickly transmitted to Eretz Yisroel.
21 in the pediatric ward of the hospital hummed with activity. Experts in
different fields were called upon to try and see whether they could do anything
to save the child.
After a brief meeting in which all the doctors expressed their opinion, they
concluded – not that optimistically – that the only thing to do was an emergency
the meantime the Rebbe’s answer arrived and Rabbi Ashkenazi tried to locate a
“doctor friend.” He remembered a professor who knew the family for years, but
the professor did not work in the department his son was in. In any case, Rabbi
Ashkenazi asked him to come and give his opinion. As a loyal friend, the doctor
showed up, checked the child, and joined the other doctors.
There were ten doctors who unanimously decided that an operation was the child’s
only chance. The professor, on the other hand, explained why they should not do
an operation, and how it would only endanger the child’s life. “I don’t agree to
an operation!”said the professor, and proceeded to suggest a course of
doctors tried to convince him of their position, but he remained strong in his
view. It was the parents, however, who had the final say, for without their
signatures and approval the operation could not be done.
Although they faced ten determined doctors, and had only the support of one
doctor, the parents knew that the doctor wasn’t expressing his own view, but the
Rebbe’s view. They knew that the “doctor friend” was only a shliach who
expressed what really ought to be done.
parents had to sign a form stating that they took responsibility for their son’s
life. The professor agreed to take the child to his department where he would
personally care for the child. The other doctors dispersed to their departments
while the medic wheeled the bed to the professor’s ward.
child’s condition miraculously began improving a few hours later, and within
three days he was released from the hospital.
Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi concluded the tale of the bar mitzva
boy’s mysterious illness and said, “If regarding a personal instruction I
followed the Rebbe’s advice even when that course of action appeared to fly in
the face of logic, all the more so when it concerns the entire generation!
“After hearing the Rebbe promise us that we are the generation that will merit
the true and complete Redemption, which was not a private guarantee, but a
guarantee given to an entire generation, certainly the Rebbe will be good to his