Hiskashrus - Through Cookies?!
By Rabbi Naftali Estulin, shliach in Los Angeles

I rushed to the airport and stood in line. I could see that the woman behind the counter was not the type to appreciate my l’chatchile ariber approach. The Rebbe helped me – as the Rebbe Rashab helped his Chassid many years before. How? With a package of cookies! 


The following story happened a year ago on one of my visits to 770. It was Tuesday, and I was scheduled to leave 770 on Wednesday. However, a phone call from the Chabad House I run, changed my plans. I was needed back in L.A. immediately and I had to leave that very day.


The next available flight to L.A. was leaving in an hour and a half. This flight was with the same airline as my original return flight, but my ticket was dated Wednesday from Newark, and this flight left Tuesday from Kennedy.


I had no choice but to go to Kennedy Airport and try to get on the flight in a l’chatchile ariber manner. I left 770 for the car service nearby and suddenly remembered a story that happened years before with the Rebbe Rashab...




On a trip to Petersburg, one of the Rebbe Rashab’s suitcases was lost. He was greatly troubled by this, for the suitcase contained important s’farim. The Chassidim came to the Rebbe’s aid, but it was to no avail. The suitcase had disappeared.


A few days went by and a young Chassid by the name of R’ Avrohom Eliyahu Gurary came to see the Rebbe. He had recently married and had received a dowry of ten thousand rubles, but lost most of it in a failed business transaction. All he had left was one thousand rubles. His difficult financial situation created tension and marred the shalom bayis of the new couple, so R’ Avrohom Eliyahu had come to ask the Rebbe for advice.


When he entered the Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe cried out happily, “Ah! Avrohom Eliyahu will bring me my suitcase from the train station!” Before he fully understood what the Rebbe was talking about, the Rebbe handed him the claim ticket for the suitcase and told him to go quickly to the train station.


R’ Avrohom Eliyahu went to the train station without knowing the great exertion that had already been expended in trying to locate the missing suitcase. It was quiet at the train station. No trains were coming or going. He then took out a cigarette and began to smoke. Suddenly he noticed one of the gentiles staring at him. R’ Avrohom Eliyahu offered the man a cigarette.


The gentile asked R’ Avrohom Eliyahu what he was doing at the station at an hour when no trains were running, and the Chassid told him that a Rabbi Schneerson had arrived in town, and he had come to fetch the Rabbi’s suitcase.


“You’ve come to the right man!” exclaimed the gentile, explaining that he was the man responsible for the luggage. The Chassid handed him the ticket, and the man went to the luggage area and told the workers to find the suitcase. A few minutes later, they returned empty-handed and said they couldn’t find it.


The boss began shouting that the suitcase had to be there, and told them to look again until they found it. After great effort, the suitcase was discovered in a corner, behind a big suitcase that had been concealing it.


The Chassid thanked the boss and went back to the Rebbe with the suitcase. The Rebbe rejoiced at the return of his suitcase and said, “Ich bin dir a baal chov (I owe you), Avrohom Eliyahu.”


Afterwards, when Avrohom Eliyahu had a yechidus, he told the Rebbe about his failed business deal that had led to a lack of shalom bayis.


“How much money do you have left?” asked the Rebbe.


“Only 1,000 rubles,” said the Avrohom Eliyahu.


Said the Rebbe: “Go to Kretz and Hashem will send you good parnasa there. When you go, take food along!”


Avrohom Eliyahu returned home and told his wife what the Rebbe said, concluding with complete faith, “Hashem will certainly help us!”


His wife cheered up, and in accordance with the Rebbe’s instruction to take food along, she went off to prepare some delicious baked goods.


Avrohom Eliyahu took his tallis and t’fillin and the baked goods, and went off to Kretz. Since it was a very hot day, he went to bathe in the Black Sea. When he got out of the water, he sat on the beach and began eating the delicious food his wife had prepared.


Nearby sat a Jew who looked at him and his appetizing food. When Avrohom Eliyahu noticed him, he offered him some cookies. The man asked the Chassid where he was from and what brought him to Kretz. Avrohom Eliyahu told him how he had lost his money and how the Rebbe had sent him here with his remaining 1,000 rubles and had blessed him with success. “ Now,” concluded Avrohom Eliyahu, “I have no idea what to do next.”


The man said that he thought he could help. “Come here tomorrow at the same time, and I will come with someone else and try to arrange a good deal. But,” he added with a wink, “don’t forget to bring some more of those delicious cookies!”


The three met the next day. The third man was a businessman who dealt in paper products. When he heard Avrohom Eliyahu’s story, he felt compassion for him and told him he would sell him a wagonload of cigarette paper for 1,000 rubles. The Chassid paid the merchant, who sent the wagonload to Kremenchug where there were cigarette factories.


When he arrived in Kremenchug, Avrohom Eliyahu went to Tzvi Gurary’s factory and offered him the wagonload of paper. Tzvi asked, “How much do you want for it?” Avrohom Eliyahu said he wanted 10,000 rubles so he could earn back the money he had lost, as the Rebbe had promised him. Tzvi refused to pay such a sum of money and tried to bargain with him, but Avrohom Eliyahu, confident in the Rebbe’s bracha, refused to sell the paper for less than 10,000 rubles.


In the course of their conversation, Avrohom Eliyahu told Tzvi where he had gotten the paper from and how much he had paid for it. Tzvi figured he would go to the same merchant in Kretz and buy a wagonload of paper for 1,000 rubles!


Tzvi went to Kretz, located the merchant, and said he wanted to buy a wagonload of paper. But the merchant told him that he had used up his paper reserves and had, out of pity, sold the whole wagonload to the Avrohom Eliyahu.


When Tzvi realized there would be a big paper shortage in the near future, he sent a telegram to Avrohom Eliyahu telling him not to sell the paper to anyone, and to wait for his arrival. When he got to Kremenchug he bought the paper for 10,000 rubles, fulfilling the Rebbe’s bracha to Avrohom Eliyahu.


[When Avrohom Eliyahu went back to the Rebbe for more business advice, the Rebbe told him, “Avrohom Eliyahu, I’ve repaid my debt to you!”]




(Back to Rabbi Estulin’s story.)


I remembered this story, and on the spur of the moment went into a store and bought a package of fancy cookies with chocolate chips, thinking that if the Rebbe Rashab could help his Chassid through cookies, the Rebbe MH”M could certainly use these cookies to help his shliach get to his place of shlichus.


I got to the airport and stood in line. While awaiting my turn, I realized that the woman behind the counter was not the type to understand my l’chatchile ariber approach. She wasn’t pleasant at all, and if I wouldn’t have had to get to Los Angeles for the Rebbe’s shlichus, I would have cleared right out of there.


The person in front of me was finished and the clerk motioned me to the counter. Suddenly I heard shouting, and I saw an official yelling at the clerk in great anger. The clerk looked pitiful as she tried to explain that she wasn’t at fault, but he continued shouting.


Within a few seconds I realized what had happened and where I fit in. It turned out that the man had left on her desk a package of fancy cookies that was to be his friend’s birthday present. The woman didn’t know who had put the cookies on her desk and had eaten them, and offered some to the other workers. Now the man had come to retrieve his cookies only to discover that, in his absence, they had been eaten.


I went over to the angry man with the package of cookies I had bought a half-hour earlier, and told him that he could take it instead of his original present. He was thrilled, and after apologizing to the woman, he left. The clerk looked relieved, and as she examined my ticket she thanked me for rescuing her.


She looked at the date and stamped on my ticket. She looked again, and then smiled and said, “Okay, I’ll get you on the flight, but not in coach - in business class!”


His wife cheered up, and in accordance with the Rebbe’s instruction to take food along, she went off to prepare some delicious baked goods.







The clerk looked pitiful as she tried to explain that she wasn’t at fault, but he continued shouting.


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