Story Time: The Rebbe Davened For Me


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    Story Time: The Rebbe Davened For Me

    Around 1980, Eli traveled to New York for a special reason: he was going to meet the Rebbe for the first time in his life! When he entered the Rebbe’s room, he was overcome by a tremendous sense of kedusha. The room was filled with a bright spiritual light! Eli felt that the Rebbe was able to see everything inside of him! • By Baila BrikmanBeis Moshiach Magazine • Full Story

    By Baila Brikman, Beis Moshiach

    Eli Cohen is a Sefardi Yid with deep faith in Hashem. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time to daven and learn Torah. Eli was born in Morocco and grew up in Eretz Yisrael, until he moved to Sweden in 1973.

    In Sweden, Eli ran a massive company. He sold expensive clothing all over Europe! Whatever didn’t sell in Europe would be sent to be sold in South America. Baruch Hashem, his business was very successful and he made a lot of money.

    Around 1980, Eli traveled to New York for a special reason: he was going to meet the Rebbe for the first time in his life! When he entered the Rebbe’s room, he was overcome by a tremendous sense of kedusha. The room was filled with a bright spiritual light! Eli felt that the Rebbe was able to see everything inside of him!

    Eli trembled as he handed the Rebbe his note. In it, he asked for a bracha for the health of his father and his entire family. The Rebbe read the note and then looked up, his deep blue eyes looking straight into Eli’s. “And what will you ask for yourself?” the Rebbe asked.

    Surprised, Eli said that everything was good, baruch Hashem. Once again, the Rebbe asked if there was something he wanted to ask for himself.

    Eli said he had everything he needed.

    The yechidus lasted for more than nine minutes. In those days, such a long yechidus was almost unheard of! Rabbi Groner kept poking his head into the room to see what was taking so long. When the yechidus was over, the bachurim outside begged him to tell what the Rebbe had said!

    Eli didn’t say much, but from that day on, he felt that the Rebbe was looking out for him. Whenever he would travel from Sweden to South America for business, he would stop in New York to get a bracha from the Rebbe.


    At a certain point, Eli wanted to take a break from his hectic business life. He decided to leave Sweden and move back to Eretz Yisrael!

    Eli filled up a boat with all of his merchandise and sent it to South America. He rented a warehouse in Venezuela and hired guards to keep everything safe. Then, he moved to Eretz Yisrael.

    A few months later, a customer told Eli that he wanted to buy all the clothes that were in storage! Right away, Eli bought a ticket and flew to Venezuela. He drove to the warehouse and walked confidently to the door, until…

    “What are you doing here?” the guards shouted, blocking his way. “This isn’t your warehouse anymore! Your stuff is gone!”

    Eli panicked. “What do you mean?” he cried. “I’ve been paying rent every month! All the clothes inside here are mine!”

    “Be quiet!” they yelled, chasing him away. “It’s ours now! Don’t ever come back!”

    Eli returned to his hotel room a broken man. How could the guards claim that all his stuff was theirs? They had stolen his entire fortune! Right away, he called the best lawyer in the city and told him the whole story. “These men are dangerous criminals!” the lawyer said grimly. “They don’t care about the law!”

    After trying everything he could, the lawyer held up his hands in defeat. “These criminals are more powerful than the police,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you.”

    Eli felt hopeless. Just a few days earlier, he had been a rich man. Now, he was completely poor! Eli stayed in Venezuela for a while, trying everything he could to get his merchandise back.

    Three sleepless months passed. Eli walked around in a daze, barely able to function. He couldn’t sleep properly at night and barely had any appetite. Every passing day confirmed his growing fear: his merchandise was gone forever.

    Once a week, though, Eli would try to forget his misery. Each Shabbos, he would leave his hotel room and walk to the nearby Moroccan shul. He would daven with all his heart, begging Hashem to help him.

    One Friday night, Eli passed the Chabad shul in Venezuela that was led by Rabbi Perman. The beautiful melody of Yedid Nefesh coming through the windows touched his heart, and he decided to go in.

    The atmosphere inside was incredibly warm. Everyone sang and danced with such happiness that for a moment, Eli forgot why he was sad. He didn’t feel like dancing though, so he sat in the corner and watched.

    Meir Burkis, a yeshiva bochur, noticed the new man sitting on the side. “Good Shabbos,” he said, going over to greet Eli. “You look a bit down. What’s the matter?”

    Eli shook his head gloomily. “Leave me alone,” he mumbled.

    Meir didn’t give up. “Shabbos is a day to be happy,” he said. “Maybe you’d like to join our Shabbos meal?” Eli accepted the invitation and had a wonderful time. After Shabbos, he told Meir what was wrong. “Maybe I should just give up,” he said in despair. “It’s been three months already!”

    Meir wouldn’t hear of it. “Write to the Rebbe!” he said passionately. He gave Eli a piece of paper and the fax number to 770. “Tell him everything! He will help you!”

    Eli thought back to his yechidus with the Rebbe. The overwhelming sense of kedusha, the Rebbe’s piercing blue eyes… “Okay,” he said, taking the paper. “I’ll write to the Rebbe.”

    Early Sunday morning, Eli wrote the entire story to the Rebbe. When he was finished, his eyes were red from crying. He faxed the letter and waited.

    A reply came from the Rebbe’s office just a half an hour later. What’s your full name?

    Eliezer Mordechai ben Ayala, he wrote back.

    That day, Eli got a reply with a mysterious message: Azkir al ha’tziyun.

    Eli was confused. “I will mention to the Tziyun?” What did that mean? Maybe “Tziyun” was the name of a person! He dialed Meir’s number. “Which mazkir (secretary) of the Rebbe is called Tziyon?” he asked. “The only secretary I know about is Rabbi Laibel Groner!”

    Meir burst out laughing. “Azkir al ha’tziyun” means that the Rebbe will daven for you at the resting place of the Frierdiker Rebbe!” he explained. “He will daven there tomorrow!”

    For the first time in months, Eli allowed himself to relax. If the Rebbe was davening for him, he knew that everything would work out.


    The next day, Eli met his friend Alfredo, who had known about his situation since it happened. “An amazing idea just popped into my head!” Alfredo exclaimed. “I don’t know why I only thought of it now!”

    Eli knew exactly why. The Rebbe had davened for him at the Ohel that morning!

    “I’m calling a man named Ivan,” Alfredo continued, oblivious to Eli’s growing excitement. “He’s the head of the National Guard of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela!” A short while later, a giant, tough-looking man appeared. “Give me five thousand dollars,” Ivan said shortly. “And a nice, hot meal.”

    Eli happily handed over part of the money and took Ivan to a restaurant. After he ate, Ivan stood up. “Vamos!” he declared, “Let’s go!” He led them to his old, run down car and drove them to the warehouse. They came when the guards were taking a break, so they went inside and waited.

    When the guards returned and saw Eli, they were furious! “How dare you come here?” they yelled. “Didn’t we tell you to never come back? We will call the police and tell them that you came to steal our stuff!”

    Suddenly, one of the guards gasped. He tugged at his friend’s sleeve and pointed to the giant man walking towards them.

    “I am the police!” Ivan said, looking at them in disgust. He stood up to his full height and narrowed his eyes. “You have two choices,” he yelled. “Either you give back his stuff, or I take you all to jail!”

    The guards trembled in fear. Although the air conditioner was blasting, sweat poured from their foreheads. “Please, don’t take us to jail,” they begged. “Take everything back! It’s all yours!”

    What?! Eli couldn’t believe his ears! On Sunday, he had sent a fax to the Rebbe. On Monday, the Rebbe had davened for him at the Ohel. Right after that, Alfredo had “randomly” thought of the idea to hire Ivan!

    After three long months, everything had turned around in the blink of an eye. Thanks to the Rebbe’s bracha, everything fell into place! Alfredo thought of the idea, Ivan got the job done, and Eli got his merchandise back. Baruch Hashem!


    Although this is Eli’s personal story with the Rebbe, its message applies to all of us. We all struggle with different things—with friends, school, or anything that we need. Sometimes, our situation might even feel hopeless!

    What does this story teach us? That we can always turn to the Rebbe. When we ask for a bracha, he has the koach to turn everything around! The Rebbe lives in the gashmiyus and ruchniyus worlds at the same time. When we have a problem in this gashmiyus world, he can see what’s happening in the ruchniyus world and fix it for us! Then, all of our “problems” completely disappear!


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    Story Time: The Rebbe Davened For Me