By Avrohom Rainitz/Beis Moshiach
I know R’ Dovid (Dudu) Lider for many years, from our childhood years in Shikun Chabad Lud. I saw the work that he does in Australia sixteen years ago when I visited the continent for a series of articles on Chabad in Australia. At that time, he was a student in the R’ YY Gutnick semicha program. In his free time, he helped R’ Shneur Schneerson, then the director of the Chabad House for Israeli tourists in Melbourne.
Although many years passed since then, I cannot forget the special atmosphere at the Shabbos meal that took place in the Ohel Devorah shul hall. R’ Schneerson led the powerful singing that accompanied the meal. Then he sat, along with bachurim from the semicha program, to talk to the tourists until late into the night. Already then, R’ Lider stood out and in his conversations with tourists I could see a special spark on both sides – a spark of chayus in R’ Lider and a spark of desire to learn more and more on the part of the tourists.
But back then, R’ Lider was a semicha student and he did not dream that the day would come when he would return to Melbourne to live, on shlichus. Even then, he felt how beneficial the shlichus was for him:
“The long conversations with tourists, led by R’ Shneur Schneerson, which took place in a manner that maintained appropriate boundaries, were a spiritual experience for me. In order to teach others, you need to ‘live’ your subject, and this helped me develop a much deeper bonding with all matters of Torah and mitzvos.”
R’ Shneur Schneerson, who noticed the special rapport that R’ Lider had with the tourists, asked him, at the end of the year of learning, to stay on for another year and to focus on learning and activities with the tourists. He agreed, and stayed together with a friend, Shlomo Taubenfliegel.
At the end of the year he received an answer from the Rebbe to return to Eretz Yisrael where he married his wife Sara, daughter of Rabbi Professor Yaakov Friedman, with both of them committing to go on shlichus after they married. About a year after they married, R’ Lider had many shlichus offers, including returning to Australia. He received the offer from the shliach, R’ Yitzchok Dovid Groner along with his son, R’ Chaim Tzvi, who remembered his success as a bachur. Since R’ Shneur Schneerson had moved to a shlichus in Ramat Aviv, they asked R’ Lider to fill the void.
R’ Lider and his wife wrote to the Rebbe about the various offers and asked for a bracha and guidance. The clear answer he opened to in the Igros Kodesh was the first in a series of extraordinary letters that he received, with clear direction from the Rebbe. The answer was in a letter to R’ Shneur Zalman Serebryanski, director of the Chabad institutions in Melbourne. The Rebbe wrote on 29 Sivan 5714:
“Regarding the end of your letter about Anash being very upset when they see that it is possible to be successful and what is lacking is the right people, since divine providence brought you [to Australia] and not others and showed you open miracles … obviously Anash in Australia have the ability to do all that is necessary and may it be Hashem’s will that they take this potential and actualize it and that this be soon and go easily.
THE TOURISTS LIVE WITH THE REBBE MH”M
R’ Lider’s clear answers from the Rebbe over the years strengthened his awareness and feeling that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, and his fervor in spreading the Rebbe’s Besuras Ha’Geula. In accordance with the Rebbe’s sicha at the Kinus Ha’Shluchim 5752, in which he said that all aspects of shlichus must be permeated with inyanei Moshiach and Geula, R’ Lider tries to connect all his activities to kabbolas pnei Moshiach. This is aside from shiurim on the topic of Moshiach and Geula, a daily shiur every morning on the weekly Dvar Malchus, in order to live with the Rebbe’s messages of 5751-5752, and a weekly shiur on Shabbos exploring Geula concepts. In these shiurim, which take place at the Baal Teshuva Yeshiva which recently opened at the Chabad House, they learn in depth and have recently begun learning chapters from R’ Sholom Ber Wolf’s excellent book.
Along with the learning, the tourists enthusiastically sing “Yechi,” and every Shabbos after Lecha Dodi, they dance and sing “Yechi” like in 770. In this way, the Chabad House is a ray of light of Geula on the Australian continent.
R’ Lider combines and balances the “Lights of Tohu” with the “Vessels of Tikkun,” so that even those of Anash and the shluchim who have different ideas, respect R’ Lider’s work and are on friendly terms with him. “In accordance with guidance I received from the Rebbe,” says R’ Lider, “I am careful about not bending on principles but it is all done in a peaceful way, with the understanding and awareness that it is unity that will lead us toward Moshiach.”
Despite all his efforts, said R’ Lider, there was one instance in which a wealthy person who did not like the emphasis on inyanei Moshiach stopped his donations. “Of course I was sorry to lose contact, but you don’t change your principles for money.”
R’ Lider tells an interesting incident about how he demonstrated the power of the Rebbe encouraging the singing of Yechi for an entire year. It was at a farbrengen with the shliach from Thailand, R’ Yosef Chaim Kantor, when a tourist asked him how he decided to go on shlichus. R’ Kantor said that it was after Chof-Zayin Adar 5752 and when he asked the Rebbe whether to go on shlichus in Thailand, the Rebbe nodded his head affirmatively.
R’ Lider pointed out: See what one nod of the Rebbe’s head did? It changed the lives of an entire family and sent them on shlichus, which over the years changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of tourists in Thailand. Now think about the significance of the Rebbe’s encouragement of the singing of Yechi for a year!
A BLESSING IN A DREAM
In recent years, R’ Lider has been busy building a big Chabad House which he is about to finish. From the outset, he has seen open miracles, as he told Beis Moshiach:
“Six year ago I read a letter of the Rebbe in which he expresses his view about buying and not renting. When I convened a meeting of the members of the vaad and told them we need to buy a Chabad House, they looked at me as though I fell off the moon. Prices in Melbourne are sky high and if you take into account the difficulties in obtaining permits at all stages of construction until actually entering the building, the undertaking becomes nearly impossible.
A short while later, I had to go to the airport and before the flight I took a nap. I had an incredible dream which moves me till today. In my dream I and my oldest son Mendel are walking with a group of tourists. Suddenly, I see the Rebbe walking toward us, pointing at the tourists and saying, ‘They are the shluchim to bring the Geula to the world since they are dispersed all over the world.’ Then the Rebbe motioned to us to follow him. I suddenly found myself together with my son entering the Rebbe’s room for yechidus. The Rebbe closed the door and placed his hands on my head and began to bless me.
“While dreaming, I thought, this is my opportunity to ask the Rebbe for a bracha to be able to buy and build a Chabad House. But a moment later I thought, the Rebbe knows what to bless me with and I don’t need to make requests.
“When the Rebbe finished blessing me, he turned to my son and began to sing, ‘Tzama Lecha Nafshi’ with tears in his eyes. Then he kissed my son several times.
“That was the most powerful dream I ever had and I so badly wanted it to go on and on, but it ended when the Israeli bachur who was going to take me to the airport knocked at my door and woke me up.”
SERIES OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND MIRACLES
While still under the influence of the dream, I told it excitedly to the bachur who took me to the airport. As I told it to him, I got a phone call from a member of the community who heard I was looking to buy a building for the Chabad House. “I have an excellent property and I am willing to sell it to you at a good price. Instead of two million, 1.6 million.” I considered this the fulfillment of the Rebbe’s brachos and quickly signed a contract.
After signing the contract, of course I had to get the money. I consulted with R’ Yisrael Brod who told me: Who is the richest person you know. Call him and ask for a meeting. When you are on your way to see him, call me and I will tell you what to ask him.
The richest person I knew was an Israeli businessman I met ten years earlier. It was when I started davening at the local shul and one of the congregants told me that a wealthy man was present who spoke Hebrew, who came because it was his mother’s yartzeit. He asked me to say a few words in Hebrew at the end of the davening. I agreed and said a short Torah thought along with an amazing story of the Rebbe with the Igros Kodesh.
An hour later I got a call from the businessman. “I heard the story about the Rebbe,” he said, “and I would like to know whether you can come to my office to help me write to the Rebbe about an important matter.” I said yes, and when I got to his office I asked him what he wanted to write. “It’s confidential so I can’t say. Just write that I ask for a bracha.” I took his name and his mother’s name and asked the Rebbe for a bracha for him. I put the letter into a volume of Igros Kodesh that I brought with me, volume eight, and the answer was letter #2289, a response to R’ Michoel Lipsker, shliach in Morocco:
I received your letters from 3 and 11 Kislev. And in the matter of Almaliach sheyichye and the newspaper, I received a letter from him with a copy of the piece from the paper, and he writes to me that he relies on the fact that I will deny what it says etc.
Apparently he has not dealt with those who write for newspapers, who consider themselves absolved of all obligation when harming others etc.
Not being involved with them is best, if at all possible. In this situation, being that a significant amount of time has passed since the article appeared, and apparently they did not notice it, silence is preferable for a number of reasons.
I read this to the man and he (who I later learned was a seasoned, cold businessman who conducted business internationally) was astounded. He emotionally took me to another room and showed me on a screen the latest news report in which he starred in a financial scandal… He took me to his partners and said: I’m not saying a word. Listen to R’ Lider read the Rebbe’s clear answer.
Then he said that the media was waging a campaign against him and his plan had been to react with a counter campaign at the cost of a million dollars. But before doing that, he wanted the Rebbe’s bracha. Now he was going to shelve the idea! A few days later the media campaign died down and he saw how he benefited by listening to the Rebbe’s advice. Naturally, as a result, our relationship got tighter and he began to get closer to the Rebbe.
I called this man and told him about buying a building for the Chabad House and asked for an appointment. He, as though not hearing my request, said: I have a big court case coming up soon and I want you to ask the Rebbe for a bracha for me.
I usually try to make it clear that when asking for a bracha from the Rebbe, you need to make a “vessel” with a positive commitment of some kind. I told him this and then he said: Write to the Rebbe that if I win the case, I will make a donation to the Chabad House.
I did not like doing things this way, “give me, and I’ll give you,” and I said: When I asked you to make a positive resolution, I did not mean that you should make a deal, but that you should simply make a spiritual commitment like putting on tefillin once a week.
He was silent for a moment and then said: Write to the Rebbe that I will start putting on tefillin every Sunday and also, if I win, I will make a donation.
Before writing to the Rebbe with his request, I thought, it is very easy to ask someone to make a good hachlata. What about my making a good hachlata? I remembered once reading in Beis Moshiach, that a rich man once said to the Rebbe that when he gives tzedaka, he does not feel that it is an effort. The Rebbe said: When it starts to hurt you, that is your mitzva of tzedaka. This is why I made a commitment to help a friend who has a mosad in Eretz Yisrael with a relatively large sum of money beyond my natural means.
That was on a Monday. I opened to volume eighteen, p. 297 which began the words, “Confirming the receipt of the note of kevod toraso from Monday.” The letter goes on to refer to the Chazal which says, “Whoever says this coin is for tzedaka etc. is a perfect tzaddik” – which the person had cited in his letter to the Rebbe – according to the explanation of the Divrei Chaim that it is referring to someone who does this regularly, and being that from lo lishma (doing it not for the sake of heaven) he will certainly come to lishma (doing it for the sake of heaven), he is therefore already considered a perfect tzaddik. I explained this to the rich man and he asked me to come to his office the following day.
I called the next day and he wasn’t available. The same was true the day after, on Wednesday. Wednesday night at 10:30 I stood up to say the bedtime Shma and went in front of a picture of the Rebbe and pleaded that I get to see his blessings.
I suddenly remembered my good hachlata that I had not yet followed through on. I called my friend in Eretz Yisrael and since he wasn’t available, I left a message to get back to me as soon as possible because I wanted to help him. I had decided on a large amount of money I would give him.
A minute later I got a phone call from a “private caller.” I was sure it was my friend in Eretz Yisrael and I answered the call. To my surprise, it was the businessman who said, “I am trying to sleep without success. It thought maybe it’s because I did not advance my donation that I promised you. Come to my house on Sunday, we’ll put on tefillin , and talk about the building.
On Sunday, on my way to his house, I called R’ Yisrael Brod who said to me, “Ask him for a large amount. Since buying the building costs 1.6 million, you need to ask for at least $150,000.” I was taken aback. I had never asked anyone for a sum that large. I said, not only didn’t I think he would give it to me, since he wasn’t used to giving tzedaka in such large amounts, I was afraid he would throw me out down the stairs and wouldn’t even put on tefillin.
R’ Brod was not impressed and repeated that I should ask for a large sum, and then he hung up.
I was in a bind. I could not delay because the man was very particular about the timing of meetings with him, but I called my wife and asked her to write to the Rebbe and ask what I should do. As I stood near the door of his house, I called to ask my wife what the Rebbe’s answer was. She said that the answer was in Yiddish and since she didn’t know Yiddish, she could not tell me what the Rebbe said. “But,” she added, “you need to remember that this isn’t your personal issue. You are the Rebbe’s shliach! Picture the Rebbe extending his hand and going inside with you – would you be nervous?”
What she said really got through to me and I felt that the Rebbe was with me and I went in with full confidence. I hugged the man and then told him about buying the property. I asked him for $150,000. He immediately agreed and then he put on tefillin.
That took place on 13 Nissan. A month later, at 12:30, I woke up to the ringing of the phone. It was the businessman who happily said, “The Rebbe’s bracha was fulfilled in a most unexpected way, but tomorrow I have another court case and I want a bracha from the Rebbe. Although it isn’t Sunday, I will come to you and put on tefillin and you write to the Rebbe.”
When he came, I asked him what his hachlata is. He said that since he sees that I am pressured by the Chabad House finances, he thought of an original way of helping me. “Publish a magazine in Hebrew and English and I will commit to helping you get paying ads from big Australian companies and of course I will also put in ads, and you will have a steady income.”
I wrote asking for a bracha and put the letter into volume three, p. 340. The answer was in Yiddish and I translated it and was amazed by the clear answer which referred to his good hachlata:
Surely you have also met with Jews whom Hashem helped be able to support financially the work of the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel … By providing an opportunity to Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, for example, to publish and distribute as many publications as possible in various languages, they become partners in the enormous rescue work that the donor himself cannot do. And it is self understood that this merit makes him more worthy of easily receiving the spiritual hashpa’a that he requires.
As we both marveled at the answer, I noticed that on the same page was another person’s letter. I did not remember ever opening to this particular answer for any letter and I curiously opened the letter. To my amazement it was my wife’s letter when she asked for a bracha for me when I was on my way to the businessman, that Yiddish letter that she did not understand. Now, it turned out, the Rebbe had given the same answer twice!
IT IS UP TO ANASH
The cross-continent conversation with R’ Lider continued and the stories were nonstop. Unfortunately, the stories have to fit into an article of limited length in the magazine and we had to stop, while recalling that the Rebbe Rayatz said that we don’t end a farbrengen; we make a “break” until the next farbrengen.
R’ Lider is rushing to put the finishing touches on an upcoming campaign to complete the building. Three wealthy people promised to match what he is able to raise up to $750,000 and R’ Lider is working on obtaining donations of $250,000 so that together with the three men’s donations, he will reach at least the million dollars needed to complete building the Chabad House.
Before he hangs up, he tells me that when he wrote to the Rebbe about the campaign, he opened to a letter that was written to R’ Zevin in connection with the activities of the shluchim whom the Rebbe sent in the summer of 1957, nearly sixty years ago. In that letter the Rebbe writes that although it is important to try to have an impact in many places, the main place ought to be Kfar Chabad and Lud. In line with this, R’ Lider plans on focusing his fundraising efforts on Lubavitcher communities.
I quickly wrote down all the moving stories that I heard in this long phone conversation, trusting that these incredible stories will inspire the readers to hiskashrus to the Rebbe, both in learning his teachings and doing his instructions and in writing to the Rebbe about all aspects of life. And mainly, being involved in inyanei Moshiach and Geula with the belief and knowledge that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam and will soon be revealed to us and redeem us.
Translated from Beis Moshiach. The complete article with miracle stories and unbelievable answers from the Rebbe will, G-d willing, appear in the next issue of the English Beis Moshiach.