Written by Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Toronto, Rabbi Akiva Wagner
On Shmini Atzeres this year I went on tahalucha, and I ended up at a random shul in Flatbush. We entered the shul, and I sat down on the first empty chair that I saw. Next to me was seated one of the mispalelim of the shul, and as soon as he saw me he said: “I have a story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe to tell you, that not many people know”. And he proceeded the share the following with me:
When I was young (the Jew shared), I spent one summer at the Menucha Day Camp, which was at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Ocean Parkway. A few years later, still at a young age (this was in the 70’s) I became a chosson. During the period of my engagement, I once found myself back in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva building on Ocean Parkway. While I was there I encountered Menashe, the man who had been our bus driver during the summer I spent in the day camp.
I greeted him, and we began conversing. To my surprise, I learned that he was related to me – he was the uncle of my kallah, my future uncle-in-law.
We continued speaking, and in the course of the conversation he exclaimed: “The Lubavitcher Rebbe is a real tzaddik!” I found this statement out of character; Menashe was not your image of a chosid in any way, he was, rather, a very modern Jew, with a small knitted yarmulke. Since when was he connected with Rebbes?
I expressed my surprise to him, and he explained: ‘When I was driving the bus for the day camp, there was a point in which they fell behind in my pay. This went on, and I was growing more frustrated. Finally I decided that I had enough of this, and I informed them of my intention to quit.
They told me that before I made such a decision they needed to discuss it with the Rebbe. I told them that I’m not a Rebbe person, I just want my money. They insisted, however, that they had to go to the Rebbe first.
‘I drove them to Crown Heights, and parked in front of 770. As they exited the car, I reminded them again: “I don’t want to hear about no Rebbes, I just want my money”.
After a few moments they returned to the vehicle. “The Rebbe wants to speak to you”, they informed me. I was fuming! “I told you, I am not a Rebbe person, I don’t want to know about Rebbes, I just want my money”, I told them emphatically. But they were just as adamant. ‘When the Lubavitcher Rebbe says he wants to speak with you, you go, you have no choice in the matter”.
Furious, but feeling that my hands were tied, I left the car and accompanied them to the Rebbe. “What is your name?” the Rebbe asked me, and I told him. “How long were you working for the day camp?” he asked, and I told him it had been 6 years. “And how behind are they in your pay?” I told him I was owed for 6 months.
The Rebbe then turned to me and said: “I would like to ask you not to quit. We will work on putting together the money, and ensure that you get paid up over the next short while. Once you are paid up, then you can decide if you want to stay on or quit, but until then I am asking you not to leave. In exchange for this, I will bless you that you will become independently wealthy!”
“What can I tell you” Menashe concluded his story to me (the Jew in the shul told me, as we sat waiting for maariv and hakofos), “shortly after that, I started a mail order business (remember, this is in the 70’s), and it made me extremely wealthy. In fact, I became so wealthy, that I wrote a book about how to become wealthy. And from the proceeds of the book, I became even wealthier! The Rebbe’s words were fulfilled in the most literal sense!”