"Now is the ideal opportunity to transform the whole canvas of life in the Land of Israel and direct it into the above-mentioned channels. This opportunity is knocking at your door; for you have been granted the ability and privilege to use it to the best advantage, a privilege and opportunity which are not given to every man and the likes of which have not presented themselves for many decades"
-From a Letter to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
I would like to present a beautiful encounter that Louis Hozinsky and his brother Mordechai experienced with the Rebbe in the late 1950s. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (Part 85 in the series). I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Dear readers, for the beautiful Brachos and wishes that you sent me and my kalla in honor of our engagement. May all the Brachos be fulfilled.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Geisinsky of blessed memory wrote this account of events which he was a party to:
"One summer's day in 1959, two brothers came into my shul in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. They wore black ties and black armbands as signs of mourning. The older one, Louis (Levi Yitzchak) Hozinsky, lived in Crown Heights; his brother, Mordechai, lived elsewhere. I eventually became very close to Louis and he began to put on tefillin every day, observe many aspects of Shabbat, put up mezuzot in his home and keep other mitzvot.
That year, Yom Kippur was on a Monday. At about 10 p.m. Saturday night, my doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I saw Levi Yitzchak with his brother Mordechai, and they looked very worried. Mordechai was pale and very thin. After feeling ill for some time, Mordechai had undergone tests in the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. The results showed that he had a malignant growth in his stomach and he needed an operation urgently. The doctor and hospital staff had told him that as soon as a place became free he would be called for the operation. Other doctors had all concurred with the doctors at the Medical Center.
Finally, Mordechai found an expert who thought that, although the operation was necessary, it might be better to wait in order to undergo further tests. However, today he had received a call to go immediately to the hospital, as a bed was available. When Mordechai informed them that he wished to wait a little, he was warned that the hospital would take no responsibility for the consequences.
"I have only one suggestion for you," I said. "Go to the Rebbe. He will advise you what to do." I explained how difficult it would be to see the Rebbe on the day before Yom Kippur. If the Rebbe's secretary said that the only option was to write all of the details in a letter, I suggested that they stand near the Rebbe's office,
and when the Rebbe came out, they should tell the Rebbe about the situation and ask for his advice and blessing. At 12:45 a.m. my telephone rang. "Hello, Rabbi. I have good news for you!" It was Levi Yitzchak. He told me that the secretary had told them to put everything into a letter. The brothers did as I suggested, and stood in the narrow passageway in front of the Rebbe's doorway. At midnight, the Rebbe came out of his room and closed the door behind him. At that moment, Levi Yitzchak came forward and said:
"I am Levi Yitzchak Hozinsky, and I desperately need to speak to the Rebbe!" The Rebbe immediately unlocked his door, and ushered them in. When they were inside, the Rebbe said, "I have been expecting you!"
Mordechai told the Rebbe all about his illness.
The Rebbe said, "I have the medicine for you. Start putting on tefilin tomorrow and continue to do so every weekday after that. Then you won't need an operation. All you will have to do is maintain the diet I am going to recommend.
After three weeks, go to Dr. Seligson [the Rebbe's private doctor], and ask him to examine you." The Rebbe then gave him instructions for a special diet. Mordechai continued, "The Rebbe spoke to us for about an hour."
The Hozinsky brothers did not realize that on the night before Yom Kippur the Rebbe almost never gives a private audience to anyone. "Before we left," Levi Yitzchak continued, "I told the Rebbe that the secretary had not allowed us to come in and speak to him, but had said that we should put everything into a letter.
The Rebbe answered, "No, no! I waited all evening for you to come to me for your cure -- to put on tefilin!" The Rebbe repeated his words three times in Yiddish: "Your medicine is that you should put on tefilin!" The following day, the eve of Yom Kippur, I got into line to receive honey cake -- lekach -- from the Rebbe.
When my turn came, the Rebbe stopped me and asked if I knew whether Mordechai had put on tefilin. When I said that I did not know for sure , the Rebbe answered, "You must make sure that he puts on tefilin!" When I saw Mordechai later that day, he told me that he had put on tefilin. And Levi Yitzchak assured me that he was fasting -- for the first time in his life -- on Yom Kippur. Before three weeks were up, Mordechai went to see Dr. Seligson. He told Dr. Seligson that he had come to him upon the instructions of the Rebbe.
The doctor examined him for about two hours and saw that his condition was very serious. His opinion was the same as that of the doctors at the Medical Center -- Mordechai desperately needed an operation. But Dr. Seligson first wished to consult the Rebbe. At midnight, Dr. Seligson telephoned Mordechai and informed him that he had spoken to the Rebbe regarding his situation.
Dr. Seligson said that Mordechai should follow the Rebbe's exact instructions. Shortly after this, the brothers called me with an update. Over the past few days Mordechai had gained three pounds. Normally, someone in his situation would constantly be losing weight. About three or four days later, he asked me to consult the Rebbe, as his family had asked him to go for further X-rays with a famous specialist. The Rebbe said that he could go for X-rays if he wanted. He went to the specialist, who examined him thoroughly. When the X- rays failed to show anything definite, he was told to come back for further tests in another six weeks. Six weeks later Mordechai again visited the specialist. The doctor took the X-rays again. In the interim, as Mordechai awaited the results, he called the Rebbe's office and received a reply that
"all would be well." In the evening, the doctor called: "All clear, with absolutely no trace of disease!"
Picture Description: The Rebbe Davening Shacharis in the winter of 1965.
Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007