The following is part two of a fascinating encounter that Daniel a member of the Chabad house in Antwerp experienced with the Rebbe, special thanks to Rabbi Shabtai Slavaticki and the editorial staff of the Avner institute for putting this together, also attached is a Unique photo of the Rebbe special thanks to Rebbe Archive for the picture (RebbeArchive@Gmail.com)
An OverviewIn Part 1, "Daniel," a Baal Teshuva, has embraced Jewish observance. Eagerly taking on the mitzvoth, he has severed ties with his past life – except one: a Gentile girlfriend. He is torn between wanting to marry her yet wanting to adhere to the tenets of his faith. Finally, revealing his agony to a trusted rabbi and friend, he is advised to see the Rebbe.
Rabbi Slavaticki relates:
Sunday in 770, Hundreds of people form a patient line, lasting hours. Although all of the rivers of the world flow into the ocean, the ocean never becomes full. Each and every river is different. Yet each and every river finds itself drawn in the same direction, longing to pour itself out. So too, every individual is different.
Each person follows a different path in life – his or her own problems, questions, thoughts -- yet all are attracted to the same "head." The Rebbe greets everyone with the same love, without distinction between great and small. People are serious as they await their turn, hearts pounding. Daniel is also solemn as he recites Tehillim(Psalms) and practices (for the umpteenth time) the words he is planning to say to the Rebbe.
The line moves slowly as Daniel inches closer. Up the stairs, turning the corner, finally he has reached the "Lower Gan Eden." And then, Daniel finds himself face to face with the Rebbe. "At first," he told me afterward, "the only thing I could see was the Rebbe's holy eyes. The Rebbe looked deep inside of me.
All the words I'd prepared flew right out of my head. In the Rebbe's presence, my mind stopped working. I felt completely
Exposed and transparent.
"I could not utter a sound. The Rebbe held out a dollar but when I tried to take it, he would not let go. For a long moment we stood there like that, both of us holding opposite ends of the dollar bill. The whole time the Rebbe kept gazing at me, a look filled with kindness and love. I could feel myself calming down." Daniel described what followed.
"I have a problem," he blurted. The Rebbe tilted his head slightly. "I've started to become more observant," Daniel explained, "but I have a girlfriend who isn't Jewish and I'm planning on marrying her." Daniel fell silent; what else could he say?
Mere words could not express the turbulence of his emotions, yet he sensed that the Rebbe understood exactly what he meant, what was going on inside. Daniel braced himself for a rebuke. He expected to be reprimanded, to be told by the Rebbe how grave a transgression it was to intermarry. Surely, the Rebbe would say something about Gehinnom and Gan Eden, as did the non-Chabad rabbis Daniel had consulted. But the Rebbe said nothing.
His holy face was serious, yet there was an imperceptible smile on his lips. "I envy you," he finally said. At first, Daniel could not quite grasp the meaning. All kinds of thoughts ran through his head: The Rebbe is holy of holies; I am small and insignificant. The Rebbe, who is on the highest spiritual plane, is envious of me—someone on the lowest?
"I can't remember the Rebbe's exact words," Daniel told me, "but their meaning was indelibly marked on my soul."
"He said, 'There are many ladders in life; the ladder is the individual's free will. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, gives every person free will, which is a ladder reaching all the way to heaven. The test you are facing is a challenge.
It will elevate you to the greatest heights. "'I personally,' the Rebbe said, 'have never been presented with this test. "'If G-d gives you a challenge, it means He believes you can overcome it. He is giving you the strength to withstand the test and to succeed.' Only then did the Rebbe relinquish the dollar bill and allow me to take it.
"I'm not sure what happened next, but a few seconds later I found myself in a corner of 770 crying like a baby. I could feel the tears cleansing me, washing away all the dirt. "Someone came over and gently asked me if I wanted a drink. Without waiting for a reply he handed me small bottle of water. I took a sip and felt better. "I returned to Belgium and became another person entirely. My encounter with the Rebbe totally transformed my life." Daniel had taken the challenge. He ascended the ladder. Today, he lives as a full-fledged Jew in Eretz Yisroel, where is he raising a fine Chasidic family. And the analogy is understood.
His Own LadderDaniel was made to understand that life's difficulties are ladders leading upward, that trials and tribulations are merely challenges. There is no other way to ascend. Even if the ladder appears crooked or shaky, it is still the only way up.