Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inspiring Encounter & Photo 1947

It was December 1957, and Naftali Dulitzky, a wealthy Tel Aviv businessman, was asked by the Rebbe to donate a very large sum for the fledgling neighborhood in Kfar Chabad. Dulitzky obeyed, and in the end learned that both spiritual and material rewards were far greater.

The Avner Institute presents this amazing encounter, where the Chassid who fretted over giving away a bit too much ultimately learned to trust the Rebbe’s promise of

The Rebbe Archive presents a photo of the Rebbe at a farewell gathering in Paris 1947 right before returning to the U.S. with his mother, Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, obm.

Good Shabbos

The following encounter was told by members of the Dulitzky family:

"Kislev 5718/1957. Eight years had passed since Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, founded Kfar Chabad, and the abandoned Arab village transformed into a Lubavitcher stronghold. But there was one problem: no more apartments were available. As more and more Chassidim found themselves turned away, they wrote in despair to the current Rebbe.

The Rebbe, who since 1955 had begun contacting Zalman Shazar (later President of Israel) about the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad, guaranteed to find sources of funding. He also wrote to Chabad askanim [businessmen] in Eretz Yisroel, demanding action.

On 10 Kislev 5718/Dec. 3, 1957 the Rebbe wrote Shazar the following letter:

. . . . Since I am very optimistic regarding what I wrote to you in my previous letter, that you should participate in the farbrengen in Kfar Chabad on the Yom KaGeula, Chag HaChagim, Yud-Tes Kislev, the day of the geula [redemption] and victory of the Alter Rebbe and with him, Toras Hachassidus and its matters, it’s an auspicious time to announce about the neighborhood at the farbrengen. Great is a Chassidishe farbrengen to break down walls and remove barriers, including the barrier between the good and desirable—and the possible, that there be full possibility, and that it come to fruition in the total fulfillment of the good and desirable.

Put simply, the Rebbe asked Shazar to officially announce the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad, and the Rebbe set the date: 19 Kislev 5718/Dec. 12, 1957, nine days later. Shazar followed orders: at the main 19 Kislev event in Kfar Chabad he announced a new Chabad neighborhood. In his next letter, the Rebbe thanked him.

The new neighborhood had become a fact. The only question remained: where would the money come from? No one knew what would take place a few hours later at the Rebbe’s farbrengen in Crown Heights—an amazing story that began at that farbrengen, continued in Belgium, and concluded some months later in Eretz Yisroel.

New Heavens/New Earth

In a yechidus several days before the farbrengen, R’ Pinye Altheus was asked by the Rebbe about the finances of building up the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad. R’ Pinye replied sadly that the situation was dire and the wealthy people not as generous as anticipated.

The farbrengen took place in a large hall on Eastern Parkway at the corner of Nostrand. At the end of the third sicha [discourse], the Rebbe spoke about the cyclical completion of the Tanya and the topic of “new heavens and a new earth.” Following a ma’amer and more sichos, the Rebbe described the intermediary between the physical world and its spiritual counterpart, and their ultimate purpose. The intermediary was Eretz Yisroel, its ultimate purpose to bring to the day when “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth,” when the physical earth will be completely purified.

The Rebbe began the next sicha with a question: Why would gashmius [the material world] be necessary in the future, when everything will be utterly refined? The answer: it is through the gashmius that dira ba’tachtonim [dwelling place below] is accomplished. This was connected to tzedaka for Eretz Yisroel, whose special qualities were aptly described by the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya.

The Rebbe concluded by adding two subjects on this Yud-Tes Kislev—one connected with the spiritual heavens and earth, and one connected with the physical heavens and earth. The first—on this Yud-Tes Kislev manuscripts of ma’amarim of the Alter Rebbe that had never been printed before were now being published.

The second:

If they filled my request that I wrote to the Holy Land, then today marks the founding (at least the verbal announcement that will lead to action) of a new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad which was founded by the Rebbe, my father-in-law, successor of the Chabad nesi’im back to the Alter Rebbe, the ba’al ha’simcha.

The Rebbe announced that although on Yud-Tes Kislev appeals were generally not made, the building of a new neighborhood presented a unique situation. Everyone was asked to donate amply, and within the next day or two.

The crowd had not yet recovered from the shock, when the Rebbe said:

In general, I don’t mix in and express my opinion regarding how much each person gives. I take what is given, and one of two things happens: either I am satisfied or I’m not satisfied and I keep my dissatisfaction to myself. But since this is altogether an exception, I will also act differently than usual, and if it seems to me that someone is giving too little, I will overcome embarrassment and tell him—by power of the matters for which the money is needed (i.e. the neighborhood)—to increase the amount as I see it. If I do this not during the farbrengen, I don’t know if you will listen, but when everyone is setting together no doubt you will be embarrassed to say otherwise.

In short: On this one occasion, the Rebbe decided how much each person should give. The Rebbe blessed whoever would give to receive Hashem’s blessings.

The Rebbe concluded:

If it seems to someone that he was told to give an amount that he is unable to give, the intention is so that Hashem will give him at least four times that amount and therefore, when you add another $1000, Hashem will give you $4000!

Five Times More

Among the people sitting in the crowd was R’ Naftali Dulitzky, a Chassid and diamond dealer from Tel Aviv. Whenever he visited the Rebbe he brought a large sum of money with which he would buy diamonds at lower prices on the New York diamond exchange and sell for a nice profit in Eretz Yisroel and Europe.

Like everybody else there, Dulitzky handed a slip of paper to the Rebbe that included his name and the amount of money he would be giving. Inspired by the farbrengen, Dulitzky wrote down a large number, twenty percent of the money he had brought with him to New York to do business.

Leading them into the niggun [melody]“HaBeinoni,” the Rebbe praised the neighborhood in Kfar Chabad, a future tool to spread the wellsprings. After the niggun “L’chat’chilla Aribber” the Rebbe began reading the notes, telling each person how much to add, from double to two hundred times the amount originally pledged.

The Rebbe repeated the bracha [blessing] said earlier:

There are people who are afraid to give their donation now since I will publicly announce how much they need to add, and they prefer to give their donation some other time so it will be quiet. But the time now is the Yom Tov of the Alter Rebbe, an auspicious time, the simcha [joy] of the Alter Rebbe, and therefore, if you give your donation now, in addition to Hashem repaying you four times as much or ten times as much, you can accomplish spiritual and material things according to what the Alter Rebbe is capable of accomplishing.

Accordingly, it pays to put yourself in “danger” for me to tell you to increase your amount in order to merit the brachos of the Alter Rebbe in those things you need.

R’ Dulitzky realized that he would have to at least double the amount he wrote, but did not imagine how much more would be asked of him. When his note was read by the Rebbe, the Rebbe announced:

“Tula Dulitzky—five times more!”

Dulitzky looked stunned. The Rebbe had left him without a penny for his business transactions. However, as a loyal Chassid he did not ask questions, and as soon as the farbrengen was over he gave the full amount. Although he did not know what he would do the next day, a Chassid is not put off by such concerns.

At a Funeral

The next part of the story, related by Naftali Dulitzky’s daughter, was heard from Rabbi Chatzkel Besser, a”h, of Agudath Israel, who knew Naftali for years and was often “schlepped” to the Rebbe’s farbrengens.

“I was supposed to go to that farbrengen with R’ Dulitzky, but the snow and cold that night froze the engine of the car I was supposed to drive, so I missed the farbrengen.

“The next day, when I met Dulitzky, I apologized and asked him how the farbrengen was. He said, with a smile, that it was fortunate I had not attended, because they had to give huge amounts of money to the Rebbe. He confided that he had been instructed to give all his money for the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad.

“I was a bit surprised. I knew him as a Chassid who would give everything to the Rebbe, but I did not understand why the Rebbe needed to take everything from him. We spoke for a few minutes and then parted. As far as I was concerned, the story was over.

“A little more than a year later, I was in Eretz Yisroel for some communal matter. At that time the first armed robbery in Israel took place, and a diamond merchant by the name of Zerach Pollack was murdered. Everyone was shaken, especially those in the diamond business. Every single diamond merchant attended the funeral, from the murdered man’s best friends to his bitter competitors.

“I also attended the funeral and I met Dulitzky there. We greeted one another, and as we spoke I mentioned our previous conversation that took place in Manhattan. Dulitzky said, ‘You won’t believe this. I’ll tell you what happened later.”


Dulitzky related, “A few days after the farbrengen, I boarded a ship back to Eretz Yisroel. My original plan was to stop for a few days in Europe to sell the diamonds I would have bought in the U.S. Although now I had no reason to waste time there, my ticket was already purchased.

“On Friday, the ship set anchor in the port of London. Since I did not want to stay for Shabbos in a place where I didn’t know anyone, I decided to travel to Antwerp, where I had many friends from the diamond trade.

“I arrived in the morning and went to the diamond exchange, where I was immediately greeted by an acquaintance, ‘Dulitzky, you don’t know how happy I am to see you!’ Understanding my surprise, he explained that he wanted to do a deal on large diamonds, which he knew to be my area of expertise.

“I explained to him that I did not have any money or diamonds for sale, but he insisted that I accompany him nonetheless. ‘At least come with me to see the diamonds,’ he requested.

“I tried to get out of it, but he was determined. I finally gave in on condition that I would be there only to advise him.

“I looked at the diamonds that he had been offered and recommended that he buy them. They were very nice and the price, relative to the quality, was quite reasonable. I figured that my job was done, but he thought otherwise.

“He wanted to make a partnership with me. As much as I tried to explain to him that I didn’t have money to invest, he refused to hear it. He wanted a partnership, and honestly, I don’t know why I agreed. But I signed a contract and promised to send him my share when I returned to Israel.

“When I returned to Israel, I sent him a letter asking for the details regarding the payment I owed him. He sent me back a telegram saying I didn’t owe him anything.

“A few days later I received a letter from him in which he explained that he had been able to sell all the diamonds quickly and make a nice profit. He promised to send me my share of the money.

“When I read the next line I was flabbergasted. The sum was four times the amount I had donated on Yud-Tes Kislev!”