Weekly Chasidic Story #669 (s5771-03 / 14 Tishrei 5771)
A Comatose “Hallucination”
Two followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe knocked on the door of an apartment and were immediately let in by a young man with long hair and blue jeans.
Connection: Seasonal – Sukkot)
It is a glorious good deed to share one’s lulav-esrog set during the Sukkot festival. On the first day of the holiday, two students from the main Lubavitcher Yeshiva, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, walked to the nearby neighborhood of Park Slope and knocked on doors, offering people to make the blessing on their “Four Species.” At one apartment they were immediately let in by a young man with long blond hair and blue jeans (this story happened in the early ’70’s). He declined their offer, saying that he already possessed a set! They were quite surprised to hear it, and much more so when he proceeded to take out and show them the most beautiful esrog they had ever seen.
The “hippie” asked the two wide-eyed students if they would like to know the story of how he got this magnificentesrog.
“I had suddenly taken ill and my condition deteriorated rapidly. I was hospitalized and fell into a coma. I heard afterwards that the doctors had given up on my chances for survival.
“While lying in a coma I saw a sort of courtroom, and the mood of the judges was frighteningly somber. Then, an old man stood up. He had a large, squarish white beard and piercing blue eyes, yet his face was welcoming and somehow reassuring. He announced to the court that he would assume responsibility for me.
“Turning to me, he told me that I would not die at this time, but in return I would have to get more involved with my Judaism.
“A short while later I regained consciousness. The doctors were surprised. After a slow recuperation and rehabilitation, I was released and sent home. Several months passed and life resumed its normal status quo. I had almost forgotten my strange dream.
“One day I was watching the evening news. The report concerned the seventieth birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When the Rebbe’s face appeared on the screen, I nearly jumped out of my skin. There was the face I had seen in my coma. I called the TV station and asked them where this person lived.
“Traveling by subway, I arrived at 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch World Headquarters. People were running back and forth. I stopped a young man and told him I wanted to see the Rebbe. He brought me to a certain spot and told me to stand there, that the Rebbe would soon be passing by on his way to his office.
“When I saw the Rebbe, a great awe overcame me. I managed to step in front of his path and said, ‘Rebbe, I need to speak to you.’ The Rebbe walked past me as though I was not there. I felt like I had just been thrown away. ‘So much for comatose hallucinations,’ I thought.
“Just then, a different office door opened. A man who introduced himself as the Rebbe’s secretary told me that the Rebbe wanted to see me now. I was led into his office and the secretary closed the door.
“I told the Rebbe about seeing him during my coma and what he has said to me. The Rebbe smiled and said, ‘if so, what have you done about it?’ I shook my head sheepishly.
“The Rebbe asked me various personal details. Finally he opened a desk draw and removed what he told me was a pair of tefillin. Handing them to me, he said that I should go into the adjoining study hall and ask one of the students to show me how to use them.
“Each month, he continued, he would send some other mitzvah for me to do. This month, just a few days ago, I received this esrog, along with a lulav and the little branches of two kinds of greens. I have instructions how to use them but I don’t quite understand them. Since you are here, please show me how to do it.”
[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in “Torah e-Parsha” from Shliachp@aol.com (Succos 5761 Vol 3 # 55) and from two different oral versions (in truth, the differences are all in non-essential details).]
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (11 Nissan 1902 – 3 Tammuz 1994), became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, passed away in Brooklyn on 10 Shvat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.
Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.