Weekly Chasidic Story #834 (s5774-12 / 15 Kislev 5774)
Five Times More
After leading a stirring chasidic melody, the Lubavitcher Rebbe began reading the notes, telling each person how much to add.
Connection: Seasonal-Yud-Tes Kislev is Thursday night-Friday, Nov. 21-2
It was Kislev 1957, Eight years had passed since Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe who passed away in 1950, founded Kfar Chabad, a small village one train stop outside of Tel Aviv. The abandoned Arab village quickly became transformed into a Lubavitcher stronghold, but now a problem had arisen: no more apartments were available. More and more Chassidim found themselves turned away, and they wrote in despair to the “new” Rebbe.
In response, the Lubavitcher Rebbe decided that a new neighborhood should be built in the Kfar. He himself assumed the responsibility to find sources of funding. He also wrote to Chabad businessmen in Eretz Yisrael, demanding action.
Since 1955, the Rebbe had already been in contact with Zalman Shazar (an important figure in the government-see story #656 in this series-and later President of Israel) about the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad. On Dec. 3, 1957 the Rebbe wrote Shazar the following letter:
. . . I am very optimistic regarding what I wrote to you in my previous letter, that you should participate in the farbrengen (Chasidic gathering) in Kfar Chabad on the festival of Yud-Tes Kislev, the day of the liberation and victory of the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first rebbe of the dynasty) and with him, all the teachings of Chabad chassidus. It is an auspicious time to announce about the new neighborhood. Great is a Chassidishe farbrengen to break down walls and remove barriers, including the barrier between the good and desirable–and the possible, 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. Mr. 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 there, continued in Belgium, and concluded some months later in Israel.
* * *
Among the people sitting in the crowd was Mr. 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 Yisrael and Europe.
Like everybody else there, in response to the Rebbe’s announcement that funding was crucial for the new neighborhood, Dulitzky handed in a slip of paper 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.
The Rebbe praised the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad, calling it a future tool to spread the wellsprings. Then he said:
There are people who are afraid to give their donation now since I will publicly announce how much they need to add, so they prefer to give their donation some other, quieter time. But the time now is the festival and the joy of the Alter Rebbe, an auspicious time. Therefore, if you give your donation now, in addition to G-d 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 blessings of the Alter Rebbe in those things you need.
After leading a stirring chasidic melody, the Rebbe began reading the notes, telling each person how much to add, from double to two hundred times the amount originally pledged.
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 chasid 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 chasid is not put off by such concerns.
* * *
The next part of the story, related by Naftali Dulitzky’s daughter, was heard from Rabbi Chatzkel Besser of Agudat Yisrael, who knew Naftali for years and was often “schlepped” by him to the Rebbe’s farbrengens.
“I was supposed to go to that farbrengen with Naftali, 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 Naftali, I apologized and asked him how the farbrengen was. He said, with a smile, that it was fortunate I had not attended, because everyone there 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 chasid who would give everything to the Rebbe; what I could not understand was 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 Israel for some communal matter. The first armed robbery in the State of Israel had recently taken 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. Naftali said, ‘You won’t believe this. I’ll tell you what happened later.”
* * *
Dulitzky related to me:
“A few days after the farbrengen, I boarded a ship back to Israel. 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 Shabbat 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!”
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition circulated by “The Avner Institute” <Rebbebook@gmail,com> on April 6, 2011.
Connection: Seasonal-Yud-Tes Kislev is Thursday night-Friday, Nov. 21-22
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe: [11 Nissan 5662 – 3 Tammuz 5754 (April 1902 – June 1994 C.E.)], became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law’s passing on 10 Shvat 5710 (1950 C.E.). 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.
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