Weekly Chasidic Story #786 (s5773-15 / 4 Tevet 5773)

Leaving London Late

Rabbi Yidele Horowitz, the Dzikover Rebbe, who rarely spoke, motioned that the group of chassidim should again wait a little longer for his blessing.

Connection: Seasonal-this happened 24 years ago on 13 Tevet/Dec 21, 1988.


On the evening of Wednesday, December 21, 1988, a group of chasidim from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was preparing to return home from London. Before going to the airport, at about 8:00 P.M., they stopped off at the home of Rabbi Yidele Horowitz, the Dzikover Rebbe, to receive his blessing.

“We’re on our way back home to New York, and we’d like to see the rebbe before we go. Would that be possible?” they asked the Rebbe’s personal gabbai.

“Let me check,” the Rebbe’s attendant responded, and entered the rebbe’s room. “The rebbe can see you in about a quarter of an hour,” he said as he emerged.

Fifteen minutes passed, and the gabbai asked the rebbe whether he could usher in the chasidim. But the rebbe, who rarely spoke, motioned that they should wait a little longer.

The chasidim were not too happy about the delay, as their time was limited and they feared they would miss their ten o’clock flight. On the other hand, they did not want to lose the opportunity to meet with the famed tzadik. They decided to wait.

It was another twenty minutes before they were finally allowed into the rebbe’s chamber. They handed him their notes with personal requests, and he shook everybody’s hand.

The audience over, the chasidim quickly left for the airport, but heavy traffic delayed their progress. When they finally got out of the traffic jam they checked their watches and realized that without speeding they would not get to the airport on time. Accordingly, they sped to the airport and arrived five minutes before departure. But they were too late to board the plane.

At ten o’clock the plane left, leaving the group of chassidim standing forlornly in Heathrow Airport’s waiting area. “Maybe we shouldn’t have waited at the rebbe’s house,” one said. “If not for those twenty minutes, we definitely would have made it.”

“What does it help to talk about it?” his friend responded. “The bottom line is, we missed our flight.”

The men went to the ticket counter and made the necessary arrangements for a flight the next day.

An hour and a half later, they were still in the car on their way back to their lodgings from the airport when tragic news was announced on the radio: “Pan Am Flight 103 has exploded over Scotland. All two hundred- fifty-eight aboard are feared to have perished…”

The chasidim sat in stunned silence. Their extended wait at the rebbe’s, the traffic jam….These delays had saved their lives! In the merit of their trust and faith in the Rebbe’s holiness and their strong will to get his blessing, they had been spared a horrible fate.

Source: From “Glimpses of Greatness” by Rabbi David Koppelman (Moznaim).

Connection: Seasonal-this happened 24 years ago on 13 Tevet/Dec 21, 1988.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Yidele Horowitz, the Dzikover Rebbe (1905- 9 Cheshvan 1989), was raised by his maternal grandfather, Rabbi Yisrael Hager, Rebbe of Vizhnitz. After WWII, he moved to Tel Aviv, and then towards the end of his life, to London, for medical reasons. Although known as a formidable scholar and a man of exceptional character, he shunned the limelight and abhorred any reverence or treatment as a Rebbe. He lived a very frugal life. Absolutely all the monies forwarded to him by admirers and Chassidim were immediately distributed to orphans and widows.


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.