A poor family once came to the Maggid of Mezritch asking for a cure for their lame son.

Departing from his ordinary selfless practice, the Maggid told the family: “Bring me 50 gold rubles and your son will be healed.”

“Fifty gold rubles!” the woman said in shock. “That is far beyond our means. Would the Rebbe be satisfied with a little less?”

“Not a kopek less,” answered the Maggid.

And so the family set about selling their meager possessions and taking loans, trying to amass the sum the Maggid had mentioned.

When they had scraped together 30 gold rubles, they again approached the Maggid.

“Would this sum suffice?” they asked, for they saw little hope of gathering more.

With unexpected severity, the Maggid refused. So once again, they went out to knock on doors, begging and borrowing to try to accumulate the full sum.

When they reached 40 rubles, they came to the Maggid a third time.

“This is all we can raise,” the mother pleaded. “Please take it and bless our son.”

“I said 50 gold rubles,” the Maggid replied. “I will not accept a penny less.”

In exasperation, the mother threw the money out the window. “G‑d will help us without the Maggid,” she told her husband.

“That’s what I was waiting for,” the Maggid exclaimed. “Moshe,” he said turning to the lame boy, “Go out and collect those coins. Your mother will need them.”

And as the parents looked on, their son walked out the door!

The Maggid explained: “As long as you put your faith in me personally, your prayers could not be answered. Once you put your trust in G‑d, there was a chance for your son’s recovery.”

We all know what infirmity is. We have all seen friends or relatives stricken or perhaps have been afflicted ourselves with various physical, psychological or spiritual infirmities.

We often feel helpless in the face of such ailments. For regardless of the great strides man has made in medicine, there are still sicknesses and conditions which mortals cannot remedy. These feelings of helplessness, however, are our greatest enemies, perhaps more debilitating than the sicknesses themselves.

What is the key to recovery? A positive outlook.

This does not involve naive euphoria, for a person must look reality squarely in the face. But having said that, a person who is ill should never consider himself beyond help. On the contrary, such negativity will only reinforce the infirmity, and restrict any potential for recovery.

In this vein, the Rebbe would frequently reiterate the popular Yiddish maxim: Tracht gut, vet zein gut, “Think positively, and the outcome will be positive.” For example, the Hebrew term for hospital is Beis Cholim, literally meaning: “A home for the sick.” “Call it a Beis Refuah, ‘a house of healing,’ ” the Rebbe would say.

And when doctors told patients that there was no hope, he would criticize them harshly. “The Torah tells us,” he would repeat, “that a doctor is given permission to heal. That is his expertise. When he gives a prognosis of doom, he has exceeded his authority.”

We must understand that healing is in G‑d’s hands, and therefore is always possible. He is the absolute Master of our lives, and we cannot put any limits on what He can do.

And this also applies with regard to the G‑dly potential invested in each of us. Every one of us has a soul which is an actual part of G‑d. This is the core of our being, our true selves. Therefore there is always the possibility within ourselves for healing and recovery.


One Friday, a package of X-rays arrived at the office of Rabbi Moshe Feller, the Rebbe’s shliach in Minneapolis-S. Paul. Together with it came a letter from Rabbi Groner asking Rabbi Feller to take the X-rays to Dr. John Moe, a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

A chassid had sustained a back injury in the plant at which he was employed. All the doctors he had seen had recommended surgery, but before undergoing the operation, the chassid wanted the Rebbe’s advice and blessing. The Rebbe, however, had hesitated. He wanted, Rabbi Groner’s note explained, to hear the opinion of Dr. Moe, an internationally renowned expert on the spine.

Rabbi Feller had heard of Dr. Moe. Indeed, most people in Minneapolis had; his reputation had attracted patients from around the world. How could one get in touch with such a sought-after physician?

But a chassid does not ask too many questions. Rabbi Feller drove to the University of Minnesota campus and tried to see Dr. Moe. “There is a world-famous Rabbi in New York who respects Dr. Moe’s opinion,” Rabbi Feller told the receptionist. “Although he has recommendations from other doctors, this Rabbi wants Dr. Moe’s advice. Can I show him these X-rays?”

Rabbi Feller’s insistence got him past the receptionist, but not beyond Dr. Moe’s personal secretary. “The doctor isn’t in right now,” she told him, “but even if he was, I couldn’t schedule an appointment; he’s booked for weeks.”

Rabbi Feller tried to explain who the Rebbe was, and that the future of a man with a serious back injury was involved.

“Look at all this mail,” she replied, pointing to her desk, “and look at my appointment book. What do you want me to do?”

After discussing the options, she asked Rabbi Feller to leave the X-rays with her. She would mention the matter to the doctor and get back to Rabbi Feller when she could.

It was Friday afternoon and a short Friday at that. Rabbi Feller did not see any alternative and so agreed to her suggestion, putting the matter out of his mind. After all, he had a busy Shabbos coming up, and did not know when if ever he would receive an answer.

It was a busy Shabbos, and the melaveh malkah with his students Saturday night kept Rabbi Feller up late. So he was somewhat dazed when his phone rang at 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

“Hello. This is John Moe,” said the voice at the other end.

“John who?” mumbled Rabbi Feller, wondering why a non-Jewish person would be calling him so early on Sunday morning. Was it a prank?

“John Moe.”

“Who?”

“Dr. John Moe. You left X-rays for me, and a message from a Rabbi in New York.”

Rabbi Feller was stunned. Dr. Moe himself! He quickly apologized and shook himself awake. Dr. Moe explained that he could not render an opinion merely by looking at X-rays; he would have to see the patient for himself.

“When could that be?” Rabbi Feller asked.

“Well, if you get him here at the end of next week,” the doctor responded, “I can get him a bed at the hospital, and we’ll take it from there.”

The injured chassid flew to Minnesota, and Dr. Moe gave him a thorough examination. Instead of surgery, the doctor recommended a diet to lose weight, whirlpool baths and a brace. Nine weeks later, the chassid left Minnesota walking erect, and within months, there was no sign of his injury.

“In 85% of the cases with such an injury, I too would have recommended surgery,” Dr. Moe wrote in his report. “In this instance, however, I saw a way of avoiding it.”

“So what’s so unique about this story?” Rabbi Feller was asked when he related the incident to a group of chassidim.

“First of all,” he answered, “I think it’s important for everyone to know that the Rebbe never wants people to rush into surgery. Even if they had already consulted several doctors, he would suggest seeing others particularly those known to hesitate before using the knife.

“And yet, it is quite an uncommon story. Dr. Moe was at the top of his field, consulted by doctors from every part of the world. Normally, even getting to speak to him took weeks, and waiting for an examination was a matter of months. And here, on his own initiative, he hurried the case through all the red tape and showed a personal interest in the patient’s rehabilitation.

“Ask Dr. Moe’s secretary whether or not this was unique!”


Late one evening in 5714 (1954), a Lubavitch woman arrived in the obstetrics ward of an out-of-town hospital. There had been complications throughout her pregnancy, and now her contractions had started.

After examining her, the obstetrician called in her husband. “I did not want to alarm your wife,” he told him, “but the situation is very grave. The fetus is being carried breech, and birth could endanger the life of either the mother or the child. I might not be able to save both. Give me permission to choose which life to save. For legal reasons, it is customary that the husband sign a waiver, freeing the doctor of liability in the event of death.”

The husband was shocked. He told the doctor that he would have to consult his Rabbi, and rushed to call 770. He described the situation to Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s personal secretary, who brought the matter to the Rebbe’s attention.

The Rebbe told Rabbi Chodakov to tell the husband not to sign any waiver, and to insist that the doctor try to save both the mother and the child. He concluded with a blessing.

When the husband conveyed this message to the doctor, the doctor reiterated his warning, adding that he had not explained the full seriousness of the situation. If he tried to save the mother and the child, he said, he might lose them both. “It is best,” he said, “if you sign the waiver.”

The husband called Rabbi Chodakov again to relay the new information. Rabbi Chodakov informed the Rebbe, but the Rebbe’s answer remained the same: Insist that he save both the mother and the child.

The husband informed the doctor that the Rebbe had instructed him to save both the mother and the child. The doctor then explained that the delivery was very complicated and the process could be lengthy. Since it was already late, he advised the husband to go home, and he would inform him as soon as there was any news.

The husband returned home, said several chapters of Tehillim in earnest prayer, and lay down to rest. Despite his weariness, he could not sleep, and lay in bed waiting for the doctor’s call.

Shortly after four in the morning, the phone rang. “Mazel tov, ” the doctor told him, “at four o’clock your wife gave birth to a healthy girl. Both your wife and the baby are safe.”

Unable to contain his excitement, the chassid called Rabbi Groner, one of the Rebbe’s secretaries, and asked him to inform the Rebbe.

At 7 a.m., the phone rang again. It was Rabbi Chodakov. He told the husband that the Rebbe wanted to know whether his wife had in fact given birth at four, or whether the birth had taken place at 3:30.

The husband went to the hospital to see his wife shortly afterwards. When he asked to see the doctor, the nurse told him that the doctor had been up all night and would not return until 11 o’clock. The chassid went home and returned at 11.

He thanked the doctor profusely for his efforts, and then asked when the birth had taken place. Was it 4, or 3:30? The doctor explained that the delivery had been very trying, and that he had not noticed the exact time. On the baby’s crib, however, it clearly said 4 AM.

The husband called the nurse over. “Four o’clock,” the nurse explained, “was when the baby was brought into the nursery. If we consider the time it took to wash the baby, give it its initial tests and the like, it is quite possible that the actual birth took place at 3:30.”

The doctor was curious. “Your wife and daughter are both healthy,” he reminded the chassid, “so what difference does it make what time the birth took place?”

The husband explained that the Rebbe had asked. The doctor repeated his question: “What difference does it make?”

When the chassid conveyed the information to Rabbi Chodakov, he respectfully added that the doctor was curious as to why the time was so important.

“Out of concern,” Rabbi Chodakov replied in the name of the Rebbe, “the Rebbe did not go to sleep the entire night. At 3:30 in the morning, when he knew that both the mother and daughter were safe, he finally laid down to rest.”

Rabbi Nissan Mangel heard this story from the husband. To him, Rabbi Chodakov’s closing remarks suggest an allegory:

The Rebbe will not lie down to rest until the mother (in Kabbalah, an analogy for the source of the Jewish people in the spiritual realms) and the daughter (the Jews in this material world) are both safe. If the Rebbe could not sleep when one mother and one child were in danger, surely he will not rest until the people as a whole are secure.

The above story has a sequel:

Coming back to yourself physically after childbirth can be trying for any woman. In addition to the difficulties most women face, one Lubavitch woman had problems with bleeding. It wasn’t a heavy flow, but it caused worry, and concern that perhaps there was a more serious problem.

She consulted medical authorities, who declared that the spotting indicated a malignant tumor.

The doctor who had delivered the baby in the previous story was a renowned obstetrician, and the woman approached him for consultation. After an examination, he also diagnosed the difficulty as cancer. Somberly, he told the woman that there were several options, but that the situation was very serious.

The couple hurried to New York to seek the Rebbe’s advice and blessing. After hearing the couple out, the Rebbe told the woman: “No, it is not cancer. After the birth, the doctors erred and did not complete the process necessary at that time. There is a simple medical procedure which they can perform [the Rebbe outlined this to the couple] and the staining will stop.”

The couple returned to the doctor and asked him to perform this procedure.

The doctor was dumbfounded. “From a medical perspective,” he told them, “it is absolutely absurd to think that this is the problem. Moreover, taking this step could be very dangerous. If the problem is cancer, such a procedure could prove fatal.”

When the couple insisted, the doctor asked on what basis were they requesting such treatment; they were not physicians, and should not insist on treatment that ran contrary to medical norms. The couple replied that they had received this advice from their rabbi, and that this is what they wanted to do.

On hearing this, the doctor relaxed. “Is your rabbi, by any chance, Rabbi Schneerson of Lubavitch?” he asked. The couple replied that he was. The doctor told them that he had already had experience with Rabbi Schneerson, and therefore would be willing to follow his suggestion. Had the suggestion come from any another person, he explained, he would have refused; the danger was simply too great.

The doctor performed the procedure, and shortly afterwards, the woman stopped spotting. Afterwards, she gave birth to several other children with no complications.


Reb Peretz Chein was an elderly chassid who ran the mikveh on Eastern Parkway across from 770. When he was in his late seventies, he developed a throat condition which the doctors feared might be cancer. His doctors told him the situation was serious, and that the only way he could prevent the illness from spreading was to refrain from speaking.

When Reb Peretz informed the Rebbe of his infirmity and the doctors’ advice, the Rebbe gave him totally different advice. “Relate chassidic teachings in shul on Shabbos afternoons,” he told him.

Reb Peretz followed the Rebbe’s advice and lived for another 15 years.


In the late 1950s, a two-year-old boy in a Lubavitch family became very sick. His family took him from doctor to doctor in hope of finding a remedy. Ultimately, the doctors took an X-ray and diagnosed TB. They wanted to send the baby to a sanitarium.

“He’s not going anywhere until we write the Rebbe,” the mother replied.

The Rebbe’s answer was unequivocal. “The baby doesn’t have TB. He should not be sent to a sanitarium because the disease is very contagious, and he could contract it there. Instead, the family should get another opinion.”

This last instruction presented a problem. Since the baby’s illness had been protracted, his concerned parents had already consulted all the doctors they knew. When the doctors diagnosed TB, they had asked their friends for the names of specialists, and consulted them as well. At this point, they were pretty much out of names to ask for another opinion.

A Lubavitcher doctor in the area had just taken in a young associate, and the family decided to consult him. After looking at the X-ray, the doctor said: “It looks like TB, but if the Rebbe says it’s not, then it is worth considering other alternatives. It is possible that the problem is merely a stomach infection, but because of constant coughing, some of the fluids have come up into the chest. We’ll put the boy on antibiotics. If it is a stomach infection, this will clear it up.”

The boy began taking the antibiotics as the young doctor prescribed. Two weeks later, he was well on his way to recovery.


“It all began 11 years ago,” Charlie Zablotsky related. “At the time, I lived in Norwich, Connecticut, and often traveled to New York. One time when I was in the city, a Lubavitcher friend asked me if I wanted to daven at the Rebbe’s shul.

“Even though I wasn’t observant at the time, I agreed. We went to 770 and davened in the shul upstairs. This was my first exposure to the Rebbe. Afterwards, we repeated the experience several times.

“One day in the middle of summer, my wife found a growth on my neck. I immediately went to a doctor friend of mine, who took a biopsy and sent it to the lab. As soon as the results came back, my friend called me. His words were brief and to the point. ‘It’s no good. Malignant melanoma.’

“To help determine the best course of treatment, my friend sent me to Yale Hospital in New Haven. After looking at the X-rays and doing their own tests, the specialists recommended radical neck surgery. They wanted to remove all the tissue on the right side of my neck, including the muscles that hold my head up. When the doctor and I heard their suggestion, we decided to get a second opinion, and so I traveled to Columbia Presbyterian in New York. After another series of tests, Columbia’s doctors recommended the same thing: radical neck surgery.

“While I was staying in New York, I visited 770 with my chassidic friend. ‘Before you do anything,’ he told me, ‘write to the Rebbe.’ So I told him the facts and he wrote them down and mailed the letter. By the time I got back to my hotel in Manhattan, there was an answer. The Rebbe said: ‘Let a friend who is a doctor decide.’

“I was a little surprised. First of all, I never told the Rebbe that I had a doctor who was my friend. Second of all, I had just been to some of the biggest specialists I could find. Still, when the Rebbe says something, you listen.

“I asked my family doctor. He said: ‘In my opinion, you don’t need that kind of surgery.’ He performed the operation himself, removing the entire growth. My cancer was gone.

“Unfortunately, my good health didn’t last. A year later, I got sick again. This time, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an illness that causes perforations and bleeding in the intestines. Soon, I was receiving blood transfusions three times a week to replace the blood I was losing. I was so weak that I couldn’t even drive.

“To save my life, the doctors scheduled surgery to remove the destroyed intestines. During the pre-surgery testing, they had performed a coloscopy, an MRI and a CAT scan. The tests revealed massive scarring, and showed that even the scar tissue had holes in it. To make matters worse, they found a large black mass that looked suspiciously like a tumor.

“During the week in which I was scheduled for surgery, my wife and I decided to ask the Rebbe for a blessing. With the help of my Lubavitch friend, we got in line with one of my sons, who was then 12.

“My son went first. The Rebbe looked at him and said: ‘Here’s a dollar for you and a dollar for your father, refuah shelaimah (“May he have a complete recovery”).’

“No one had told the Rebbe who my son was.

“My Lubavitch friend was next in line. He told the Rebbe: ‘My friend is sick, he’s going through surgery.’ A moment later, I was standing before the Rebbe. I had been to him for dollars before, but had never experienced anything like what happened next. The Rebbe looked at me and gave me a dollar, along with a blessing for a refuah shelaimah. Then he added, almost as an order: ‘It should be a fast and complete one.’ While saying this, he made a fist with his right hand, raised it and drew it down.

“The whole episode was very startling, even to the chassidim around me. But that’s not all. As the Rebbe moved his hand, I felt a burning sensation from my esophagus down to my stomach. I almost collapsed right there.

“Several days later, I went to surgery. My brother is a doctor, and as soon as the surgery was over, he asked for a lab report. Everyone expected the surgeons to remove yards of destroyed intestine, but they only took out 18 inches!

“ ‘There must be some mistake!’ my brother protested, but the doctors assured him that there was no mistake; they could only find 18 inches of damaged tissue! What’s more, the dark object they thought was a tumor turned out to be only a mass of dried blood.

“After surgery, they wheeled me back to my room. When I woke up from the anesthesia, the doctors came in and told me the results. Then they asked: ‘What do you want to do?’ I said that I wanted to walk. The nurse helped me get to my feet, and I walked from the bed to the bathroom. The doctors were incredulous.

“Three days after the surgery, I wanted to wash my own feet. The doctor who was in the room laughed and said: ‘Whenever you’re ready.’ After all, I had an incision several inches long down my belly.

“The doctor watched in absolute amazement as I stood and lifted my feet up to the sink and proceeded to wash them. He shook his head. ‘This is unbelievable.’

“But I knew it wasn’t. It was the Rebbe’s blessing.”


In 5750 [1990], several weeks before the wedding of their son, Rabbi and Mrs. Yosef Cohen, Slonimer chassidim from Jerusalem, traveled to New York to visit relatives.

But two weeks before the wedding, Mrs. Cohen suffered a severe heart attack, and the family’s joy turned to sorrow. The doctors who examined her told the family that it was only a matter of time. Their question was only whether or not the wedding celebrations would be marred by mourning.

Rabbi Cohen went to the Rebbe that Sunday morning to receive a dollar and a blessing for his wife. After hearing Rabbi Cohen’s request, the Rebbe gave him an explicit promise that his wife would attend their son’s wedding.

To everyone’s amazement, in less than a week, Mrs. Cohen’s condition improved so rapidly that the doctors allowed her to return to Jerusalem and participate in the wedding.


Once an active member of the Lubavitch community fell ill and was admitted to hospital to await surgery. His ailment was painful, but he was even more uncomfortable at the thought of the operation, and uneasy with his confinement.

The Rebbe asked Rabbi Groner several times to ask the family how the man was doing. The Rebbe’s concern was directed more to the patient’s state of mind than his physical condition.

A few weeks after he had been confined, the man’s daughter had yechidus. The Rebbe asked about her father.

“I hear that he is depressed,” said the Rebbe. “Where is his bitachon (faith)? Here are two dollars, one for him and one for him to give another Jew in the hospital. When he sets out to teach another Jew about Yiddishkeit and raise the other man’s spirits, this will automatically have a positive effect on him.”


A 16-year-old boy in Italy was diagnosed as having cancer in the groin. The doctors proposed an operation, but told his parents they had little hope. When the family turned to Rabbi Gershon Mendel Garelik for solace, he told them to ask the Rebbe for a blessing.

The boy’s brother-in-law went to the Rebbe for yechidus and asked for his blessing, which he received. The brother-in-law responded that he wanted not only a blessing, but a promise.

The Rebbe promised that the boy would be healthy, his parents would lead him to the wedding canopy, and he would have children of his own.

When the brother-in-law returned to Italy and told the family of the Rebbe’s promise, his news was met with mixed reactions. Some believed in the Rebbe’s words, and were able to proceed with uplifted spirits. Others were more skeptical. One uncle was very upset. “Why does the Rebbe nurture hope,” he complained to Rabbi Garelik, “when there is no hope?”

The boy underwent the operation successfully. A few months later, he traveled to New York to thank the Rebbe for his blessings.

When the Rebbe saw the youth, he asked him: “Are you the one who was operated on?” When the youth answered that he was, the Rebbe gave him a series of instructions regarding his spiritual development, including reading the Torah every Monday and Thursday.

The youth followed the instructions carefully. Today he is married with children of his own.


At one point, three sons of a Crown Heights chassid had medical problems. Two of the boys had small hernias and one had a large birthmark on his face that had begun to expand. The concerned parents consulted two doctors, and both recommended surgery for all three boys.

The family decided that they would like the surgery to be performed by Dr. Mestel, a world-famous pediatric surgeon who was also an observant Jew. They made an appointment with the doctor, who concurred with the other doctors’ diagnoses. With regard to the hernias, an operation was clearly necessary. With regard to the birthmark, however, the doctor said as follows: “Even if it does not expand any further, such a growth will never disappear. If surgery is performed now, only a small scar will be left; it will probably not even be noticeable. But if the surgery is postponed, a larger scar will be made. Moreover,” he said, turning to the chassid, “you’ll probably want your son to have a beard just like yours. If the surgery is done later, his beard will never cover that part of his face.”

The doctor then volunteered to arrange for surgery for all three boys on the same day, and for them to share a room together. While he was making the calls necessary for these arrangements, the husband told the wife that since this was the third doctor to make the same recommendations, he was willing to accept the plan, but that they could agree to nothing without the consent of the Rebbe. Needless to say, the wife agreed.

When the doctor returned, the husband told him that he personally agreed to the operation, but would not make any binding commitment until he consulted the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Dr. Mestel immediately expressed his respect for the Rebbe and added: “Go ahead and call the Rebbe. I know what he will tell you. He will tell you to consult with another doctor before agreeing. I have no difficulty with that.”

The chassid informed the Rebbe that he had consulted three doctors, and that all three were of the opinion that surgery was necessary for each of the boys.

Within half an hour, the Rebbe answered. With regard to the two hernias, he agreed to the surgery. But about the birthmark, the Rebbe asked: “Why is that necessary?”

Needless to say, the chassid did not allow the third operation. Within four weeks, the boy’s birthmark began to change color, and shortly afterwards it disappeared.


It must be emphasized that there are times when the Rebbe, through his ruach hakodesh (divine inspiration), sees that a request cannot be granted.

Once the sister-in-law of a Lubavitch woman became ill with cancer. When she heard the diagnosis, the Lubavitch lady immediately thought of seeking the Rebbe’s blessing. Although she lived in South America, she flew to New York for yechidus, anxious to hear words of reassurance.

Because she was so emotionally involved, she asked her brother to enter yechidus with her. Her brother prepared a short note telling the Rebbe that his sister would like to speak about her sister-in-law, but not mentioning the medical condition. Rather than have her request written out, his sister preferred to describe her sister-in-law’s condition orally.

When the woman and her brother entered yechidus, she gave the Rebbe the note her brother had written. The Rebbe looked at it and began speaking warmly to the woman about her own family in South America, her husband’s business, and several issues of personal concern, without making any mention of the sister-in-law! After speaking for several minutes, the Rebbe looked down at his desk, a sign that the yechidus was over.

The woman’s face turned white, and she sat frozen in her chair, unable to move or speak. From the Rebbe’s avoidance of the issue, she understood that pressing the point would be of no benefit. Struggling to maintain her composure, she mustered up the strength to leave the room. As soon as she was outside, she burst into tears.

Her sister-in-law passed away approximately a month later.


The first two children born to a Lubavitch couple had Down’s Syndrome. Many doctors advised the two to forget about having children of their own; the risks against having an ordinary child were obviously too high. But the couple wanted children very much, and against the doctors’ recommendations, the woman entered her third pregnancy.

One of the natural steps for a Lubavitch couple expecting a child is to seek the Rebbe’s blessing for a successful pregnancy and a healthy child. Needless to say, this couple felt a particular need for the Rebbe’s blessing.

But their letter remained unanswered. This troubled them greatly, because they had not received an answer from the Rebbe after notifying him with regard to the woman’s first two pregnancies either. This third silence filled them with foreboding.

Anxious and distraught, the man went to the office of the Rebbe’s secretariat. “Please, you must get us an answer,” he implored.

The secretary promised to bring the matter to the Rebbe’s attention, and to tell the Rebbe of the stress the husband and wife were experiencing.

Several hours later, the secretary called the husband. The Rebbe had given his blessing, but had also advised the couple to observe the laws of kashrus, behiddur (in a careful and punctilious manner).

The couple weren’t sure what the Rebbe meant; they already kept strict standards, they ate only glatt kosher meat and cholov yisrael dairy products (i.e. from dairies owned and operated by Jews). What more were they supposed to do?

So they began to study and seek advice from Rabbis and friends. As a result, they became aware of a level of observance even more stringent than their own. Anxious to be worthy of the Rebbe’s blessings, they adopted these practices.

After a full-term pregnancy, the woman gave birth to a healthy girl, and the couple proceeded to have other healthy children.


Rabbi Hirsh Altein suffered from a painful physical condition. Though all the doctors he consulted recommended surgery, his son, Rabbi Mordechai Altein, asked the Rebbe if his father should undergo the operation.

The Rebbe suggested he consult a specific physician who had treated the Rebbe, but implied that surgery was unnecessary and that the ailment could be treated with the application of an ointment.

Yet the doctor the Rebbe recommended also felt Rabbi Altein’s problem could be remedied only through surgery.

Rabbi Avraham Seligson, the Rebbe’s personal physician, heard about the matter and volunteered to offer an opinion. After conducting an examination, he agreed that the proper course according to conventional medicine would involve surgery. He reported this in a letter to the Rebbe, but stated that if the Rebbe advised that an ointment be applied, he would have a salve prepared.

The Rebbe advised Dr. Seligson to have the ointment prepared. Dr. Seligson did so, and Rabbi Altein’s problem vanished.


On Sunday Chol HaMoed Sukkos, Rabbi Shmuel Lew and his in-laws, Rabbi and Mrs. Zalman Jaffe, were visiting Crown Heights. The Lews’ son, Shalom Ber, was running a high fever that day; his temperature had risen to 105.

Mrs. Jaffe was disturbed at the Lews’ apparent lack of concern. “You mean you haven’t made an appointment with a doctor?!” she told her son-in-law. “Do so immediately!”

Unable to argue with his mother-in-law, Rabbi Lew made an appointment with a local physician. He and his in-laws then hurried to get in line to receive a dollar from the Rebbe.

As they were waiting in line, who came to join them but young Shalom Ber, temperature and all! This was too much for Rabbi Jaffe. He had few inhibitions when it came to speaking to the Rebbe, and so, when he approached, he complained about his grandson and his high temperature.

“A fantasy,” the Rebbe replied. “He’s a healthy chassid!”

Needless to say, the Lews canceled the appointment with the doctor, and within a few hours, Shalom Ber’s temperature fell.

That same Sunday, Rabbi Lew’s son-in-law, Menachem Junik, went to the Rebbe with his infant son. When the Rebbe gave the man a dollar he said: “Refuah shelaimah (May he have a complete recovery).”

Rabbi Junik was surprised; as far as he knew, the boy was healthy! Several months later, he understood. His son’s health was affected by an unusual childhood ailment and required sustained treatment.


In the early 1970s, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar entered a hospital for tests that required general anesthesia. With G‑d’s help, the tests went well. Rabbi Lipskar awoke from the anesthesia, and was to be discharged the following day.

The next morning, Rabbi Lipskar’s wife called. Her husband was sharing a double room, so she was not surprised when his roommate answered. But when his roommate tried to wake him and he did not respond, she became alarmed and hurried to the hospital. When she arrived, she found a team of doctors and nurses surrounding her husband. He had experienced a delayed reaction to the anesthetic, and could not be roused.

Mrs. Lipskar’s immediate response was to call the Rebbe’s office. She spoke to Rabbi Klein, the Rebbe’s secretary, and asked that a message be given to the Rebbe right away. Rabbi Klein transferred her to Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe’s personal secretary, who told her to wait on the line.

After a few minutes, he returned and told Mrs. Lipskar that he had a message from the Rebbe … for her husband! Mrs. Lipskar was bewildered. Hadn’t she just told Rabbi Chodakov that her husband was unconscious? Rabbi Chodakov continued, explaining that when he had spoken to the Rebbe, the Rebbe had given him a message for Rabbi Lipskar, and had insisted that it be communicated to him directly.

Without questioning, Mrs. Lipskar told the doctors around her husband’s bed that there was an urgent telephone message for him. To humor her, the doctors paused in their treatment and allowed her to put the phone next to her husband’s ear.

“Reb Sholom Ber!” Rabbi Chodakov called.

“Yes,” murmured Rabbi Lipskar.

“You sound a little weak,” Rabbi Chodakov commented. “I have a message from the Rebbe for you.” Rabbi Chodakov proceeded to tell Rabbi Lipskar that Dr. Yirmeyahu Branover, who had just been released from Russia, was scheduled to speak in Winnipeg, Canada. Since Rabbi Lipskar originally came from Toronto, he probably had some contacts in Winnipeg. “Can you help make Dr. Branover’s visit more successful?”

Rabbi Lipskar promised to do what he could and hung up. He then looked around, startled to find doctors and nurses all around his bed.

Why were they all staring at him that way?


Rabbi Zalman Gurary had a friend who had married late in life. The friend had four children, and his entire life revolved around them. Unfortunately, one of his daughters developed a dangerously swelling cyst. The doctors advised an operation to remove it, but the man was reluctant to subject the young girl to surgery. Instead, he asked Rabbi Gurary to arrange yechidus so that he could consult the Rebbe. If the Rebbe advised surgery, he would go ahead without compunction.

When the yechidus was arranged, the man asked Rabbi Gurary to accompany him.

At yechidus, the concerned father asked the Rebbe if the surgery should go ahead. The Rebbe answered that it was already the last days of Kislev, and he doubted the procedure could be performed immediately. It would be unwise, the Rebbe continued, for the cyst to be removed in the months of Teves or Shvat. They should wait, he concluded, and have the surgery scheduled for Adar, a month associated with happiness and well-being.

Then the Rebbe inquired about the school the girl was attending. The man named a neighborhood Jewish day school which, though orthodox, was more modern and leaning toward compromise.

“It would be better for her to study in Beis Yaakov,” the Rebbe said. He continued: “In previous generations, there was less emphasis on the chinuch girls received at school. Today, that is no longer true. Therefore, I am speaking to you about this matter.”

The man replied that he thought his daughter was receiving an excellent education at the school she was attending.

The Rebbe responded sternly: “Chinuch is my field, and medicine is not. Why do you ask me about medicine and not about chinuch?

The man looked at the Rebbe without replying, then thanked him for his advice. He did postpone the surgery, but didn’t enroll his daughter in Beis Yaakov.

About a month later, Rabbi Gurary was walking down Eastern Parkway when he happened to meet an acquaintance who was also a friend of the man whose daughter had the cyst. Rabbi Gurary was bound for Manhattan and knew this man worked there, so he asked if he could ride with him.

Rabbi Gurary’s acquaintance consented, adding: “I’m really happy I ran into you. Do you know why I am in Crown Heights?”

Rabbi Gurary did not, and so his acquaintance continued: “It’s about so and so’s daughter. The cyst became so badly infected, the girl developed a high fever and had to be hospitalized. Moreover, because of the infection, it’s impossible to perform the surgery now.

“Why did the Rebbe mix into a medical matter? It’s none of his business. I was here consulting with another Rabbi in the community.”

Rabbi Gurary was very disturbed that following the Rebbe’s advice appeared to have had negative consequences. When he returned from Manhattan, he asked for a meeting to tell the Rebbe what had happened.

Permission was granted and Rabbi Gurary told the Rebbe of the girl’s turn for the worse. “Did the father enroll her in Beis Yaakov? ” the Rebbe asked.

Rabbi Gurary did not know for sure, but assumed that the father had not, and so remained silent.

“Tell him to enroll her in Beis Yaakov, ” the Rebbe said, bringing the yechidus to an end.

Rabbi Gurary felt uncomfortable. His acquaintance had implied that the father currently had less than positive feelings toward the Rebbe, and there was no way the girl could attend school now anyway; she was in the hospital. And the man had said that he was happy with his daughter’s school. How could he call him now and tell him to enroll her in Beis Yaakov?

But Rabbi Gurary was a chassid ; there was no question but that he would do what the Rebbe told him. And he also knew that the Rebbe appreciated all the factors involved and if, despite this, he still wanted him to communicate the message, it must be vital to the girl’s health. Under the circumstances, he could not let himself be deterred by what others might take to be proper social graces.

He called the father and communicated the Rebbe’s message, stressing how important it was that the man hear him out. When the father heard Rabbi Gurary’s sincerity, he began to think differently. Although the girl was unable to attend school, he called Beis Yaakov to enroll her.

A few days later, the cyst burst. All the pus drained, and the girl was discharged from hospital shortly thereafter. She became an eager pupil at Beis Yaakov, participating in every aspect of the school’s activities.

Rabbi Gurary related the story to the Rebbe, and told him that everyone was marveling at the miracle.

The Rebbe responded: “The greatest miracle is that you went ahead and conveyed the message at the right time.”


Heshy Sternberg is a Belzer chassid who worked in the public relations office of 47th Street Photo. He shares a friendship with Rabbi Yehoshua Metzger, whose Chai Foundation is responsible for placing the attractive ads Lubavitch runs in the New York Times to heighten public awareness of the Jewish holidays.

Before one holiday, Rabbi Metzger was having difficulty securing ad space. At that time, 47th Street Photo was a major advertiser with the Times , and so he called Heshy for help. After a few well-placed calls, Heshy was able to assure Rabbi Metzger that the ad would run.

Rabbi Metzger was very appreciative, asking Heshy if he would like to bring his family to the Rebbe one Sunday for dollars. Rabbi Metzger promised to introduce them, and said they would have a chance to ask for a personal blessing.

Heshy jumped at the opportunity, for he felt very much in need of a tzaddik’s blessings. He had a daughter who was 18 months old but who was unable to walk or even stand. The family pediatrician had been observing her for several months, and feared the possibility of cerebral palsy. On his recommendation, the Sternbergs had already made an appointment with a noted neurologist.

When the Sternbergs met the Rebbe, Heshy’s wife told him of their daughter’s problem. The Rebbe answered: “She will walk. Your husband will walk her to the chuppah. ”

Six days later, on Shabbos morning, the Sternberg’s little girl was playing on the living room floor. Suddenly, she stood up and began walking! She did not take hesitant baby steps, but walked confidently, like a child who had been walking for several months. When Heshy returned from shul, he was overwhelmed to see his daughter walking toward him!

The Sternberg’s appointment with the neurologist had been scheduled for Monday. Needless to say, they canceled it. What could the doctor tell them?


Rabbi Naftoli Estulin’s first child was delivered by Cesarean section. When his wife became pregnant again shortly afterwards, she was inclined to try bearing the child naturally, but several doctors advised another Cesarean.

In the middle of the pregnancy, Rabbi Estulin was in New York and met with the Rebbe at yechidus. He asked the Rebbe whether they should try for a natural birth or have another Cesarean.

The Rebbe answered that doctors held different views regarding this question; some recommended natural birth, while others thought the risk was too great. Mrs. Estulin, the Rebbe advised, should follow whichever course her doctor thought appropriate. “But whatever he decides,” the Rebbe counseled, “he should postpone the delivery for as long as possible.”

Mrs. Estulin’s doctor favored performing a Cesarean, and proposed a date. Mindful of the Rebbe’s answer, the Estulins asked him to wait a month. The doctor argued that doing so would be dangerous for the mother, but when the Estulins pressed him to listen to the Rebbe, the physician eventually agreed to postpone the operation for two weeks.

After the delivery, the doctor said it was a miracle that they had listened to the Rebbe. The pregnancy had begun a month later than the doctor and the Estulins had calculated. As it was, the child was born prematurely. Had the operation taken place on the day the doctor had suggested, the child might not have survived.


Reb Aharon Wohlberg is a Polish chassid who met Lubavitcher chassidim in Samarkand, Russia while fleeing from the Germans in World War II. When the war ended, and the Rebbe visited France to expedite his mother’s immigration to the US, Reb Aharon had the opportunity to hear him speak on several occasions.

After settling in Cleveland, Reb Aharon felt the need for a connection with a rebbe. And so, although he did not consider himself a Lubavitcher per se, he attached himself to the Rebbe, and would visit New York from time to time for yechidus or to attend a farbrengen.

As Reb Aharon grew older, he developed a condition known as “trigger finger.” His index finger became bent and could not be straightened. He went to several doctors, and their response was less than encouraging. “Surgery is necessary,” they told him, “but even then, we are not sure that the problem will be solved.”

Even before the affliction arose, Reb Aharon had scheduled a yechidus with the Rebbe, so he delayed his decision as to whether to schedule surgery until after he consulted with the Rebbe.

When Reb Aharon broached the subject, the Rebbe responded: “There is no need for surgery. A cortisone injection will solve the problem.”

When Reb Aharon relayed this suggestion to his doctor, the physician was incredulous. “Cortisone! That will never work!”

But Reb Aharon insisted that the doctor follow the Rebbe’s advice. After receiving the injection, he was able to move his finger and the problem did not recur.

Reb Aharon’s recovery was talked about throughout Cleveland’s Jewish community. Shortly afterwards, a friend developed the same condition. “Give me the same injection you gave Rabbi Wohlberg,” he told his doctor. The doctor complied, but the condition was not alleviated.

Reb Aharon wasn’t surprised. He understood that the cortisone was just an intermediary; it was the Rebbe’s blessings that had brought about his recovery.


Rabbi Yechiel Michel Charlop, author of the famous Halachic works Chof Yamim, was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis in America in the previous generation. In 1957, on Tishah BeAv , the fast commemorating the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash , he was on the West Coast, and his son, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, a rabbi in the Bronx, was visiting his in-laws in Buffalo. Thus the wife of the elder Rabbi Charlop was home alone in New York for the fast.

Ordinarily, being alone for the fast would not be a matter of concern for Mrs. Charlop. Herself, the daughter of a leading rabbinical family in Jerusalem, she was used to spending the day in private, lamenting the tragedies which had occurred on this date.

That year, the strenuous fast and the recitation of the Kinos prayers with intense concentration took its toll. At nightfall, Mrs. Charlop’s vision suddenly became blurred, and then she could not see at all. At the same time, she felt piercing pain in her temple. Stunned at this strange course of events, she desperately groped her way to the phone and called the Katz family, friends who lived not far away and whose son Dr. Sheldon Katz was chief resident neurosurgeon at the Montefiore Hospital.

Dr. Katz hurried to the Charlop home and, after a brief examination, he called in the chief of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to come to see Mrs. Charlop at home. His diagnosis was that Mrs. Charlop had suffered an aneurysm in one of the major blood vessels in her head. The doctor felt that her only chance, slim though it was, would be an operation to stem the blood leakage in the head. In those days, doctors were just learning how to perform this operation, and the chances for survival were not bright. But the doctor felt there was no alternative.

Upon Rabbi Zevulun Charlop’s insistence, Dr. Katz called in Dr. David Seecof, a noted pathologist, who was especially close to the elderly Rabbi Charlop. In turn, Dr. Seecof was able to persuade Dr. Morris Bender, a world-renowned neurologist, to come up to the Bronx near midnight and examine Mrs. Charlop. After his examination, Dr. Bender was convinced that rushing Mrs. Charlop to surgery was mortally dangerous.

He arranged to have Mrs. Charlop brought to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he practiced, so that he could evaluate her condition more thoroughly and determine what course to pursue. Both Rabbi Yechiel Michel Charlop and Rabbi Zevulun Charlop rushed home.

After several days, Dr. Bender met with the Charlops. He explained to them that in order for him to definitively ascertain Mrs. Charlop’s problem and possibly avert impending catastrophe, she would have to undergo an encephalogram, an angiogram of the head. While today, this is a more or less routine procedure, at that time, it was a much more complicated matter. “The angiogram itself,” Dr. Bender acknowledged, “involves some danger to the patient.” Nonetheless, he felt they had little choice. For this reason, he was consulting with the Charlops, before carrying out the procedure.

The Charlops told Dr. Bender that they would like to think about the matter before giving their consent. Mrs. Charlop asked Rabbi Baruch Putterman, a family friend who was a distinguished rabbi in the Bronx and a noted Lubavitcher chassid, to ask the Rebbe whether or not they should go ahead with the encephalogram.

The Rebbe advised the Charlops: “Find a doctor who would say no to the procedure!” Thereupon, the Charlops asked Dr. Bender to help them get a second opinion. “Who would Dr. Bender recommend?”

The doctor was livid. He must have felt that the Charlops were a bit ungrateful, after he had extended himself, and to such effect, in Mrs. Charlop’s behalf.

Dr. Bender was at the top of his field. There were few doctors whose opinion he would consider at all worth reckoning with. He gave the Charlops two names: Dr. Houston Merritt, President Eisenhower’s doctor, and Dr. Samuel B. Wortis, Dean of the New York University Medical School. He was sure they would agree with his opinion.

The Charlops contacted Dr. Merritt. He was in Colorado then attending to President Eisenhower, who had suffered a stroke. Understandably, he could not leave the President’s bedside. “Consult with Dr. Wortis,” he told the Charlops. “He’ll be able to evaluate whether the angiogram is necessary or not, although I doubt he or I would override Dr. Bender.”

Dr. Wortis was called, and after examining the patient and closely studying the medical notations, he told the Charlops, “It’s hard to disagree with Dr. Bender. Nevertheless, in this situation, I’m convinced that an angiogram is not called for. It’s not worth even the small risk.”

Rabbi Charlop wanted to pay Dr. Wortis for his time, but the doctor refused. The rabbi insisted, and so Dr. Wortis mentioned a minimal fee.

“And to whom should I make out the check?” Rabbi Charlop asked. “Shmuel Ber Wortis, thank you,” the doctor replied, explaining that he had come from an Orthodox background and contact with the rabbi and his wife had reminded him of his strong Jewish roots.

Although Dr. Bender was surprised when he heard the recommendation of Dr. Wortis, he did not press the point, and Mrs. Charlop did not undergo the angiogram.

She asked her son to bring her siddur to the hospital and place it at her bedside, so that if her sight returned, she would be able to use it again for holy matters. Her faith was wondrously rewarded. Several days later, she was able to see again, and except for occasional weakness in her left foot, she fully recovered. The cause of her blindness and pain was never diagnosed.


Rabbi Leibl Baumgarten was an elderly man when the Rebbe assumed the nesius. He was bothered by cataracts, and asked the Rebbe’s advice about surgery. At first, the Rebbe counseled him to postpone the operation and have someone read to him if reading had become difficult.

When the problem became more severe, Rabbi Baumgarten consulted the Rebbe again. This time, the Rebbe told him to go to Dr. Rosenhort, a noted eye-surgeon who had performed cataract operations on the Viznitzer Rebbe, the Kapitznitzer Rebbe, and other Jewish leaders.

Dr. Rosenhort explained that the removal of a cataract was a routine operation. “If the patient remains still,” he explained, “there is almost no danger whatsoever.”

Those last words lit a red light in Rabbi Baumgarten’s mind. He had a chronic cough. What would happen if he coughed in the middle of the operation? So the matter was delayed.

As time passed, however, the cataracts continued to worsen, and Rabbi Baumgarten eventually consented to the operation. While Dr. Rosenhort was speaking to him before the procedure began, he showed him pictures of the Rebbeim he had treated. Mendel Baumgarten, Rabbi Baumgarten’s grandson and then a yeshivah student, in turn showed Dr. Rosenhort a picture of the Rebbe.

“Can I keep the picture?” the doctor asked. Mendel of course agreed.

The operation was successful, but on the following day a blood clot formed. Since Rabbi Baumgarten was in his 80s, this was a dangerous development. Mendel and his brother Berel hurried to 770 to inform the Rebbe. But the Rebbe passed the matter off. “It’s nothing,” he said, waving his hand.

The Baumgarten brothers took note of the exact time the Rebbe had spoken, and returned to the hospital to convey the news to the family.

When they arrived, they found everyone in good spirits. The blood clot had dissolved! They asked the doctors when this had happened, and the time they were told was the exact hour at which the brothers had spoken to the Rebbe.

When Dr. Rosenhort heard the story, he told everyone in the hospital of the miracle the Rebbe had performed. The Baumgartens informed the Rebbe that Dr. Rosenhort was praising him as a miracle worker.

The Rebbe responded: “May it be G‑d’s will that miracles be used for healthy things.”