It took a few months, but I finally summoned up what little koach I had to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, for “Sunday Dollars.” I wanted to take my new baby to the Rebbe. Although he was about three months old at the time, I had not been strong enough until now to attempt a trip to 770 Eastern Parkway.
My sole kavanah was to show my Avremel to the Rebbe. I recall that when I stood in front of the Rebbe, he seemed to understand the reason for my visit. I did not want to trouble him with any issues. I was so grateful that Avremel and I had made it to this special day.
A few months later, coinciding with my 41st birthday, our neighborhood was rocked with the sudden petirah of an outstanding mechanech, Rav Levi Yitzchock Shapiro, zt”l. Since I am a freelance writer, I had been approached by the family to write about Reb Levik. So I went to the Rebbe for a berachah for hatzlachah, as well as for a birthday berachah. I got extra dollars for hatzlachah with the writing project, and my written tribute was included in a yeshiva dinner journal. (Reb Levik was such an anav that no one would divulge any information about him.)
I thought that my yechidus with the Rebbe was concluded when, to my shock, the Rebbe gave me the following berachah: “Pregnancy should be in an easy way….” I thought that perhaps the Rebbe was referring to someone reportedly expecting in the Shapiro family. When I questioned the Rebbe for clarification, he seemed to turn to stone and I had to be led away.
I never learned who the Rebbe intended to be the recipient of this wonderful berachah because Avremel is my youngest child. Now I think that maybe I understand the Rebbe’s kavanah.
Five years later, my Rivkie was expecting twins. Rivkie, who lived in the U.K., wanted me to attend the birth of my first grandchildren. I remember getting four medical opinions about when would be the most prudent time to go to England. The chosen date was February 10, which seemed to be a good omen since 23 years previously on that exact date I was told that I was expecting my first child (Rivkie) after many years of marriage. “Man plans but Hashem laughs,” as the saying goes. Rivkie went into early labor at the end of her eighth month and there was no way I could make it to her side in time. She asked instead that I visit the Rebbe’s ohel to daven for her. At this point in her labor, she was being prepared for a possible C-section due to the position of one of the babies.
No buses to the ohel were running that day but I could not let her down. Baruch Hashem, I got a car ride and made it to the ohel. I didn’t feel, however, that I had accomplished very much and knew that I had to “see” the Rebbe via the continuously running videos of yechidisin (encounters with the Rebbe).
I settled in for a viewing and, to my surprise, a young lady named Nancy asked the Rebbe to give her a Jewish name.
The Rebbe replied: “Nancy has two English letter n’s and Penina [my name] has two Hebrew letter nun’s. You should have nissei nissim [miracles upon miracles – twin miracles, perhaps?] in your life!”
I called my husband from the video room to ascertain how Rivkie was laboring. She had still not delivered. I assured my husband that Rivkie would deliver without the need for any surgical intervention because the Rebbe had just given her a berachah. All went smoothly, Baruch Hashem, and when I arrived in the U.K. on February 10 Rivkie and the babies were released.
Baruch Hashem, many nissei nissim have been added to my family tree since I received this treasured berachah. What mother would not want to pass on this gift to her children?