It was a custom to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy”a, for Sunday dollars especially when one’s birthday was in the offing, and so shortly after the birth of my youngest son I made my way to the Rebbe for a bracha for the upcoming year.
Toward the end of our face-to-face, the Rebbe intoned the following blessing: “Pregnancy should be in an easy way.” I was stunned. I had recently given birth and was in a high-risk situation for which a pregnancy at this time would have been, to put it mildly, ill-advised and against both medical and Rabbinical advice.
So in all innocence, I asked the Rebbe to whom the Rebbe was referring.
I never got a response.
As it turned out, despite recovering sufficiently and hopeful of having more children, I never did.
I could only assume, therefore, that the bracha was meant for my children in order to protect them during subsequent childbirth.
Several years later, my oldest daughter too, was in a high-risk situation when she was carrying twins. She went into labor in the 8th month and the doctors were preparing her for a possible Caesarian section. She asked me to go to the Rebbe’s Ohel to daven for her.
As luck would have it, no buses were running that day. Under the confidential circumstances, I was not to tell anyone why I needed to go to the Ohel but Baruch Hashem I did get a ride to the Beis HaChaim.
After visiting the Rebbe, I felt that I had not accomplished all that I had hoped to. I needed to see the Rebbe, so I went into the room in which videos of Sunday dollars play throughout the day and night.
In the particular video that was playing, a woman asked the Rebbe to give her a Jewish name.
Her name was Nancy, so the Rebbe decided to give her the name, Penina because the two n’s in Nancy would correspond to the two “nuns” in Penina. The Rebbe added the beautiful blessing that she should have “Nissei Nissim,” double (i.e. twin!) miracles in her life!
I was ecstatic! I knew without a doubt that my daughter would give birth naturally to her twins because the Rebbe had just told me (i.e. Penina) so!
But the story does not end here.
It is now nearly 19 years later. One of the twins, my Chaya, related to me this past Shabbos that recently she and her twin, Miriam, were eating a Shabbos meal with their classmate Malkie.
As is the frequent custom, guests shared “Rebbe Stories.”
Malkie proceeded to tell the story about her friend’s mother who went to the Rebbe asking for a Jewish name. Her name was Nancy.
Yes, she is the Nancy who was featured in the Rebbe’s video!
My granddaughters knew of course that they had received a bracha for their safe delivery – through this video. They turned to each other and then announced to all assembled that they are the Rebbe’s Nissei Nissim as well!
Now all that is left for me is to figure out how I can meet my twin Penina because as I have learned, time and again: The Cycle of Life definitely continues.