I heard this true story from Rabbi Hadar Margolin who lives today in Yerushalayim with his family.
It’s about his grandparents, Rabbi Tzvi Margolin and his wife, Chana who lived in Lithuania and married there in 1927. Though they longed for a child, year after year went by and they were still waiting and praying for the precious gift of a sweet Jewish baby, a tiny pure neshama to love and raise.
When more and more years went by and nothing changed, though they were very poor, they somehow managed to get enough money together to make the long, difficult journey to Moscow because they were told that there were experts there who perhaps could help them fulfill their dream. When they finally arrived and consulted with Moscow’s medical elite, they were told that they found no medical problem and had no explanation for the couple’s childlessness. It’s always good to hear that there’s no problem, but they remained childless. Back in Lithuania more time went by and the unanswered longing continued.
They heard that in Berlin the medical profession was on an even higher level than in Moscow and so once again they did their best to gather money and this time they made the grueling journey to Berlin. There they met with a top professor in the field and after a short time they were told that he found no problem, and had no explanation for their situation. Back in Lithuania again, their excruciatingly painful situation continued, year after year.
One day a chassidic friend of Rabbi Margolin suggested that he go to a Rebbe he knew of, for a bracha, a blessing, and maybe they would also get advice. The Margolin’s weren’t at all chassidic and Rabbi Margolin told his friend that it wasn’t his way to go to a Rebbe, not for brachas, nor for advice. But more time went by and his friend approached him again, saying: “He’s a very, very holy person. You’ve tried everything else, you’ve made so many efforts. You have nothing to lose. Why not go to him?” Rabbi Margolin finally agreed.
He went to the Rebbe’s simple home and was brought into his study where the Rebbe greeted him warmly and asked why he had come. And Rabbi Margolin told him of the great anguish he and his wife were experiencing. In the room there was a table and on the table was a Chumash. “Open it”, the Rebbe told Rabbi Margolin, and so he did. He picked up the Chumash and randomly opened it. “What does it say?” asked the Rebbe. Rabbi Margolin looked into worn page that was open before him, focused his eyes on the first words he saw, and began to read out loud: “And Hashem said to Avraham, Lech l’cha m’artzecha… Go forth from your land and from your birthplace, and from your father’s home to the land that I will show you.” And then the Rebbe said: “See what Rashi (the major interpreter of the Chumash) says about that verse. And Rabbi Margolin read: “Rashi says that this means ‘Go forth (literally: ‘go to you’) for your benefit and for your good, and there I will make you into a great nation, but here you will not merit to have children.” Rabbi Margolin was in shock. And then the Rebbe looked at Rabbi Margolin with love in his eyes and his heart, and said: “Go to Eretz Yisrael. There you will have children.”
When Rabbi Margolin arrived home he sat down with his rebbetzin and they discussed what had transpired in the Rebbe’s home. They talked, and thought and begged Hashem to give them the right thoughts so that they would make the right decision. And eventually they decided to move to Eretz Yisrael. It wasn’t a simple matter. They were deep in debt from their travels to Moscow and Berlin, but they were determined to do whatever they could to get to Eretz Yisrael.
At that time the British Mandate ruled in Eretz Yisrael and in order to enter the country a person had to have what was called a “certificat” which was issued by the British Embassy. Rabbi Margolin went to the embassy in Lithuania but his request for certificates for himself and his wife was refused. He didn’t know what to do and then he suddenly thought of a very wealthy uncle of his in America who was also very smart. He wrote to him about his problem and his uncle told him to open a bank account and that he would deposit a huge amount of money, which would be a loan, because, he explained, the British liked people of means to come to Israel. “Then go back to the Embassy,” he wrote, “and tell them that you’re a wealthy businessman and that you want two certificates.” And that’s what they did and finally Rabbi Margolin was given the two precious ‘certificat’s.
He tried very hard and eventually was able to get together enough money to travel by land to Greece and from there by ship to Eretz Yisrael. And so he did, and then he went to Yerushalayim where eventually was able to earn enough to be able to send for his wife, who arrived in 1937. The next year, with Hashem’s merciful help, Rabbi Tzvi and Rebbetzin Chana were the parents of a precious baby girl who they named Bat Tzion, Daughter of Zion. And then they had a precious baby boy who they named Michael, and time went by and Baruch Hashem they had another daughter who they named Bracha (Blessing).
During their time in Eretz Yisrael the Margolin’s wrote to their many relatives in Lithuania, saying that they should also come live in Eretz Yisrael. “This is where every Jew should be. This is our eternal Homeland. Please move here. Please!” “You’re right,” was the response they received, “but we have homes and businesses; it’ll take time to sell them, and then we’ll come.” But time went by and soon the horrific Holocaust descended on Europe and destroyed so many millions of yidden, including every single member of the entire Margolin family. Only Rabbi and Rebbetzin Margolin and their three precious children were left, because they were far away in Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Hadar Margolin continues: “We are taught that everything that Hashem does is for the good. Sometimes we see the good only after a very long time. When my grandparents were suffering the anguish of childlessness, they probably thought that their dire situation was completely negative, that it was bad, not good. And yet it was that very anguish which led to their leaving Europe. Those whose lives were more average, without any extraordinarily painful circumstances, didn’t leave so quickly, even though in their hearts they may have longed to live in Eretz Yisrael. Instead they innocently continued their lives where they were, thinking that everything was more or less fine as it was. And even if things weren’t ideal, picking up and crossing the sea to a new land is tremendously challenging. It wasn’t easy to make such a decision. And so it was that the terrible anguish of Rabbi Margolin and his wife, which pushed them to go to Eretz Yisrael, was the best thing in the world that could have happened to them. It saved their lives.
Rabbi Hadar Margolin concludes his story by saying: “What seemed the worst was really the best. If my grandparents had had even one child in Lithuania, they wouldn’t have left. Their terrible anguish and suffering literally saved their lives.” And today Rabbi Hadar Margolin is alive and well in Yerushalayim, Baruch Hashem, carrying on the family name and continuing in the holy ways of his grandparents, together with his family.
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