Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall toppled, along with an evil empire. How did the Rebbe predict the end of a powerful enemy? The Avner Institute presents the miraculous story of famed scientist Herman (Yirmiyahu) Branover — not only his escape from Soviet terror but the Rebbe’s prediction: the fall, almost overnight, of world Communism.
“The Unbelievable Happened”
Professor Branover relates:
If anyone had told me back in 1989 that the Soviet Union was about to collapse, without warning, I would have thought him or her insane.
This system, which for seven decades had imposed fear into hundreds of millions, seemed firmly locked in place. The Western world had no idea just how powerful was the impact of the October 1917 revolution and how vast the apparatus it created, governing every aspect of Soviet life.
However, as one who grew up in the Soviet Union at that time, when Communism was terrifyingly real and cruelty abundant, I remember the days when thousands of Jews were harassed because they kept Torah and mitzvoth, or identified themselves as Lubavitcher Chassidim. Whatever the Soviet “man on the street” suffered was nothing compared to the lot of Soviet Jewry, particularly Chabad. In fact one released secret police file revealed a report, concluding with the following: “In light of all the aforementioned, the accused is undoubtedly one of Schneersohn’s people.” A mere association with the Rebbe was enough to send that person to the firing squad.
I myself, along with many good people (including my wife), was singled out. I was harassed daily, fired from my job, and incarcerated for lengthy periods for no apparent reason.
There is no need to elaborate on a KGB prison. Fear, pain, and deprivation are just a few words to describe the horrors I endured.
Because of my work in classified research I was warned each time before release from prison, “Don’t even dare to request an exit visa.” Only until the research was considered obsolete (in roughly twenty years) would the possibility of my leaving Russia even be considered.
But I refused to resign myself to this fate. Bitterly I made the decision to contact the Rebbe in New York and ask for a blessing.
“You’re crazy,” my friends exclaimed, when they got wind of my idea. “You want to dig your own grave?”
But I was undeterred. “I don’t care anymore what they think or do to me. “I’m being thrown into jail every week, anyway. At least this time I’ll know why.”
So I walked to the local post office and asked to place a phone call to the United States. (I couldn’t call from home because my phone line had been cut.)
To my disappointment the Rebbe himself did not answer – instead, his secretary, Rabbi Binyomin Klein. Nevertheless, I said, “I must speak to the Rebbe urgently.”
“I’m afraid that is impossible,” Rabbi Klein answered. “The Rebbe does not take direct calls. Not even from the U.S. President.”
“Please,” I cried passionately, “we’re talking here an exceptional case. I am in Russia. I just got out of a KGB hellhole; I’m about to be thrown back in again.”
“The Rebbe does not take calls.” The voice was equally insistent. He even transferred me to the Rebbe’s right-hand man, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Chadakov, in the hope that the latter might gently dissuade me.
But I would not be deterred. “Please, I must speak to the Rebbe – even for a minute.”
Suddenly, on the other side of the line, came a voice – low and firm. It was none other than the Rebbe!
At that moment, I was speechless. It was as if shockwaves rippled through my body. I started to tremble, overcome with emotion.
Then I heard the following, “Zagt im az er haht shoin alle brochos un bald vet er aroisfahrn – tell him that he already has all the blessings and that he’ll soon go out from there.”
The call ended.
Well, the rest we know. Less than three weeks later, my wife and I received out exit visas.
To this day, this whole story seems unbelievable. In fact, I would call it supernatural. To the Soviet commissars, my request for an exit visa was meaningless. But when the Rebbe promised that “he’ll soon go out from there,” the impossible happened – in great measure.
Later, in 5745 (1985), the Rebbe instructed me to contact other Jews behind the Iron Curtain and encourage them about their immediate salvation. Very soon, the Rebbe said, Communism would come to an end and they could all leave for Eretz Yisroel and a life of tranquility.
Funny, even then, when listening to him, I still thought of it as wishful thinking. Even when the Berlin Wall finally fell, and one by one, the nations of Eastern Europe renounced an evil regime, the whole scene seemed unbelievable to everyone.
Except the Rebbe.
As with many other matters, the Rebbe was the only one who not only sensed but promised – even as far back as the 1960s – that while Communism appeared omnipotent, it was only a façade, a falsehood built on empty, heathen promise. The time would come when that façade would topple and pass from the earth.
Eventually, as we have all seen, the unbelievable happened.
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