By Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski – Basel, Switzerland
I once spent a Shabbos a few years ago in Meron and met a Viznitzer chossid who mentioned that he worked as a shochet in the Agriprocessors meat plant in Postville, Iowa when it was owned by Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.
This chossid then shared with me a miraculous story that happened to him at the time and I present it here today in honor of Rubashkin’s birthday on 28 Tishrei.
This Viznitzer couple was originally from Israel and married for 3 years without children. Their families kept asking them ‘what’s going on?’ and they finally booked an appointment with a fertility specialist.
That Simchas Torah in Postville, this chossid witnessed a simcha he wasn’t familiar with. The fervent dancing, and not to mention the generous l’chaims, were something he had never seen before.
Between hakafos, Sholom Mordechai approached him and caringly scolded him. “What are you traveling to professors? There is a Rebbe in the world. You need to travel to the Rebbe to ask for a bracha and everything will work out!”
The man answered that it would be 2 days of traveling and his wife wouldn’t hold up. “She is already quite discouraged,” he said.
Sholom Mordechai (and typical of Sholom Mordechai) didn’t give up. “You know what,” he said. “Tomorrow I’ll take you to the Rebbe! I’ll rent a plane and we’ll go together back and forth. There won’t be any hassle in the traveling.”
The man smiled. ‘This Rubashkin must have had too much vodka…’ he thought to himself.
But on the morning after Simchas Torah, Sholom Mordechai showed up and tells the couple, “nu, you’re coming? The plane is waiting!”
The plane was really waiting. Sholom Mordechai took them as is and they flew to New York to the Rebbe’s holy Ohel at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens. Once they landed, they had 2 hours until their flight back to Postville.
It was freezing cold that day and they weren’t dressed warmly. The couple was told to leave their shoes outside the Ohel and they stood there with their bare feet on the stone cold floor.
The man’s wife shivered and didn’t want to enter. “I begged her to go in,” the husband recalled. “We’re already here. Let’s say Tehillim and ask for a miracle.” She finally agreed.
After 20 minutes, they were out of the Ohel and already on their way back to catch the flight to Iowa.
3 weeks later they once again boarded a plane. This time it was a commercial flight to Israel where they had an appointment with the fertility expert.
After a series of tests, the doctor tells them: “I’m sorry but I can’t help you. You are already 2 weeks pregnant.”
As this chossid was concluding his story, he points to his son and says “this is a child of the Rebbe.”
What’s his name, I asked.
Mordechai, he asked. “He’s named after a grandfather.”
He then added, “but when we were at the Ohel we promised that after we fill the quota for all family names, we will name a child Menachem Mendel.”
He turned to a younger son, a sweet 3-year-old with curly payos, and said, “Mendale, tell them your name.”
The child said, “Menachem Mendel.”
A moment later, he quietly corrected himself, “Menachem Mendel Schneerson.”
The father then said: “Look around, the 6 children that we have is thanks to the self-sacrifice and the ahavas yisroel of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.”