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To Spread the Wellsprings

Our sages say, “More than the calf wishes to suckle, the heifer wishes to suckle her calf.” Similarly, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe, a chassid has a need to teach and disseminate Chassidut.

These words, which the Rebbe wrote in a letter, were read over and over by Rabbi Menachem Volicka. He understood very well how these words applied to him in particular, and this caused him great frustration.

Rabbi Volicka used to translate and publish the Rebbe's talks in French. In particular he worked on the most recent talks of the Rebbe—in the early '90s—in which the Rebbe described in exquisite clarity the special age that we are living in, on the cusp of the imminent Redemption. In those talks the Rebbe laid out a plan for how we were to live during this time of anticipation, to prepare ourselves for the ultimate Redemption.

Rabbi Wolicka had already printed 18 high-quality translations of the Rebbe's talks in French, in thousands of copies. For him this was a major project with an huge budget, and he had already exhausted his resources. He could not find a donor willing to cover his printing expenses, and he had not one cent left in savings to undertake any more publications.

In frustration, Rabbi Wolicka wrote to the Rebbe, and inserted his letter at random into a volume of Igrot Kodesh, the Rebbe's published letters, which was his preferred way of communicating with the Rebbe.

Rabbi Wolicka was hoping that on the page he would find the Rebbe's acquiescence to quit, find another line of work. Instead there was this letter about cows...

A few weeks went by, during which Rabbi Wolicka did not publish any more talks of the Rebbe. With all his good intentions, he had no practical means to bring this project to fruition. One evening Rabbi Wolicka attended a study group in Chassidut with some friends. At the end of the study group, his friends pressured him to go back to printing. “It's a great merit for you to spread the teachings of Chassidut on such a large scale.”

“Merit? Merit?” protested Rabbi Wolicka. “Who among you is prepared to donate the sums necessary for me to continue my work?” The question hung in the air, unanswered.

Before the group dispersed for the night, they wrote a joint report about the study group, as always, and inserted it into a volume of Igrot Kodesh. On the page they opened, they found three letters of the Rebbe that all pertained to spreading the teachings of Chassidut. In one of the letters the Rebbe mentions that he enclosed a check as his participation in covering the printing costs.

All the members of the group felt that this letter was directed at Rabbi Wolicka. “The Rebbe is promising you his participation in the printing expenses,” said one.

“The Rebbe has ways of getting the funds to you,” said another.

I wish, thought Rabbi Wolicka to himself. I wish that I would see it with my own eyes.

Just that moment someone entered into the study group. He turned to one participant and handed him an envelope. “Good that I found you,” he said apologetically. “You asked me to give this check to someone, but I was not able to find him.”

After the man left, the recipient of the envelope turned to Rabbi Wolicka and said, “You just won.” Rabbi Wolicka looked on as the man took out his checkbook and wrote out a check for a few thousand dollars, towards his next publication.

Rabbi Wolicka's immediate reaction was to break out in a dance. He could not believe the swiftness with which the Rebbe's blessing had materialized.

However, his troubles were not yet over. He was still missing a substantial sum to cover his debts. Another participant of the study group gave Rabbi Wolicka the number of a wealthy Jew from France, who had a warm spot for Chabad in his heart. “There's no doubt he will give you a nice donation,” he promised.

In truth, Rabbi Wolicka already had a relationship with this person. The man had once offered him a job in his business, but based on an answer in Igrot Kodesh, Rabbi Wolicka understood quite clearly that the Rebbe did not wish him to accept it. Now Rabbi Wolicka approached him with an opposite proposal: that the wealthy man become his partner in the business of disseminating the Rebbe's teachings.

“At this moment we are preparing a French translation of the Rebbe's talk that talks about France's spiritual revolution,” he explained. “It would be a merit for you to participate.”

“You don't need to convince me,” the man cut him off. “I myself was in the Rebbe's synagogue when he gave that talk, and I even had an opportunity to say l'chaim to the Rebbe.” On the spot the philanthropist promised a handsome sum, and also put Rabbi Wolicka in touch with other sponsors.

Rabbi Wolicka concludes with an original anecdote: “Only a few days after this miraculous series of donations, I won a prize in a raffle—a beautiful picture of the Rebbe pouring l'chaim for his chassidim. I felt that through this picture, the Rebbe was pouring l'chaim for me and granting me new energy to continue with my holy work.”

 

 


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