Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to Get to Heaven

The wife wanted the body cremated; the husband's religious brothers quickly made a proper burial; the wife sued and case went to court, but Rebbe Nachman intervened from above...

Rebbe Nachman made a bold promise that no other tzaddik ever made. He said that for any person who visits his gravesite (even once), gives a penny to charity, and says the ten special chapters of psalms that he selected, he would rescue that person from the fires of hell.
I wondered:
On a scale of one to ten, what level of certainty did I have in the Rebbe's promise?
Admittedly I did not have the same level of certainty in the Rebbe's promise that I had in certain natural phenomena,  for instance that the sun will rise and set every day - I believed that with perfect certainty.
It began at 5:30 am on erev Rosh Hashanah. I knew that face. It was my old friend from Monsey, New York - Mendy Wurtzberger.  Following the morning prayers, as we walked through the street together, there was a steady stream of people greeting Mendy warmly with utter amazement on their faces.
Feeling a bit lost, I asked Mendy what was going on. He said that something miraculous had happened to him in the last two weeks and that the story had gone viral on the web.
What Mendy proceeded to tell me over a cup of coffee is nothing less than the most amazing modern day Uman story that I've ever heard.There are a number of versions of this story going around; but I heard this one directly from Mendy - so it's the real deal.
Mendy was a successful businessman. He ran a huge plumbing company that had a contract with a Wall street firm. When the firm went belly-up about five years ago so did Mendy's business. It was about that time that someone gave Mendy the idea of spending  Rosh Hashanah at the gravesite of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in the Ukraine. 
Prior to coming, Mendy received a phone call from a troubled cousin who said asked if Mendy could meet with a young man from a very religious family who had strayed very far from his Chasidic roots. The young man was married to a woman whose story was similar to his own. Neither of them had had any connection to Torah Judaism for fifteen years.
Good natured Mendy agreed and struck up a friendship with the young man. Since Mendy was heading to Uman in the hope of a blessing from the tzaddik to re-establish his business, he decided to take the young man with him. Reluctant at first, ultimately the young man acquiesced and accompanied Mendy on the arduous journey to Uman. 
Mendy told me that the young man did not observe the Shabbos that preceded Rosh Hashanah that year but on Rosh Hashanah itself, he saw him spend the entire first day at the tzaddik's gravesite under his tallis (prayer shawl) pouring his heart out in heart-felt sobbing.
But when they returned to New York, nothing seemed to change for either Mendy or his young friend. Mendy's business situation only worsened, and the young man went back to life as usual apparently unaffected by his brief spiritual awakening. 
Eight months later the young man was found in a Florida swimming pool - dead.
There were many more details that I cannot relate here, but this is how the story continued...

With Blessings for a happy healthy new year!
Dr. Zev