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Zahavah’s Friend

Zahavah’s Friend

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One afternoon, about ten years ago, I entered the office of our Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad (the Chabad village in Israel) and checked the voice mail on our telephone. The first message was: "My name is Zahavah and my phone number is 9876544."

She obviously had the wrong number, so I decided I'd do her a favor and call her back. I called the number she left, and when Zahavah answered I tried to explain to her that she had made a mistake. "One minute," she said, "this is Kfar Chabad, right? I want to speak to Kfar Chabad."

When I answered in the affirmative, she continued: "Good! Well, I have a friend called Sarah. She's pregnant and says she can't afford another child, she already has three and her husband doesn't earn much, so she decided to have an abortion. I tried to talk her out of it, even sent rabbis and experts to her, they talked to her for hours but nothing worked. Now she says that the only thing that will change her mind is if the Rebbe of Chabad himself calls her and personally tells her not to do it. That is why I called you. You're Chabad, right?"

I explained to Zahavah that the Rebbe is very busy, that he prays, studies and teaches Torah twenty hours a day and also answers about one thousand letters and requests each day, so it's unreasonable to expect him to call people back on the phone.

I suggested that I was willing to send a fax to the Rebbe explaining Sarah's situation and ask for a blessing that the next person that speaks with her should succeed in convincing her to have the baby.

"Is it true that people spoke to her seriously and did not succeed? I will pray for her."

Zahavah agreed, I sent the fax, and just one hour later I received a call from the Rebbe's office that the Rebbe had issued an answer!

The Rebbe wrote, "Is it true that people spoke to her seriously and did not succeed? I will pray for her."

I immediately called Zahavah and excitedly read her the Rebbe's answer.

For a moment she was silent and then she slowly said, "Is the Rebbe saying that I'm lying? That no one ever spoke to Sarah?"

I really hadn't thought about it but I realized that she had a point. I tried to think of some other possible explanation for the Rebbe's words but she cut me off.

"The Rebbe sits over there in New York! How can he know if I'm telling the truth or not?"

There was silence for a minute; I didn't know what to say.

Finally she said, "Well Rabbi, I want you to know that there is no Zahavah... I am Sarah. No one ever spoke to me about not having the abortion. I don't know how the Rebbe knew! But one thing is sure — I just got the answer, in person, from the Rebbe I was waiting for. Please tell him that I'm not going to do the abortion. Tell him that I decided to have the baby and to trust that G‑d will help."

I faxed in what she said to the Rebbe's office and three hours later I received yet another reply:

"Thank you for the good news. It is written in a Mishna of the [Talmudic] Tractate Sanhedrin that anyone who saves one Jewish soul it is as though he saved the entire world. Please tell her that she has just saved the entire world. And with that merit, G‑d will send her blessings of success, health and nachas (joy)."

A popular teacher, musician and storyteller, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton is co-director of Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and a senior lecturer there.
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Goy Boy Compiegne January 2, 2016

Thanks Yvonne for admitting that the story made you cry.Makes my eyes wet for sure ! Goy Boy aka Yves-Marie. Reply

Laura USA November 23, 2014

Powerful answer!!! Reply

Confused Jerusalem April 15, 2011

Sarah I dont get it, the story made it sound like she wanted the abortion, and when she discovered that the Rebbe knew that she hadnt talked to anyone about it, then she suddenly decided not to have the abortion. How are the 2 related? Reply

Judy Resnick Far Rockaway, NY December 27, 2009

To Helga Hudspeth Every life has value. Every person on this world has a mission to fulfill. Whether you are Jewish or not, you still have a vital role to play in this world. Nobody else can play that role which you were born into. The life we have is our gift from God. What we make of that life is our gift to God. Look at the Rebbe. God decreed that the Rebbe should not have any children. What a crushing blow to such a caring and intelligent person. Yet the Rebbe rose above this personal tragedy and became a father to thousands of brokenhearted people, including non-Lubavitch Jews and non-Jews. Reply

Yvonne August 21, 2008

the story made me cry, it so beautiful and true. Reply

anonymous Chicago, Illinois via clhds.com June 19, 2008

double greatness This is truly an amazing story, and I think it is awsome that the Rebbi didn't only get her to change her mind, but he also knew that nobody even spoke to her about it. Reply

anonymous October 16, 2006

wow!! its so amazing how the rebbe knew everything even though he was tons of miles away! Recently I read the book "To Know and to Care". Its storys about the rebbe and I found then quite amazing! I suggest you read it just to see who the rebbe was. Thanks. Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem, Israel June 28, 2006

reply to H. Hudspeth It is also against the Noahide laws to have an abortion...which is demonstrates that non-Jews are also valued in Judaism, and that each person, Jewish or not, has a role to play in the world. Reply

H. Hudspeth July 29, 2004

Thoughts Is not every soul an entire world? Jewish or not? And if one saves one single soul, does that one soul have to be Jewish in order for the entire world to have been saved?

I don't know the answers to my own questions yet. But I'm studying. And I believe that my teachers - G-d's first-born who are the teachers of all nations, will teach me well.

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Rachael Anchorage, AK May 12, 2004

life choices. This is a very amazing story. I am glad she decided to have a child and recieved the answer that she was looking for. I think she wanted to know that others out there would support her decision in the face of a challange that we all should face one day-bringing life into this world wondering if we will be able to care for them without getting our heart broken if they go hungry for one day. Money is not a reason to not have a child. Not having the energy or ability to mentally take care of that child is a reason to postpone the mitzpha of bringing a jewish soul into this world.
The Rebbe gave the most simplist answer, I will pray for you. She took this to mean i support your decision, life is a struggle and you should not spend your life running from it. To all the women out there who bring life into this world- mazol tov and thank you. Reply

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