Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Schwartz was a devoted Munkatch chassid, but as a Holocaust refugee in New York he became very attached to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1946-7 [i.e. before he became the Rebbe] and would ask his advice frequently. In fact, the Rebbe was the one who advised him to move to Brazil, telling him that many Jews were there, and that he expected that before long a sizable influx of Holocaust survivors would arrive. With practically no Jewish education then existing in Brazil to speak of, it would be desirable to help establish proper schools.

Ten years later, Rabbi Schwartz was the founder and head of a very successful Jewish school in Brazil that has several hundred young pupils, most of them from non-religious families. One day, a well-dressed middle-aged couple knocked and entered Rabbi Schwartz’s office. He immediately recognized them; they were the parents of one of his pupils, a boy that was progressing nicely in his studies.

The parents sat down opposite him, and looked at each other nervously.

The parents sat down opposite him, and looked at each other nervously. The husband nodded to his wife. She leaned over facing the Rabbi and began speaking in low confidential tones that was almost in a whisper. "Rabbi, you must help us. Such a tragedy! We do not know where to turn. Our oldest daughter just announced her engagement to a non-Jew!" She became choked up with tears and began whimpering into her small handkerchief. They both were obviously beside themselves with anguish.

"It is true that we were never very observant ourselves," the father continued, "but we never dreamed it would go this far. Oy! If we would have known.… Rabbi, we will do whatever you say; just bring our daughter back!" And he too began weeping.

Rabbi Schwartz nodded silently, thought for a while, then told them he would do what he could. Right then and there he picked up his phone and called her. But as soon as he introduced himself and told her why he was calling, she slammed the phone down. So, too, when he called a second time.

Rabbi Schwartz did not give up, however. The next day he got her address from her parents and went in person. She was not brazen enough to close the door on the distinguished figure standing there, so she told him to come in.

He sat in the chair she indicated, and after some brief chitchat used every argument he could think of to convince her to change her mind. He appealed to her emotions, her loyalty, her intellect etc., until, after three hours, he was simply out of ideas.

The date for the wedding is already set.

"Well, thank you Rabbi," she said as she stood up, indicating that the conversation was over. "I appreciate you taking all this time for me, I really do. But, you see, Rabbi, Eduardo and I love each other and we are going to get married. The date for the wedding is already set. I know that this is not what you want to hear, but just as you live your life, so I must live mine. Again, thank you for your good intentions," she said, as she showed him politely to the door.

The Rabbi walked down the apartment building stairs in low spirits. He had failed. And you can imagine how her parents felt when he called them.

Two days later he was sitting in his office when a thought suddenly occurred to him. "I should call the Lubavitcher Rebbe! Why didn’t I do it yesterday already!"

One of the Rebbe’s secretaries, Rabbi Hodakov, answered the phone and listened to the problem. "Please tell the Rebbe," concluded Rabbi Schwartz; "that I really need an answer as soon as possible. It is very urgent."

The secretary told him to wait on the line, and a minute later he was back with an answer. "The Rebbe says you should go to her again. This time, tell her that because she wants to marry a gentile there is a Jew in New York that can’t sleep nights."

"A Jew in New York can’t sleep?"

Rav Schwartz was totally confused. Who is he? What is his name?"

Suddenly the conversation was interrupted. The Rebbe’s unmistakable voice cut in from an extension, saying, "His name is Mendel Schneerson".

Startled and no less confused, Rav Schwartz thanked the Rebbe and said good-bye.

"How will this help?" he was thinking to himself after he put down the phone, "it makes no sense! The girl will just laugh at me!"

While he was still lost in thought, his phone rang. When he lifted the receiver, he heard the Rebbe’s secretary speaking once again. "Hello, Rabbi Schwartz? The Rebbe says to tell you that a Chassid does what he is told with joy, not with pessimism. Also, the Rebbe said that you can tell the young lady that she has met him and she knows him."

No less confused, Rav Schwartz called the girl once again and convinced her that he had something new and important to tell her. They arranged to meet again the next day.

"That is what you have to tell me!" She shouted indignantly, after they met briefly in her parent’s home. "Listen Rabbi Schwartz," She fumed. "Last week I listened to you for three hours. Today I even took time off from work! Now I want you to leave me alone. I don’t know any Jews in New York and I can’t imagine why my conduct would disturb anyone’s sleep over there. Stop bothering me!"

But the Rabbi was in it too deep to stop now. "You do know this man," he continued, "He is a famous Rabbi."

"The only Rabbi I know is you and I’m beginning to regret that!"

"The only Rabbi I know is you and I’m beginning to regret that!" she said, as she rose from her seat to leave.

"Wait, Wait! I’ll show you his picture," said Rabbi Schwartz, beginning to feel a bit crazy himself. He began searching together with her parents, and a few minutes later he presented her with a picture of the Rebbe they found in some magazine.

"Here, do you recognize this man?"

She grabbed the picture and gave a quick angry glance. Suddenly her face became serious and she sat down, still looking at the picture. "Who is this man?" She asked. After hearing the answer, she sputtered, "This man has been appearing in my dreams for the last several nights and begging me not to intermarry! I didn’t pay any attention. I thought that because I had met you I was dreaming about Rabbis. Now I understand why he doesn’t sleep at nights…he is busy talking to me!"

One week later she postponed the wedding, and shortly thereafter it was cancelled completely.


Adapted from the version of Tuvia Bolton on ohrtmimim.org, with some supplementing based on the version in Our Man in Dakar by Tuvia Natkin.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (11 Nissan 1902 - 3 Tammuz 1994), became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, passed away in Brooklyn on 10 Shvat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.

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