"All tithes of the herds and flocks shall be given when they pass under the rod and are counted; every tenth one shall be consecrated to G‑d." (Lev. 27:32)

In a certain religious village in Israel lived a woman who suffered great difficulties and health problems whenever she gave birth. With each birth the situation worsened, until finally the doctors told her that she would be endangering her life if she tried to give birth another time. And now she was pregnant again!

She received back from the Rebbe a most remarkable response….

She visited great rabbis, including kabbalists and Chasidic rebbes for blessings and advice. She also prayed at the gravesites of the many righteous ones buried in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, she still felt frightened, as recent examinations had not revealed any change for the better in her condition. Then, someone suggested to her that she write to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn. It seemed strange and a bit silly to her to consult someone outside of Israel, but she decided to do it. Shortly before she was due to give birth, she received back from the Rebbe a most remarkable response.

He wrote that near the village in a certain direction was a spring, and on the other side of the spring was a certain factory. The workers leave there each afternoon at 4:30. Her husband should go there before that hour, and stand near the gate. When the workers emerged, he should count them one by one. When the tenth one exited, he should follow him.

What an answer! They could scarcely believe it. Nevertheless, the next day the woman's husband followed the directions and upon arriving at the factory on the far side of the spring, he took up his post outside the gate. He stared and stared at his watch. Finally, at 4:30, the workers began to file out. 1-2-3…. The tenth man was very ordinary looking; nothing about him seemed special at all. Indeed, he seemed hardly distinguishable from the ones before him or after him. The husband shrugged. The Rebbe said to follow him, so follow him he would.

The man walked and walked, finally arriving at a nearby settlement. He went straight to a certain house, entered and closed the door behind him, just as anyone would do upon returning home from a day on the job. The husband stood gazing from a distance, momentarily perplexed, but then realized he had no choice other than to try to enter the house after him.

He approached the house and knocked on the door. A woman opened and asked him what he wanted. He told her that he wished to speak to the man who had come just before him…the man who worked at the factory near the spring. The woman nodded and told him to wait. She disappeared inside, and then a few minutes later, the same man he had followed from the factory came to the door.

The man asked his surprise visitor who he was and why he wished to speak with him. The wide-eyed husband stammered for a moment and then replied, "To tell you the truth I don't know why. But my wife is in a life-threatening situation, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York wrote to us that I should follow you and…."

Give her these sugar cubes to eat and everything will be fine….

"I can't believe it!" the man exclaimed, as waves of surprise and emotion passed over his face. "Even here the holy rebbe has found me!" He asked his startled visitor to tell him the whole story.

The husband related about his wife's difficulties each time she gave birth, their letter to the Rebbe, and the strange answer they had received. "So I went to the spring and the factory and you were the tenth man. I followed you here, as the Rebbe directed, but more than that I don't know - nor do I understand any of this at all!"

The man smiled. "Just wait right here a few moments," he said resignedly. He went back inside the house and shortly afterwards returned, displaying a few sugar cubes in his hand. "These are for your wife," he said, but then, much to the husband's surprise, he added, "But not for this birth.

"That's because she has already given birth, just a few seconds ago! She and the baby are both healthy, thank G‑d; there were no problems at all."

The husband was speechless. He wanted so much for the words he was hearing to be true, but he didn't know if he could safely believe them or not.

The man continued. "These sugar cubes are for future births. If she has any problems, give her these sugar cubes to eat and everything will be fine right away."

The husband bubbled over with profuse thanks, and the two men parted warmly. When he reached his village, he quickly discovered that his wife had indeed given birth, with no complications, and exactly when the mystery man had said.

All the residents of the community rejoiced at the good news of the unexpectedly smooth birth, and even more when they heard the extraordinary accompanying story. A few of them set out to get a blessing or a word of advice or just to glimpse the secret holy man, but they were not able to find him. The house was vacant and he no longer worked at the factory.

* * * * * *

Translator's note:

This story is known to us from a non-Lubavitcher chasid who, at the time of the episode, was living in the village and heard it first-hand from the couple. Who the "tenth man" was or where he is now I cannot tell you, but we may have caught a trace of him here at Ascent in Safed!

A few years ago, during an Ascent Shabbat meal, a student from a most-definitely-not-chasidic yeshiva, stood up and asked permission to tell a story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He testified that he heard the story from his brother-in-law, who heard it from his study partner at the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva Kollel, to whom it happened. It turned out to be nearly the exact same story I just told you, including the difficulty in giving birth, the surprise of the hidden holy man at being discovered, and the sugar cubes. However, instead of a village, a spring, a factory and counting to ten, there was a remote location on the Northwest coast of the USA, which entailed a plane, and a bus and a taxi to get there. Also, in this version the husband delivered the sugar cubes to his wife just in time before the birth to ease the difficulties. And instead of others, the husband himself made the trip again to thank the benefactor, but he was no longer there. When he reported this back to the Rebbe, the Rebbe just smiled.

The first part of this story is translated and adapted from Sipurei Chassidim L'noar — vol.2, based on an article in Kfar Chabad Magazine.

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