by Tuvia Bolton

On the 3rd day of Tammuz, 5754 (1994), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, passed away.

To the present day however Jews continue to be inspired by his teachings and find guidance in his words. Endless streams of people flock to‘770,’ the shul in Brooklyn where the Rebbe prayed and taught, and drive out to the Montifiore Cemetery, to visit his resting place at the ‘Ohel’.

The following story happened there.

It involved a certain professor from Israel who had enjoyed a very close relationship with the Rebbe over the years. Now, whenever he comes to New York, he never fails to pay a visit to the Rebbe at the Ohel.

770 Eastern Parkway

On one such occasion, before leaving New York, he asked his taxi driver to pass by the cemetery for a few minutes on his way to the airport.

“Are you going to visit your parents?” the taxi driver asked.

“Not my parents,” the professor replied. “My Rebbe.”

“What do you do there?”

“I pray. Many people do. They find it very inspiring,” the professor explained.

“Can I go with you?” the taxi driver suddenly asked. “Do you need a ticket?”

“No, no, you don’t need a ticket,” the professor smiled. “It’s always open, and there is no charge. You can come with me.”

The professor picked up a yarmulke for the taxi driver and led him down the path to the open-air, stone building called the Ohel.

Standing there under the sky, before the Rebbe and his holy father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the professor took a thin book of prayers called the Maaneh Loshon, and began reading.

The taxi driver also stood there for a moment, then closed his eyes and suddenly burst into tears. His body shook as he held his face in his hands and wept with loud sobs.

The professor was astonished. For about ten minutes he tried to say his own prayers, and then finally, apologetically motioned to the driver that they had to be going.

In the car, the driver blew his nose and wiped his eyes, which were red and puffy. “I hope you don’t mind my asking,” the professor said. “What’s wrong? Why were you crying so much?”

“It’s - it’s my dog!” the driver said bursting into tears again. “Our dog is very sick and needs to have an emergency operation!”

“Your… what?” the professor asked. “Did you say your DOG?!” He covered his mouth to holdback a smile. “Are you kidding?!”

“No,” the driver said sadly as they pulled out into the street. “You see, my wife and I could never have children. The doctors said it was impossible. So we adopted a dog. A wonderful special dog! He is everything to us.

“But now, the dog is very sick. The vet said there’s no chance he’ll ever be well. He said he can try to save his life by an operation, but there’s no guarantee that it will work. It’s scheduled for tomorrow!”

He sobbed again. “Me and my wife are going crazy! That’s what I prayed for, that the operation would succeed.”

“Listen my friend,” the professor said, trying to be sympathetic, “you don’t have to be so upset. If worst comes to worst you can always buy another dog.”

“What!” the driver exclaimed, “how can you say that!? ” He could hardly continue driving. The professor realized that he had said the wrong thing.

When they got to the airport the professor gave the driver a nice tip and apologized. “I’m sorry if I said anything wrong,” he said. “Here’s my card. I really hope the operation goes well. Will you call me and let me know what happens? Please call collect.”

The driver said thank you, and promised to call, but he never did.

One day about a year later, the phone rang. It was a collect call from New York. Puzzled, the professor refused to accept the charges. The phone rang again, and again. Finally, after the fifth attempt, he accepted the charges.

“Professor, don’t you remember me? It’s the taxi driver. Remember? We went to the Ohel together. How are you?”

“Oh hello. Hello. I’m fine, thank G‑d. How are you? It’s been a long time. I’m sorry I didn’taccept your call at first. I forgot your name. Tell me how was the operation?”

“Thank G‑d. It was a miracle!! A real miracle. Our dog, Freddy, made a complete recovery. He’s healthier than ever!! You should see him!! You have no idea how grateful we are to you and to the Rebbe. Even the doctor said it was a miracle!”

“Well, that really is good news. I’m so happy for you. But why did you wait so long to call? That was a year ago.”

“I didn’t want to waste your time or money. I could tell you didn’t really understand.”

“What a shame,” the professor replied. “I certainly would have liked to hear the good news. But, tell me, if you didn’t call back then, why are you calling now... a year later?”

The driver answered. “Ahh, that’s the point. You see, after Freddy got better, my wife and I were so happy that we went back to the‘Ohel,’ to say thanks, if you know what I mean. One of the Chassidim there told us that the best way to say thanks to the Rebbe is to begin to do some commandments.

“So I decided that I would put on Tefillin every day, and my wife decided to keep family purity. We set up a time to meet with the Chossid, and he came to our home to teach us.

“That’s why I’m calling you. You see, a while after we started doing all this, well.... my wife got pregnant! Last week she had a baby boy! Today was the bris of our son!! Yes. What do you think? Mazal Tov. It’s all thanks to the Rebbe! And to you!

“I can understand that you don’t know about dogs, but I figured you would appreciate this!”