Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
Have you ever experienced the fluttering of Malochim’s wings? Witnessed the transformation of a group of hardworking Yieden into agents of simple unadulterated chasdei Hashem? I have, just a few days ago, and I am still shaken to the core. Miracles, those unique soul-stirring moments when so much becomes clear, are the stuff of what Klall Yisroel blossoms on. Each day brings us untold numbers of miracles that we often neglect to see because they are so much part of our humdrum existence. However, in everyone’s real life there are those moments where things are so beyond any norm, that we have to step back and revel in the glory of Hashem’s love for His people.
Some weeks ago, I wrote about a campaign we were running to raise funds for our Shtieble’s extension and the creation of a space for local teens that need a safe space to congregate. We had turned to the experts in the field and were told to go the route of a 36-hour blitz charity drive where volunteers come to a central place (The Hub) and work together making calls and sending out material with the purpose of reaching their goal. Ours was set at £180,000! The amount wasn’t arbitrary it was what has been quoted to us by the builders involved. I know this sort of campaign has become an almost daily occurrence and that each one of us have received calls from friends and relatives asking, nay beseeching us to share in any number of worthy causes via this vehicle. I for one was a bit sceptical, after all, we are a small Shtieble with a big heart, but this amount of funding sounded way beyond our ability. I stepped back and allowed the askonim to take the wheel, and when the day arrived, I found out what Klall Yisroel is capable of doing.
We started off slowly, money trickling in, in drips and drabs. Looking at the main campaign board I watched as the total inched up, and felt dismay at what I saw. No matter, we kept up the work, phones ringing, emails flying, and yet, well the total didn’t scream out success yet.
The next morning our band of ardent supporters returned, hopefully, refreshed with a bit of sleep, yet the total still had an anaemic look. My heart sunk as I felt bad for the ardent young team who were getting a tad despondent.
It was then that I went off-site. I turned to one of the chevre and asked him if he would take me to Philips Park. No, I wasn’t thinking of going to a local leisure centre, for those outside of Manchester, Philips Park is the Beis Hachaim for the Chreidisha Olam. It is there that the tzadik and Kodoish the Manchester Rosh Yeshivah Ztl is, and not far away, my Rebbetzin A’H. I first approached the Rebbetzin’s kever, after saying some Tehillim I had a few heartfelt words to share, after all, this new project is being done in her memory, so I simply asked her neshoma to intervene and help us work things out. I then entered the Rosh Yeshivah’s Ohel. I again said Tehillim and thought how the Rosh Yeshivah was adamant that we live in Manchester and that it was because of this that we have been zoche to grow. After allowing for this spiritual respite, I was ready to face whatever storms lay in wait and I took myself back to the Hub. Walking up the stairs I was taken aback, the numbers started to climb, and soon they were leaping! The display board was having trouble keeping up with the changes and more encouragingly, the olam was leaping about with even more energy. As the clock ticked its way to the closing deadline, there was a sense of frantic optimism, that shouted, we can do this, it will happen!
And happen it did, for the last half hour I just looked on in awe. Youngsters were on the phones cajoling unknown Yiedelech to help them build this novel centre. Perfect strangers had come in to offer their help and were manning the phones, blending in with everyone else. Everyone there knew and understood that this was the stuff of miracles. Hashem was guiding each caller to say the right words, each donor to reach deeper in support. The air was ripe with the feeling of kedusha as holy neshomahs were trying to create ever more Kiddush Hashem. As the clock came closer to the finale, I could feel the breath of Malochim as they breathed into everyone’s hearts, hope and joy. When the tally board announced that we had reached our goal, everyone just burst into singing and dancing. Hashem is so good, and his Nation so connected.
I told my chevra at the celebratory Shabbos kiddush that the halachah is if one has had an open miracle at a particular place, every time he visits that very same place, he must make a brocha. Having this in mind I wondered out loud if the same isn’t true for those entering the shtieble. Truth is, that every mokom kodoish that is built with community support is a miracle especially in our present golus.
Allow me to end with a drosha I said many years ago. The occasion was the opening of the Shul in Bowdon South Manchester. In attendance at the special service was His Royal Highness Prince Charles the Prince of Wales. This was a royal first, a royal personage attending the opening of an Orthodox Synagogue, had never been witnessed before. It fell to me to give a “sermon” and I was severely warned that I dare not speak for more than five minutes. Visions of being locked in the Tower of London for any impertinence loomed as I stood at the shtender. I greeted His Majesty and then said that he was sitting in a place of miracles. For in our day and age it is extremely rare to build new houses of worship, especially one with such fresh brightness aimed for the future. The prince shook his head in agreement. I went on, “today he is going to witness yet a greater miracle, I, an American born Rabbi, known for long sermons, is going to speak for only five minutes”.
The prince laughed, as did the executive members who feared I would go off-script.
Now all these years later, I am humbled that no greater personage than the Eibishter has graced us with His Siyatoh D’shmaya, and allowed the impossible to happen for us all to share.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank all those readers who helped with their generous support. May we all soon see the rebuilding of the one place we all crave to experience, the Bais Hamikdosh, and may this come soon and in our days. Umain!