The first of September was the date by which everything had to be in place. The goal was to complete the new Chabad House that would provide a home away from home for the Jewish students of Rutgers University. The five-million-dollar building was almost complete, ready to house two dozen women, provide kosher meals to thousands of students a week, and serve as the center for the vibrant Jewish life that Chabad has built at Rutgers.
But Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, director of Chabad of Middlesex/Monmouth counties in New Jersey, hada problem. In mid-July he was still eight hundred thousand dollars short of the money he needed to raise to complete the project and get the building open.
By the end of August, the situation looked pretty bleak, indeed. The contractor had walked off the job and wouldn't return unless more money was forth coming. However, there was still a good deal of work left to do before the certificate of occupancy could be issued, and the mortgages could be obtained.
Rabbi Carlebach had called Rabbi Leibel Groner, from the Rebbe's secretariat, who had spoken at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Chabad House, for some more leads. But Rabbi Groner was unable to help.
Rabbi Carlebach continued to pray at the ohel twice a week, as he had been doing all summer. The frustration and stress of the situation were taking its toll, as was evidenced late one Sunday afternoon when Rabbi Carlebach, in the midst of making calls to solicit funds, fell asleep with the phone cradled in his hand.
Moments, or maybe hours later, the shrill of the telephone jarred him awake. It was Rabbi Groner, asking how much money was needed to complete the mikvah in the Chabad House.
"Forty thousand dollars," was Rabbi Carlebach's response.
Rabbi Groner called back Monday morning with good news.
A New York business man might be able to help. Time was of the essence so Rabbi Carlebach called the man, Mr. A., and offered to drive into New York, pick him up, and bring him out to the uncompleted Chabad House. Mr. A. agreed and Rabbi Carlebach picked him up the following afternoon. Mr. A. sat quietly for the whole drive.
As Rabbi Carlebach showed Mr. A. around the Chabad House, he seemed to be only mildly interested. However, when the two men entered the area designated to be the mikvah, Mr. A. just stood there and stared. Five minutes passed, then ten. After fifteen minutes, Rabbi Carlebach told Mr. A. that he would be upstairs saying the afternoon prayers. When Rabbi Carlebach finished praying, he heard Mr. A. downstairs, talking excitedly to someone on his cellular phone.
Later, on the way back to New York, Mr. A. explained his strange behavior to the rabbi.
Mr. A. was born in Russia, and his family had moved to Israel when he was a child. There was very little money, and Lubavitch in Israel had taken care of the family's material and spiritual needs.
As a young man Mr. A. had come to the United States and started a business. From the moment he had set foot in this country, he had maintained close contact with the Rebbe. Every step he took, in his business or personal life, he kept the Rebbe informed. When he had started his business, he had written to the Rebbe for a blessing and had committed himself to observe the mitzvah that requires giving one tenth of one's earnings to tzedakah (charity). Over time his venture had been blessed with success.
A few years ago, his wife had given birth to a baby boy weighing only two pounds, three ounces. The doctors were not certain that the baby would survive. If he did he might never see or speak. Mr. and Mrs. A. had asked the Rebbe for a blessing for their son. The Rebbe assured them that the baby would develop normally, and he did.
In the past few months, however, the doctor noticed that the boy's muscles weren't developing correctly, and that he might not walk properly. Mr. A. went to the ohel to pray for the health of his son.
Soon afterwards, he had a puzzling, yet fascinating dream. He dreamt that he approached the Rebbe for a blessing, and the Rebbe told him to follow the instructions of Rabbi Groner and then to come back to the Rebbe. Rabbi Groner told him to go and inspect a mikvah. In his dream he watched himself go to a mikvah, and, seeing that it was still not completed, grew more and more angry, wondering how could it be that here in America there could be a mikvah that cannot be finished?
When Mr. A. awoke, the dream came back to him in bits and pieces. When he recalled the dream in its entirety, he checked with his accountant and ascertained that, in accordance with his customary charitable giving, he had fallen behind in the amount of $40,000. Mr. A. told his brother about the dream and that he was going to Rabbi Groner. If Rabbi Groner told him of a mikvah that needed somewhere around $40,000 to be completed, he would know his dream was true.
While Mr. A. was in his office, Rabbi Groner called Rabbi Carlebach. When Rabbi Groner turned around to tell Mr. A. that the mikvah needed $40,000 to be completed, he saw Mr. A.'s face turn white.
And now, when Mr. A. arrived at the Chabad House, he was amazed to find that the unfinished mikvah looked exactly as it had in his dream.
On Thursday Mr. A. brought Rabbi Groner the $40,000. Although it was 10:30 p.m., Rabbi Groner called Rabbi Carlebach who immediately drove into New York to pick up the money.
The next day, Rabbi Carlebach had a meeting with the contractor and the workers at 8:00 a.m. The meeting did not go well and the contractor got up to leave. Rabbi Carlebach stopped him on his way out and handed him the envelope, containing the money, from Mr. A. When the contractor realized that there were immediate funds available, and, even moreso, after hearing the story of the dream, he ordered his workers back to the site and before long the work was completed. The following Friday, the city officials and the board of health gave the building a "thumbs up." That night, hundreds of Jewish students were able to celebrate Shabbat in the new Chabad House.
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