How do you live your life?

Friday, 23 June, 2023 - 6:28 am

Last week we hosted Rabbi Yossi Goldman of Johannesburg at an evening devoted to the Rebbe. 

Rabbi Goldman, who has been serving as the Rebbe’s shaliach in South Africa for the past 47 years, is also the rabbi of Sydenham Shul, that in the good old days had an attendance of close to one thousand people every Friday night. Rabbi Goldman is considered to be an especially fascinating speaker and on last Thursday he proved this once more.

From the close to sixty minutes of the talk I took with me a very special story that once again teaches us how much we can influence our reality. 

“When our tenth child was being born,” said the rabbi, “the doctor, who was a member of our congregation, called me in and said they must perform a c-section since the embryo is positioned horizontally and there is no way for him to be born naturally. When my wife heard this, she said immediately, ‘We are in the year of ‘ar’enu nifla’ot’ (‘I will show him wonders’). There is no need for surgery. There will be wonders.”

The year was 5751 (1991). That year, the Rebbe defined the year according to its acronym – Taf, Shin, Nun, AlephTehe shenat ar’enu nifla’ot (It will be a year of ‘I will show him wonders’), and spoke at length about its being a special year, not only of miracles, but of wonders. And ‘I will show him’ – in other words, we see and will see the wonders. 

“I knew my wife was a stronger believer than me, but what should we do? We called in another doctor in the middle of the night, who also belongs to our congregation, for a second opinion. He came and said he agreed with the first doctor. The child was positioned horizontally and would soon be in distress; the operation must be done. But then he looked at me and asked, simply: ‘Why don’t you call New York?’

“’To call New York’ meant to call the Rebbe and ask him what to do. 

“I called my father z”l immediately. He ran to 770. He was told that the Rebbe would return soon from the ohel (gravesite of the previous Rebbe), and when the Rebbe got out of the car, my father approached him and told him everything, including the urgency of the matter, that his daughter-in-law – my dear wife – was having difficulties with the birth. The Rebbe listened and then said: ‘Since the doctor himself said to call New York, they should listen to the woman who said ar’enu nifla’ot.’

“Well, needless to say, the miracle happened within minutes. It was as if the baby had received an order and he immediately changed position and there was a normal, quick birth. We saw wonders!”


This seems to be just another miracle story about the Lubavitcher rebbe, one of thousands.

But if we look into it more and listen to the details, we will see that the miracle is that of Mrs. Goldman and the second doctor. While Rabbi Goldman was working with a mindset of nature and its ways, Rebbetzin Goldman was on the track of ar’enu nifla’ot, and while the first doctor was doing an excellent job as a doctor, the second doctor moved up a notch and said with the simple approach of a chasid: “Why don’t you call New York?”

And the Rebbe responded in exactly that way. He said that since that is what the doctor said, that is what will be. 

So it’s like this: When we come with the approach of “Let’s see what’s possible, logical, realistic and sane,” Hashem’s answer will be accordingly. 

And when we live with true trust, like Mrs. Goldman - who in critical moments understood that when the Rebbe said arenu niflaot, it wasn’t a recommendation or a nice phrase; rather, he really meant it, and so she was living in the awareness of ‘Is anything beyond Hashem?’ - then Hashem’s response is accordingly, as well.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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