Zahavah's Friend

Zahavah's Friend
By Tuvia Bolton

One afternoon, about ten years ago, I entered the office of our Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad (the Chabad village in Israel) and checked the voice mail on our telephone. The first message was: "My name is Zahavah and my phone number is 9876544."

She obviously had the wrong number, so I decided I'd do her a favor and call her back. I called the number she left, and when Zahavah answered I tried to explain to her that she had made a mistake. One minute she said, "This is Kfar Chabad, right? I want to speak to Kfar Chabad."

When I answered in the affirmative, she continued: "Good! Well, I have a friend called Sarah. She's pregnant and says she can't afford another child, she already has three and her husband doesn't earn much, so she decided to have an abortion. I tried to talk her out of it, even sent rabbis and experts to her, they talked to her for hours but nothing worked. Now she says that the only thing that will change her mind is if the Rebbe of Chabad himself calls her and personally tells her not to do it. That is why I called you. You're Chabad, right?"

I explained to Zahavah that the Rebbe is very busy, that he prays, studies and teaches Torah twenty hours a day and also answers about one thousand letters and requests each day, so its unreasonable to expect him to call people back on the phone.

I suggested that I was willing to send a fax to the Rebbe explaining Sarah's situation and ask for a blessing that the next person that speaks with her should succeed in convincing her to have the baby.

Zahavah agreed, I sent the fax, and just one hour later I received a call from the Rebbe's office that the Rebbe had issued an answer!

The Rebbe wrote, "Is it true that people spoke to her seriously and did not succeed? I will pray for her."

I immediately called Zahavah and excitedly read her the Rebbe's answer.

For a moment she was silent and then she slowly said, "Is the Rebbe saying that I'm lying? That no one ever spoke to Sarah?"

I really hadn't thought about it but I realized that she had a point. I tried to think of some other possible explanation for the Rebbe's words but she cut me off.

"The Rebbe sits over there in New York! How can he know if I'm telling the truth or not?"

There was silence for a minute; I didn't know what to say.

Finally she said, "Well Rabbi, I want you to know that there is no Zahavah... I am Sarah. No one ever spoke to me about not having the abortion. I don't know how the Rebbe knew! But one thing is sure -- I just got the answer, in person, from the Rebbe I was waiting for. Please tell him that I'm not going to do the abortion. Tell him that I decided to have the baby and to trust that G-d will help."

I faxed in what she said to the Rebbe's office and three hours later I received yet another reply:

"Thank you for the good news. It is written in a Mishna of the [Talmudic] Tractate Sanhedrin that anyone who saves one Jewish soul it is as though he saved the entire world. Please tell her that she has just saved the entire world. And with that merit, G-d will send her blessings of success, health and nachas."