It’s well past midnight and I have a personal problem. What do I do?
I do what I always do. I phone Rebbetzin Chaya Nechama Milikovski, mother of the Rebbe of Amshinov. She answers the phone, as always, delighted to hear from me. “Sarala, it’s so good to hear your voice,” she says, with no hint of recrimination that I haven’t called for three months.
I call only when I have a major problem or a name to give the Rebbe to daven for, or a question for her to relay to the Rebbe. Now I pour out my heart to her. As always, she reassures me, encourages me, and buoys me up. I was drowning in a turbulent sea of worry. She does not solve my problem, does not throw me a life preserver. Instead she assures me that I can swim, that the waves will subside, and that all will be well.
I ask her to bless me for this or that. She never does. Nor does the Rebbe of Amshinov dispense blessings. Instead he davens, the koach of tefillah being his special gift, the Master of Prayer in our generation. So I down-level my request to the Rebbetzin. “Then daven for me that _____________.” Her answer is always the same: “Let’s hope.”
The Rebbetzin never gives me advice, never tells me what to do. Giving directions is the Rebbe’s role. Whenever I am lost in a forest of perplexity and confusion, the Rebbe guides me to the path out of the forest. The Rebbetzin, a tiny woman not even five feet tall, is in reality a giant oak tree whose boughs shelter me from the storm while I am still in the forest.
I am worried about my children. The Rebbetzin never, ever, criticizes, rebukes, or disapproves—either of me or them. My children are good. There’s no need to worry, just daven. They’ll turn out fine. (And they did, baruch Hashem!)
I know I am special to the Rebbetzin, that she loves me tremendously, that she holds me in a special place in her heart. She is the only person in the world who calls me, “Sarala.” She is always so happy to hear from me. And although I call her only when I need her help, she ends every conversation with, “Thanks a million for calling,” as if it is I who have done her the favor.
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