The Rebbe’s Gift to Me

The Rebbe’s Gift to Me

I was really disappointed when my gym went bankrupt and closed last spring…but I’m not anymore. Because since the gym closed, instead of walking on a treadmill to nowhere, nowadays I go walking every morning to actual real-life places. I take a brisk walk alongside the Old City’s historic walls. Or through the lush grass and woods of Sacher Park.

But far and away my favorite walk is the one I take to the grave of the Zviller Rebbe zts”l underneath the Israeli Supreme Court. I love to join the crowds of people who gather there every Monday and Thursday to pray for a miracle.

The fencing around the grave site is plastered from one end to the other with signs that read: “I prayed at the grave of the Zviller Rebbe on a Monday, a Thursday, and a Monday, and a miracle happened to me…”
“I found my spouse”
“The lump was benign”
“I found a job”
“My son got into the yeshiva”
“I passed my driver’s test on the 28th try.”

So over the past few months of Mondays and Thursdays I’ve been praying for a few miracles of my own…

But the funny thing is that I can’t really tell whether any miracles have happened to me yet or not.

I prayed that I should find the six years (2003 to 2009!) of photos which I lost when our external hard drive when kaput. And then I came home and I opened my computer, and the photos were right there in “My Pictures.” But I wasn’t sure… Had I experienced a revealed miracle in the merit of the Tsaddik, or had I just overlooked those six years of photos the first time I’d poked around there?

And then I prayed that a conflict I had with a difficult neighbor would be resolved. And I came home from the Zviller Rebbe and for the next few weeks I saw that the conflict had somehow evaporated into thin air. Had I experienced a revealed miracle in the merit of the Tsaddik, or was this neighborly conflict just on hold for a few days or weeks while my neighbor stockpiles ammunition Hezbullah-style for the next round?

But there is one gift that I have received from the Rebbe about which I have no doubts whatsoever…

I’ve ALWAYS hated reading Psalms. I couldn’t understand the poetic Hebrew so well, so they all sort of blurred together in a confusion of Thees and Thous and Be Ye Praiseds. But since I’ve been going to the Zviller Rebbe and reading the required Segulah Psalms twice a week, I decided to buy a book of Psalms with an English translation above each word.

And using this translation, all of a sudden I understand why people make such a big deal about Tehillim. All of a sudden I feel like King David has been reading my diary and knows exactly my struggles and he’s telling me, “Chana Jenny, I’ve been there too…And believe me, G-d is far greater than any problem any human being could possibly have!”

A few months ago reading Psalms was pretty much my least favorite form of prayer– one to be avoided at almost any cost. And today– if I have a few spare minutes, reading Psalms is almost, well…fun!

My parents are visiting for Chanukah, and they brought me a very little gift that actually feels quite huge. They brought me a very old book of Psalms they found in their house:



My parents don’t know where these Psalms are from, though they almost certainly came from my Grandma Florence. But these Psalms are older than Grandma Florence was… who gave them to her?

Maybe from her mother, Cecilia Jenny, whom I’m named after?

Maybe from Cecilia Jenny’s mother-in-law, whose name I don’t know, but who was a Chassida of the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

But these thoughts about which great-great grandmother these Psalms came from are the ribbon on top of the gift that the Rebbe sent me…. They remind me that every time I open my book of Psalms and mouth its ancient words and hope for a miracle, I am not just being a fanatical baalat teshuva who left reason and logic behind with my shorts and chicken-cheese burritos.

In fact, as I mouth these sacred words I am continuing in the tradition of my foremothers, whose names I might not know, but whose belief and faith I have inherited within my DNA and veins and very soul.


  1. oooooo! chana jenny this was PERFECT!!

    i just experienced a similar yeshua, and immediately began to wonder if it was really a miracle or maybe i could rationally explain it.

    i think the bane of modern western culture has been the drive to rationally explain the obvious miracles we experience every day. just being alive is a daily miracle….

    may Hashem continue to shower you with revealed brachos…

  2. I love “antiques”- such a special gift! Do you use it?

    • the pages and binding are extremely brittle, so I’m sort of afraid to use it. Wonder if there’s any way to make it stronger?

      • Honey, you’re in Israel! There are professional book binders everywhere. Just ask at your nearest sephorim shop, and they can tell you where to go.

  3. So glad you found the English translation. To know you are not alone is the best gift you could ever receive.

  4. Are you taking requests? 🙂

  5. “I feel like King David has been reading my diary and knows exactly my struggles” This line gave me goosebumps! I feel exactly this way, and it came to me in a flash when I was davening at the kevarim in Meron. It was like all my stress, all my burdens that I’ve been carrying were lifted right off my shoulders. I realized how incredibly silly I was for thinking that I had to haul all that junk around on my own – I actually started laughing out loud with joy!

  6. Bracha Goetz

    Really Missing It

    by Bracha Goetz

    Late for a big meeting,
    Stuck in traffic on route,
    The woman prayed to God for help,
    Sweating in her business suit.

    “I know I haven’t been that good,
    But now I’ll really try.
    Please, I can’t miss this meeting…”
    She was starting to cry.

    Suddenly a road was cleared.
    The lady sped on through.
    Then, no parking could be found –
    What was she to do?

    Frantically she prayed to God,
    To find a parking spot.
    A man pulled out just as she spoke,
    And that great space – she got!

    Dashing into the building,
    With just moments left to spare,
    She hurried to the elevator
    -But then all she could do was stare.

    “Out of order” read the sign,
    Posted on the door.
    “Oh, please God,” she cried out loud,
    “My meeting’s on the fifteenth floor!”

    The elevator door flung open,
    Out came a cheerful guy.
    “It’s fixed now” he called out.
    Soon she was soaring high.

    Just as the meeting started,
    She had made it down the hall.
    “Everything worked out so well,” she thought,
    “I didn’t need God’s help at all!”

  7. If we knew the power of tehillim and what it achieves we would be saying it every spare minute. (Sorry i cant remember where thats from, maybe ‘Hayom Yom’?)

    • yes – it’s in one of the yom yom’s – and the words quoted are by the Alter Rebbe


        The words are the Tzemach Tzedek’s (3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe) and it’s the HaYom Yom for 24 Shevat:

        “If you only knew – The Tzemach Tzedek said – the power of verses of Tehillim and their effect in the highest Heavens, you would recite them constantly. Know that the chapters of Tehillim shatter all barriers, they ascend higher and still higher with no interference; they prostrate themselves in supplication before the Master of all worlds, and they effect and accomplish with kindness and compassion.”

  8. love this post. Doubting the miracle-ness of it reminds me of the joke of the guy who is late for his meeting and promises Hashem if you find me a parking I will go to minyan every day or other such things. Then a space open up and he says, never mind, just found one!

  9. What a precious gift that book of tehillim is! It’s a beautiful link in the chain of tradition.

  10. Don’t doubt the miracles! Even if it seems like a little, banal thing that can be explained away by “coincidence” or something rational, we have to remember that Hashem plans EVERYTHING! I remember the first time I tried the segula for finding a lost object and I was so scared that it wasn’t going to work and it would be a blow to my emuna. Well low and behold, as soon as I finished saying it, I turned around and behold, there was the thing I was looking for! If you want to say that it was a coincidence, fine, but if you believe that Hashem oversees every detail of the world, then I think you have to admit that it’s much more than that!

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