Anything’s Possible if the Rebbe Wants It

by Hershel Rosenbluh for

24 Sivan is the 60th yahrtzeit of Reb Dovid Bravman, who served as head of the Kfar Chabad Council.

In 5715/1955, he was elected to this position without even presenting a candidacy. A member of the community suggested he’d make a good yoshev rosh; many residents of the Kfar agreed and voted him in.

In 5717/1956, Reb Dovid Bravman traveled to the Rebbe. During yechidus, the Rebbe told him that the housing in Kfar Chabad for recent Moroccan immigrants was inadequate. They were living in old, run-down houses, and the Rebbe was adamant that this needed to change.

Unfortunately, the Housing Ministry of Israel felt the housing arrangements were just fine. Without their approval, getting the necessary funding for new housing was near impossible.

In those days, Mr. Yonah Kesseh was the head of the Mapai party branch in Tel-Aviv and was well-connected to all government offices. As a child, Yonah had visited Yekatrineslav and had been a guest in the home of Reb Levi Yitzchok and Rebbetzin Chana, the Rebbe’s parents. He had also been in yechidus with the Rebbe a few years back and was full of hispaylus from that encounter.

Reb Pinye Althaus suggested to Reb Dovid Chein, secretary of the Council, that he pay Kesseh a visit. “If Yonah throws you out the door, climb back in through the window,” Reb Pinye told Reb Dovid. “Only he can help you.”

When Reb Dovid Chein visited Kesseh, he promised to see what could be done. A week later, he went to see him again and was told that unfortunately, Kfar Chabad was not entitled to any new housing.

Undeterred, Reb Dovid Chein declared that if the Rebbe said to build new apartments, it must be possible. Kesseh responded that he, too, believed in the Rebbe, but that it didn’t change the fact. “You can write to the Rebbe and tell him that I said it’s not possible.” Reb Dovid did not see this as an option.

Over and over again, Reb Dovid Chein went to see Yonah Kesseh. In Reb Dovid’s words: “The one who encouraged me throughout that time was Reb Dovid Bravman. He told me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the new housing. He convinced me not to let Yonah off the hook and to keep putting pressure on him.”

During that summer, Reb Dovid Chein continued visiting Kesseh’s office regularly. It got to a point that Kesseh got tired of seeing him there! Finally, he said, “You’re a nudnik, and you won’t go away. I’m willing to arrange the building of new apartments for you. Not because you were such a nudge, but for the Rebbe.” Reb Dovid thanked him and immediately went to send off an express letter to the Rebbe, informing him of the good news.

A week later Reb Dovid Chein received a telegram from Kesseh’s office, asking him to come immediately. When he got there Yonah was livid. “Why did you write to the Rebbe about this?” he shouted. Reb Dovid understood right away what had transpired.

The Rebbe had written in response to Reb Dovid’s letter, thanking Kesseh for his help and asking him to hurry up the permit process, so that the building could begin as soon as possible. “I’m in very hot water,” Yonah said, “I committed to the Rebbe and now I can’t go back on my word.”

Three days later the tractors arrived in Kfar Chabad….

Reb Dovid Chein recalls that when the building was in full swing Reb Dovid Bravman said to him, “You see? When the Rebbe wants it, anything is possible!”

Reb Dovid Bravman passed away in 5719/1959 at the age of 49.

Adapted from Kfar Chabad Magazine.

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