Moshiach’s Seuda, R. Chaim Kanievsky’s Advice, and the Power of Silence

When a Lubavitcher bochur walked into a Tverya shul and offered to hold a Moshiach’s Seuda, one man began shouting at him. But then another quietly went over to him and asked him for a bracha at the advice of R. Chaim Kanievsky.

Ten years had passed since that fateful night, yet barely a day went by that Reuven Attias didn’t vividly recall his heartbreak, even if only for a fleeting moment. Sitting at the dinner table with his 4 children that tragic night, his wife served their favorite dish – hot dogs and fries drizzled with tomato sauce. Suddenly, Reuven’s 4-year-old son Yaakov froze. His eyes bulged, his hands shot out, knocking over his cup of water, and his throat emitted no sound as his face turned white, then blue. He was choking on a piece of hot dog!

Neither Reuven nor his wife knew what to do. Reuven grabbed the phone and dialed 102, the emergency number in Israel, while his wife screamed and grabbed their son, shaking him violently. She opened his mouth and slapped him on his back, but to no avail. Within minutes, the child collapsed in her arms.

It seemed like an infinity passed before the emergency medical workers burst through their front door with their life-saving equipment. But, to the family’s consternation, the paramedics were helpless. There was nothing they could do but wait even longer until the ambulance arrived.

Yaakov was rushed to the Poriya Medical Center, just outside Tiberias. Yet, to the family’s profound sorrow, even the emergency room workers couldn’t save him. Shortly after he reached the hospital, little Yaakov passed away.

The tragedy poured over the Attias family like molten lead, plunging them into deep depression for years. Even when the cloud of grief finally lifted, its dark shadow remained. Reuven’s wife, Esther, had become infertile, leaving them bereft of the hope for more children. The best doctors in Israel all agreed that the problem was not physical, but psychological. Yaakov’s death had been so traumatic that her body had simply shut down in response. She could not conceive, nor was it clear if she would ever be able to again.

“Friends!” The voice of the speaker jarred Reuven Attias out of his thoughts, and he looked around the shule, reminding himself where he was. At the podium, Rabbi David Ohana, Rabbi of the Heichal Aharon shul in Tverya, was in the middle of delivering a drasha between Mincha and Maariv.

“Gentlemen! Today is the seventh and last day of Pesach (in Israel). In just another few minutes, the festival will be over, and we will be entering the period when we focus on the mitzvah of Sefiras ha’Omer. This is a propitious time to learn Pirkei Avos and work on our character.” Rabbi Ohana spoke of the importance of good manners, of being patient and forbearing, of speaking gently and not responding angrily when insulted.

“Let me tell you an amazing story that I recently heard. There was a young couple who had been married for many years, but were unable to have children. They went to every doctor in Israel, received brochos from many rabbis, and visited kivrei tzaddikim, but nothing helped.” Reuven Attias’s ears perked up as the rabbi continued the tale.

“Finally, they went to a leading sage in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky. ‘I give you my blessing,’ Rabbi Chaim told them. ‘But it may not help. If you want a truly effective blessing, then take my advice. Our sages say that the heavenly court overlooks the transgressions of a person who forgives insults directed at him. Therefore, if you see a person who is wrongly Since he has been forgiven for all his sins, he is a tzaddik in Hashem’s eyes, and thus a channel of blessing in the world.’

“The couple wanted to implement Rabbi Chaim’s advice,” Rabbi Ohana continued. “But really, friends, how often does that happen? Have you ever come across an argument in which one side doesn’t defend themselves, even a little? Furthermore, such a thing can’t be planned. You can’t tell your friend, ‘Let me insult you and you keep quiet so that you can bless me.’

“So, while the couple appreciated Rabbi Chaim’s words, they couldn’t imagine how they would fulfil them. Two weeks later, however, the husband was at the wedding of an old acquaintance when an argument broke out at one of the tables. Several people ganged up on one of the guests with real vindictiveness. They cursed him, they insulted him, they degraded him in front of the entire wedding party. And that man – he didn’t say anything. His face was red with shame, but he kept his mouth shut.

“When the husband saw what was happening, he immediately recalled Rabbi Chaim’s words. He ran to the man’s side and whispered to him. ‘I’m sorry for what just happened, but, please, please, give me a blessing for a child. My wife and I have never had children.’

“The man, who was obviously a humble person to begin with, and doubtless feeling even meeker now, declined at first. ‘Who am I to give blessings?’ he replied. ‘I’m not a tzaddik…’

“But the husband persisted. ‘Please, I beg of you, bless me to have a son!’

“Finally, the man relented. ‘Alright. Hashem should bless you with a son, and fulfil all your deepest wishes for the good.’

“‘Amen!’ the husband declared loudly.

“Friends! Can you believe it?” concluded Rabbi Ohana. “Exactly one year later, that young man made a Bris for his first child. That is the power of keeping silent in the face of insults!”

Rabbi Ohana had barely finished this sentence when the door of the shul swung wide open and a young Chabad bochur burst into the room. Full of joy and enthusiasm, he held aloft a box of matzah and a bottle of wine.

“Gentlemen!” he declared with excitement. “Pesach is almost over. There’s still time to eat some matzah while it’s still a mitzvah! Come, everyone, let’s wash and eat the Seudas Moshiach!”

His enthusiasm, sadly, was not contagious. Several members of the congregation murmured disapprovingly, and one of them jumped to his feet and started yelling at him: “Chutzpan, Rasha! How dare you barge in here with your nonsense! Who needs you? Get out now!”

The young man fell silent. He turned white, then red. He had meant well and now his face burned with shame. But without saying a word, he lowered his head and turned to leave the shul.

Reuven Attias watched the scene in disbelief. “Did you see what just happened?” he whispered excitedly to his friend, Chananya Lugasi. “That boy didn’t respond. It’s like the story the Rav just told us! I don’t believe it! I’m going after him to get a blessing.”

Reuven rose and quickly left the synagogue. The young man was still standing outside, his eyes red with tears. “Please,” Reuven asked the young man, “give me a brocho for a son.”

“A brocho?” the bochur repeated. “I can’t give blessings. I’m not anybody special. Only the Rebbe can give blessings.”

“Please,” Reuven Attias begged. “My wife has not had a child in years.”

The young man was silent. Then, taking one of Reuven’s hands in his own, he said sincerely,

“May Hashem bless you with all good things, and may He bless you with a child.”

“Amen!” answered Reuven, fervently.

“Amen,” repeated the boy after him, and he then turned and walked away into the growing darkness.

Reuven Attias re-entered the shul. “I got my blessing,” he whispered to Chanaya. “B’ezras Hashem,” his friend whispered back.

And that is how, one year later, on the seventh day of Pesach, Reuven Attias and his wife brought their newborn son into the covenant of Avraham Aveinu. They named him Dovid, after Rabbi Dovid Ohana, whose speech Reuven had heard exactly one year before.

Source: By Rabbi Eliezer Shore, who heard the story directly from Chananya Lugasi. Published in Meeting Elijah, with edits by Yerachmiel Tilles and further edits by the Young Yeshivah Magazine.

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