Rabbi Levitansky, the Canary and Crown Royal

As Chabad of Simcha Monica celebrates 50 years, they recall the legend that was Harav Avrohom Levitansky. Read a story about him, watch classical moments, and help his work continue.

As Chabad of Simcha Monica celebrates 50 years, they recall the legend that was Harav Avrohom Levitansky a”h. Read a story about him, watch classical moments, and help his work continue.

Written by Robin Ferszt A”H, shortly after Rabbi Levitanksy passed away

One afternoon, about 20 or so years ago, my husband brought home, not one, but two canaries who he told me would bring “blessings” and “music” into our home. As if there wasn’t enough “music” from our five very noisy children.

I, of course, was appointed Official Feeder and Cage Cleaner of our new family members.

One day, I approached the cage and found that one of the canaries was having violent convulsions. Not knowing what to do, I quickly picked up the cage with both canaries and drove to the nearest veterinarian.

Upon arriving, the doctor immediately took the convulsing bird and examined him. After waiting for not too long of a time, the doctor informed me if I wanted to save the bird, I would have to put the bird into the hospital, which would cost me $25 a day. He could not tell me how long his recovery would take. I could not possibly take the bird home and watch it suffer and die, so I left him with the doctor.

When I told my husband, he looked at me and said: “You’re going to pay $25 a day for a $5 bird? What if he doesn’t respond to the medicine or he’s a slow recoveree? We could end up with hundreds, or even, in the worst scenario, thousands of dollars? Our expensive children have Kaiser! And we’re going to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills for a dumb bird?!”

I really didn’t know what to do. Even though I did not want those birds in the first place, I still could not bare the thought of watching the canary die. What to do? Who to call? Rabbi Levitansky!

I made the call, and I got him on the first ring! I told him of the situation and he said, “Bring him to me. I kept a bird alive for ten years on Crown Royal and Aspirin.”

“RabbiLevitansky, I can’t subject the bird to that. That’s abuse!” I said goodbye.

Five minutes after I hung up from the Rabbi, the phone rang and it was the bird doctor. He told me that he and his colleagues have never seen such symptoms in a canary, and that he wants to observe it closely. I would not have to pay the hospitalization. Hurray!

That good news was on Wednesday. Friday he called me again and recommended that the bird be put to sleep. Again, not knowing what to do, I called Rabbi Levitansky, who told me to ask the doctor if the bird was suffering. I called back the doctor, and yes, the bird was suffering. When I phoned Rabbi Levitansky with that news, he told me to ask the doctor if there is any chance that the bird would recover. After calling the doctor: No. There is no chance of recovery. Only then, did the Rabbi give his okay to let the bird die.

What is the point of this silly story?

The point is that the Rabbi, between all his other phone calls from other people and running to the bank and the million other responsibilities he had, willingly spent time answering questions on halacha about a little canary. That was Rabbi Levitansky! Every question was important, and every person had his complete devotion.

He asked me for the other canary and I gladly gave him it, but made him promise me that he would not give it Crown Royal or Aspirin. He put it in the front office of Chabad House, where it sang and chirped happily.


Celebrating 50 years of Shlichus in Simcha Monica, a campaign was launched aiming to raise $500,000 for much-needed upgrades and a facelift, so that Chabad in Simcha Monica can continue the legacy of Rabbi Levitansky and make Yiddishkeit fun and accessible to all.

To take part in the campaign, please click here – jewishsmonica.com/match

VIDEO: Special and Classic Moments with Rabbi Levitansky

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