Take Two Dollars and Call Me in the Morning

Mrs. Tila Falic Levi of Miami recalls what the Rebbe told her parents after she became sick as a child, and the resulting miracles.

Mrs. Tila Falic Levi is a mother of six children – as well as a community activist – who is the founding president of Jewish Culture High School (JCHS) in Miami. She was interviewed by JEM in October 2021.

I grew up in Bal Harbour, Florida, where my parents moved because of a young dynamic couple – the Rebbe’s emissaries, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar and his wife, Rebbetzin Chani – who had started a new community there. Their style appealed to my parents who were young, with three children, and looking for a nice Jewish environment to raise their family.

In 1990, when I was nine years old, I got sick – I had an upset stomach, intermittent fever, and heart palpitations for about six months – but the doctors with whom my parents consulted could not figure out what was wrong with me. It was not until we traveled for a relative’s wedding to Panama, where an old experienced physician suggested that I had an overactive thyroid – a condition called Grave’s disease.

At the time, little was known about this disease and my parents were worried about the severe side-effects that one of the recommended medications – radioactive iodine – could have on the growing body of a child. My father confided his concerns to Rabbi Lipskar, who immediately offered to write to the Rebbe for his advice and blessing.

In his response, the Rebbe recommended that we not just keep kosher – which of course we did – but that we switch to glatt kosher, a higher level of observance. This meant buying meat that was much more expensive than regular kosher meat. Back then, there were only two kosher butchers in Miami, and to do what the Rebbe advised involved a big effort on my parents’ part. But they took it very seriously. Even though they considered themselves Modern Orthodox and not Chabad, nevertheless, because the Rebbe said so, they decided they had to do it.

Up to this point, no one in our family had met the Rebbe, and it was decided that we would all fly to New York and approach him on a Sunday when he typically handed out dollar bills for people to donate to charity.

I was incredibly excited to meet this “superhero” whom I had heard so much about – this holy Rebbe who was responsible for helping so many people.

Rebbetzin Lipskar’s parents, the Minkowitzes, put us up and fed us over Shabbat, and on Sunday we went to stand in the long line that formed early in the morning – so many people wanted to get a dollar and a blessing from the Rebbe.

Even though there were what seemed like thousands of people in line, I was sure that the Rebbe was expecting to see me, and when it was my turn to approach him, I said with a great deal of confidence, “I’m from Rabbi Lipskar’s shul. I’m the little girl that you told to keep kosher, the one that has the thyroid problems.”

The Rebbe gave me a piercing look and handed me a dollar bill, as he did with others, but then he gave me an additional dollar bill and said, “This is for all your problems [to] have a good solution.”

And that is what happened.

I went home certain that I was cured. And, I largely was. I had to take medication for four years, but I did not have to take the radioactive iodine that so concerned my parents, nor did I have to undergo surgery.

Of course, my family continued to keep to a high kosher standard, and I have also done so throughout my adult life. I always felt that this afforded me an extra level of protection so, like my parents, I take it very seriously. The Rebbe told me to do this, so I did it. The Rebbe promised me a good solution, and his promise was fulfilled.

Eventually, I was able to discontinue the medication, and even though I do have to take a thyroid supplement for the rest of my life, a problem that was very serious when I was a child has become just a small issue which doesn’t affect my life at all. And I always felt this was because of the Rebbe’s blessing.

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