Two Cups of Vodka That Saved Two Train Cars

How one quick-thinking chossid and two cups of spirits saved two train cars of Lubavitchers trying to escape Soviet Russia. Presented in honor of 21 Sivan, the anniversary of the first successful “eshalon,” leading to the salvation of over one thousand Lubavitcher Chassidim

When Rabbi Avraham Korf was a young child, his family left Russia on the famed “eshalons,” where Lubavitchers posed as Polish citizens being repatriated to their country after World War Two. He shared the following about his experience:

“We joined one of the eshalon trains that left Russia for Poland — two wagons full of Lubavitchers. We were all officially Polish citizens, and yet not a single one of us spoke Polish; we barely remembered our new Polish ‘names’ that were written in our documents. Later we found out that Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson was also on the train; at the time it was a complete secret, only one or two people knew about it. 

“When we arrived at the border, we were all literally shaking with fear. Our passports, and literally everything about our trip, was completely illegal, and there had already been a few arrests in the past; we had no way of knowing what was in store for us. What actually took place completely blew our minds. 

“With us in our wagon were Reb Avrohom Mayorer and Reb Yisroel Neveler; Reb Avrohom had with him a two-liter bottle of mashke. When the officer came on to the train, Reb Avrohom offered him a cup, but the officer declined. Reb Avrohom nevertheless insisted, and handed him a full glass of mashke, which the officer eventually drank in its entirety. His eyes began rolling, and he walked off the train. 

“The wagons didn’t have a roof, so we were able to see what happened next. The officer got off and told his friend that there was good vodka in the wagon. Not wanting to miss out, the second officer came and drank a full cup as well. 

“They then ordered all of us to get off the wagon so they can check our documents. By the time we got off, they were both quite intoxicated, and one of them simply looked at his watch and exclaimed that it is late and we should therefore continue on our way. 

“We couldn’t believe what happened, but later we came to the conclusion that we merited such a miracle only because the Rebbe’s mother was with us on the train.”

(A Chassidisher Derher — Iyar 5776)

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