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When the Child Becomes Bar Mitzva
On the eve of 20 Elul 5760 (2000), the bar mitzva of Yosef Sorotzkin was celebrated. It was an especially moving occasion because Yosef, a sweet boy, was born with tremendous physical handicaps and was not expected to survive. With the tremendous efforts of his parents and his own strong will, he reached the age of bar mitzva and was now celebrating this special milestone with his friends and family.

Understandably, the guests at the bar mitzvah were very moved to be sharing this special occasion with the Sorotzkin family.  They all knew of the trials and tribulations that the family had undergone and were overjoyed to be celebrating Yossi’s bar mitzvah.  The bar mitzvah was also an opportunity to give thanks to G-d for His kindness and miracles.

Emotions ran even higher as the grandfather of the bar mitzva boy, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, then chief rabbi of Israel, stood near his grandson and spoke.  On behalf of the entire family, Rabbi Lau expressed his gratitude to G-d for allowing them to raise the child and reach this occasion. At the end of his speech Rabbi Lau said with great emotion, “This is an open miracle and I must include you in it since I have to fulfill a mission of the Rebbe and close a circle.

“Ten years ago, my wife and I and my daughter, the mother of the bar mitzva boy, visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It was Sunday, 17 Sivan 5750 during dollars. When we approached the Rebbe to receive our dollar, we told the Rebbe about Yossi’s medical condition, which was poor at that time, and the doctors were very pessimistic.

We told the Rebbe the doctors’ opinion and then, in opposition to everything everybody thought and said, the Rebbe gave my wife another dollar and said: “When the boy is bar mitzva, give him this.”

The Rebbe’s words were a surprise to us.  At that time, the thought of celebrating Yossi’s bar mitzvah seemed absolutely unrealistic.  We were filled with fears and anxieties about Yossi’s future, because of his dire medical prognosis. But the Rebbe said it with such confidence that it gave us all a feeling of tranquility and faith.  We had no doubt at that moment that Yossi would reach the age of bar mitzva, and we would give him the dollar then as the Rebbe had instructed.

Rabbi Lau removed the dollar from his pocket and said, “I hereby fulfill the shlichus the Lubavitcher Rebbe assigned me and my wife more than ten years ago. You can see that at the time I wrote on it, ‘to give it on the day of the bar mitzva, for a bracha, to Yosef ben Miriam.’”

Rabbi Lau tearfully gave the dollar to his grandson and said, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe said to give this to you today.”
After the celebration, Mrs. Miriam Sorotzkin, Yosef’s mother, said, “After the Rebbe gave my mother another dollar for Yossi, my father and the Rebbe spoke about mikvaos, ritual baths.

“At the end of their discussion, the Rebbe turned to me, gave me a dollar and blessed me with much success and then gave me another dollar. ‘Give this to the sofer (scribe) who will write the parshiyos of the tefillin for Yossi before his bar mitzva.’ This, in essence, repeated the blessing he had given my parents. I must admit that the blessing seemed very unrealistic yet it gave us renewed faith. When I received that dollar, it reinforced the Rebbe’s promise that Yossi would reach Bar Mitzva age and we would purchase tefillin for him, like any ordinary child.  With all the trials and tribulations involved in raising Yossi over the years, this dollar has been an incredible source of solace and blessing.

“I’ve been carrying the dollar for ten years. It has been moved from wallet to wallet. Now I’ve carried out the mission and have given it to the scribe who wrote the parshiyos for Yossi. When the scribe heard the story about the dollar, he was so moved that he refused to keep it; instead, he gave the dollar back to us.”


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