An Unexpected Visit
Yosef Yitzchok was an 18-year-old yeshivah student in Chabad Torah Academy in Sefad, Israel. Early one Friday morning, he jumped on a bus for a quick visit to his parents in Ramat Gan, three hours away. He spent a few hours with his parents, kissed them good bye, bade them a good Shabbat and returned to the bus terminal for the return trip.
But there were so many Jews without head coverings in the terminal… A little voice inside him told him he had to help at least one of them to put on Tefillin.
Yosef Yitzchok found a table, put down his backpack, took out his Tefillin, and asked the first man who passed if he wanted to put them on. To his pleasant surprise, the man smiled, approached the table and rolled up his sleeve. In a flash, Yosef had the Tefillin on; before he was finished someone else approached, then another until a small line had formed.
Yosef Yitzchak forgot about time. “This is great,” he thought to himself, and he kept on going.
Of course, there were many who wanted to hear a word about the weekly Torah portion or just wanted to talk for a minute. The first time there was a lull Yosef Yitzchok took a look at his watch. Oh no! Three hours had passed. He quickly wrapped up the Tefillin, put them in his bag and ran to the stop to see the last bus pull away. Now how would he get back to the yeshivah?
Thinking quickly, Yosef decided to take the next bus going in the general direction of Safed, and then hitchhike the rest of the way. He managed to find a ride only a few minutes after getting off the bus. The car wasn’t heading all the way to Safed but at least he was making progress. “What good luck!” he told himself.
But the next ride didn't come so quickly, and the one that did come wasn’t going exactly where he wanted. He got in but he realized he'd have to get off on the way. After another hour he realized that in just a few minutes it would begin to get dark. Shabbat was approaching, and as an observant Jew Yosef would not travel on Shabbat. “Please let me out,” he told the driver quietly.
The driver let him off at the entrance of the first kibbutz they passed and sped away.
Yosef Yitzchak had been in a kibbutz before and all of them have pretty much the same layout, so he knew where to go. He headed straight to the dining room.
It dawned on him that he had heard of this place before. It was a “Shomer HaTzair” kibbutz, the “Youth Guard,” formerly affiliated with the Communist movement and known for their staunch atheism. (Years ago such kibbutzim had pictures of Stalin on the wall entitled “A luminary to the world.”)
But Yosef was optimistic; if he was here might as well make the most of it. He entered the dining room just as everyone was in the middle of their meal. Suddenly there was silence; all eyes were on him. Yosef put down his backpack, smiled, waved and said, “Good Shabbat, everyone!”
A few men approached him and shook hands. He briefly and quietly explained to them what had happened. They graciously invited him stay to eat whatever he could according to his beliefs and explained that all the rooms were full but they could give him a small room off the kitchen with a mattress and bedding.
Yosef changed clothes in a side room, prayed the evening Shabbat prayer in his pleasant, melodic voice, and sat down to eat.
For many of the kibbutz people it was their first personal contact with a religious Jew. Yosef's simple, positive character and pleasant demeanor had a positive effect on them. In the course of that Shabbat they heard words of Torah, Chassidic stories and a lot about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his teachings on Moshiach.
On Saturday night, after Shabbat ended, a shy young woman in her mid-twenties approached Yosef, thanked him for coming and asked him exactly why he decided to come.
He explained what had happened: he had missed his bus and it really wasn't his conscious decision. As he spoke, her eyes filled with tears and she began weeping.
When she calmed down, she dried her eyes and explained. A few years ago she had become interested in Judaism but had no one to help her in her quest; religion was a taboo subject in the kibbutz, so she just kept it to herself. But it bothered her greatly that there was no one to teach her, and she prayed to G-d for help.
A few weeks later, she was in Tel Aviv and saw a poster with a large picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, advertising a telephone number where it was possible to get advice from his books of letters.
She jotted down the number, and when she got home she wrote a letter to the Rebbe, called the number and, without telling them the contents of the letter, asked them to open a book for her.
They read to her over the phone, “The Rebbe acknowledges receiving your letter, and promises to send one of his emissaries to answer your questions and to help you.”
Then, just a week later Yosef Yitzchak arrived. It was obvious to her that this was no accident; he was sent directly by the Rebbe... That was the only explanation.
Not long afterwards, a rabbi began visiting the kibbutz regularly. This young woman, and many other kibbutz members, strengthened their connection to G-d and His Torah.