Oct 26, 2011

The Rebbe's Dollar Works Its Powers For Shalit 20 Years Later

There is a nice, albeit silly, story going around. The story goes, in brief, that a Chabad couple, the Cantermans,  became very close with Noam and Aviva Shalit during the time they spent in their protest tent in Jerusalem. Many people volunteered to help the Shalit's in different ways, and the Cantermans would take a weekly turn cooking meals for the Shalit family. They would bring the food to the tent and hang out and talk with them. Over time they became close.

Before last Pesach they gave Aviva Shalit a dollar they had received 20 years earlier from the Lubavitcher Rebbe and explained to her that these dollars have a special power. From here the story changes a bit, though not significantly, and I heard 3 different versions of the rest of the story. However it exactly happened, Aviva told them that Gilad had been released, and when she had looked at the dollar she saw the date written on it - Tuesday 20 Tishrei.

Not knowing why the date was written on it, she asked the Cantermans what it meant. they explained that 20 years earlier the rebbe gave them the dollar bill. They, as many do, wrote on the bill the date they received it from the rebbe - a Tuesday on the 20th of Tishrei.

Gilad Shalit was released from captivity on a Tuesday, the 20th of Tishrei.

I am not sure what the point of the story is, though of course we believe nothing is coincidental. At first I liked the story. It's a bit of a "feel good" story - clearly the dollar from the rebbe brought them the salvation, and it was all meant to work out.

Then I was a bit ashamed that this silliness is what excites us so much.

Why didn't the bill protect Gilad in the first place? Simply because his mother had not yet held it? Why didn't it get him out from Pesach when it was given to her? Why not while in the hands of the Cantermans during the previous 5 years or so? Maybe had they given it as tzedaka, which is what I always thought was supposed to be done with the dollar from the rebbe, one could say they made a zchus through the rebbe's dollar, and the good deed of charity gave them merit for salvation, but just because she put it in her wallet?

Maybe I am missing the point of the story. Maybe there is no point.


  1. Maybe there is no point other than the obsessional desire of people to make up wondrous stories about their Rebbes. Sorry, I don't believe a word of it. Just like the shop owner who dropped dead, the guys with the mice and the pots of gold and Nir Ben-Artzi's claims to prophecy.

  2. I don't know what the intention is - certainly some stories include instructions to invest or donate the dollars, but it does seem that many hold onto them for good luck.

    To contrast I read a story of a non-Jew who was down-and-out in Memphis, and gave his last dollar (or $5) to someone else. Maybe the bill was autographed by a Memphis star. At that moment - after letting go of that piece of sentimental currency - his fortunes turned around in every way.

  3. Maybe the story (if it were true) was describing a Nostradamus-like prediction, rather than a yeshua.

  4. I never like stories like this. They're like the "And I went to the Rebbe and he blessed me and then, after 20 years of trying I finally got pregnant!" Yeah, and what about the 5000 other women who got the same blessing and didn't?

  5. These Chabad fanatics (and I hope they're the minority) will worship the rebbe but won't listen to him. The rebbe simply gave out dollars for people to give to charity. The rebbe never totemized the dollars. Never. He most certainly believed in the power of the act of charity: "צדקה תציל ממות.. Charity saves one from death." Some people kept the dollars for sentimental reasons, but didn't ascribe "lucky" powers to the bills. And now we've got those who go further, and instead of promoting charity, they promote superstitions which are against the Torah.

  6. How is it permissible to keep the dollars, if they were given expressly in order to be given to charity?

  7. expressly? I got a dollar onmce fom the rebbe and dont remember being told it was for charity. I was a kid then and have no idea what happened to it. i suspect it was used to buy ice cream

  8. While I've never taken part in this practice (surprising, right?), my understanding is that people would exchange the dollar they received with another dollar, and give then second one to tzedaka while keeping the physical piece of paper they got from their Rebbe.

  9. while I despise these stories for what they are - fairy tales, one could add to this by saying the protection he recieved was not being killed like other captives.

    Now maybe if the Rebbe had given them a 100, maybe he wouldn't have even been captured, but a buck? How much savings do you get for a buck?!



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