Reb Mordechai Dubin’s* house and office were always filled with throngs of people seeking his help and together with his secretaries, he would tend to each one’s needs.
Reb Mordechai also served as a member of the Latvian parliament, which he ultimately used to pressure the Russian government to free the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe from Russian prison and allow him to leave Russia with his family and library. The Previous Rebbe referred to Reb Mordechai as the Minister of Kindness for his outstanding kindness to others.
During World War II, the Russians conquered Riga, Latvia and soon thereafter arrested Reb Mordechai along with other officials of the Latvian government. Reb Mordechai was held in jail in Saratov, until one evening he was unexpectedly released (due to pressure from forces outside of Russia). Having nowhere to go, he walked to the nearby city of Kubishov, hoping to find a home with a mezuzah that might take him in.
After many hours, a tired, hungry, and sick Reb Mordechai finally arrived in Kubishov and found a house with a mezuzah. After knocking on the door for a while the door opened a crack but was immediately closed. Reb Mordechai, wearing his prisoner uniform judged him favorably, “Who would risk taking in such a person?” he thought aloud.
But with no energy left to struggle to explain himself, Reb Mordechai decided to lay down right there, and what will be will be. He soon felt his end was near and started to say viduy (the prayer at the end of life).
Suddenly, a thought entered his mind, “What will be tomorrow when the Jew will find me dead on his doorstep?! He will feel terrible guilt for the rest of his life!”
This thought gave him strength to knock again and convince the Jewish man to take him in.
Reb Mordechai would say, “Because of my ‘ahavat Yisroel’ (love of a fellow Jew), my life was saved.”
From Living Jewish #684
*Rabbi Mordechai Dubin (1889-1957) was a towering leader of Latvian Jewry in the inter-war years from 1918-1940. He served as the educational minister of Latvia’s parliament during its existence as a free country. He played a central role in rescuing the sixth Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, zt’l, from Soviet imprisonment in 1927 and accompanied the Rebbe when he traveled to America in 1929. He was instrumental once again in saving the Previous Rebbe from Nazi occupied Poland in 1939. In 1941, when Latvia was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union, he was arrested and sent to jail in Russia, but was released due to pressure from outside forces.
Unfortunately, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities a second time and tragically died in Soviet exile in Siberia in 1957. He was buried in Tula. Thirty years later, in 1986, his remains were transferred to the Jewish cemetery in Malakhovka, Russia and a headstone for this great man was added.