Yehuda Landau was born and raised in the city of Bahia Blanca, a resort city in southern Argentina. The Jewish community there was very assimilated, and Yehuda received very little Jewish education.
The strongest Jewish memory from his youth was his Bar Mitzvah. His mother told him that since he was almost thirteen, there was an ancient Jewish custom to celebrate that day. So, he was taken to the synagogue and given an aliyah to the Torah. He put on Tefillin for the first time… which was also the last time for many years to come.
When he grew up, he felt grateful that his life was good. He married a Jewish girl, was successful in business and was a host on a popular radio talk show. He felt happy and secure.
In 1988 (5748), Yehuda and his wife celebrated the birth of twins, Zecharia and Nachum. They were very happy. Yehuda went to the local synagogue to arrange for the twins to have a brit milah.
In the synagogue, he met a new rabbi whom he hadn’t seen before. He introduced himself as a Shliach, an emissary, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Moshe Freedman had come to Bahia Blanca a short three years earlier. He invited Yehuda to participate in some programs at Chabad. Yehuda was interested in what the Rabbi had to offer.
When he came to some classes the rabbi was giving, he was very impressed. The ideas Rabbi Freedman spoke about were actually the way he and his family lived. Soon they became good friends. As the friendship with Rabbi Freedman grew, Yehuda and his wife gradually began to observe more mitzvot, but they were still very hesitant about becoming totally observant. When they learned that the Freedmans buy only Cholov Yisroel milk for their family, they asked the Rabbi to get them Cholov Yisrael milk for their baby boys also.
“They are Jewish babies, so they should have kosher Jewish milk,” the parents said.
One day they noticed that the baby, Nachum, could not open one of his eyes. They took him to doctors and were told that he had a ‘lazy eye.’ The doctors tried various methods of fixing the problem. They covered the good eye, so that the weak eye would get stronger, but it didn’t seem to help. The family traveled to Buenos Aires to consult with a specialist. They made an appointment to see one of the biggest eye doctors in Buenos Aires. When he checked the baby, he concluded that the only thing that might work, would be to operate when the child would be a little older and stronger.
When Nachum was three years old they operated on his eye. However, this did not help either. The child had become so used to using just one eye that the other eye remained lazy and did not recover. The medical team was concerned that he might lose the vision in the eye altogether. Yehuda and his wife were very concerned and upset.
From time to time, Rabbi Freedman would come to their house to visit. Around this time, when he came, he brought along a Chabad publication in Spanish which was called, ‘Raayon Hachodesh’ – A Thoughtfor the Month. Before he left, he offered it to the couple.
Yehuda glanced at the magazine and one of the stories caught his eye. He read it from beginning to end.
And this is the story Yehuda read:
It was about a man who never had children. The Chabad Rabbi who knew him urged him to go to 770 (the Rebbe’s synagogue) and ask for a brocho (blessing) from the Rebbe. The man seemed to always find an excuse not to go. He and his wife had been to the biggest doctors. He could not imagine that a blessing from a rabbi could help. He was also nervous that the Rebbe would ask him for a big donation.
The Chabad rabbi did not give up. He kept urging the man to go with him to 770 to see the Rebbe.
“What do you have to lose?” he said to him.
One time, when the man was in New York for business, he unexpectedly met his local rabbi in the street! Now he had no excuse and realized that it must be Divine Providence. Together they set out for 770 but when they finally arrived, they were told that the Rebbe was not seeing anyone at that time. What a letdown!
“Don’t worry,” his Chabad rabbi said, “at 3:15 pm the Rebbe davens Mincha, (the afternoon prayer). We will stand here in the hallway by the elevator and when the Rebbe comes out you will be able to quickly ask for a brocho as he passes by on the way to his office.”
At 3:40 pm, as the Mincha prayer finished, the door opened and the Rebbe came out.
The man took a step forward, and suddenly all the disappointment and frustration after years of yearning for a child flooded his heart and he began to cry bitterly.
“Rebbe,” he exclaimed, “What is all my money worth if I have no children?”
“Do you put on Tefilliin?” the Rebbe asked. That was not the kind of question he expected.
“No,” he replied. “I am not religious.”
The Rebbe smiled and said, “You are a businessman. I am also a businessman. I will make a deal with you. You should put on Tefillin, in which it is written, ‘You shall teach (these words) to your children’, and in the merit of this important mitzvah , Hashem will bless you with a son.”
The man began putting on Tefillin and a year later his wife had a baby boy!
When Yehuda finished reading this story, he felt very emotional.
That same night he had an amazing dream. In his dream he saw the Rebbe standing in the middle of a room, looking at him with a kindly gaze.
“Why are you so sad?” the Rebbe asked.
At first Yehuda was afraid to look at the Rebbe and could not answer. But then he felt very calm and told the Rebbe that it was because of their son’s health.
The Rebbe smiled warmly, and asked, “Does your son wear Tzitzit every day?”
He answered that he did not.
Then the Rebbe said, “Buy him Tzitzit to wear and you will see that everything will work out in the best way.
”Yehuda was taken aback. Still in his dream, he wondered, how could wearing Tzitzit help his son’s eye condition?
Then, it seemed that the Rebbe replied to his unspoken question.
“It says about the mitzvah of wearing Tzitzit ,’and you shall look upon them,’ (Parshat Shelach, Chapter 15 verse 39). If you will do your part here below, Hashem will surely help from Above.”
Suddenly, Yehuda woke up.
He was covered in a cold sweat and felt very confused. At that time, he did not yet wear Tzitzit himself, and was far from ready to start. He had never realized that the Torah said you should look at the Tzitzit. It was not until later that he checked in a Siddur, (in the Shema prayer) and found out that it was exactly as the Rebbe had said.
He was torn. Of course, he desperately wanted his son to be well, and his dream seemed very real. But personally, he didn’t yet want to wear Tzitzit, so how could he put them on his son?
A fierce struggle was taking place in his heart.
Not long after that, Yehuda had to be in Buenos Aires on business. His wife’s cousin, whose family is Chabad, invited him for Shabbat.
At the Shabbat table of Gabi and Margalit Setton (who are today Shluchim of the Rebbe in Buenos Aires), Yehuda shared his remarkable and extraordinary dream.
A bochur (Yeshiva student), Yossi Benshimol, who was also spending Shabbat at the same house, turned to Yehuda and said:
“Look, Yehuda, it’s all in your hands now. People can dream about a lot of things, for many different reasons. But when a person dreams about the Rebbe, it’s not just his imagination. The Rebbe told you how you can help your son. If you don’t do it, it’s your responsibility.”
Yehuda knew that he was right. He spoke to his wife, and they decided that he would start wearing Tzitzit…just for a test period… just at home…to see how they felt about it.
And then an amazing thing happened. As soon as the children saw their father wearing Tzitzit, they said they also wanted Tzitzit. So that was the end of the test period. He bought Tzitzit for the twins, and they started wearing Tzitzit every day.One Mitzva led to another and before long, Yehuda and his family became a full-fledged Chassidishe family.
Four months after they started wearing Tzitzit, Yehuda took his son to the eye doctor for a follow up visit. Suddenly doctors were rushing into the examination room from all sides. Yehuda was nervous. Had something terrible happened?
The top doctor came out and said, “Mr. Landau, could you please tell me what happened with your son? Did you do something we don’t know about? Did you try some alternative kind of healing?
”Yehuda shook his head, and wondered, what was the doctor getting at?”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the doctor said. “Your son sees just fine. It’s as though he never had a problem. Listen, I’ve been the Head of this Department for many years, but this goes beyond anything I ever learned or experienced in medicine. Your son’s problem with his vision is gone!”
“Yehuda was overcome with joy to hear this great good news. He then told the doctor about his dream.
“Mr. Landau,” the doctor said. “You should know that your dream sounds totally unreal; but it is more real than what has happened with your son! His condition is cured! It’s a miracle!
”When the boys turned six years old, the family moved to Buenos Aires in order for the boys to receive a proper Jewish education and for the family to be in a larger Jewish community. The children attended the Chabad Cheder school.
In 1995, Yehuda joined a group from Argentina, that was making a trip to 770 in New York. A highlight of the trip was arranged that they should be admitted to the Rebbe’s Yechidut room (where the Rebbe would conduct private audiences).Yehuda was sure that this would be a special experience, and decided that he would say Tehillim the entire time. But when he came into the Rebbe’s room, he suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion and could not utter a word. It was the exact same room which he had seen in his dream… the same bookshelves, the same desk, the same chair.
Suddenly he burst into tears. No one could understand what was happening and he could not explain.
When a person’s emotions are too strong for the heart to bear, he will begin to cry. His tears could be tears of pain or tears of joy, tears of love or tears of gratitude, tears of disbelief or tears at realizing the overwhelming truth. For Yehuda it was all the above.
Today Yehuda and his family live in Nachlat Har Chabad, in Israel, where their family grew, thank G-d.
Today, a number of the Landau children are, thank G-d, married, including Nachum and Zecharia and have established their own beautiful Chassidishe families. Four years ago, on Gimel Tamuz, (when this story was first printed), Nachum and his wife celebrated the brit milah of their son!
We wish the family continued simchot in good health begur!
A heartfelt thank you to Yehuda and Raizel for permission to share their inspirational story.
Thank you, Sara Freedman, dedicated shlucha in Bahia Blanca, who continues to devote herself to the Jewish community following her husband’s untimely passing. The Freedman’s came to Bahia Blanca in 1985, to a spiritual desert. With utmost love and dedication, they inspired many individuals and families to reconnect to their Judaism. When the economy in Argentina took a downturn, they provided food and medicine to those whose livelihoods were affected. This continues till today and even more so. With the help of some of her children, Sara, continues to provide physical and spiritual guidance and assistance to the community. To be a partner with Sara in these difficult times, please go to: www.chabadbahia.com and see their amazing work and how you can help out.
On this day, 28th of Sivan, 1941, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin miraculously arrived in America on the last boat out of Portugal from war-torn Europe. The Previous Rebbe’s arrival one year earlier, in 1940 began the process of bringing Torah-true Judaism to the ‘kalte medina’, to America. The Rebbe was put in charge of all educational institutions under the direction of the Previous Rebbe. Together they brought a reawakening of Judaism and Chasidism to the Lower Hemisphere and from here to the whole world. This day is an auspicious day connecting the month of Sivan and the month of Tamuz, which begins three days hence. The 28th of Sivan, also known as ‘koach’ Sivan – is the strength that we are given from Above that the Torah guide our every action, both those commanded by G-d, the mitzvot, and those we do for the sake of G-d on our own initiative. May it herald in the coming of Moshiach NOW!
This coming week is the 26th yahrzeit of the Rebbe on Gimel Tamuz (Thursday, June 25th). Our Sages say, “When a Tzadik departs he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime.” – Zohar. This is explained in Tanya to mean, “Even in this material world, a tzadik’s presence is more powerfully felt after his passing than during his lifetime.”
This story was sent a few years ago and is being reprinted due to its’ connection to the mitzvah of tzitzit in Parshat Shelach.