From all over Europe, thousands of Yidden would come to visit the holy Rebbe of Rizhin, Rav Yisroel Friedman zt”l. For a young boy named Pesach, an orphan who had been taken in by the Rebbe’s family, it was an amazing sight of which he never tired of observing. Each and every day, so many people, with so many kinds of troubles, would come to the Rebbe in the hopes of receiving a blessing for a better future. “The Rizhiner is a tzadik,” he was told. “All these people come to him for a blessing, and when he gives it, he can see what will happen to them many years from now.”
Well, little Pesach was curious, and one day he built up the nerve to ask the Rebbe for a brachah. “What will be in my future?” asked the boy innocently. The Rizhiner looked at him and said, “My son, a time will come when you will go away. You will study medicine and become a doctor. Then you will go to the Holy Land and help many people, and save many lives.”
Pesach burst into tears. “Don’t be upset that you must leave,” the Rizhiner said. “My thoughts will always be with you.”
And so it was that the boy grew up and became a doctor, taking the family name Friedman, after his beloved Rebbe. He settled in the town of Tz’fas in the Galilee. One day, a regal carriage stopped in front of his home, and an important-looking man stepped out. “I am looking for Dr. Friedman,” he announced. When Dr. Friedman came to the door, he was told, “The Princess of Prussia is visiting the Holy Land, and she is extremely ill. One minute she is burning with fever, the next moment she is shivering with cold. You must come at once. Her father, the Kaiser, is anxious about her health.”
Dr. Friedman hurried to the princess’ bedside. He examined her and diagnosed malaria. “Take this medicine for three days. If we are fortunate, the disease has been caught in time for a cure.” Three days later, the princess’ fever broke and she began the long road to recovery. After three weeks, Dr. Friedman was summoned again. “The Princess will be resuming her trip. Her next destination is Jerusalem; however, she still feels weak and has asked that you accompany her.”
Dr. Friedman replied, “Your Highness, how can I fulfill your request? As a Jew, I must pray three times a day with ten men, and eat only kosher food. The trip to Jerusalem is a long one.” The Kaiser replied, “Spare no expense. Bring along ten men and whatever food you need. Just come.” Dr. Friedman joined the traveling party for the long, arduous journey. He was provided with anything he required. Kosher food was obtained and he was permitted to organize a minyan in any city, at any time he pleased. The Kaiser was extremely satisfied with the Jewish doctor and told him that he was in his debt.
Many months passed and no more was heard from the princess or her father. The Land of Israel was beset with problems, and the episode of the princess was forgotten, as everyone was consumed with a different worry – the safety of their children. The Turkish government, which then ruled the Holy Land, was demanding that young Jewish men serve in its army. Not only was it impossible to observe the Torah in the army, it was also highly dangerous. The only alternative was prison.
One day, a telegram arrived for Dr. Friedman from the Kaiser of Prussia. The brief cable stated that by the grace of His Royal Highness, and for the act of saving the Princess’ life, Dr. Pesach Friedman is duly appointed the Prussian Consul for the Galilee region, with full authority to issue passports, visas, and any other such papers to citizens of Prussia.
Dr. Friedman was silent for a long while, as he read and reread the telegram. The words of his mentor, the holy Rizhiner, played over and over in his mind: “You will go the Holy Land. There you will help many people and save many lives.”
And then, it came to him. He organized Jewish leaders from all over the land and told them, “I have the answer to our troubles. By this document, I have been given the right to issue passports to citizens of Prussia. Do you realize what this means? No longer will the Turks have power over us. If any young men are threatened, let them come to me and I will issue them a Prussian passport. That will save them! With these papers they will become citizens of Prussia and will not have to serve in the Turkish army!” And so, the words of Rav Yisroel of Rizhin came true over and over again!
adapted from: The Story Hour (Editor: Dr. D. S. Pape)