Friday, February 6, 2009

An Incredible Story About Rivka Holtzberg

I recently received this story via an e-mail that is being passed around. I have no idea if it is true or not. (If anyone does know, I would appreciate hearing from you.) If it is in fact true, then all I can say is wow... what a remarkably kind and generous woman Rivka Holtzberg a"h must have been.

Rivky Holzberg's Shlichus Lives On
Submitted by Dena Gottlieb of Modiin Ilit, Israel, Thank you.
Sometime during the shiva for Rivky Holtzberg Hy"d, a young woman came into the Rosenberg home. She told Mrs. Rosenberg that she had something for her, and handed her a small package. Curious, Mrs. Rosenberg opened it and gasped. Inside was Rivky's diamond ring and one of her nicer Shabbos dresses.
"How did you get these?"
The young woman gently told Rivky's mother, "Let me tell you my story."
"I had been traveling in India. Somehow I ran afoul of the law and ended up in an Indian jail. You cannot begin to imagine what an awful, horrible, primitive place it was... The only redeeming factor is that the jails there are quite disorganized, and those who are in charge are corrupt. Somehow I managed to escape.
"The first place I ran to was, of course, the Chabad House. Everyone knew that that's where you went when you needed help. Rivky welcomed me, fed me, and told me that it was vital that I get out of the country. I knew that - but I was very afraid. What if they would check me, check my passport? Then Rivky gave me one of her Shabbat dresses and her diamond ring. 'If you look very dignified, a well-dressed married woman with a ring on her finger, they won't look too closely at you. They will leave you alone. A woman with a diamond ring is in a different class. She's a respectable woman. She's not a criminal, someone who has escaped from jail. They won't bother you.'
"I took the dress and the ring and as you can see, I got out safely. And now I have come to give you Rivky's dress and her ring that she lent to me."
Rivky's mother took the possessions of her beloved daughter. Then she told the young woman, "I recently saw Rivky and noticed that she wasn't wearing her ring. When I asked her about it, she told me 'zeh b'shlichut.' It's on shlichus."


Trip'n Mommy said...

I just heard the same story last night at dinner and got chills again reading it here. From all that has been said about the Holtzbergs (HYD) and what I know about Chabad Shluchim around the world, I don't doubt it for a second.

What a special, incredible woman.

tembow said...

wow wow wow

rivky's uncle's niece said...


good that you asked per clarification, cause rivky's aunt checked the story, and found that it's not true.

Lion of Zion said...

hmm. i'm not sure if i want this to be true. aiding and abetting a fugitive criminal whose crimes we know nothing about? this is nothing to be proud of. (an israeli in india . . . i assume something drug related. but is it using or smuggling/dealing?)

besides, the story doesn't make sense. a dress and a ring would not have helped her get out unless the rebbetzin also handed over her own passport.

SuperRaizy said...

The "aiding and abetting" part doesn't bother me so much, probably because I have no idea whether the Indian justice system is reliable or corrupt.
However, the "escape" also struck me as odd. That's why I asked for corroboration. According to the commenter above, the story is not actually true.
Regardless, there has been so much true information about Rivka Holtzberg and her husband, that we know for sure that they were kind, exemplary people.

open the gates said...

This reminds me of a famous story about the Chofetz Chaim. One of his students was on trial, and he was called as a character witness. The lawyer introduced him to the court as the man who, when he was robbed at gunpoint, ran after the thief shouting, "I forgive you!"

"Come on!" said the judge. "You can't expect me to believe that story!"

"Actually, I don't believe it either," said the lawyer. "But with all due respect, they don't tell stories like that about you and me."

Whenever someone truly exceptional passes away, there is always a tendency to gild the lily. The fact that this story was told at all, and that people actually thought it might have happened, says volumes about what a special woman Mrs. Holtzberg must have been. May she rest in peace, and may G-d avenge her.