Saving a Family In Danger

This story took place around 1980, when Jews in various countries were suffering as a result of a number of terrorist attacks. A businessman came to Rabbi Kramer and told him that a few  days ago, in broad daylight while only his wife and daughter were home, the bell rang and as his wife opened the door, several men entered and kidnapped his daughter. The kidnappers later phoned and demanded a ransom of a quarter million dollars, and only when they receive this money will the daughter be returned to her parents. They also gave information by which time and where the girl’s father should deliver the money. They also strictly warned that this should not be told to the police, adding that if they did contact the police, the parents will be sorry…

The police however did, somehow, find out about the kidnapping. They bugged the phone conversations between the kidnappers and parents, and knew the information about the money delivery. While the father was driving his car with the ransom money to the designated place, a secret police car followed. As the father reached his destination, he threw the money out of the car and returned home, where he found his daughter returned by the kidnappers. The money never reached the kidnappers, however, because the police had seized the money and returned it. The kidnappers, it seemed, realized at the last minute that something wasn’t going as planned, and appeared not to have taken the money as soon as it was dropped off.

The businessman was very frightened as he told Rabbi Kramer the details of kidnapping and the attempted ransom payment which had just taken place a few days ago. What might such criminals do to take revenge for involving the police and ruining their plans? The Jew was distraught and worried how he can get out of the danger he might be in, and needed advice. Rabbi Kramer decided that this saga should be written to the Rebbe. It was not possible to go into Yechidus at this time so Rabbi Kramer wrote the details of this terrible incident in a  letter and in it asked the Rebbe for a Bracha for this man, for his daughter, and for his whole family. Rabbi Kramer would bring this letter to 770 and he would time his arrival for Mincha, so when the Rebbe will go into the Shul to daven Mincha, the Rebbe might notice him and will realize the connection of his presence there with the letter, and would hopefully give a response to the urgent matter written in that letter. On the Monday, the day after the man’s visit, Rabbi Kramer had previous committments which meant he would not manage to be there for Mincha time he left Montreal early Tuesday and flew to NY.

During the flight Rabbi Kramer interestingly met a woman who was an acquaintance of the family of the kidnapped daughter and she wanted to talk to him about the  whole story.  Rabbi Kramer told her that the whole purpose of his trip is to go to  Brooklyn and ask the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a Bracha for the family. This woman was very pleased and expressed her gratitude at this wonderful kindness undertaken on behalf of this family who feels so bitter and nervous.

Before Rabbi Kramer left Montreal, he contacted his son in Brooklyn, asking him to arrange a car to pick him up from Kennedy airport so he can arrive at 770 as early as possible. When he arrived in NY, he went out of the airport to see if a car is waiting for him, but not seeing any, returned into the airport to call his son’s house to find out if he managed to get someone to pick him up or should he take a taxi.

As soon as he re-entered the airport building, before he had a chance to reach the phone, Rabbi Kramer was approached by a man in civilian clothing flashing an identification badge stating that he is a detective, and tells him he is under arrest! Stunned and surprised Rabbi Kramer asked for an explanation knowing full well that this must be some terrible mistake, but no, he is told this is no mistake. He requested to call his son but was told, “No. You can’t do it.” Right away, he was surrounded by a group of policemen, and he was led into a police office at Kennedy airport, where he was instructed to take out all he had with him – papers, checks, money, etc.. Meanwhile, the phone in this office rang and a higher ranking officer picked up the phone, and  his face changed colors – pale and then red. After a couple of minutes on the phone, he put down the receiver, turned to Rabbi Kramer and said, “Rabbi, please, I want to apologize. I ask you, Rabbi, please forgive us for bothering you for nothing. The one we were looking for was just caught. We did make a terrible mistake, like you said. Please excuse us….” Rabbi Kramer had nothing further to say so he gathered his  belongings and left to look for a taxi to get to 770 as soon as possible as this ‘arrest’ episode wasted around a half an hour of his time.

He reached 770 just at the very moment that the Rebbe arrived, around 12 noon. When he entered the building, the Rebbe looked at him with a wondering kind of look that says: why are you here on an ordinary day like this, but that look also “told” Rabbi Kramer that the goal of his trip will be accomplished successfully. The letter to the Rebbe was almost ready. Rabbi Kramer re-read it, put the finishing touches on it, and put it in the special place from where the letters were taken to be given over to the Rebbe. Then he went over to Rabbi Hodakov, head of the Rebbe’s secretariat, and told him the story of the kidnapping with all the details.

At 1 o’clock he entered the secretariat office, and just then the Rebbe called one of the secretaries and through him gave an answer for this letter. What a wonder this was, as there had been – along with this letter – another 200 letters that were given then to the Rebbe, and it was not possible to review them all in such short time. Rabbi Kramer himself had placed three additional letters for which he did not get a reply at that time. It was obvious within the answer that the Rebbe had picked up all details of the story including what was not mentioned in the brief account written by Rabbi Kramer in his letter.  In the reply, the Rebbe said that is fitting to give 10% of the ransom amount to charity, and the Rebbe added: but not through me (not through the Rebbe).

The following morning Rabbi Kramer visited the man’s office in Montreal and told him about the letter and the response.  The man told him that as the Rebbe’s instructions were only that it not be through him, then he would like to do it through Rabbi Kramer. Together they prepared a list of various charity institutions in Canada and in Israel and this man wrote out checks for these places to the amount of $25,000. An immediate positive result of the Rebbe’s answer, advice, and Bracha was seen immediately. Right away the family felt relaxed, despite the fact that this was a time of dangerous threats to various individuals and it was feared that these criminals may have been connected with dangerous international terror groups, and the kidnapped daughter was of a well-known prominent family. The Rebbe’s reply had removed all the fear.

Finally came the second good part: the police caught the group of kidnappers, arrested them, and sentenced them. It was discovered that they did not have any connection with professional gangsters; it was some local group. Rabbi Kramer felt that the bizarre incident of the arrest was a great hashgocho protis (Divine Providence) so that he should arrive at 770 precisely at the moment the Rebbe could see him and occupy himself with this matter and bring a solution for that Jewish man, who was very grateful forever.