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Keeping Shabbos will save you from many tragedies

posted Jul 24, 2008, 3:06 PM by Yaakov .Yosef   [ updated Jul 27, 2008, 10:03 AM ]

Suzan Salahani was waiting in line with the rest of her 12th grade class at Shelhevet High School in Los Angeles. Rumors had already begun spreading throughout the school that the Rebbe had “powers” and knows things about you that no body else possibly could know but you. “It’s like he reads your mind,” one girl said. Excitement and anxiety filled Suzan's heart as she waited her turn to meet this revered Tzadik.

Like most of the students in Shelhevet and similar places, Suzan came from a typical American non-religious Jewish home. Her father is a pediatrician, and like so many Jewish parents, they wanted to send their daughter to a private school where she could also learn a few things about her heritage. When Suzan entered the room to meet the Rebbe, she was awe-struck by the mere appearance of the Rebbe. After a short time, the Rebbe asked her, “Does anyone in your family keep Shabbos?”

“No,” she answered timidly.

“Would your parents be against you keeping Shabbos?” Suzan again answered “no” in a puzzled voice. The Rebbe began to ask her if she would be ready and willing to make such a commitment, but before the Rebbe could finish what he was saying, Suzan answered that she promised to keep Shabbos from now on. Then before she left, the Rebbe concluded their meeting with a rather peculiar statement: All the blessings in this world stem from Shabbos. In the merit of your commitment to keep the Shabbos you will be saved from many tragedies. Confused by the Rebbe's last words, Suzan left the room committed to observing Shabbos.

But, as the week slowly dragged on and her friends were making plans, that commitment slowly faded away and was replaced by her commitment to her friends. After all, it had been so long since she kept Shabbos, and one more week would hardly matter. When Saturday morning came, she got into a car with her friends and headed out for a day of “letting loose” and hanging out. That never happened. While traveling on Los Angeles's freeway, the car carrying Suzan and her friends slammed directly into the car in front of them as the car behind them crashed into their rear. There was a horrible pileup, car after car. The accident was massive and horrible. The car was so severely damaged it was beyond any repair. However, Suzan and her friends left with only bruises. Standing there on the highway, with the tragedy right before their eyes and the sounds of steam and crunched metal still pounding in their ears, Suzan was reminded of what the Rebbe had last told her, “Keeping Shabbos will save you from many tragedies.”

She became hysterical, telling her friends about what the Rebbe had told her and she said that this was obviously the sort of thing the Rebbe had in mind. On the spot, Suzan and one of her friends vowed never again to break Shabbos. They were all convinced that the Rebbe's blessing and help would have prevented them from being any part of such a traumatic experience. Suzan and all her friends that day made a pact to always keep Shabbos. But, as the following week dragged on, temptation got the better of one of the girls and she set out for another Saturday of hanging out. The weather was horrible and the downpours had been going on for hours. The clouds were ferocious looking. As the car carrying this young girl and her brother was traveling along one of the roads, the car spun out of control and slammed into the guardrail and rolled down the cliff. The young girl was taken from this world and her brother escaped with serious injuries. The tragedy rocked the very core of the Jewish community. Pain and grief consumed everyone's heart. All the seniors at her high school gathered at a school memorial for the lost soul. While there, the friends spoke of what the Rebbe had said and made a public outcry that in memory of their lost friend everyone in the class should keep Shabbos.

To this day the entire class is Shomer Shabbos. Even though they have each gone their own way to different colleges, seminaries and yeshivas, nevertheless, they each have remembered their friend and the promise they made: to keep the Shabbos. Suzan and her entire family are now fully observant, keeping the laws of Kashrut, and all the mitzvahs, including, of course, Shabbos.