In 1977, Yair Nachman Cohen was a young married man of 27 living in Israel. He and his wife yearned for children, but none had yet been born to them. After lengthy deliberation, they decided to move to the United States, where there were many expert doctors in the field of infertility. Surely one of them would have a solution.
It did not take long for Yair and his wife to become acclimated to life in New York City. Yair rented a booth selling fabrics in one of the large shopping malls in Brooklyn, and his business was successful. At the same time, to materialize their central dream of having children, Mr. and Mrs. Cohen turned to various doctors, the greatest experts in the field of infertility.
Unfortunately, none of the doctors had any solution to their problem. It began to dawn on Yair and his wife that perhaps they were not destined to have children.
Once, Yair was telling a friend of his, a co-worker in the shopping mall, about the disappointment of his life. His friend reacted immediately: “Why don't you turn to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?”
Yair gaped at his friend, not sure what he was getting at. His friend began to relate tales about the Rebbe and the wonders he had performed, but Yair found the stories difficult to digest. If the greatest experts in Israel and the United States had no solution, how could the Rebbe possibly help?
For four years, Yair's friend tried to convince him. Finally, in 1983, twelve years after his marriage, Yair realized that he had nothing to lose. He traveled to the Rebbe's synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway, and there, with the help of a young Chabad rabbinical student, he composed a letter to the Rebbe.
Several weeks later, Yair was surprised to receive a telephone call from someone who identified himself as Rabbi Binyomin Klein, the secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Klein told him briefly: “The Rebbe has blessed you, but he also adds a request that you should be careful to keep Shabbat and put on tefillin every weekday.”
Yair decided to accept the challenge. It was not an easy experience, particularly the part about keeping Shabbat. Just at that time, his business began to struggle, and his best sales day was Shabbat. However, Yair was determined. He decided that he would keep his commitment to Shabbat; therefore, he closed his booth and tried to find other work, that would not require him to work on Saturdays.
After a month's search, Yair found work with a contractor who did home renovations. Through this job, Yair ended up in the home of a Jewish doctor from Manhattan, replacing the tiles in his kitchen.
The doctor showed Yair unusual friendliness, and soon Yair felt comfortable enough to open up and share what lay upon his heart. He told the doctor of his struggle to have children. The doctor listened patiently and seemed to empathize.
“I will be very happy to help you,” said the doctor with sincerity. “I will speak to a friend of mine who is one of the biggest specialists in this field, who used to work with me. However, I must warn you not to get your hopes up too high. He has a very busy practice and refuses to take on new patients, even for huge sums of money.”
Several days later, Yair was putting the finishing touches on a wall when he heard the doctor calling to him: “Yair, I have good news! The doctor is willing to see you tomorrow!”
Yair was reluctant to put too much hope in this doctor; he had already experienced so many disappointments. But something about this doctor's enthusiasm seemed to stick to him too. In the end he decided to keep the appointment, if only out of respect for the doctor who had gone to so much trouble to arrange it for him.
At the appointed hour Yair and his wife arrived at the doctor's office. The doctor received them graciously, but was not ashamed to say that he had no idea why he had accepted them as patients. “I'm sure you know that this is going to cost a lot of money,” he informed Yair bluntly. “How much do you earn a day?”
“Around fifty dollars,” answered Yair.
The doctor laughed. “People are offering me thousands of dollars for an examination, and I refuse them. Why did I agree to take you?” he said with a smile. “I have no idea why I'm doing this, but at any rate, pay me whatever you can.”
“I could understand him,” said Yair later. “He had no idea that it was the Rebbe who had decided that he had to accept us...”
This doctor indeed had an effective treatment to offer Yair and his wife. Within the year, a child was born to them, whom they named Netanel, “a gift from G-d.”