Originally published by The Times of Israel
The story you are about to hear is just the barest outline.
It’s abåout an Israeli, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and the country of Slovenia, birthplace of Melania Trump.
Do you believe there are no coincidences?
For the Slavic countries in Europe, 1991 was the start of a brutal war that saw many thousands murdered, women and girls raped, and people destroyed in such a manner that their remains were hardly identifiable as human.
The first shot, so to speak, involved Slovenia, which declared that it was seceding from the Yugolsav Federation. The Yugoslav forces had tanks and bombers and the third largest trained army in Europe. The Yugoslav forces intended to beat Slovenia into submission.
The Slovenian militia was no match for them. Ordinary citizens and farmers improvised barricades and took up hunting rifles to ward off the assaulters.
Enter Marian Furlan, a Slovenian-born Jew who had moved to Toronto with his Israeli wife. A desperate countryman in Toronto approached him to ask if this wife had any connections in Israel to obtain more sophisticated weapons for Slovenia’s fight for independence.
Furlan had what he thought was a better idea. He was going to New York to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and he suggested that he take a letter to the Rebbe requesting a blessing for Slovenia’s struggle against the Yugoslav regime.
Pastor Ivan Plazar of the Slovenian Catholic church in Toronto composed this letter:
Toronto, June 4, 1991
Dear Rebbe Shlita:
My name is Ivan Plazar. I am a pastor of the Slovenian Church in Toronto and my religious community is taking spiritual care of Slovenians all over Canada.
Slovenians are hard working, live in peace with everyone (Jews and others) and are good neighbors to everyone.
Now these people are in a very difficult situation. They have been attacked by the Communist army and are at war. This came as a big surprise for them, because nobody expected that the peoples army would go against the people they are supposed to protect. For that reason they are not prepared for war.
You are well aware how on the journey toward the promised land, Israel encountered many difficulties, obstacles and adversaries. At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. While Joshua prayed. As long as Moses kept his hands up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so Aaron and Hur supported his hands, so that his hands remained steady til sunset. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people. G-d helped them.
G-d is also our only help, we are praying to Him and our hands are getting tired. Marian Furlan, who is living in Toronto and belongs to Lubavitch is bringing to you our request to support our tired hands with your prayer and blessing. G-d, Creator of the world is our only help and He could also bring our nation to victory and liberate them from the slavery of godless Communism and attain freedom and peace without further bloodshed.
We would be very grateful for your prayers, help and advice.
Ivan Plazar, C.M.
The way I heard the story, when Mr. Furlan was in front of the Rebbe, the Rebbe took the letter and acknowledged it with a nod of the head, put it aside, and that was that.
This was 10 AM on June 7,1991. At this time in Europe, 4 PM, a squadron of bombers from the Yugoslav regime, headed for Slovenia, inexplicably turned around and went back to their base.
Then suddenly, on that day, the Yugoslav regime declared a cease-fire with Slovenia. Strangely, Yugoslav soldiers left their tanks and guns on the Slovenian countryside and fled.
Of course, this was remarkable. The heads of the Slovenian militia knew about the meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe and they had no trouble understanding that this cease-fire was a miracle.
The Croatians, who also wanted to secede and were fighting Yugolsav forces, saw what happened in Slovenia. They contacted the Slovenian government for advice. How did Slovenia manage to escape the war?
When they were told about the blessing from the Rabbi in Brooklyn, the Croatians scoffed. Never would they seek the blessing of a Rabbi.
The consequences for Croatia were not pretty. They suffered the brutal hallmarks of this war — torture, ethnic cleansing, rape and other war crimes, just like the other Slavic countries.
A booklet of Slovenian military history, emblems and insignias published by Marian Furlan concludes with the following about the war for independence from the Yugoslav Federal offensive:
“…a Slovene Jew personally delivered to New York a number of letters from the Slovene community and individuals, requesting both moral and practical support for embattled Slovenia. These documents were received by World Jewish Leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson Shlita, and on the very day he blessed the Slovenian nation, hostilities ended (and not one life was lost after that blessing and it was the final day of the war!)”
Since we know that no detail in this life is random, what do you say about the wife of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who has done and will do more for the Jewish people than any other president? Melania Trump is from Slovenia.
Almost a decade later, Slovenians continued to honor the Rebbe. On March 29, 2000, top military veterans met with the Rebbe’s emissary in Toronto, Rabbi Yisroel Landa, who had originally organized Furlan’s trip to the Rebbe. As reported in Toronto’s World of Lubavitch publication, the president of Slovenia Veterans War of Independence, Andrej Jammick, presented a formal letter of thanks and appreciation. He stated, “We have no other way to explain the sudden turn of events, other than it was a miracle, for which we feel the Rebbe is responsible.”
Furlan says that for some time the former company commander was “dreaming of thanking the Rebbe,” and that this obligation “weighed on him like a stone.” During the war, he was in charge of a unit of between 50-100 men. Two Yugoslav aircraft fired more than twenty rockets at them and not a man was hurt. The commander is convinced this was a miracle and that it came through the Rebbe.
In 1992, Zmago Jelincic, wrote the Rebbe asking for a blessing for the political party he founded, the Slovene National Party. An obscure politician at the time, today Jelincic is a presidential candidate. In the letter he asked for a blessing for his son, who is Jewish by virtue of Jelincic’s wife who is Jewish. He concluded with this phrase: “I am also thankful for the blessing you gave to our nation in the time when we had only a few friends.”
Note: the story of the Rebbe’s miracle for Slovenia first appeared in the World of Lubavitch, Toronto, December 1993, as “An Unsuspecting Shaliach,” by Judith Keeler.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Basha Oka Botnick is the president of Geulah Generation, a Jewish women's organization based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, devoted to learning the talks of the Rebbe known as Dvar Malchus and spreading matters of Moshiach and Redemption.