In1 1946-7 when many chassidim managed to escape from Russia, R’ Berke Chain, who also tried to flee, was caught and forced to stay. A while after he was released from prison, however a short while later the Russian police began arresting chassidim again, and at the last moment before they came to arrest him, he escaped. This began an era of wandering around seeking a place to stay. When he realized that they were after him, he traveled to distant Samarkand, in the republic of Uzbekistan. There, he thought, they wouldn’t pursue him. Although he felt safer, for the next seven years he had absolutely no contact with his wife, for he feared that the Russians, who would censor all the mail could thus track him down. Additionally, if she would know anything and the Russians would torture her, she may not be able withstand the pressure. This was a very difficult time for him because he very much wanted to notify his wife that he was alive and somewhat free, but his fear for his life prevented him from doing so. R’ Berkes living conditions were quite uncomfortable as R’ Berke was always trying to stay out of the public eye. This went on for years with no sign of improvement in the foreseeable future. One day R’ Berke asked his friend R’ Moshe Nisselevitch to come discuss with him a very sensitive and confidential issue. R’ Berke confided that he can’t possibly describe his tremendous pain about his wife’s situation, that she has no idea where he is. R’ Berke said, “Since that I don’t see on the horizon any change to my situation, perhaps I am prohibited from keeping her in this uncertainty, and therefor maybe I should divorce her .. ” R’ Moshe stood there not knowing how to respond, and they both just broke out crying from deep inner pain. R’ Berke continued half to himself, “This way she can at least she can remarry and begin living a normal life.” Turning again to R’ Moshe he asked again, “Am I permitted to cause her so much anguish on a day-to-day basis?” R’ Moshe couldn’t speak as tears were choking him. Eventually he said, “I can’t advise you about this, let’s think together and we will see.” The next day R’ Berke came again and told R’ Moshe, “Last night I didn’t sleep a wink, as I was thinking what is the right thing to do. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that according to the Torah I may not not take such action, after all, where is my bitachon in Hashem? Hashem can easily change the circumstances and I may soon be reunited with my family.” R’ Moshe was very happy to hear these words, and was thus uplifted. Eventually Stalin died and many ‘criminal cases’ were dismissed as a result. When the chassidim confirmed that R’ Berke was no longer on the hit list, they began to make plans for reuniting R’ Berke with his family and which they successfully carried out in due time. In this story we find a unique and rare narration of real life doubts, in very dangerous circumstances. It was a very complicated situation and at one point a well-meaning divorce seemed to be the only option. But after lengthy introspection R’ Berke came to the conclusion that Hashem has the entire world including R’ Berkes predicament under control, and that Hashem can improve the situation in the blink of an eye, even if at that time it looked very grim. This thought gave R’ Berke the strength to forge ahead and to continue to serve Hashem with a happy heart and with real trust that the yeshu’a was imminent.
1 Samarkand Hebrew Pg 218.
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