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Mrs. Molly Resnick

14 December 2023

The person telling this story should really be my husband, Dr. Larry Resnick, but since he is not with us anymore, I will have to do the best I can.

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The story begins in October of 1977 when, on the holiday of Simchat Torah, the Rebbe suffered a heart attack. He did not want to be hospitalized, so the doctors who initially treated him set up a coronary care unit in his office at 770 Eastern Parkway. But after two weeks, they had to return to their regular patients, and my husband was called in.

Now my husband was by then quite famous as a brilliant scientist. A child prodigy, he graduated college at 16 and medical school at 21, becoming the youngest person in the United States to be awarded an MD degree. Eventually, he developed specialties in endocrinology and cardiology, focusing his research specifically on the causes of hypertension.

When he was called in to the Rebbe, he was visiting New York, but upon being invited to stay on as the Rebbe’s primary physician, he had to decline. He was then serving in the US Army, running the clinical research center at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, and he could not go AWOL.

The Rebbe’s staff  began pulling strings with several US Senators to get him transferred from Hawaii to New York, and the request went all the way up to the White House. The end result of that was a phone call from President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff demanding to know who Larry thought he was. To this my husband replied that if the leader of another religion had asked for an American doctor to care for him in Rome, the White House would be so proud it would hold a press conference to blast the news. Well, someone who is of utmost important to the Jewish people should receive the same treatment.

That worked. The Army transferred my husband to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, and he moved into 770, where he looked after the Rebbe for the next five weeks until the Rebbe was able to return home.

When the Rebbe moved back to his private residence on President Street, there was an explosion of great joy in the Chabad community with people singing and dancing in the streets. The next morning the Rebbe met my husband and told him, “There were two people who didn’t dance last night – you and me. I want you to make up for it and dance tomorrow.”

Although the Rebbe had passed the danger point, my husband continued to care for him. He rented a room in the neighborhood for several months while he supervised the Rebbe’s rehabilitation. Even after the Rebbe was fully recovered, my husband remained one of his consulting physician and he was on the scene immediately after the Rebbe suffered a stroke in 1992.

During those fifteen years, a very close personal relationship developed between the two of them. They would spend many hours holding long discussions about Torah and science, and also discussing my husband’s research – which the Rebbe took great interest in and followed closely. At one point he even blessed my husband to receive the Nobel Prize because he recognized the potential of his research to save so many lives. Unfortunately, my husband was taken away from us at the very young age of fifty-five and he was not able to fulfill the promise of that blessing.

Though my husband was a brilliant doctor, a great scientist and was involved in cutting-edge research all his life, he regarded the fact that G-d chose him to take care of the Rebbe as his greatest merit, and he treasured their close relationship.

As for me, from the very first time that I met the Rebbe, he urged me to become a speaker and tell the story of how I found my way to Torah observance, in order to inspire others to do the same.

In 1967, I graduated from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I came to America, where I got a job as a producer of the NBC program “Five Minutes With.” After a time, I decided that there must be more to life than the success I was experiencing, and I took a leave of absence to travel the world in search of truth and the meaning of life.

In the course of my travels, I ended up in Rio De Janeiro, where I met the Rebbe’s emissaries, Rabbi Yerachmiel and Alte Dvora Blumenfeld, and was befriended by their daughter Chana. Because of their influence, I went from being totally secular to being a fully Torah-observant Jewish woman, and eventually, a wife and mother.

It was this transformational story that the Rebbe urged me to recount around the world, and he went to some lengths to insist that I do so.

On one occasion, my husband was to travel for his research to London, and I was to accompany him and give several speeches there. Then the Gulf War broke out, and my husband’s trip was cancelled. But when the Rebbe heard I was not going either, he objected. He said, “If you committed yourself, you should go and I am going to pay for your trip. But I’m not going to take the spiritual merit of the trip away from you so I will let you pay ten percent of the cost.” Of course, I went.

On another occasion, when I visited the Rebbe in the springtime, I mentioned that I had been invited to speak in June in Lyon and Nice. “And until then you have no jobs?” he asked, and he directed his secretaries to line up speaking engagements for me.

The Rebbe wanted me to tell the story of how I became a religious Jewish woman after having been a secular Israeli and an NBC television producer totally removed from anything Jewish, and how my whole life changed when I became religious.

He saw the power in that story to change people’s lives and, indeed, people who had heard it were inspired to stop working on Shabbat, to start keeping the Laws of Family Purity, to commit to maintaining a kosher home, and more.

The Rebbe had this extraordinary ability to make you feel that – with God’s help – you could be a powerhouse in changing the world; you could literally do anything. I remember coming to see the Rebbe while he was giving out dollar bills for charity and asking for “a little blessing” for the education of our children, while my husband asked for “a small blessing” to be able to keep on doing his research.

The Rebbe would not hear of it. “Why so little?” he asked me. “[If you ask for] a lot, I will be happier, and you will also be happier.” And then he told my husband, “Your wife is speaking about ‘little’ and you are speaking about ‘small.’ I’m speaking about big things!”

Ever since I’ve heard the Rebbe say that, I’ve quoted him in my speeches. I make a point to encourage everyone in my audience: “G-d is infinite, He runs the world and He can give you whatever you need, so ask for everything.” And I add, “But do a mitzvah in return, as a sign of being grateful.”

Mrs. Molly Resnick is a former Israeli and American television producer who now lectures internationally about Judaism. (Her late husband, Dr. Lawrence M. Resnick, served as a consulting physician to the Rebbe from 1977 until 1994.) She lives in Washington Heights, New York, and was interviewed in the My Encounter studio in May 2022.