Friday came, the eve of Shabbos, and there was absolutely no bread, not even a morsel, for the four of us. Our guests had finished their lepyoshkes (flatbread) that they brought. The shochet’s wife cooked the fish that was purchased at the market. Her husband carried in two pails of water, which was no small accomplishment—the rope for drawing the water from the well had torn, and the gentile neighbors refused to lend him another.
Everything was taken care of, even cleaning up the room and washing the floor. But there was no bread, or any indication of where bread might be found.
We all sat there, somehow not too concerned about the situation. People react strangely in such situations. My husband sat next to the window; I can’t say he was too happy. Tomorrow would be Shabbos, and there was nothing we could do about our situation! Soon we would have to recite the blessings for lighting the Shabbos candles.
Suddenly we saw a girl dressed in non-Jewish clothing walking towards our home. Her face was wrapped in a large shawl to conceal her identity. She knocked at the door and walked straight over to my husband, asking, “Are you Rav Schneerson?” From under her shawl she brought out a large loaf of bread, wrapped in a towel. “My aunt has sent you this bread,” she said. “We heard your wife isn’t well.”
Her uncle was the manager of the local government bakery, so she could sometimes reduce every person’s ration by several grams [to give us this bread], but if this were caught, it could incur the most severe punishment.
How that bread tasted! It was ordinary black bread, so I’m not referring to its quality, but at least it took our minds away from being hungry, particularly on Shabbos.
My husband immediately cut off two pieces of bread, which he covered with a cloth, so that there would be the required two loaves of bread for Shabbos.
When the girl left, she had to be escorted out covertly so that our landlady shouldn’t notice. The landlady had already been muttering that “too many people are coming to visit the reverend,” and we didn’t need her to get upset and inform on us, for that could have caused his five year sentence in isolation to be doubled.
On the previous night, Thursday, my husband had recited Tehillim, as I have written. It was no ordinary recital of Tehillim, and no ordinary weeping. They were tears not of despair, but rather an outpouring of his very soul, with an exalted and intense faith in G‑d and deep attachment to Him.
That Shabbat, I was already able to sit up on my bed, and we also had food to eat. My husband and our guest prayed [on Shabbat morning] each in his tallit, and we also spent time in conversation.
There’s a folk saying, “When is a poor man happy? When he loses something, and then finds it!” I began to recover from my illness.