The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VII, Issue 4
Shemini Atzeret 5763, September 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
The Rizhiner said:
How far does "love of Israel" go? If a Jew who lives on the other side of the world has a backache, I feel his pain and I groan–that is "love of Israel.'"
Kovetz Eliyahu, p. 107 (Ramach)
One time (when R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was still rabbi of Zelichov), on Simchat Torah he prayed with intense fervor, to the point that all his clothes were soaked wet with his perspiration, and when he took the Torah scroll to dance, the Torah scroll grew so moist ?, that they could not read from it, and he took another Torah scroll and held it close to his heart until they could not read from that one either, until they had to wrap the Torah scroll in clothes and then there were able to read from it. And after prayers, he went home and lay in bed out of his weakness, and R. Sh. of Karlin came to him. And he grew so impassioned with him that he did not want to part from him, and the Karliner could not go home, because the Berditchever did not want to part from him. So when the Berditchever went out to take care of his bodily needs, the Karliner went home and when the Berditchever came in and saw that he was not there, he ran after him without his jacket, wearing only his shirt and pants, and when the people of Zelichov saw their rabbi running through the streets without his outer garments and without a hat, wearing only his yarmulka, they decided to remove him from the post of rabbi and to escort him out of the city. And indeed, they did so.
Kovetz Eliyahu, p. 36 in name of Y.Z. quoting Moharash).
R. Yehoshua (son of Aryeh Mordechai), the well-known Hasidic rabbi, recounted a story that he had been told by R. Moshe Lemberger.
Once, when R. Moshe was in Vienna, he ordered mead from an inn and was brought half a "log." When he tasted it, he found it to be delicious–it literally tasted of Gan Eden. He decided that he would buy ten bottles or so as a gift for his rabbi, R. Yechezkel of Kozmer. He sent a man to buy him another ten bottles of mead, but the man returned empty-handed, saying that there was no more. R. Moshe thought that the inn-keeper must want more money. So R. Moshe gave the man a few more gold coins and told him to try again. But again, the man returned empty-handed. R. Moshe was surprised. He himself went to the inn and ordered a bottle of mead. Meanwhile, a large group of men was gathered around a table, reciting the grace after meals.
The inn-keeper told him that there wasn't any mead left.
When R. Moshe asked him when he would have more, the inn-keeper told him that there would never be any more. "You must find this very puzzling," the innkeeper told him. Let me tell you what this is all about.
When I was a young man, I was a mohel (circumcisor), and my wife was a midwife. With her work, she supported me and the family. I had undertaken the practice of never refusing to go to a circumcision, no matter how far away it might be.
One time, on the day before Yom Kippur, a villager came to me and asked me to go circumcise his son. I asked him how far away his village was. "About six parsahs," he told me.
This is a great hardship for me, obviously, because the day before Yom Kippur every Jew is overwhelmed with his activities. How could I spend half a day with this man? Nevertheless, there was the resolution that I had made. And so I agreed to go with him, and I told him to hire a wagon.
But the villager replied that he didn't have a cent in his pocket. Still, I decided not to back down. Instead, I walked after him. But the villager was such a large and powerful man and he walked so swiftly that I could not keep up with him. He went ahead of me until I lost sight of him in the middle of the road. I was forced to find his house by myself.
When I entered his house, I found that his wife was sick in bed. As for him, he was such a coarse person that he didn't find it important to attend his son's circumcision, and so he had left everything up to me. What could I do under such circumstances? I wanted to take the child and circumcise him by myself, but I had never circumcised a boy without assistance, and I was afraid to do so now.
So I went outside to find some passerby to come and help me circumcise the child. But I stood there in great anguish as one hour passed after another, and no one passed by. In dread of the awesome day that was approaching while I had not even begun to prepare, the hairs of my head stood on end.
At last, God brought a passerby within my sight, walking some distance away. I raced after him, caught up to him and told him about my problems and asked him to help me. I told him that his good deed would be great beyond all limits: besides having the mitzvah of helping circumcise a child, he would also have the great mitzvah of helping me. But the man wasn't impressed by what I had to say. He told me that he doesn't have the slightest interest in mitzvahs. And he has to get going to collect charity, because on the eve of Yom Kippur, people are very generous and charitable.
I asked him, "How much do you collect every day?"
He told me, "One ruble."
Even though I myself was very poor, I needed him. I promised him that I would pay him a ruble to make up for his loss. I begged him, until he at last believed me that as soon as I got home, I would pay him the ruble. So he followed me to the house of the new-born child, and with this poor man's help I circumcised the child.
Then I hurried home to eat the final meal before Yom Kippur. Before I had finished eating, I saw through the window that this poor man was coming to claim his ruble. I quickly got up, took the ruble and brought it outside to him, because I was afraid that otherwise my wife might learn what had happened.
But apparently, with this ruble I had not yet paid off my debt to this poor person, because he started pressuring me to give him a bottle of mead to drink. (At that time, I also ran a tavern.) I asked the poor man to leave me alone because the day was drawing to an end, but it didn't help. I had to bring him to my house and give him a bottle of mead.
But that was not enough either. He began urging me to drink mead together with him. At that point I lost my temper. I yelled at him to leave me alone and stop bothering me with his stupidities. But he still insisted that I drink mead with him. When I saw that I could not get rid of him, I took a bottle of mead for myself too.
He wished me a "L'chaim" and asked if there were any more mead in the barrel. I told him that there was a little bit left. He gave me a blessing: he said that the barrel should always contain mead until the wedding of my youngest son.
And with God's help, his blessing has been fulfilled.
Until we recited the grace over meals at this wedding meal of my youngest son, I still had mead. But now that we have completed the grace after meals, the mead came to an end, and the barrels broke.
by Rabbi Shlomo Molcho
As for many other matters of this nature connected with the trials that I endured, I have not even attempted to set them down in writing, for they [are too many to] be told. [I have also refrained from telling you of certain incidents] out of my concern for the reputation of my fellow religionists, so as not to reveal their dishonor and disgrace. As for all the enormities that they committed against me, perhaps you will hear about some of them as related by travelers.
And now I am living here, still in this locale, awaiting the date and time that Hashem has promised me that He will do wonders for me, as He wills and wishes. He will be with me and guard me as He has helped me until now. My help will come from Him to complete everything that I must do, for there is yet a vision of a destined time and a time for every desire, when the Holy One, blessed be He will without a doubt tell the might of His works to His nation. For certainly, the work of Hashem was carried out with twenty-eight, in the twenty-eight times (22).
"A time to give birth." The Holy One, blessed be He, created the heavens and the earth. The world was impregnated and gave birth to Adam, and Hashem blessed him and placed him in the garden of Eden to guard its commandments.
"And a time to die." When he did not keep what he had been commanded him, for [then] he was cast out of the garden of Eden and he spilled out his soul to die.
"A time to plant." When he knew Chava his wife, and she was fruitful and multiplied, until they were a numerous people, and they were planted securely in the world, their houses free of fear. "And a time to uproot the planted." When the evil of man was abundant in the world and al the thoughts of his heart were only for evil the entire day, and He uprooted them from the world with the waters of the flood.
to be continued...
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