Sara did not give her evil inclination the chance to overtake her good sense and took after the young man to let him know he had left something behind. The grateful patron offered Sara a monetary reward for her honesty, which she refused. “For a mitzvah, one is not supposed to accept reward in this world,” she told him.
The young woman’s integrity so impressed the gentleman that he set about inquiring about her until one person he approached suggested the girl to him as a viable shidduch candidate.
The young man approached none other than the Kozmir Tzaddik for counsel and introduced himself as the son of Moshe so-and-so from Warsaw, now residing in Antwerp where father and son partnered in the diamond trade.
He went on to relate his recent encounter with the young girl in the marketplace and confided to the Rebbe that he was on the lookout for a shidduch. The Rebbe of Kozmir, having known the young man’s father as a God-fearing and honorable person, took just a few moments to give his blessing for the match. “Like father, like son; zol zein mit mazel un berachah,” he steadfastly pronounced.
The young couple got married and settled happily in Antwerp. Though their first year together had been marred by the sudden illness and passing of her father-in-law, life was good to Sara, her doting husband, and their two children. But then things unexpectedly took a tragic turn when Sara’s husband died, leaving her a bereft young widow with two babies.
Sara’s affluent standing had matchmakers soon lining up at her door, but she directed them all to the Kozmir Tzaddik. Now he advised her to put off plans to remarry and to devote herself to raising her young ones.
As for Dovid, Sara’s ex-chassan, he had gone on to marry the daughter of his employers and not fared too well. His wife was a spendthrift who showed little regard for her husband. They had no children, and a drawn-out battle among family members for her deceased parents’ inheritance culminated in financial ruin of their once lucrative firm that had served as Dovid’s source of a livelihood.
Dovid sought employment elsewhere, but a reduction in his income did not please his wife, and they ended up going their separate ways
The word nefesh – soul – is an acronym for ner, pesila and shemen – the flame, wick and oil that constitutes the Chanukah candle. The proper observance of the mitzvah of Chanukah lights illuminates the soul.
As Dovid’s father’s words replayed themselves in his conscience, he began to deeply regret not heeding his father’s warning. He left Warsaw and, after wandering around like a lost soul, wound up in Antwerp with the goal of learning the diamond trade and eventually taking off for America. In the meanwhile, he happened to land a position with the firm owned by Sara.
Come Pesach, Sara decided not to break the tradition she and her late husband had established of having their single workers join them at their yearly family Seder – and now Dovid found himself among the guests hosted by the woman to whom he was once engaged, though neither of them recognized the other.
The guests were all in high spirits, enjoying the warm ambiance created by their affable and generous hostess. All, that is, except for one lone male who sat at the far end of the table looking forlorn and melancholy. Sara caught him occasionally wiping away a tear and made up her mind to get to the root of his pain and to do anything within her ability to draw him out of his misery.
With her gentle demeanor and carefully weighed words, she coaxed him to open up to her, to confide the source of his heartache. He soon spilled his tale of woe and spoke of his experiences in great detail – and it didn’t take long for a shocked Sara to grasp that here sat the man who as her chassan had jilted her. All at once, from the deep recesses of her mind, the Tzaddik’s words came to her. “How can this be? He is her zivug!”
At the first opportunity, Sara wrote to the Kozmir Tzaddik to inform him of the latest events in her life, to which he replied, “Did I not tell you that night of Chanukah when you hid my menorah that sometimes it takes a roundabout route to get to one’s destined place?”
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