“Wisdom is better than rubies, and all things desirable are not to be compared unto her” (Proverbs 8:2). Rabi Aha explained in the name of Rabi Tanchuma ben Rabi Chiya: “My desirable things and your desirable things are not to be compared to her.”
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev would use the Yomim Tovim as a forum for his continued dialogue with the Holy One blessed be He and as opportunities to demonstrate to the Almighty that His children, Israel, were deserving of both forgiveness and a better fate.
The story of Bnei Yisrael in the land of Mitzrayim is a tale that has become tragically repetitive in the history of our people. It is the story of a land which allows Jews to enter, and devote their talents and energies to building it up land and making it strong, only to have the ungrateful inhabitants turn on them through jealousy and greed.
Pesach is synonymous with aiding the poor and the needy. In the city of Kovno where the great Reb Yisroel Salanter was the chief rabbi, there was a special house set aside for the very poor; there they were housed and given food. Unfortunately, the house was a dilapidated one and in massive disrepair.
The piety of the saint Rabi Chanina ben Dosa was so great that people would often request that he daven on their behalf. Once, the son of Rabban Gamliel became dangerously sick. He sent two talmidim to the home of Rabi Chanina with the message: “Pray to God that my son will get well."
The relatives of the 80 witches whom Rabi Shimon ben Shetach brought to the gallows vowed vengeance as they bided their time for an opportune moment to strike back at the Nasi of the Sanhedrin. It was not long afterwards that their chance arrived.
The piety and good deeds of Rabi Chanina ben Dosa inspired his disciples to follow in his footsteps. Foremost among his good deeds was charity. The following story is told about two of Rabi Chanina's disciples.
While Shimon ben Shetach was head of the Sanhedrin a great sage passed away. He came to a disciple in a dream and told him of the great punishments awaiting Rabi Shimon ben Shetach because he permitted 80 witches to continue living in Ashkelon. As these witches were casing the people to sin, he would be punished for allowing them to live.
After the death of Balshazzar, Darius the Medean became king of Babylon. He appointed 120 governors to rule over his provinces and over them he appointed three presidents, and over them he appointed Daniel. The king admired the wisdom of Daniel and this evoked jealousy and enmity among all the ministers who sought to find fault with him. But Daniel was too honest and wise.
When Alexander Yannai, king of Judea, appointed Rabi Shimon ben Shetach as president of the Sanhedrin, peace and tranquility reigned in the land. Prosperity came to the people as they followed in the ways of the Torah.