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Rav Naftali Of Ropshitz


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One of the great chassidic leaders of Galicia, Rav Naftali was a great scholar as well as a very sharp and clever person. He was a chassid of the great Chozeh of Lublin, who spread chassidus in Poland. Upon the Chozeh’s death his followers scattered throughout the land and established many new centers of chassidus. Despite his immense learning and qualities of leadership, Rav Naftali refused to accept the mantle of a chassidic leader. Instead, in order to support himself and his family, he decided to become a shadchan and a badchan at the weddings he arranged.

 A Match

Rav Naftali was once trying to arrange a match between the children of two chassidic rebbes. Approaching the father of the young man, he began to describe the great qualities that the potential kallah possessed.

The father listened to the offer, and finally said: “All right, I will agree to the marriage on one condition. Her father must give a dowry that is twice as much as I give, since my son is such a learned and talented boy.”

Rav Naftali then went to the home of the girl. Sitting down with the father, he proposed a match between the young people and began to praise the prospective chassan.

“I will agree to the marriage,” replied the father, “if his father will give a dowry double that of the one that I give, for I trace my lineage back to Rashi and from there to the malchus Beis Dovid.”

When Rav Naftali heard this he exclaimed: “If so, the match can be considered made, for the other side has said the same thing.” When the father of the kallah heard he agreed and set a date for the writing of the tenaim.

Rav Naftali hurried back to the father of the chassan and said that the kallah’s father had agreed to set a time for the writing of the tenaim.

“That is well and good,” answered the father, “but I told you that I would agree only if he gives double what I give.”

“That is all right. The other side has said exactly the same thing.” Upon hearing this, the father agreed to the match.

At the appointed time, the families arrived together with a great many of their chassidim. Only Rav Naftali, the shadchan, was missing.

The two fathers began to discuss the terms and naturally, they were astounded to find that each one assumed that the other would give double.

“This cannot be. I made it clear that I wanted you to give double.”

“What are you talking about? I distinctly said I would agree to the match only if you gave twice what I gave.” The various chassidim began to attempt to mediate between the two parties and finally, after half an hour of determined bargaining, a compromise was arrived at.

As per custom, plates were smashed and blessings were said, and suddenly Rav Naftali appeared and shouted: “Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!”

When the two fathers saw Rav Naftali, they began to shout: “Where have you been? Why did you fool us? Why did you tell us that each had agreed to give double?”

Rabbi Naftali smiled and answered: “I did not fool you. What I said was completely true. Did I not tell each of you that the other side had said the same thing? What I simply meant was that the other side had also said the same thing, meaning that he wants the other side to give double.”

 

Why On Shabbos

Once Rav Naftali was asked: “Why does the Talmud (Shabbos 103a) say that one is allowed to make a match between couples on Shabbos?” Rav Naftali chuckled and answered: “The answer is simple. In the Shulchan Aruch it says that one is permitted to tie a nonpermanent knot on the Sabbath.

“I can assure you that most matchmakers are unable to tie anything but non-permanent knots.”

 

Marriage And Sefira

Still another time, Rav Naftali was asked: “Why is it that the custom is not to have marriages performed during the sefira?”

To which Rav Naftali answered: “For the simple reason that, usually, the chassan does not want to get married until he has finished the ‘counting’ (of the dowry)…”

 

Acceptance

Rav Naftali’s fame spread and reluctantly, he finally agreed to become rav. When asked why, he explained as follows:

“I wanted to escape from having to flatter people, as most rabbanim must do. So I decided to become a tailor, but I learned that they, too, must flatter people. The same thing I learned about shoemakers and other occupations. Even the matchmaker, I saw, must flatter the bride and groom. If so, I thought, being a rav is not worse than this.”

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