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March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
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The Esrog

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One of the great chassidic rebbes was the saintly Rav Mordechai of Nashchiz. He used to eat only a loaf of bread the whole week, and added herring on Shabbos — in honor of the day.

Despite his terrible poverty, however, he would attempt to sacrifice during the entire year even more, and thus save a small amount here and there in order to buy a beautiful esrog for Sukkos.

One year, he went to the city of Brodi to buy an esrog. In his pocket there were about 10 rubles that he had painfully saved during the year, penny by penny. As he was walking in the city, he suddenly came upon a man who was standing and crying bitterly. The tragic sight moved Rav Mordechai’s heart and he asked the man, “My brother, why are you crying?”

“Woe unto me,” said the man, between sobs, “a terrible misfortune has occurred to me. I come from a small town nearby and my work is drawing water. I have a wagon, a horse and a pitcher from which I draw water from the well in the field and which I sell to the people of the town. It is a poor and desperate life but at least my family and I have a little to eat because of it.

“Today, however, as I was returning to the town with water, my horse suddenly collapsed and died. I stand here now, with the holiday upon me, with no money in my pocket and my horse dead. How can I support my family now when I have no money for a new horse?”

Rav Mordechai was very moved by the story and, reaching into his pocket, he gave the man the 10 rubles, saying, “Go, buy yourself a new horse.”

Rav Mordechai returned to his home in an ecstatic mood. His face was radiant with happiness as he said to his chassidim, “Thank G-d for preparing for me the finest mitzvah for this Sukkos. This year all the people shall say the benediction over the esrog and I shall say mine over the horse — and I am content with my lot.”

His chassidim swear that they heard a Heavenly voice exclaim, “Lucky art thou Rav Mordechai, for your mitzvah — your good deed — far outweighs all the mitzvos of esrogim in the world!”

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“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

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“Don’t worry,” said the king, “what could it be worth, two or three talents of gold? I’ll give you ten talents of gold, so you can forget about it.”

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Shmuel HaKatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

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The arguments, however, could never appease his wife and one Thursday she came to him for money to purchase food for Shabbos.

He walked out of the room, making sure to leave the door ajar so that the two litigants could hear his voice.

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“What could I do? Your wife is hard of hearing,” whispered the poor woman barely able to talk.

“I would appreciate if you could give me some pointers on how to improve my wine,” said the wine merchant eagerly.

“And what was your grandfather’s name?” asked the visitor. “The same as my name,” replied the child.

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It’s a special one. Some sort of family heirloom.

The man was overjoyed to see his benefactor and gave them food and water besides shelter and safety.

Because of this I wandered about and found friends in similar situations who were also unhappy and I began to hang out with them.

Time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy.

Yonadav was greatly impressed at the vast sums of money the young man had in his possessions.

“I do nothing worthwhile,” he modestly replied and refused to discuss any of his deeds. For the man was a very modest and humble person.

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Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“I wanted you to have a taste of the cold,” answered Rav Chaim. “This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house.”

Gaonim-Midrash-logo-NEW

“Don’t worry,” said the king, “what could it be worth, two or three talents of gold? I’ll give you ten talents of gold, so you can forget about it.”

Shmuel HaKatan shook his head and said: “No, what happened here today is a sign not of great love. On the contrary, it is a bad omen.”

The arguments, however, could never appease his wife and one Thursday she came to him for money to purchase food for Shabbos.

He walked out of the room, making sure to leave the door ajar so that the two litigants could hear his voice.

Don’t you know Avraham, the famous dry goods merchant, who lives near the lake in a big mansion?

“What could I do? Your wife is hard of hearing,” whispered the poor woman barely able to talk.

“I would appreciate if you could give me some pointers on how to improve my wine,” said the wine merchant eagerly.

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