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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chodesh Tov’

Reb Elimelech’s Ascent To Leadership (Part XII)

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Wandering from town to village, the Holy Brothers neglected their physical needs and were sustained by meager coins or scraps of food that were donated along the way.

One Sunday night they found themselves in a new town on a cold wintry night. The tavern keeper offered to lodge them behind the fireplace that heated the pub. The two of them took their places on the floor, with Reb Zusha, as always, offering his older brother the preferred spot nearer the fire.

No sooner had Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha retired their weary bones when the tavern began to fill up with non-Jews who had come to celebrate nothing other than their inebriated state. Wobbling and singing as drunkards do, they made themselves merry until they stumbled across a real cause for celebration.

Right before their eyes, innocently sleeping on the floor, was a Jew who could serve as the evening’s entertainment. As many of them were wagon drivers, they were equipped with whips and staffs that could be enlisted to acquire the sleeping Jew’s expeditious cooperation.

“Up and dance!” they ordered, as they snapped their whips and beat their staffs to ensure immediate compliance. Reb Zusha sprang to his feet and danced energetically for the leering drunks. The wagon drivers were not looking for a quick performance – they had all night – and they unsparingly utilized their appurtenances to assure protracted amusement.

Eventually, the drunkards grew tired and allowed Zusha to collapse to the floor. But it wasn’t just one Jew that they had savagely beaten. Reb Elimelech felt every blow on his own back and urgently pressed his brother to exchange places with him. “They’ll be back and then it will be my turn to suffer their indignities.”

But in no way did Reb Zusha feel that he was getting the worse of the deal. Being beaten simply because he was a defenseless Jew was good for the soul, he maintained. And he knew his brother did not dispute this point.

Still, Reb Elimelech would have none of it. He was insistent that they switch places so that when the drunks would decide again to be entertained, he would be the butt of their vile behavior.

And indeed the wagon drivers returned, eager for another dance performance. Not for naught had they entered a tavern.

But in a display of uncharacteristic egalitarianism, they announced that it would only be fair to wake the Jew lying nearer to the fireplace, for the outer one had already made his contribution to the night’s festivities.

Reb Elimelech stood up and explained, or at least tried to explain, that the outer Jew was previously the inner one, for they had switched places. But his entreaties fell upon drunken ears.

Reb Zusha sanguinely accepted his lot and commented, “Melech, don’t feel bad. You see that one who deserves to be beaten cannot avoid it. Your desire to switch places was willed from Heaven.”

Eventually the wagon drivers tired of their entertainment and they crashed to the floor in a drunken stupor. The brothers arose to recite tikkun chatzos and to thank the Almighty for having been separated from inhumane derelicts. Blessed were they to be servants privileged to worship the Almighty.

The Holy Brothers never forgot those that extended themselves on their behalf while they were in their period of exile. One such individual was Reb Aharon in the village of Ludmir who served as their host whenever they visited the village. Reb Aharon lived in abject poverty, but this never stopped him from extending hospitality and sharing his meager crumbs.

Once Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha were revealed as famous tzaddikim, and their followers were everywhere to be found, they returned to Ludmir – this time in a horse- drawn carriage. Just as in the past, they turned to Reb Aharon for lodging, which he graciously offered, as always.

Overnight, Reb Aharon’s modest hovel became the focus of the town, and masses formed outside the door to seek blessings from the tzaddikim and their intervention in a host of matters.

One of the wealthy merchants in the town felt that he deserved the honor of hosting these famous guests, and he extended his invitation for them to come to his richly apportioned house where they could dwell in perfect comfort. But the brothers flatly refused.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part V)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Baruch, from the village of Radovitz, was a sharecropper who barely eked out a living. His income was at the mercy of the infamously cruel Poritz, who owned the Radovitz environs. This Poritz had a repertoire of ways to afflict the area’s Jews, and he never eased in his torturous exploitation.

Reb Baruch was not a talmid chacham, but he was a fearer of Heaven and he accepted his lot without complaint. He would travel as often as possible to Lizhensk, where he would bask in the aura of Reb Elimelech’s holiness.

Baruch’s pitiful financial situation did nothing to ease the predicament of his daughters, who were of marriageable age and no fish were biting. The years rolled on and the girls were becoming spinsters worthy of concern. Baruch’s wife was in a constant state of panic over their plight.

“Have faith,” Baruch assured her, but his assurance was of no solace. In fact, his nonchalance inflamed her.

It would never occur to Baruch to disturb Reb Elimelech, who dealt with lofty spiritual matters, over his mundane, petty issue of matches for his daughters. His wife, however, looked at matters differently.

One year, as the Yamim Noraim were approaching, she forbade her husband from traveling to Lizhensk for the holidays, unless he promised he would present his daughters’ situation to the rebbe. As she was well aware of her husband’s soft nature, she threatened that if this request was not faithfully fulfilled he would never see Lizhensk again!

Despite his thorough distaste for his mission, Baruch upheld his word and articulated his daughters’ plight when he greeted Reb Elimelech. He handed the rebbe a kvittel detailing the situation, and Reb Elimelech’s only response was, “For the time being, remain with us here.”

Reb Baruch did as the rebbe instructed and stayed in Lizhensk from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkos. Finally, when he hadn’t even a penny left, he bade farewell from Reb Elimelech on Motzaei Shabbos Bereishis. At that occasion, Reb Elimelech pressed three copper coins into Reb Baruch’s hand and wished him blessings and prosperity.

Reb Baruch was confused. Since when does a rebbe distribute money? But Reb Elimelech had already extended his hand in farewell and Baruch was pushed in the direction of the door by the people swarm of chassidim taking leave of the rebbe.

Reb Baruch headed back to Radovitz and was just approaching the turn to his village when he heard his name beckoned from behind. Baruch turned around and saw a young man who was a regular at Reb Elimelech’s court. “The rebbe has requested that you return,” he said, making the Radovitzer more perplexed than ever.

But even this paled when Reb Elimelech requested Baruch to return one of the coins. “I can only afford to give you two,” Reb Elimelech explained.

Baruch could not – nor would he ever attempt to – fathom what Reb Elimelech had intended. With perfect faith he set off again on his journey with two coins in his pocket, a gift from the rebbe to acquire success.

As he neared Radovitz he encountered three peasant youth wishing to sell him a handsome leather case with a silver, ornate frame. It was the kind of case that the Poritzes used to transport their money. Baruch opened up the case to discover that it was full of multicolored ruble notes of various denominations.

The illiterate youth were willing to sell the case for a song: just three coins, so that there would be an even distribution among them. Reb Baruch frantically searched his pockets, but all he could find were the two coins that Reb Elimelech had given him. What to do?

Reb Baruch proposed that since he only had two coins he would buy the contents of the quality case, that is the colored paper, and they could hold on to the case. The ignorant boys winked at each other regarding the killing they were about to make. Only the case had value in their eyes, and this foolish wayfarer was willing to pay two-thirds of its worth for mere colored paper!

The deal was consummated and the boys walked off with their empty case with the ornate silver trim. They made themselves a warming bonfire and sat down to celebrate their queer business success. However, their celebration did not last for long. They could not work out how to divide two coins and one elaborate case among three individuals.

Their disagreement escalated and they came to blows. The biggest of the ruffians decided to institute a policy of “all or nothing,” and he tossed the leather case into the fire.

Just then the Radovitz Poritz galloped over. The very sight of this evil man was enough to make Baruch’s blood freeze, and the same could be said for all of Radovitzian Jewry. The Poritz got down from his horse and turned to the youth and asked, “Did any of you come across a leather case I lost in this area?”

Chodesh Tov

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Today begins the month of Kislev. 25 days until Chanukah.

Chodesh Tov.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chodesh-tov/2011/11/26/

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