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Rav Uri Strelisker would scrimp and save all year round to have funds to purchase a beautiful esrog for Sukkos. When the time came, he would walk to the marketplace in order to save the fare that would eat into the sum he set aside for the esrog. On his trek one year he encountered a wagon driver whose horse had died, leaving its owner bereft of a livelihood. Rav Uri took the bulk of his savings and purchased a horse for the indigent man. With the meager amount left over from his year-long savings, he bought an esrog of an inferior quality – a far cry from the kind he had originally intended to purchase.
In shul on Yom Tov Rav Uri stationed himself in an isolated corner to daven for he was embarrassed to be seen with his substandard esrog. In the beis midrash, Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk declared his need to locate the esrog that was permeating the shul atmosphere with the heavenly scent of Gan Eden. He then made his way to where Rav Uri was standing and implored him to allow him the use of his esrog for his own esrog-bentching.
The yahrtzeit of the holy Rabbi Uri of Strelisk ben Reb Pinchas is observed on the 23rd of Elul. Another outstanding tzaddik whose yahrtzeit occurs in Elul is the Maharal of Prague, who passed on to the Olam HaEmes on the 18th of Elul at the age of 97. Rav Yehuda Loew ben R’ Betzalel was a gadol b’Torah who lived a life of prominence and authored many holy seforim. He and his wife Pearl were the parents of seven illustrious children – six sons-in-law who went on to become gedolei hador and one son who unfortunately passed away in his father’s lifetime, but not before leaving his own distinguished mark on this world.
When Rav Yehuda became a chassan, his kallah‘s affluent father committed to a generous dowry so that his future son-in-law could comfortably carry on with his studies after the marriage. As luck would have it, the rich man turned pauper overnight when he was victimized by an embezzler and had to renege on his pledge. Not wishing to deprive the venerated scholar, he wrote him a letter explaining his predicament and giving him the go-ahead to seek another shidduch. Unfazed by this unexpected turn, Rav Yehuda answered that he was willing to stay the course, with hope and trust that Hashem would come to their aid.
In the meanwhile, the young kallah opened a small bakery to sustain the family in their time of difficulty. One day a man riding by on his horse drew his sword and speared a loaf of freshly baked bread that was on display by the shop’s window. As the cheat was about to ride off, the woman grabbed hold of the horse’s rein and tearfully pleaded with the man to take pity on her and her elderly parents and not to abscond without paying for the bread.
In response, the horse’s rider tossed the woman a pouch that he said she was to keep should he fail to return with the money he owed her. After some weeks went by, she opened the pouch and found several rows of gold coins stitched into its lining – enough to set the old man back on his feet and for him to call on the Maharal to come wed his daughter for he was now in a position to make good on his promise.
May our Benevolent Creator take pity on His poor nation and bless us all with a year of yeshuos and nechamos.