It’s that time of year again. We’ve barely begun to soak up some sunshine and warmth following the winter season and then the wonderful holidays of Pesach and Shavuos that kept us on our toes, and here we are on the cusp of Tammuz…
This Shabbos Parshas Shelach we bentch Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, which falls on Yom Revi’i and Yom Chamishi (Wednesday and Thursday, June 17 and 18). We celebrate no holidays in Tammuz. In fact, the 17th of this month is observed as a fast day that begins a three-week solemn period culminating in Tisha B’Av, for it this day that saw the walls of Jerusalem tragically breached, leading to the destruction of the second Bais HaMikdash.
But even the cloud hanging over Tammuz has a silver lining that reflects a clear and strong message of hope and optimism for Klal Yisrael. The second day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz marks the birth of Yosef HaTzaddik, a euphoric event that fulfilled the long time yearning of our Matriarch Rachel to beget offspring.
Who better than Yosef HaTzaddik to relate to Galus – to the torment and pain associated with exile? And yet he emerged unscathed from his nightmarish ordeal, to achieve heights beyond his own wildest dreams.
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The eighth day of Tammuz commemorates the yahrtzeit of Rav Meir Horowitz, known as the Imrei Noam. An interesting story is told about how this eminent tzaddik, the son of R’ Eliezer of Dzikov and grandson of the Ropshitzer Rav, became the son-in-law of the affluent chassid R’ Kalman Pitzalis of Cracow.
As Sukkos approached one year, the dearth of esrogim in all of Galicia affected the Ropshitzer Rav as well as R’ Kalman Pitzalis, a devout Ropshitzer chassid. The gevir was more pained for his rebbe than for himself and would have paid any amount to acquire the precious commodity.
On the day before Sukkos rumor circulated that a merchant who had just arrived in the city had one esrog to sell. R’ Kalman was not home at the time and his aishes chayil Sara determined that if she would wait for his return the esrog would in all probability be sold to another buyer. And so she ventured out on her own and found herself among hundreds of eager bidders hoping to win possession of the coveted esrog. The merchant was naturally biding his time as the bids escalated… until the voice of Sara Pitzalis was heard above the din: she was willing to offer the highest bid as she needed to obtain the esrog for the Ropshitzer Rav.
Sara resolved to send the esrog to the rebbe via the postal wagon, the most expeditious way she could think of with the holiday being so close at hand. On the first day of Sukkos, just as the Ropshitzer Rav entered his sukkah, the whistle of the postal wagon driver was clearly heard. An enlivened Ropshitzer Rav commented, “Ah, an esrog!” And to everyone’s delight an esrog it was. The Rav was later heard to say that the Pitzalis family and his own would one day have grandchildren in common. The prediction of the Ropshitzer Rav came to fruition when his grandson the Imrei Noam married a daughter of R’ Kalman and his tzadekes.
When the Imrei Noam passed away in Karlsbad, his remains were transported back to Dzikov for interment. Two white doves flew overhead and accompanied the wagon all the way. When there was need for a stop to change the horses, the doves too rested, then took flight again when the wagon resumed its journey. It was said at the time that the two white doves were the Imrei Noam’s father R’ Eliezer of Dzikov and his Ropshitzer grandfather.