The following story contains some powerful and important lessons:
There was a chassid of the Maggid of Kozhnitz by the name of Reb Yosef. He and his wife were childless for many years. Often he would ask the Rebbe for a blessing, but the Rebbe wouldn’t respond. Finally, Reb Yosef’s wife, who was painfully pining for a child, told her husband that he should say to the Rebbe, “My wife told me not to leave the Rebbe’s presence until he blesses us with a child.”
Although uncomfortable, Reb Yosef acceded to the wishes of his suffering wife and told the Rebbe in her name that he wasn’t going to budge until he received a blessing.
The Rebbe stared at him and asked, “Are you ready to become completely impoverished to have a child.” Reb Yosef told the Rebbe he had to first ask his wife. So he went home and posed the question to her, and she immediately responded, “What a question! What wouldn’t I do to coddle a child in my arms?”
Reb Yosef went back to the Rebbe and told him they were ready to accept his condition. The Kozhnitzer Rebbe responded, “In that case, travel to the venerable Chozeh MiLublin and he will provide you with instructions.”
Dutifully, Reb Yosef journeyed to the Chozeh and told the famous rabbi the whole story. The Chozeh gazed at him for a while and then said, “When you were a younger man, you were engaged to a girl and broke off the engagement. You should know that you caused her tremendous pain. You never properly appeased her nor did you ask her for forgiveness. It’s because of this that you are not able to have children… Travel now to the great market at Bolta. There you will find her and you should ask her to forgive you.”
So Reb Yosef set off to Bolta without having any idea how he was supposed to find a woman he hadn’t seen in many years. Indeed, for several days he searched for her to no avail. One day, there was a huge storm and he, together with others, ran to a nearby store for cover. As it was very crowded within the store, he was pushed very near to a woman.
Being a religious chassid, he backed away from her, at which point she turned to him and said, “Many years ago you backed away from me and now you are doing the same thing!” He looked at her and realized with amazement that this was the very woman he was searching for.
Immediately, he revealed the purpose of his mission, apologized profusely, and begged her to forgive him. She responded that she had a very poor brother in Slovakia who was having trouble marrying off his daughter. She said that if her were to go to her brother and give him 200 golden coins to help him marry off her niece, she would forgive him.
Reb Yosef calculated that if he liquidated all his possessions, he would amass the required 200 golden coins. He went home, procured the money, and traveled on to Slovakia. There, he found her brother and, indeed, his daughter’s shidduch was about to unravel because he could not afford the wedding and the dowry.
Reb Yosef went over to him and gave him the 200 golden coins. The man looked at him incredulously and said, “I don’t even know you. Why are you doing this kindness?” Reb Yosef revealed the whole story to him.
The man looked at Reb Yosef as if he were a lunatic. “What are you talking about? My sister has been gone for 15 years. I buried her with my own hands. What games are you playing with me?” Shocked and startled, Reb Yosef went on to describe exactly what she looked like to the minutest detail, and the brother paled saying that he was indeed describing his sister precisely.
Reb Yosef went home and, remarkably, within the year, he and his wife were blessed with a healthy son! This story appears in several places, including Sefer Aperyon Shlomo. Next week, we will discuss a variety of lessons that can be learned from this extraordinary tale.
Let me conclude with words of caution to my dear readers. As Covid-19 rages around us, please don’t let down your guard, and in the merit of protecting ourselves and caring for others, especially the elderly and people with medical conditions, may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.