Weekly Chasidic Story #1053 (s5778-22/ 28 Shevat 5778)

The Best Hiding Place

To his dismay, his children did not follow the Torah path. They all left Israel and moved to America to get away from their father and his strict religious ways.

Connection: Weekly Torah Reading of Trumah -- Donations!

The Best Hiding Place


Rabbi Yisroel Baumgarten was a wealthy Jew from Jerusalem. He did everything in his power and control to raise a family in the ways of G-d and our Holy Torah, but to his dismay, his children did not follow the Torah path. He tried encouraging them, motivating them and rewarding them, but nothing helped. They all moved to America to get away from their father and his strict religious ways. This caused Rabbi Baumgarten even greater heartache and frustration.

As the rabbi aged, his children tried to convince him to put his money into accounts that would shield him from hefty taxes, but he had his own plans and was not interested in discussing them with his children. They in turn figured they would have to wait till after he passed away, and then they would find out where he kept his money.

But that is not what happened. After Yisroel Baumgarten passed away, his children were shocked when they saw the will; he had left very little money for them. Furthermore, he had left no hint where all his money was stashed away. They hired lawyers to investigate, but the funds could not be traced and all their efforts were in vain.

Baumgarten also left instructions in his will that his apartment was not to be sold. This too was beyond his children's comprehension, but they did as was instructed and the apartment remained empty, except for occasional use by family members - a place to stay over in Jerusalem.

Years passed and the children went on in their lives. Though none of the children were religious, one grandson slowly became interested in the Torah way of life. He eventually travelled to Israel on a Birthright trip. When in the Holy Land, he became convinced that he should become an observant Jew. Furthermore, he decided he wanted to go in the same path as his religious and pious grandfather.

Instead of returning to America, he decided to stay on and enroll in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem where he could pursue his dream. As time passed the grandson became more and more engrossed in his Torah studies. He absorbed all that he was taught and developed an insatiable desire for learning Gemara.

One Shabbat day he ate at the home of his main Talmud teacher. On his way back to his dorm, he stopped in amazement in front of an apartment that he was about to pass. On the door was inscribed his grandfather's name!

Late that Saturday night, he called his father at home in America and told him what he discovered. His father told him that since the apartment was not being used at the time, he could stay there whenever he wanted. He then explained his son how to obtain the key.

The next Shabbat, for the evening meal, he again went to his Rabbi's home. Instead of walking all the way back from to his dorm late at night, he decided to sleep in his grandfather's apartment. When he arrived at the apartment, instead of going immediately to sleep, he decided to sit down at the dining room table and review his Gemara. He pulled out a Gemara Nedarim from his grandfather's bookcase and opened it to the page that he was learning in the chapter HaShutfin, which discusses the question of a father who wants to give his property to his child only on condition that his child will be a Torah scholar.

The grandson noticed that his grandfather had written notes on the side of this page in the Gemara. When he looked more carefully, he was astonished and totally blown away to realize that the note was addressed to him!

"To my dear grandchild,

"If you are reading these lines, then you have been privileged to return to the fold and you are now studying G-d's greatest gift to His people - Our Holy Torah.

"As such, I have a surprise for you. I am giving you my entire fortune. I want you to be able to learn Torah undisturbed by any financial worries."

Written in the Gemara was the location of the safe-deposit box that contained all of Rabbi Yisroel Baumgarten's assets, along with instructions how to obtain access to the box.

The grandson could hardly believe what he was reading. He ran back to his Rebbe's home and explained all that just transpired and then asked a dramatic question: Was he permitted to keep the money?

The question was brought before a renowned rabbinic authority in Jewish Law, who after listening to the entire story, determined that the grandson could indeed keep his grandfather's fortune.

Fast forward many decades. This grandson continues to learn Torah undisturbed. He has been blessed with a beautiful family of children and grandchildren who are all following in the footsteps of their patriarch, Rabbi Yisroel Baumgarten.

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from an email sent by Rabbi Saul Kassin, as forwarded by Shaya Yaraslawitz to Daniel Keren for posting on "Shabbos Stories for Parshas Vayishlach 5777."

Connection: Weekly Torah Reading - Donations!


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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