Weekly Chasidic Story #1065 (s5778-34/ 22 Iyar 5778)

Immersion Prophecies

Tzaddikim said that the passing of Rabbi Shlomo of Zevhil on the same day that WWII ended demonstrates his intense involvement in the spiritual battle against the Germans.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 26th of Iyar is the 73rd yahrzeit of Rebbe "Shlom'ke".

Immersion Prophecies


At his home, Rebbe "Shlomke" of Zevhil had an open-door policy -- everyone was welcome. People said that the only indication of his ownership was that when someone came in, he would ask them whether they wanted bread and jam. Once, an unstable person entered, and Rebbe Shlomke, as usual, offered him bread and jam. The slightly deranged man retorted, "You can eat bread and jam! I want pita with eggs." That was perhaps the only time that Rebbe Shlomke ever went to the grocery store! He bought pita and eggs, and fried them for his guest. After the man finished his meal, he asked, "And what about the jam?" Rebbe Shlomke brought out the jam, and asked him how much he wanted. "The entire jar," the man replied, and Rebbe Shlomke gave it to him.
* * *

There was a yeshiva student from Hebron who slept in Rebbe Shlomke's home. He asked the Rebbe to wake him up at six in the morning. "I can't do that," the Rebbe said. The bachur woke up at six o'clock and saw, to his surprise, that the Rebbe was already sitting at his table, learning Torah.

The following night, the young man asked Rebbe Shlomke once again, to awaken him at six in the morning. "I can't do that," Rebbe Shlomke replied. Again, the student awoke at six, and saw that Rebbe Shlomke was already awake.

The third night, he again asked Rebbe Shlomke to awaken him at six in the morning. "I can't do that," the Rebbe said.

"Why can't you?" the student asked. "I see that you are anyway awake at that time."

Rebbe Shlomke handed him some money and said, "Buy yourself an alarm clock if you want, but I can't wake you. Upon awakening in the morning, most people feel a bit uncomfortable. Even if he wants to wake up early, he still feels uneasy right when he awakens, and I don't want to cause another Jew distress, not even for a short moment."
* * *

One of his steady guests was Reb Yaakov, a tall, very overweight, filthy, ignorant Yid. He wasn't welcome anywhere else - he wasn't even permitted to use the local mikvahs [bathhouses for purification immersions - separate for men and women] because of the way he smelled - but he was welcome at Rebbe Shlomke's. Once, while the second World War was raging, Rebbe Shlomke said, "If the people of Jerusalem would permit Reb Yaakov to use the mikvah, the Jews in Europe wouldn't suffer so much."

When the Nazis were getting close to the Holy Land, Rebbe Shlomke and other tzaddikim [very pure, holy Jews] went to the grave of the holy [author of] Or HaChayim on Mt. of Olives and prayed for the Jewish people and the Land. Their prayers were answered; the Nazis were defeated in Egypt before they could manage to enter the Land.

Throughout the war years, Rebbe Shlomke was very active with his prayers to help the Jews in Europe. He passed away on the day World War II ended. Tzaddikim said that his 'departure' on the day the war ended demonstrates his close connection to the spiritual battle against the Germans.

* * *
When people would come to Rebbe Shlomke, asking him to pray for the ill, he would immerse in a mikvah, and then be able to perceive whether the person would live or die. By the way he responded after the immersion in the mikveh, people discerned their beloved one's fate - and Rebbe Shlomke was always correct. His attendant, Reb Elyah Roth zt'l, asked him, "How do you know what will be in the future? Are you the Urim-Tumim [the 'breastplate' with precious stones that helped the High Priest to prophesize]?"

Rebbe Shlomke replied, "In our generation, The Master of the World's direct supervision of the world is concealed. That is not a good thing. People don't see His 'hands-on' management, and this leads to questions in faith. Therefore, G-d chooses a tzaddik in every generation to whom the concealment of His presence does not apply. Through him, awareness of G-d is revealed to the world."

Roth understood that Rebbe Shlomke was implying that he was that tzaddik. Through him, Hashem was revealed to the world.

* * *
One of Rebbe Shlomke's outstanding traits was his carefulness with his personal holiness. The Rebbe of Gur, the Beis Yisrael, said that since he died because of his exceptional Fear of Heaven, it is propitious for our own Fear of Heaven to speak about his ways, and to visit his grave. (Indeed, for the first few yahrzeits the Rebbe Beis Yisrael would spend time at Rebbe Shlomke's grave.)

The former chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, said that the holiness of Rebbe Shlomke was comparable to that of the sages of the Mishna and Talmud.
* * *

Every year, at the yahrzeit memorial meal for Rebbe Shlomke of Zevhil, the Lelever Rebbe, R. Moshe Mordechai, would say that he was in the room when the taharah (the respectful cleansing of the body before the burial) was made on this great tzaddik. "Generally there's a bad odor in the room, but this time, we smelled pleasant herbs and spices."

He also reported that he asked Rebbe Shlomke's son, Rebbe Gedalya-Moshe, who was also present at the taharah, whether Zevhil has a custom to bring nice-smelling substances into the purification room. He replied that there was never such a custom, and that there were no spices or herbs in the room. Yet, everyone present smelled the spices. This was a sign of the holiness of this great tzaddik. May his merit protect us.

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from several issues of "Torah Wellsprings" (gleanings from the teachings of Rabbi Elimelech Biderman of Jerusalem, as translated by R. Baruch Twersky).

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shlomo (Shlom'ke) Goodman of Zivhil [of blessed memory: ? - 26 Iyar 5705 --yesod of yesod (? - May 9, 1945 C.E.)] was the first one of the dynasty to be based in Israel. For a long time after he came to Jerusalem, no one knew his true identity as the Rebbe to whom thousands had flocked in his native land, until a chance visitor from his hometown revealed his secret to the stunned worshipers in the shul he was attending. So once again he acquired thousands of followers and admirers. Famed for his remarkable deeds of kindness, he particularly concentrated on rescuing youths from missionaries and inculcating the importance of the laws of family purity to the masses, while still finding time to answer complicated questions in Jewish Law.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 26th of Iyar is the 73rd yahrzeit of Rebbe "Shlom'ke".


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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