1147 (s5780-10 /
4 Kislev, 5780)
The Broken Engagement
Rebbe Yisrael of Koznitz sent the man on a long arduous journey to the
Chozeh ("Seer") of Lublin, known for his power to discern
the state and provenance of a person's soul.
Connection: Weekly Reading of Vayeitze - a broken betrothal (Yaakov
tricked to marry Leah instead of Rachel)
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing.
The Broken Engagement
There was once a chasid who travelled to his rebbe, R. Yisrael of Koznitz,
every month to take in the atmosphere of holiness which filled the very air
of the Rebbe's court. Although in general he was happy with his lot in life,
he knew he would only be completely content if he had a child.
Several times his wife had encouraged him to ask the Rebbe for a blessing to
cure their childlessness, but to no avail. Yet, his wife wouldn't desist from
her pleas. "This time," she insisted, "you must not leave the
holy Rebbe until he answers our request."
The next time when the chasid came to Koznitz and was admitted into the Rebbe's
chambers, he told the Rebbe of their longing for a child. The Rebbe listened
and offered him the solution his spiritual vision afforded him: "If you
are willing to become a pauper you will be granted the blessing you seek."
The man agreed to discuss the condition with his wife and return with her answer.
The woman didn't think for a moment. "Of course. It's worth everything
to me." The man returned to Koznitz and accepted the harsh prescription.
But poverty was not the end of the Koznitzer's advice; the man was sent on a
long arduous journey to visit the famous tzadik, the Chozeh
(Seer) of Lublin.
The Chozeh was known for his power to discern the state and provenance of a
person's soul, and when he met the chasid he studied his visitor long and hard
before he spoke.
"I will tell you the source of your childlessness and what you must do
to correct the problem. Once, when you were very young, you promised to wed
a certain woman, also quite young. When you matured, she didn't interest you
any longer and you broke your promise. Because you hurt her feelings, you have
not been able to have children since. You must find her and beg her forgiveness.
Go to the city of Balta (which was very distant); there you'll find the woman."
* * *
The chasid wasted no time in embarking on the journey. But when he arrived
in Balta no one knew anything about the woman. He rented a room and waited to
see how the words of the tzadik would materialize.
One day, he was walking down the street when he was caught in a sudden downpour.
He ran to a nearby shop to escape from the rain and found himself standing near
two women who were also seeking shelter. Suddenly, he was shocked to hear one
say to the other, "Do you see that man? He was once betrothed to me in
my youth and deserted me!"
He turned to see a woman dressed in the richest fabrics and wearing beautiful
jewels. He approached her, whereupon she said, "Don't you remember me?
I am the one you were engaged to so many years ago. Did you marry? Have you
He immediately poured out the entire story, telling her that he had come only
to find her and beseech her to forgive him. He begged her to ask of him anything
to atone for the terrible pain he had caused her.
"I lack nothing, for G-d has provided me with everything, but I have a
brother who is in desperate need. Go to him and give him 200 gold coins with
which he can marry off his daughter, and I will forgive you. In the merit of
marrying off a poor bride you will be blessed with children, as the tzadik
"Amen!" responded the chasid heartily. "But please, won't you
give your brother this money yourself?". I have travelled many months and
I'm very anxious to return home."
"No," the woman adamantly refused. "I am not able to travel
now, and it is not feasible to send by post such a sum of money. No, you must
go yourself." With that, she turned, left the store and proceeded down
* * *
The chasid ventured on yet another journey to a distant city where he was able
to locate the woman's brother. He introduced himself, but before he could explain
why he had come, the brother, who was in a terrible state of agitation, spoke
first: "My daughter is betrothed to a wealthy young man, but I have suddenly
become penniless and unless I can find the dowry money, the marriage is off."
The chasid listened to the heart-rending tale and then said: "I will give
you two hundred gold coins which will be more than enough for all your expenses."
The man couldn't believe his ears. "What, you don't even know me -- why
would you do such a thing for a total stranger?"
"I have been sent by your sister whom I met a few weeks ago in Balta.
Many years ago I was once betrothed to her but I broke off the engagement. I
recently sought her out; the help I'm offering to you is my promise to her and
my tikun (soul-rectification)."
"What are you saying?" the man turned pale. "What kind of crazy
tale are you spinning, and why? My sister has been dead for fifteen years. I
should know -- I buried her myself!"
Now it was time for the chasid to be shocked. He pondered the miracles G-d
had wrought on his behalf so that he would be able to make amends to his former
fiancée and merit to have a child of his own. He handed the man the golden
coins and the man blessed him to be granted many sons and daughters and a long
and happy life of joy from each and every one of his children and grandchildren
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles
from the version on //Lchaimweekly.org (#990), with permission.
Connection: Weekly Reading of Vayeitze - a broken
betrothal (Yaakov tricked to marry Leah instead of Rachel)
Rabbi Yisroel Haupstein [5497 - 14 Tishrei 5575 (1737 - Sept. 1814 C.E.)],
the "Maggid" (preacher) of Koznitz was a major disciple
of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lyzhensk and the author of the chassidic-kabbalistic
work, 'Avodas Yisrael' and other books. His miraculous birth to an elderly couple
is the subject of a famous Baal Shem Tov story.
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz [of blessed memory: 5505
- 9 Av 5575 (1745 - Aug. 1815 C.E.)], known as 'the Chozeh (Seer)
of Lublin', was the main successor to the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk and
leader of the spread of chassidism in Poland. Many of his insights were published
posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.
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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