Weekly Chasidic Story #1185 (s5780-48/
4 Elul, 5780 / Aug 17, 2020) This week
The rabbi was relieved; his tefilin and mezuzahs were
examined and found to be 100% kosher.
Connection: Seasonal -- The
Month of Elul
format for more convenient printing.
The Apartment Next Door
Yossel, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in a town in Israel, followed the
Chabad custom to have his mezuzot and tefillin inspected once a
year, during the month of Elul. In Elul 5749 (1989), R. Yossel brought his tefillin
and mezuzot as usual to the home of a scribe. Every single mezuza
was found to be kosher. Satisfied and relieved, R. Yossel took the mezuzot
home and re-affixed them on his doorways.
As an emissary
of the Rebbe, Yossel wrote regular reports to the Rebbe. In his weekly letter,
Yossel reported on the preparations that his community was making towards the
upcoming Rosh Hashana holiday, and mentioned that his mezuzot had been
checked and were found to be kosher.
The month passed quickly in a whirl
of activity. Yossel barely had a moment's rest as he ran around carrying out his
communal duties, helping his congregation prepare for the holidays. After all
his dashing about, Yossel was not surprised to find that his feet were aching,
although this was unusual for him.
The pain intensified to a stabbing, throbbing
ache. As the days went by, walking became more difficult for Yossel and he realized
that he could ignore the situation no longer. He hobbled to the doctor who inspected
the foot and told Yossel that he had a serious infection. The doctor prescribed
therapeutic soaks, cream and antibiotics. He cautioned Yossel to let his feet
air out and stay off his foot until it healed.
Rosh Hashana arrived, and
Yossel could barely drag himself to shul. Every step was agony. Instead of leading
his congregation in prayer, Yossel was forced to stay seated the entire time with
his feet elevated. His condition worsened as the infection did not respond to
On the day after Rosh Hashana Yossel was once again in bed,
being examined by his close friend a doctor."The infection is very serious
and has penetrated deep inside your foot. If it doesn't begin to subside, the
foot may have to be amputated."
What more could be done? They had already
tried everything. Yossel's wife decided to fax a letter to the Rebbe. Generally,
Yossel believed in not being a "fair-weather friend" and writing to
the Rebbe only when there were problems. He preferred to report only positive
news to the Rebbe which was why he had not written yet about his foot. But now
there was no other option.
He gave the letter to his wife to fax, but before
she had a chance to do so, they received a phone call from the Rebbe's secretary.
"The Rebbe instructs you to check your tefillin and mezuzot,
and he will mention you in his prayers at his father-in-law's gravesite."
first thought was, my mezuzot were just inspected last month. What could
the Rebbe mean? After a short consultation with his wife and children, they came
up with a possible explanation.
The family lived in an apartment building.
The apartment next door belonged to a friend who had moved out. Before leaving,
the friend had handed the keys to the empty apartment to Yossel and told him that
the apartment was his to use for his Chabad activities, free of charge. Yossel
was surprised and grateful for this generous offer.
The friend moved out,
taking all the contents of the apartment with him, including the mezuzot.
Yossel set up the apartment as his office and put up plain mezuzot ,since
he was not sure if, according to Jewish law, he was actually responsible for maintaining
mezuzot on the apartment. Because of the Rebbe's instruction, Yossel decided
to take down all the mezuzot in his office and have them inspected.
weeks later, during the holiday of Sukkot, R. Yossel received a call from the
scribe. The mezuzot were checked, and all were found kosher
for the one on the doorway leading to the porch. Yossel's wife ran out to purchase
a new mezuzah and then attached it properly in place.
day, she 'happened upon' an article in a medical journal that described a simple,
natural remedy for the infection her husband had. Yossel was incredulous--could
such a simple method help his foot, after he had already used the most powerful
antibiotics? Still, it was worth a try.
Wonder of wonders, as soon as Yossel
applied the salve, the infection began to subside. Within a day, his foot was
The following day was Simchat Torah, and Yossel gave
his congregation a most pleasant surprise, when he walked in on two healthy feet
to dance with the Torah together with his community.
Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Geulah" #62 (Nov. 2005).
Seasonal - the Jewish month of Elul, the 30 days before Rosh Hashana.
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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