Weekly Chasidic Story #1230 (s5781-42)
25 Tammuz 5781/July 5, 2021
Soul in Charge"
The Moscovitz family was very concerned. Their
gentile rivals were determined to expropriate the rights from them, at whatever
price would be neccessary.
Connection - This week's double reading:
Both portions deal with Moses having to 'arbitrate' requests concerning the division
of The Land among the tribes.
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing
Soul in Charge
The rumor was extraordinary: for the first
time there was a real threat to the rights of the Moscovitz family to be in charge
of the centralization of the alcoholic beverages business in Hungary.
every three years the government put the rights up for bidding. The rich family
Moscovitz had always been the only contestant, and submitted a reasonable price,
that enabled them to enjoy a handsome profit. Now a group of gentiles decided
to take the rights away from the Jews and to submit a higher bid.
was very concerned. Their rivals were determined to expropriate the rights from
them, at whatever price would be necessary.
Distressed, the family decided
to turn to the tzadik Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna, even though they
were not Chasidim and were not in the habit of visiting the tzadikim. Because
of this they preferred to send a messenger to the tzadik with their request
for a blessing.
They choose the chasid Reb Avremeleh Birnbaum as their
messenger. He was an innkeeper whom the Moscovitz family supplied with the alcohol
he sold. Over the years he accumulated a debt to the family, but they were kind
to him and didn't pressure him. He was glad to now have an opportunity to do them
a favor and to represent the family to the Rebbe.
Rebbe Mordechai scrutinized
the kvitel (note with a request for a blessing) for a long moment and asked:
"Where does the family Moscovitz live?"
"In the city of
Potik", replied Reb Avremeleh.
"Potik?" The Rebbe frowned.
"Where is Potik?"
Reb Avremeleh was surprised. He knew that the
Rebbe used to travel every year through the country and he certainly must know
the towns and villages in the surroundings.
"Maybe you can tell me
the name of the city close to Potik?" the Rebbe asked.
replied the chasid.
"Mordechai doesn't know where Serentz is",
said Rebbe Mordechai. "Maybe Karstir is close by?" he asked.
Avremeleh said, pleased.
The face of the tzadik lit up. "That's
why I didn't know," he said joyfully. "What I need to know, I know"
As explanation he described the house of Avremeleh in all its details even though
he had never been there. "But I do not know the city of Potik because it
falls under the 'ownership' of the tzadik Rebbe Yeshaya of Karstir."
Rebbe took his watch out of his pocket, looked at it and said: "Go, you will
still be in time to reach Rebbe Shayaleh and receive his blessing before the auction
When Reb Avremeleh left the Rebbe he was quite upset. He
knew Rebbe Shayaleh very well. They had both been the attendants of Rebbe Hirshele
of Liska. Not only that, but Reb Avremeleh was the main attendant and Rebbe
Shayaleh was his assistant
Now he felt embarrassed, how would he present
himself to Rebbe Shayaleh as a chasid coming to his Rebbe?
sensed his visitor's discomfort. He served him coffee and wished him success with
the rest of his trip. Reb Avremeleh didn't know what to do, he had to carry out
his mission but he was incapable of doing so.
With a heavy heart he climbed
into the carriage to continue his journey. A moment before he could do so the
tzadik told him: "Go in peace and health, everything will be well with the
Avremeleh was tremendously relieved. The tzadik
with his divine inspiration had understood the reason for his visit and with great
sensitivity had given his blessing without embarrassing Reb Avremeleh.
day of the auction arrived. Mr. Moscovitz considered which tactic to adopt. He
knew that his rivals would offer higher prices than his. He saw no chance of his
winning the bid in a natural way. "If the blessing of the tzadik will
help, I will win even with a low price," he thought.
The Jew presented
himself before the governor and suggested a sum lower than the sum of previous
years. The governor was stunned. He decided not to call out the sum loudly out
of fear that the rival group would also lower the sum they were going to offer.
was the turn of the spokesman of that group to offer an amount. He walked over
brimming with self-confidence, cleared his throat and then
started coming out of his mouth. The bewildered man tried again and again to speak
but was only able to make incomprehensible sounds.
Questions posed him
by the governor were met with grunts and croaks. The governor became furious.
He regarded this behavior as extremely disrespectful. He immediately announced
that the Moscovitz family had won the bid.
The group's spokesman returned
to his allies pale and confused. "I don't know what happened to me",
he mumbled. "A slender Jew with a white beard appeared before me, caught
me by the throat and every time I tried to speak he choked me! I couldn't get
even one word out!"
This story was told by Rebbe Yeshaya from Krastir
himself to the chasid Reb Shlomo Engel and concluded: "I was obligated to
help the Moscovitz family. They were the ones who bought me my first pair of boots
when I was a child and they paid the tuition money for my melamed (teacher
of small children.)
Translated by C.R. Benami, long-time editorial assistant for AscentOfSafed.com,
from the rendition in the popular Hebrew weekly, Sichat HaShavua, which
is based on "Reshumim Beshimcha" by Rabbi Yitzchak Shlomo Unger.
- This week's double reading: Both portions deal with Moses having to 'arbitrate'
requests concerning the division of The Land among the tribes.
Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna [?-15 Tishrei 1895], the great
grandson of Rabbi Meir "The Great" of Premishlan, was orphaned early
and raised by his uncle, the famous Rebbe, Meirl of Premishlan (see below). Chassidim
from all over Rumania and Hungary streamed in to receive his blessings. An extraordinarily
large number of his descendents became Chassidic leaders and Rebbes, including
dozens in the world today. His teachings are collected in Gedulas Mordechai.
Yeshaya "Shayaleh" of Karstir (Iyar 3, 1851-1925) was the founder
of the Kerestirer dynasty. He was a disciple of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz
after whose passing he became a disciple of Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna. The latter
suggested that he move to the town of Kerestir (Karstir). In Kerestir he became
a famous Rebbe known as a miracle worker.
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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