Weekly Chasidic Story #1285 (s5782-47)
26 Tamuz 5782/July 25, 2022
"The Second Slap"
The sound of a slap was heard in the synagogue. Everyone present turned around
and were astonished to see that the person giving the slap was no other than
Connection: In "the Three Weeks" leading to Tisha b'Av, we
mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples and the exile of the Shechina (Divine
Story in PDF
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The Second Slap
The sound of a slap was heard in the shul (synagogue).
Everyone present turned around and were astonished to see that the person administering
the slap was no other than Rabbi Lipa, the Rav of Shargorod, in Ukraine.
For a moment silence reigned but soon people returned to their prayers.
Rabbi Lipa's studiousness was exceptional. He hardly took time to sleep. While
studying Torah he disengaged himself entirely from his surroundings to the extent
that he was completely unaware of the passing of time. One of the duties of
his elderly shammesh (attendant) was to remind Rabbi Lipa when it was
time for prayers.
Time passed and the old attendant passed away. The leaders of the community
looked for a suitable candidate to take his place. Eventually they chose a young
man who had decided not to continue his intensive studies. They hoped that being
in close contact with the Rav would influence him spiritually for the better.
The rather irresponsible young man wasn't impressed with his new duties. He
even used his situation negatively and often caused the Rav distress. All this
time the Rav kept this to himself; he said nothing to the people who had appointed
One night the young man sat with his friends till early morning. Concerned that
if he would go to bed he would not get up in time to remind the Rav that it
was time for morning prayers, he decided to lie down on a bench in the shul,
hoping that the arrival of the first worshippers would wake him.
He slept so deeply, however, that the entrance of the early comers didn't wake
him, not even when the prayers began. The community had waited for a long time
for the Rav to join them but when he didn't come they started the prayers without
Only in the middle of the prayers did the gabbai (manager of the synagogue)
notice the sleeping young man. He immediately realized the reason for the absence
of R. Lipa. He quickly awakened the young man and sent him to call the Rav.
The young man came to the Rav as usual and said nothing about the delay. The
Rav leisurely made his way to shul, but on his entrance realized that the community
was about to finish praying. This angered him greatly and he slapped the young
man on the cheek in front of all the worshippers.
The young man accepted the slap with understanding and the people present also
felt that it was deserved. But the Rav was terribly upset. His conscience troubled
him - how could he have hurt another Jew! His prayer that morning was like the
concluding prayer of Ne'ilah on Yom Kippur, his tears flowed from his
eyes like water.
Immediately after the prayers, the Rav ascended the bimah (platform in
the synagogue for the Torah Reading) and announced emotionally: "I deeply
and sincerely regret the slap I gave the young man, and I beg him for pardon
Right away the young man stood up and exclaimed: "Honorable Rabbi, I deserved
that slap, already for a long time I had it coming due to all the distress I
Several days went by when suddenly it became known in town that the Rav left
on a long journey, without stating when he would return. The Rosh Yeshiva
(head of the yeshiva) was appointed as his substitute. Only to the members of
his family the Rav revealed that he decided to take upon himself a period of
exile [not so rare in those days -y.t.] as penance for slapping the young man
in public. He would continue until he received a sign from Heaven that his repentance
The Rav exchanged his clothes for the clothes of a simple wayfarer and wandered
from town to town. There were times that he would have no food for a long time
and times that he found no place to lie down and rest. Often he was jeered at,
but he accepted it all with love.
Years passed and he felt his strength weaken, he realized that he would not
be able to continue his wanderings but he still awaited a sign from Heaven.
One Shabbat eve he came to a town close to Shargorod. He decided to approach
the person in charge of the Guest House for help in finding a house where to
eat his Shabbat meals.
When he stood in front of the man responsible for the Guest House he was dumbfounded
to realize that this was the same young man who was his servant all those years
ago. He had married, raised a family and moved to this town. The man didn't
recognize the Rav and the latter didn't say anything. He was sent to eat in
the house of the head of the community.
From the conversation during the Shabbat evening meal the host discovered that
his guest was an outstanding Torah scholar. The community leader was extremely
pleased and invited the Rav to stay and sleep in his house. At the end of Shabbat
after havdala (ceremony at the termination of Shabbat) the Rav took leave
of the household members and got ready to continue his journey.
In the meantime, a tumult broke out in the shul: the valuable silver candle
sticks had disappeared. Suspicion fell immediately on the guest, who had hurried
to leave the house of his host. The community leader ran to the Guest House
supervisor and furiously asked him, "How did you sent me a guest who is
nothing but a thief!?"
The supervisor decided to discover the whereabouts of the thief. He took his
carriage and set out to find the guest, who hadn't managed to cover much distance.
By the time he overtook him he was so incensed that he slapped the Rav on his
cheek then ordered him to return the stolen candles.
To his surprise, he saw a big smile appear on the face of the guest. This angered
the supervisor even more and he raised his hand in order to slap the guest again.
The Rav raised his hand and said "Enough! I deserved one slap but not more
This remark sounded very strange to the supervisor. Looking searchingly at the
man in front of him he suddenly yelled "Oy! Rebbe!" realizing that
this was none other than the Rav of Shargorod, Rabbi Lipa!
He threw himself down before the Rav, begging him for forgiveness. Again a big
smile spread over the Rav's face. He said "You do not have to feel bad.
Finally I have received a sign from Heaven that my repentance has been accepted."
Source: Adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles
from the translation by C. R. Benami, long-time editorial assistant for www.AscentOfSafed.com,
of an article in Sichat Hashavua (#1327)
Connection: In "the Three Weeks" leading to
Tisha b'Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples and the exile of the
Shechina (Divine Presence).
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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