# 342(s5764-35) 28 Iyar 5764
The Torah idea that the Baal Shem Tov said was:It is written in Ethics of the Fathers (4:1): "Who is strong? He who conquers his selfish inclinations."
When the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom DovBer Schneerson (1860-1920) was a young child, his father (the fourth rebbe, Rebbe Shmuel) woke him one morning and asked him if he had dreamed anything. The boy thought for a minute, then began trembling with fear and answered that he dreamed that several awesomely holy men had visited him and that one of them told him a Torah idea and a story.
He described them and his father identified the one who had spoken
as Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Chassidism, 1698-1760).
The story that he told was as follows:
I could not believe my eyes. I called two of the elder tzaddikim who were with me, Rabbi Yechezkel and Rabbi Ephraim. They, too, saw the pillar but also couldn't explain it. For all appearances this Herschel was just a simple old Jew trying to make a living. What connected him to such a great revelation?
For several days I observed him and tried to understand the reason
for this holy fire, but I still had no idea. The people told me that
he was a widower, his wife having died some ten years ago. He earned
his meek living by carrying things on his back and doing odd jobs,
and as far as everyone knew he used all his money to feed a few goats
he had because he loved goat milk. That is how he earned the name
I had just finished the first three days and was leaving the Shul when by Divine providence, there was Herschel walking down the street. He had a big smile on his face as I approached him. I told him I was very weak from having fasted and asked if he could give me something to eat.
"Of course! Of course!" He said joyously. "Please,
just follow me to my home! I'm so happy to help."
Suddenly four or five goats jumped from all corners of the hut at him. They lovingly licked his hands and literally pranced with joy about him.
I had never quite seen the like of it. Herschel quieted the goats told me to sit down, took out a large metal pail, milked one of them, and poured me a cup to drink.
"Nothing's more healthy than goat's milk! Here, have another,"
he said with satisfaction as he handed me a second cup.
Then he looked at me seriously and said, "I want to tell you
a true story. You have no idea how happy I am that you came here.
Please listen." He sat down opposite me waited a few moments
collecting his thoughts, and began.
"She told me that after she died, instead of going through the painful and frightening purification processes of 'the slingshot' and 'the thrashing of the grave,' she was received warmly by the souls of all those people she had helped and led directly to one of the highest heavens.
"She told me that nothing is valued in heaven more than brotherly
love and beseeched me to also begin a life of charity and good deeds.
"Since then my wife never appeared to me again. It's been ten
years since then, but today, just before I woke up, she came. She
told me that this morning I would meet a holy man and he would change
my life, and I'm sure she was talking about you. Please stay with
me for a few days and teach me Torah."
After five more years he became a great hidden tzaddik and
mystic in his own right, moved to the city of Ostropol, and for the
next ten years helped and even saved hundreds of Jews with his prayers
Until, suddenly, the soul of Herschel's wife appeared before the heavenly court.
All the accusing angels fell silent and she spoke. How could it
be that the entire city of Ostropol would be punished because of her
husband? Her husband had devoted his life to helping people. The greatest
possible disgrace that could be done to him would be to cause anyone,
no less an entire city, to suffer on his account. She demanded that
the punishment be annulled.
[From the writings of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, as published on www.chabad.org (AID=60354].
© 2001-2004 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center
Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.
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