# 445(s5766-35/4 Sivan 5766)

A Memory Beverage

Rabbi Yosef Karo cautioned Rabbi Moshe Alsheich: "Your student Chaim Vital is remarkable. Be exceptionally careful."

An Orphan's Missing Mitzva

Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz was once at a brit milah [circumcision] of a baby who was already orphaned from both of his parents. His father had passed away after his mother had conceived, and his mother died in childbirth. At the ceremony, there was a tremendous amount of crying and wailing, which created a very somber and morose atmosphere.

The Belzer ordered that the crying should stop, saying that brit milah is a joyous mitzva occasion. Crying is therefore prohibited, and it will in no way help the unfortunate child. Later, at the festive meal in honor of the circumcision, the Rebbe commanded that they should sing the entire Tmanya Apei (literally, "eight faces"-a reference to Psalm 119, which contains eight verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in sequence. [Belzer Chassidim sing this Psalm throughout Chanuka). Afterwards the Rebbe explained his request by telling the following story.

Whenever a very difficult question arose to Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak of Pshischa, known as the Yehudi HaKadosh [the Holy Jew], he would concentrate very deeply, often steeped in his thoughts for half an hour or more, until the answer came to him. Once, when one of these questions came up, one of his students, a young man who was orphaned from his father, became very hungry, and decided to dart home to his mother for a quick bite.

He quickly ran home and asked his mother for some food, reminding her that he was in the middle of his studies, and would have to return immediately. After preparing and serving the food, his mother asked him to bring down a package that she needed from the attic. Nervous about returning late, the young man told his mother he had to return right away. As he hurried back to the Study Hall, he realized what he had done - after all, isn't the study of Torah supposed to lead to fulfillment of its mitzvot, and he had just missed an opportunity to honor his mother?

He quickly did an about-face and ran back, and pleaded for his mother's forgiveness. When she agreed, he brought the package down from the attic, and quickly ran back again to the Study Hall. Upon his arrival there, when he opened the door, the Yehudi arose from his deep thoughts, and promptly stood up to greet the young man.

Noticing that the Rebbe had stood up, all the other talmidim [students] also stood. The young man was quite bewildered at all of this. The Yehudi then delivered his answer to the difficult question, and asked everyone to sit down. Sitting down with them, he turned to the young man and said, "Now tell us everything that happened to you."

After the young man told his story, the Yehudi said, "Surely you wonder why I stood up. The Gemara [Kiddushin 32b] says that Abayei [one of the major sages of the Talmud] was an orphan from both parents. His father had passed away after his mother had conceived, and his mother died in childbirth. How, then, could he fulfill the command of honoring one's parents, which is one of the Ten Commandments? Therefore, whenever anyone fulfills this mitzva properly, Abayei accompanies him. So, since you did this mitzva so well, Abayei went with you. When you came here, Abayei came with you, and I stood up in his honor. And it was he who gave me the answer to the difficult question."

Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz then added that in the Maharsha's commentary to this Gemara, he writes that the name Abayei is alluded to in the verse, "asher becha yerucham yasom" [the first letter of each word spells out the name Abayei], meaning, "in You the orphan finds mercy" [Hoshea, 14:4]. "This verse teaches that the best way to help the orphan is not by crying over him, but by insuring that he receives a proper Torah education as he grows up. For the gematria [numerical value] of the letters of 'becha' [in You] hints at the 22 letters of the Torah, and if we bring the child up according to the Torah, this will bring great satisfaction to his parents in Heaven."

"Now you can understand why I asked you to sing Tmanya Apei," the Rebbe concluded, "for in the entire psalm is about the Kedusha [sanctity] and greatness of the Torah."



Freely translated by "Yitz of Yerushalayim" from Alim L'Trufa, and posted on his blog, http://heichalhanegina.blogspot.com. There he notes, "this story was told by Rebbe Mordechai of Bilguria, may he rest in peace, who was the father of today's Belzer Rebbe (may he live long and good years)."

Biographical notes:
Rebbe Yehoshua [Shia'leh] of Belz (1825 - 23 Shevat 1894) was the son and successor of the Sar Shalom, the first Belzer Rebbe. He became one of the most important leaders of Orthodox Jewry in Galicia.

R. Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischa, 1766-1813, The "Holy Jew" was the leading disciple of the "Seer" of Lublin, but subsequently split off to form the famous Peshischa movement of Chassidut. Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk were among his many disciples who became great Rebbes in their own right.

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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