#468 (s5767-07 / 17 Cheshvan 5767)

Speak Up!

"Why did you not mention this until now?" asked the Seer of Lublin.

Speak Up!

[I tracked down the full story that began in #442, sent about half a year ago. There the chasid-scholar is identified as Rabbi Mordechai of Pintchov. -yt]


There once lived a certain pious, young student, G-d-fearing and pure of heart, who invested all his time and energy in Torah learning, intensive prayer and fulfillment of mitzvot. Every so often he would travel to his holy rebbe, the Hozeh ("Seer") of Lublin, to draw as much spirituality and sacred emotion as he could. He grew to great heights in his rabbi's inner circle of holy disciples. He would then return home to apply himself with even greater diligence and intensity to serving G-d.

Fortunately, G-d had provided him a devoted wife. She rejoiced over her lot and encouraged him in his spiritual endeavors, as she independently bore the burden of supporting the family. Their needs were few; they were content with the little profit the wife earned by selling apples in the market. They raised their sons to fine character traits, and they enjoyed a wonderful life together.

But the years passed, and the children grew. The oldest daughter reached marriageable age, and people began speaking of her great virtues. Unfortunately, every matchmaker with whom they consulted began by asking the sum they were prepared to give for the traditional dowry, and for this question he had no reply. Thank G-d, they had enough to eat, but he had not a penny for a dowry.

So, what did they do? The wife said to him, "Is our rebbe called the 'Seer' for nothing? His vision is inspired and he sees that which is hidden. Go to him and ask how we will come up with a dowry for our daughter."

"I'll go," he said; "for women are granted unique wisdom."

He set out for Lublin to consult with his rebbe. But when he arrived, he forgot everything in the world. He followed the Seer intensely, grew spiritually, and experienced what he felt was a taste of the world to come.

When he returned home, his wife asked him, "So, where is our dowry?"

"I forgot to ask," he confessed. "Next time," he promised, "I will remember."

But during his next journey he was no less inspired than during the previous trip, and again he returned home empty-handed. When this was repeated a third and then fourth time, the wife lost her patience.

"Our daughter is not getting any younger. If you forget, then I will go with you. I will come before the rebbe and I will ask him."

"Let me try once more," he said. "In order to make sure that I don't forget, I will tie a knot at the edge of my handkerchief. The knot will definitely remind me of why I had come."
He tied the knot and set out towards Lublin.

The man traveled to Lublin and, as usual, when he stood before his rabbi he was inspired and uplifted to the point where he forgot everything. He sat to learn with great intensity and diligence in order to prepare himself for prayer, and he prayed with intense concentration that G-d should open his heart to learn Torah. This then repeated itself several times over.

Once, the morning prayer with the rabbi who resembled an angel and his disciples was so intense that puddles of perspiration poured from him. In a brief moment of distraction, he placed his hand in his pocket to clean his forehead with his handkerchief, but it was tied in a knot. Who tied it? Suddenly he remembered his wife's request. He held the handkerchief in his hand until after the conclusion of the prayers and asked to be granted a private meeting with the rebbe.

This time, when he stood before the holy tzadik, he told him of his daughter who sought to marry. The Seer asked the daughter's age. When the man told him, he exclaimed, "Where have you been until now? Why haven't you said anything?"

The man replied, "The rabbi is graced with divine inspiration; everything is revealed to him!"

The Seer smiled and said, "Nevertheless, you violated what is written in the Torah!"

The chasid shuddered. What violation did he transgress?

The Seer explained, "When a Jew discovers, to his horror, some discoloration in the walls of his house, the Torah commands him to come before the kohen and inform him that he spotted a discoloration (Lev. 14:35). He must not rely on the kohen's divine inspiration. You should have come and told me.

"In any event, what was done is in the past. Now, I suggest that you travel to Cracow, and there the Al-mighty will provide money for a respectable dowry and all the wedding expenses. You will marry off your daughter honorably and enjoy much nachas from her for many generations."

"Amen," the man answered with great excitement. He asked the tzadik for a farewell blessing, said goodbye to the other disciples, and set off for the city of Cracow. As soon as he arrived in the city, he sought a Jewish inn for lodging. He requested a room in the first one he found, placed his tallit-tefillin bag on the counter, and asked the innkeeper for a Gemara. He then went directly downstairs to the dining room, found an empty table, opened the Gemara, and began studying in depth with intense concentration, forgetting the world around him. He had to be reminded of meal-time, and those around him watched him as he meticulously washed his hands and recited the blessing with awe and sanctity. They also observed how he ate and how he recited with devotion the long blessings after a meal. He immediately returned to his studies until the time came for the afternoon prayer.

"Fortunate are we that we have merited such a guest," the innkeeper said to his wife. "But the question is, does a scholar and chasid such as this have any money to pay for his stay in the hotel!"

One week passed, and then another. The innkeeper saw how the man sat and learned without stop all day and did not engage in any other type of work. He wondered what was going on, so he initiated a conversation with him. He asked from where he had come and what he does.

"I am a simple Torah student," the man replied. "I try to serve my Creator to the best of my ability."

"If so," the innkeeper pursued, "what led you to leave your hometown and come to Cracow?"

"My holy rebbe, the Seer of Lublin, ordered me to do so. He promised me that here I will find a dowry for my daughter who has reached marriageable age."

"How?" the innkeeper inquired.

"I don't know," the man replied, much to his host's astonishment.

"But what about your lodging expenses?" the innkeeper asked. Naturally, this was the main question he had wanted to ask.

"Have no fears," the man calmly replied. "I will not leave here until I pay you in full for your services."

Then, turning the conversation around, he asked, "And you? What is your story?"
He was sincerely interested to hear about the innkeeper, who told him that he made a respectable livelihood, thank G-d, but that in the past, his status had been far better. He had in the kitchen a reliable, trustworthy Jew who served as the chef, the baker, the cook and the kashrut supervisor. This took a heavy burden off his shoulders and provided him with the spare time to engage in other business enterprises. He had been among the most active merchants in the big market in Danzig.

"But that is all in the past," he concluded with a sigh.

"Why?" the man wondered.

"A disaster occurred. I once borrowed a large sum of money to purchase a heavy load of merchandise. I sold the merchandise at a huge profit, and returned home happy as could be. I counted the money and divided it into small bags - twenty bags in all, each containing a thousand rubles. Thirteen bags went to pay my debts, and the other seven were my profits. I placed the bags in the drawer in my table and went to the market to make some purchases for the inn. When I returned, I discovered, much to my horror, that the drawer had been opened; the money was gone.

"I immediately suspected the butler, who cleaned the rooms. I spoke with him and even threatened him, but he denied everything. What could I do? I asked a rabbi, and he told me that I could not turn the butler over to the authorities, who would torture him. And besides, he may be totally innocent. I fired him, and began paying my doubts slowly and gradually. I no longer had capital for business ventures, and now I am supported only by the inn. I am about to finish paying my debts -- if all my guests pay for their stay," he remarked. The conclusion was a clear hint that could not be missed.

"G-d shall assist you and provide you with honest guests," the chasid said sincerely. "May the Al-mighty replenish that which was lost."

"Amen," the innkeeper responded. "I have no complaints; may the Al-mighty continue to help me."

The innkeeper left to tell his wife about their strange guest, while the man returned to his learning, forgetting the world and everything around him. But not for too long. A new guest visited his table - the chef and kashrut supervisor from the kitchen.

"I heard your story from the innkeeper," he told the chasid. "He came into the kitchen to tell his wife, and I overheard."

"It is no secret," said the man, shrugging his shoulders. "You heard; so what?"

"So I know why your rabbi sent you here. Come, let me show you," the chef said.
The man grew curious. Now, finally, the mystery will be solved. He closed his book and left with the chef. As they walked, the chef began talking. "You heard that the innkeeper used to be a successful businessman?"

"Yes, I did; until the robbery," the man replied.

"Well, I am the thief."

A sudden bolt of lightening and clap of thunder could not have stunned the man more than he was at that point.

"Yes," the chef repeated. "I have worked here loyally for many years, and during that time I have earned a good reputation and acquired a good deal of trust. That day I went up the stairs and saw the door open. The drawer was open, too, and I saw the rubles. Suddenly, a crazy spirit overcame me temporarily, and I lost myself. I shoved them into my apron - twenty thousand in all. In just a single moment I had become as fabulously wealthy as could be. And in just a single moment I became a miserable thief," he said in a broken voice.

"I went back to the kitchen with thoughts bursting in my mind. 'Thief! Thief!' my conscience hollered. I regretted what I had done. I decided to go back, return the money and erase the shame. But just then the door opened and the innkeeper came back inside. He had brought with him some things for the hotel. I quickly took off my apron and hung it on the hook, and went to help him bring the things inside. My opportunity was lost. If he saw me returning the stolen money, I would have been fired on the spot, and justifiably so. Please, tell me, what could I have done?"

The man stood there silently, shocked and bewildered. He kept in mind the famous rabbinical adage, "Do not judge your fellow until you stand in his place."

"The innkeeper went upstairs," the chef continued, "and my heart dropped. I heard his cry of despair when he discovered that his money was stolen. I heard him accuse the butler and fire him, and I heard the butler plead with him, the poor man. My heart was torn inside me, but I had not the courage to come forward and confess.

"I did not touch the money," the chef continued. "I hid it in a safe hiding place. From that point on, I have fasted every Monday and Thursday, and I have prayed with all my heart every day that somehow I will find a way to return the money to the innkeeper without causing me shame and humiliation. This was only a momentary slip.

"I am sure," the chef said, "that my prayer has been answered from the heavens, and that your holy rabbi saw my broken heart with his divinely inspired sight. He must have sent you here to accomplish the mitzvah, to return the money. The innkeeper respects you as a pious person and will not persist with questions if you remain silent as to how the money came into your possession."

The chasid was still overcome by shock when the chef placed his hand into his apron and pulled out four bags. He then thrust his hands into his coat pockets and pulled out four more from the right pocket and another four from the left. From his right pants pocket he drew four bags, and also from the left one. He then thrust all twenty bags into the arms of his amazed listener and disappeared from sight. The man stood there dumbfounded, trying to fit all the bags into his pockets.

The next day, the man sat and studied as usual, and the innkeeper approached his table.

"With all due respect," he said, "I consulted with my wife and we decided that we cannot allow you to stay indefinitely without payment."

"Well then," the man said, "I will leave today."

"And what about the payment?" the innkeeper asked.

"I am sure you will forego the payment as soon as you realize the true purpose of my being here. I have come to return to you the money that was stolen from you several years ago!"

The innkeeper stood there in shock, as the guest drew four bags from his bosom, another four from one coat pocket, four more from the other pocket, and four and another four from his pants pockets.

"Is this really happening?" shouted the innkeeper in excitement. "How did you get it? Who gave it to you?"

When the chasid only smiled in response and it was clear he had no intention of divulging the source, the innkeeper smiled broadly too and said, "Never mind. The main thing is that it has been returned. What a miracle! I am so grateful."

"But wait," he exclaimed. "You said you came here to acquire a dowry for your daughter!"
After a moment of reflection, the innkeeper smiled and quietly added, "Oh, I understand. Your rabbi wanted this to be the money for your mission." He immediately took one of the bags of one thousand rubles and gave it to the man.

With this money, the chasid was able to marry off all of his children honorably.

When he excitedly related to his rebbe all that had happened, the Seer told him, "The chef's remorse and impassioned prayers gave me no rest!"

[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the 5763 archives on the Aram Soba website: shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/aram/ . There it states:
This story was recorded by the disciples of the great tsadik, Rabbi Avraham Simhah of blessed memory, the rabbi of the city of Barnia, and the grandson of the tsadik Rabbi Eliezer of Tschikov, the son of the holy rebbe, Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz. They heard it from him after he moved to Yerushalayim at age 60.]

Biographical note:
R. Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745 - 9 Av 1815), known as 'the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin', was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787), and leader of the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many of his insights were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

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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