#494 (s5767-33) 21 Iyar 5767
Pilgrimmage of a Polish-Catholic Nobleman
it because you think I'm a sorcerer that you have come to me," asked Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Rimanov.
Polish-Catholic Count and the Rebbe
A little before
Rosh HaShana in the year 1883 the Polish count Dravski -- who had long ago earned
fame as a poet and as a fighter in the battle for independence in 1831 -- made
the journey to pray at the resting place of the tzadik Rabbi Menachem
Mendel of Rimanov. All the nobility of the Rimanov region gathered to pay
their respects to him, and the eighty-year-old guest of honor explained the reason
for his unusual pilgrimage.
"When I was a child of eight," he
said, "I became critically ill. My mother summoned the best physicians available,
but none could help. Then one of her aristocratic friends found her weeping in
despair over her only son, and told that in Fristik -- for that was where this
holy man used to live -- there was a rabbi who worked wonders. She had her horses
harnessed at once, and by five in the morning the carriage with the two ladies
had arrived at the rebbe's house.
"The household was already awake
and active, for this was the time at which they used to bake bread for the needy.
A servant informed the holy man of their arrival, and he sent back word that he
would receive them at nine, after his morning prayers.
"At the appointed
time the noblewoman told him of her friend's request, and he replied in perfect
Polish: 'Is it because you think I am a sorcerer that you have come to me?'
she replied, 'but your life-style is closer to G-d than that of most people, and
that is why your prayer is heard more attentively.'
"'In that case,'
said the rebbe, 'I shall pray for the child.'
"The two women left the
room, but through the door, which they had left ajar, they saw him turning towards
a corner and then praying with such fervor that beads of perspiration stood out
on his face. After three hours of exertion he called for them, just as the clock
which hung over his bed struck noon.
"'Right now,' he said, 'just as
the clock is striking twelve, the child has felt better. When he has completely
recovered bring him to me so that I can bless him.'
"My mother came
home, and anxiously asked one of the servants how her child was faring.
has changed,' she was told, 'except that instead of lying motionless as he had
been doing the whole time, he woke up at twelve and asked for water.'
few weeks later," concluded the aged count, "I was completely well.
I was brought to the rebbe, who gave me his blessing, and told me that I should
always treat Jews with kindness. I have kept my promise, and now, in my old age,
I desired to make the journey here to Rimanov in order to pray at his resting
Dravski wept profusely at that holy spot, and following the
Jewish custom, left there a kevitil [note] -- written in Polish.
1901 the German scholar Aharon Marcus wrote in his Der Chassidismus that he had
succeeded in securing that very kevitil. (The tzadiks's surname
was Turim, and the signature at the end, giving the name of the supplicant and
his mother, follows the traditional Jewish ordering of such requests.) It reads
Ye souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- pray for the soul
of the late Mendel Turim! And you, Mendel, since you stand already in the presence
of the Heavenly Throne, pray for the oppressed nations -- the Jewish People and
Poland -- and pray too for me, for my children, and for my grandchildren!
Dravski the son of Victoria.
by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales
(Artscroll), as translated by our esteemed colleague Uri Kaploun from Sipurei
Chasidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.]
Mendel of Riminov [?-19 Iyar 1815], was an important Rebbe in the third generation
of chasidism. His was a main disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech, and many rebbes
of the succeeding generation studied with him. His teachings are collected in
Menachem Zion and other works.
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.back to Top
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