#499 (s5767-38) 27 Sivan 5767

No Holy Books Allowed in the Rebbe's Room!

Rabbi Avraham (the Maggid) of Trisk hardly ate or slept.

No Holy Books Allowed in the Rebbe's Room!


Rabbi Avraham of Trisk lived like this. Eight o'clock in the morning he'd get up, go to the mikveh, pray. Two o'clock in the afternoon, he would start to yawn. "I'm so tired, I've got to lie down a little bit." He'd go to his room until three, then pray the afternoon prayer. After the evening prayer, at ten o'clock at night he might start yawning again. "I'm so tired. I've got to go back to my room."

The fact of the matter was that the Trisker Maggid hardly ate or slept. Rather -- as everybody knew -- when he closed the door to his room he was dealing with souls from the Other World who needed fixing. This is because before his father, Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, passed away, he divided his kingdom among his children and put Rabbi Avraham in charge of the people from the Other Side.

For this reason he also never kept any books in his room, because souls from the Other Side are not able to read Torah. In order to avoid making them feel bad, the Trisker Maggid never permitted books in his room. If he found one, he removed it.

The Trisker Maggid once came to a village where only one Jew had enough room in his house to accommodate the rebbe and his chasidim. But this man was a mitnaged (opposed to the chasidic movement). He had heard many stories from his fellow mitnagdim and was suspicious of the rumor that the Trisker Maggid hardly slept or ate.

"Eating I can believe. He sleeps so much, he doesn't need to eat. But he doesn't even keep a book in his room, so you can't tell me he isn't up there napping!" This wealthy Jew was more than happy to have the Trisker Maggid as his guest, because it would give him a chance to prove what the rebbe was doing behind closed doors. "He's snoring, I'm sure."

That evening, while the Trisker Maggid was praying the evening prayer, the Jew managed to get into Rabbi Avraham's room and to hide under the bed. At ten o'clock, when the Trisker Maggid said to his chasidim, "I have to go back to my room," the rich Jew heard R' Avraham come into the chamber and felt him sit down on the bed.

No sooner had the chasidim closed the door to give the rebbe a little privacy when it seemed to open again. A crowd pushed their way into the room. The man could hear the shuffle of feet, the murmuring appeals. During the day, the host had already witnessed the Trisker Maggid's audiences with ten, maybe even thirty people, at a time. But this sounded like thousands. What was happening? Where were all these people coming from? How could there even be a place for them in this little bedroom?

During the day, people would complain: "Rabbi! I'm sick. Please cure my back." "I need money for my business." "Would you find a wife for my son?" But by night, the people were saying, "Rebbe! I'm so broken! They won't let me into Gan Eden (Paradise). They won't let me into Gehinom (Purgatory). All I can do is wander. Rebbe, please fix my soul."

The worst was that the host heard many voices in the room, but when he peeked out from underneath the bed, he couldn't see any feet. The Jew was so frightened that he was shaking and had to do his best to keep his teeth from chattering.

Suddenly, he heard another, different voice cry out: "Rebbe! Have compassion on my tormented neshama. Fix me! Fix my soul!"

"What can I do for you?" the Trisker Maggid asked. "While you were alive, you never bothered to come to me. You didn't even give me one kopeck for tzedaka, one penny for charity, to connect yourself to me. So how can I help you now?"

"There must be a way!" The poor soul pleaded with the rebbe, from a place of deep anguish.

"Actually, there is one possibility. Your neighbor, Shmuelik, was one of my top chasids. Shmuelik gave me a great deal of charity during his lifetime. If he were to tell me now that one penny of the riches he gave as tzedaka was for you, then I could find a way to help you."

"Shmuelik would do that for me, I'm sure."

"Fine! Then I want you to go and ask him!"

"How can I do that? He won't believe that I come from you."

"Then I'll send somebody along to act as your witness."

At this point, the Trisker Maggid gave a strong, swift kick under the bed and said to the owner of the house: "Come out!"

When the man realized that the Trisker Maggid was about to send him into the Other World as witness to an exchange between two souls, he began pleading from under the bed.

"Please, Rebbe! Don't do this to me! I promise I won't tell anybody what I saw!"

"Come out!" the Maggid repeated firmly.

The Jew came out, crawling on his stomach. He was crying, screaming, clinging to the rebbe's feet. "Please, Rebbe! I have a wife and three children. You've seen them! I don't want to die yet. I'm not ready to die!"

"G-d forbid you should die. But if you're going to spy on me, then you are the one who must go as my witness. Take my stick and walk with the soul of this man to the cemetery."

The Jew looked around. The greatest nightmare of all was that there was absolutely no one else in the room, only himself and the Trisker Maggid. "Knock on the first grave in the second row and say that Avraham ben Chanah orders Shmuel ben Rivkah to give one penny to fix the neshama of this Jew - Yussel ben Baila, his neighbor."

The Jew fulfilled his mission obediently. It goes without saying that not only did he not die, he lived on to become a dedicated, faithful Trisker chasid.
Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from nehora.com, where it is published as having been heard from the great-great grandson of the man who hid under the bed (and confirmed by the general manager of Ascent, who is the great-great grandson of the Trisker Maggid).

Biographical note:
Rabbi Avraham of Trisk (1802 - 2 Tammuz 1889) was one of eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. During his 50 years as rebbe, he was well known for blessing people, blessings which did not go unanswered. In his book Magen Avraham on the Torah readings and the festivals, he includes many guidelines for yeshiva students.

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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