#512 (s5768-01 / Erev Rosh Hashanah 5768)

Final Blow

During the voyage of Rabbi Elazer Rokeach to the holy land, a fierce storm broke out at sea on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.

Final Blow

Rabbi Elazar Rokay'ach, a forebear of Rabbi Shalom, the first Rebbe of the Belz dynasty, was chief rabbi in Amsterdam. In his later years, he traveled to Eretz Yisrael, which in those days meant a long, dangerous trip by boat. He and his attendant set out on the journey shortly before Rosh Hashanah.

During the voyage, on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, a fierce storm broke out at sea, with high winds whipping the water into mountainous waves which threatened to capsize the ship. The passengers, white with terror, were desperately trying to keep themselves upright while they prayed for their lives. When the captain declared that it would not be long before the end came, the attendant had no choice but to interrupt Rabbi Elazar's intense study, which had not ceased since the storm begun, and inform him of the grave danger, to which he had been oblivious.

Upon hearing of the captain's grim prediction, Rabbi Elazar told his attendant, "Bring my shofar, and tell me the moment dawn breaks, so that I can blow it." As soon as morning came, R'Elazar blew his shofar, and to the relief and amazement of all those on board, the storm ceased.

Rabbi Simcha-Bunim of Peshischa later explained, "Do not think for a moment that Rabbi Elazar meant for the blowing of the shofar to stop the storm; indeed, that is not what happened. He thought he had only a short time left to live, and he wished to 'seize' the mitzvah of shofar-blowing - to get it in one more time. That is why he performed the mitzvah at the first possible moment! It was his dedication to the mitzvah which saved them all."

[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Gut Voch by Avrohom Barash (Artscroll).]

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.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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