#531 (s5768-20 / 15 Shevat 5768)

Honoring One's Mother

A student of Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, was attending his rebbe's lecture when he suddenly felt strong hunger pangs.

Honoring One's Mother

Yankel, a student of Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P'shischa, was attending his rebbe's lecture one morning when he suddenly felt strong hunger pangs. He recalled that he had not eaten breakfast that morning, but decided to persevere in his studies despite his discomfort.

Then, one of the students asked a complex, penetrating question, and Rabbi Simcha Bunim silently began to ponder the question. While his teacher was deep in thought, Yankel decided he would have time to hurry home quickly to get something to eat. When Rabbi Simcha Bunim was lost in thought, it usually took some time before he was ready to resume his lecture, and by then Yankel hoped he would be back.

Yankel dashed home, quickly ate a bit and was about to run back to the study hall when his mother called to him to help her with a chore. Yankel was torn: he felt pressured to return in time to his class; how could he take the time to help his mother? On the other hand, how could he ignore this opportunity to fulfill the commandment to honor one's mother?

He thought to himself, "I learn Torah in order to fulfill it. How can I ignore this mitzva when the opportunity is presented to me? If I were willing to risk being late for the lesson in order to satisfy my hunger, I should surely be prepared to take that chance to fulfill the commandment of honoring my mother!" He immediately hurried to do his mother's bidding.

As soon as his task was completed he ran back to the study hall. To his relief, Rabbi Simcha Bunim was still engrossed in his thoughts, but as Yankel slid into his seat, the Rebbe looked toward him with a smile and gave a succinct answer to the difficult question.

When the lecture was concluded, Rabbi Simcha Bunim called Yankel over and asked about his absence. In trepidation, Yankel related what had occurred. The Rebbe smiled and remarked, "Now I understand! Until you came in, I could not think of a satisfactory explanation for our topic. When you entered, the soul of the Talmudic sage Abaye accompanied you, and his holy presence emanated wisdom which enabled me to resolve the difficulty!"

Rabbi Simcha Bunim went on the explain that Abaye, as the Talmud relates, was an orphan from birth -- his father died before he was born and his mother in childbirth -- and thus he never had the opportunity to fulfill the commandment to honor one's parents. Therefore, whenever anyone makes a special effort to fulfill this commandment, the soul of Abaye accompanies him.

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

Biographical Note:
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765 - 12 Elul 1827) spent many years as a business man and a pharmacist. He was a beloved disciple of "the Seer of Lublin" and of "The Holy Yid" whom he succeeded. Known as "a rebbe of rebbes," his major disciples included the Kotsker and the first Rebbes of Ger and Alexander.

Editor's note:
There is a similar story told of the Belzer Rebbe, R. Yehoshua Rokeyach. See story #445 of this list, from two years ago.

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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