#542 (s5768-32 / 10 Nissan 5768)

A Valuable Slap on the Cheek

The father of the Bnei Yissaschar was an itinerant tutor; he would head home with his hard-earned money before each Festival.

A Valuable Slap on the Cheek


Rabbi Pesach Shapira, the father of Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov (known as the Bnei Yissaschar after his sefer of that name), was an itinerant melamed (teacher of children). It was arranged that he would board at the home of his employer Reb Asher most of the year, teach his sons, and receive his wages before each Festival. He would then head home with his hard-earned money, which would suffice to support his family until the next holiday.

However, it happened that a mendicant came to the village, seeking alms. Reb Asher, being rather tight-fisted, did not wish to assist the beggar. Rabbi Pinchas could not bear to see him turned away with nothing, and asked Reb Asher to advance some money from his forthcoming salary so that he would have something to offer the man, and Reb Asher agreed.

When another pauper arrived some time later and faced the same prospect, Rabbi Pinchas made the same request of his employer, and again the loan was made. Rabbi Pinchas then approached Reb Asher and suggested that it be a permanent arrangement: Whenever a supplicant arrived, if Reb Asher did not wish to donate anything, he should give the man something from Rabbi Pinchas' wages, and keep an account of it.

Several months passed, and it was time for Rabbi Pinchas to be paid so that he could return home to his family for the Pesach holiday. When he presented himself to his employer to be paid, however, he faced a grave disappointment: Reb Asher informed the unfortunate melamed that after tallying all the tzedaka he had advanced, nothing remained of his salary!

Rabbi Pinchas went home empty-handed, but did not lose faith that somehow Hashem would provide for his family. He spent the last days before the holiday in the (study hall) studying Torah, trusting that salvation would arrive.

One day, young Tzvi Elimelech and his friends were playing outside near the local post office. Excitedly they watched as an opulent carriage drew up, discharging a young nobleman who went inside the post office to conduct some business. They boys were fascinated with the carriage and yielded to the temptation to investigate it. As they were clambering on, the young nobleman left the building, and though the other boys scurried away, Tzvi Elimelech was not quick enough. The man slapped the boy on his cheek, mounted the carriage and began to drive off. Then, apparently regretting his hitting the boy, the nobleman threw him a purse of money, as if to compensate.

Tzvi Elimelech was overjoyed - now his family could purchase the necessities for the holiday! He hurried to the beit Midrash to show his father the purse, relating the entire sequence of events. When Rabbi Pinchas counted the money, he found that the total was the exact amount that his wages were to have been!

The family sat around the seder table, grateful for the miracle that had enabled them to celebrate the holiday with all their needs provided. When they arrived at that point in the Pesach seder after the meal when the door is opened to demonstrate our confidence in G-d's protection and to welcome Elijah the prophet, Tzvi Elimelech ran to open the front door wide. Suddenly he screamed, "The nobleman who gave me the purse is at the door! He has probably come to take back the money!" But the child was mistaken; it was not a non-Jewish nobleman. Nor did anyone else merit to see him.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from "Gut Woch" (Mesorah) by Avrohom Barash]

Biographic note:
Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov (1785 - 18 Teves, 1841), a renowned scholar, nephew of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk and disciple of the "Seer" of Lublin, and of Menachem Mendel of Rimanov. Best known for his scholarly and mystical work, Bnei Yissaschar, which includes a chapter for each month of the year.

Editor's note:
The customary story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe for Yud-Alef Nissan will arrive during Chol HaMoed. It's a good one!

Yerachmiel 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, and many have been translated into other languages.

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

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