#552 (s5768-42 / 21 Sivan 5768)

When Caught in the Middle

The Yismach Moshe said he was aware of three past incarnations of his soul, including once among the Jews who were redeemed from Egypt.

When Caught in the Middle

Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Rabbi of Sighet, was a chasid of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz. He always traveled to spend the festivals with his rebbe.

At one point there was a sharp dispute between the Sanzer Rebbe and the children of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin, but Rabbi Zalman Leib did not get involved, and did not declare his support for either party. When he was asked why he did not side with the Sanzer, Rabbi Zalman Leib replied, "The Rebbe is great, but he is not greater than Moshe Rebbeinu! I learned from my grandfather not to get embroiled in quarrels, even if it involves Moses himself!"

He explained that his grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujhely, the Chasidic rebbe known as the Yismach Moshe, used to remark that he was aware that his soul had been reincarnated three times. In a previous life, he had been among the Jewish people who were redeemed from Egyptian slavery.

He, as a child, once asked him, "Zeide, you came out of Egypt, and lived during the dispute of Korach and his followers. Tell me Zeide, whose side were you on?"

Rabbi Moshe replied, "My child, you cannot imagine what a revered man Korach was. He was held in great esteem by many important people, and had a large following. And on the other side was the holy leader Moshe Rabbeinu! I decided that the best way to deal with such a division was to stay out of it. Throughout the entire controversy, until Moshe and his brother Aharon, the High Priest, were declared the leaders, I remained inside my tent. I did not go out even once.

"And you, my dear grandson, should do the same. Learn a lesson for life: Whenever there is divisiveness, keep away. Lock yourself in your house if necessary so that you are not forced to join one side!"

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

Biographic notes:
Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz [1793 - 10 Nissan 1876] was the first Rebbe of the Sanz-Klausenberg dynasty. He is famous for his extraordinary dedication to the mitzvah of tzedaka and also as a renowned Torah scholar; his voluminous and wide-ranging writings were all published under the title Divrei Chaim.

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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