Weekly Chasidic Story #819 (s5773-48 / 29 Menachem-Av 5773)

To Measure a Measure

Once, on the eve of Rosh Chodesh, the Rimanover Rebbe sent his faithful attendant and disciple, Zvi Hirsch, to all the shops in town to see whether their weights and measures were sound.

Connections (2): Seasonal -- Rosh Chodesh Elul is this week; Weekly Reading: Deut. 25:13-16 appear in next week's reading


To Measure a Measure

(I sent this story around 12 years ago-remember? :) -but it was someone else's rendition. This time I translated myself from a source. The previous title was "Weight-Watchers".)

Once a month, on the day preceding Rosh Chodesh, one of the great chasidic leaders and the rabbi of the town, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimminov, was accustomed to send two rabbinical supervisors to make the rounds of every store in town to check the accuracy of their weights and measures (see Deut. 25:13-16 as to the importance of this-ed.). Occasionally he would delegate this task to his faithful and brilliant attendant (and eventual successor!), Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh Kohen.

One time, R. Tzvi-Hirsh, along with his partner, found an invalid measure in the store of a very wealthy man, who also had a background in Torah study and fancied himself to be somewhat of a scholar. When R. Tzvi-Hirsh rebuked him about possessing such a measure, he replied coolly that it was of no consequence because he didn't use this particular measure for buying or selling.

R. Tzvi-Hirsh quickly responded by quoting the Talmud (Babba Batra) that it is forbidden to maintain an inaccurate weight or measure in one's house even if it is used only as a receptacle for urine!

To this the rich man remarked with disdain, "Is also Shaul among the prophets?" (see I Sam 10:11) - "Does also Hirshel rule on Jewish law?" Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh remained silent; he simply took the measure in question and crushed it under his boot.

When his emissaries returned to the Rebbe, he asked R. Tzvi-Hirsh if he found the weights and measures to be accurate. R. Tzvi-Hirsh replied briefly, "Yes. Everything is as it is supposed to be," concealing from the Rebbe what had happened in the shop of the wealthy merchant, to prevent any suffering that might occur to him as a result of the Rebbe's focused disapproval.

But then the Rebbe asked the other rabbi also for a report, and he related the whole incident in the wealthy merchant.

Immediately the Rebbe summoned one of his other aides, and ordered him to announce that at a certain hour the Rebbe would be giving a special lesson in the synagogue and that everyone should attend. He instructed him to knock on the doors of all the householders to inform them, except for the door of this particular rich man.

All the community dutifully gathered in the shul, and the Rimminover addressed them at length about the importance of the commandment of having and maintaining accurate weights and measures.

Word quickly filtered out to the wealthy shopkeeper about what was taking place in the shul where everyone was except him, and he became overcome with fright as he realized that the reason the Rebbe was raising this furor was solely because of him. He ran to the shul, and immediately upon entering removed his shoes, as a sign of submission and remorse. He begged Rabbi Mendel for forgiveness.

The Rebbe agreed to forgive him, with the condition that he donate fifty gold ducat coins to a worthy charitable cause. He also added: "You belittled R. Tzvi-Hirsh's attainments in Torah knowledge. I say to you that who knows if even the head of the Heavenly yeshiva that you will attend after 120 will be able to match him!"

Interestingly, while the Rebbe was delivering his talk, before the wealthy merchant arrived, people noticed that R. Tzvi-Hirsh's lips were moving unceasingly, although no one could overhear his words. After the incident was over they asked him what he had been saying. He replied that he had been praying over and over that the shopkeeper would arrive to appease the Rebbe in time to avert punishment.

Source: Translated-freely adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Sipurei Chasidim-Torah (#521) by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin.

Connections: (2): Seasonal -- Rosh Chodesh Elul is this week; Weekly Reading -- Deut. 25:13-16 appear in next week's reading

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimminov [?-19 Iyar 1815],.was an important Rebbe in the third generation of hassidism. He was a main disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech, and many rebbes of the succeeding generation studied with him. His teachings are collected in Menachem Zion and other works.

Rabbi Zvi Hirsh of Rimminov [1778-29 Cheshvan 1847] was the attendant of the well-known Rebbe, R. Menachem Mendel of Rimminov, and subsequently his successor. He had a reputation as a miracle worker. Some of his teachings are collected in Mevasser Tov and in Be'erot HaMayim.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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