Weekly Chasidic Story #1013 (s5777-32 / 12 Iyar 5777)

Lag b'Omer in Meron...Again and Again

Zelig was getting older, and had yet to find his destined soul-mate.

Connections: Seasonal--LAG B'OMER


Lag b'Omer in Meron...Again and Again


Zelig was getting older, and couldn't seem to find his bashert (destined soul-mate). On Lag b'Omer 5774, while his mother was in the midst of her bus ride to Meron in order to pray at the tombsite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, she took out her cell phone and dialed her husband. When he answered she said to him excitedly,

"I just reminded myself of when we were in Meron many years ago, praying for a child. We promised that if we were blessed with a boy, we would call him Shimon. But when our first son was born, we forgot our promise and named him Zelig. Now I am wondering, maybe this is what is holding back his finding the right young woman?"

The father, a chasid, immediately contacted his Rebbe, who told him that from now on they should call their son Shimon-Zelig [and that at the next Torah reading in synagogue he should do the procedure to ratify the new name-y.t.].

The mother prayed fervently to the Al-mighty at the tombsite of Rabbi Shimon that her son Shimon Zelig should finally find his soul-mate and become engaged.

The next Shabbat, the gabbai (synagogue manager) honored their son with an aliyah, summoning him with the name "Shimon-Zelig." After the aliyah was completed, he made a special blessing for the young man, again using his new name, Shimon-Zelig.

It so happened another person in the congregation was also named Zelig. He approached the gabbai and asked him, "Why did you call this young man by the name Shimon Zelig? Until now he was simply Zelig, like me."

The gabbai said, "That is what the father asked me to do. I don't know his reason. I didn't ask any questions."

It turns out this Zelig had a daughter, and years before he had considered the young man Zelig to be a desirable match for his daughter. But 800 years earlier the great sage Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid taught that the names of a father-in-law and son-in-law (and mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) should not be the same. Now that their names weren't exactly the same, he decided to pursue the match with alacrity.

It didn't take long until Shimon-Zelig was engaged to Zelig's daughter!

* * *
In the year 5773, a certain G-d fearing, honorable good Jew who lived in Jerusalem was imprisoned for some reason. As Lag b'Omer approached, this prisoner was very upset that he couldn't be in Meron for the festive occasion.

He asked his son to go to pray for him, and he expressed his sorrow that he can't go there as well. "I go every year, and now I am behind bars and unable to attend."

The son replied, "Since you go to Rabbi Shimon every year but this year you can't for a reason beyond your control, I am certain that Rabbi Shimon will this year come to you instead!"

His father smiled. He appreciated his son's effort to cheer him up, but of course it was just wishful thinking.

That year, on Lag b'Omer, a fire broke out in the jail. The Jewish inmates took advantage of the fire to dance around it and sing joyously the three classic Lag b'Omer songs over and over. Thus, they had a genuine Lag b'Omer bonfire celebration right there in prison!

Nor was that all. The fire caused so much damage, the jail needed repairs. As a result, there wasn't room for all the prisoners, so the next morning, on Lag b'Omer day, the ones with the lightest sentences were freed.

So it seems that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai did go to the remorseful Jew, just as his son had said. He, and many others of the prisoners, were able to celebrate on Lag b'Omer, and then to be set free as well.

Source: "Torah Wellsprings" - R. Elimelech Biderman (Emor 5776 - adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the translation of R. Baruch Twersky)


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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