Weekly Chasidic Story #1023 (s5777-42/ 23 Tamuz 5777)

The Nursemaid's Kaddish

The Seer of Lublin gave instructions that he shouldn't be disturbed. Nevertheless, his attendant entered to say that a woman in the outer room is crying profusely and insists on seeing him.

Connection: Seasonal--see the story's dedication


Dedicated for the soul elevation of Ella bas Eliyahu HaLevi,
whose 21st yahrzeit fell yesterday on Tammuz 22
(this year: Saturday night-Sunday, July 16)

The Nursemaid's Kaddish


Kaddish is not a sad prayer. If you would study the meaning of this prayer that is recited for (usually) almost a year after someone passes away, you would discover that its theme is to sanctify the name of G-d, as the first sentence says, "May His great name be exalted and sanctified." As Jewish people, we yearn to praise and make holy His great name, and it is an honor and a privilege to be designated to say this prayer.

Great is the importance of saying kaddish for the soul of the departed, especially during the first year after passing. And not only in the minyan for prayers, but also after the public study of Torah, for this kaddish has special power to elevate the soul of the departed. The Ridbaz (a great Torah authority of the 16th century) and the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, leader of the Tsfat kabbalists) both state that the kaddish after learning has special potency and gives tremendous pleasure to the departed.

In relationship to the importance of kaddish in the first year, and especially in the first month, let's share a story of the Seer of Lublin, who gave instructions to his attendant that he shouldn't be disturbed during his set times dedicated to Torah study. Nevertheless, one day the attendant came in during one of those sessions to say that a woman in the outer room is crying profusely and insists on seeing him.

The Seer said to bring her in. As soon as she entered, she asked if he recognized her. He answered that he didn't. She smiled and told him that she had been his nursemaid, as his mother was unable. His father chose her because he wanted someone who was careful with the blessings on foods, since the foods one eats turns into milk. He wanted everything to be kosher and pure in order that the child should become a great tzadik.

Clearly, the father's desire came true, the former nursemaid declared, and now she had come with a request. All of her children had passed away, she was not at all well, and she felt that her time was coming soon. She was despairing because she had nobody to say kaddish for her. Would he [the Seer] say kaddish for her after she passes away?

The tzadik promised he would do it.

A few days later she went to her Heavenly reward, and the Seer started saying kaddish for her.

For thirty days the Seer did not take his mind off of her. On the thirty-first day, the nursemaid came to him in a dream. Her face was aglow like the sun and her garments sparkled like a night sky full of stars. She said, "You can stop saying kaddish! I don't want you to say it for me anymore!"

"Is my kaddish not good?" questioned the Seer.

Her answer astounded. "On the contrary. It's too good. Every time you say kaddish, I am raised to another exalted level. Now I sit amongst very righteous women. I don't understand what they say, but it is good for me to be there. But if you say kaddish for me tomorrow, they will take me to another place, which will surely be too high for me. Thank you very much, but please stop saying the kaddish!"

Source: Adapted and expanded by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition of Rabbi Reuven Semah in "Shabbos Stories for the Parsha" (keren18@juno.com - Behar-Bechukosai 5775)

Biographical note:
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz [of blessed memory: 5505 - 9 Av 5575 (1745 - Aug. 1815 C.E.)], known as 'the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin', was one of the four major successors to the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk (1717-1787), and the leader of the spread of chasidism in Poland. Many great Rebbes of the next generation emerged from his followers, including: "the Yid HaKodesh", Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz, the "Maor v'Shemesh", Rabbi David of Lelov, "the Yismach Moshe", "the Benei Yissachar", Rabbi Sar-Shalom of Belz, and many others. Many of his insights were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

Connection: Seasonal-see the story's dedication.


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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