Weekly Chasidic Story #1025 (s5777-44/ 7 Menachem-Av 5777)

The Coachman Disguise

Rabbi Boruch the tzadik was subjected to a steady stream of curses and insults. But he remained silent, feeling acutely the pain and affront to the Divine Presence in exile.

Connection: Seasonal--TISHA B'AV

The Coachman Disguise


In general, the study hall of Rabbi Boruch was a joyous place. During the Nine Days before Tisha B'Av, however, the atmosphere was rather somber, as if a dark cloud hovered above.

The tzadik himself had disappeared; no one knew where he was. Rumor had it that Rabbi Boruch had disguised himself as a beggar and was wandering from town to town, the better to experience the exile of the Divine Presence.

In the village square stood a wagon driver next to his horses. To all outward appearances he looked like any other wagon driver, but it was really Rabbi Boruch in a new disguise. It didn't take long until a Polish nobleman asked to engage his services.

The tzadik made a quick calculation: If everything went well, he would make it back to town on the day before Tisha B'Av. He agreed to take the nobleman to his destination, and the two set off.

Now, the horses that Rabbi Boruch had procured were not exactly in their prime; the poor specimens could barely pull the wagon and stopped every few feet to rest. The most tranquil of passengers would have found it irritating; how much more so did the Polish nobleman, who was in a hurry to reach his destination. The tzadik was subjected to a steady stream of curses and insults. But he remained silent, feeling acutely the pain and affront to the Divine Presence in exile.

The journey would take several days, and each evening the two travelers sought refuge in an inn. The nobleman obtained the finest accommodations, while Rabbi Boruch slept in the barn with his horses. The tzadik made sure to don his tefilin and pray several hours before the nobleman woke up. Only afterwards would he rouse him to resume their travels.

One morning, however, when Rabbi Boruch knocked on the nobleman's door he received no answer. The nobleman, he soon realized, was in a drunken stupor, having spent the night before carousing with some local peasants. With great difficulty the tzadik managed to haul him over to the wagon and dump him in. Throughout it all, the nobleman remained unconscious.

The next stage of the journey took them through a dense forest. The horses plodded along at their usual sluggish pace, keeping time with the nobleman's loud snores. Rabbi Boruch was lost in thought.

Suddenly, a terrible pain ripped through the tzadik's head. When he woke up he found himself tied to a tree, with the Polish nobleman in similar circumstances. The horses and wagon were gone, but Rabbi Boruch noticed that his prayer book, talit and tefilin had been tossed aside. Immediately he thanked G-d for having saved his life.

Moving his arms and legs the tzadik was able to gradually loosen his bonds. The first thing he did was to pick up his prayer book, talit and tefilin and kiss them. Next he turned his attention to the Polish nobleman, who was still unconscious but appeared to be breathing.

Rabbi Boruch found a stream and splashed some water on the man's face. Nonetheless, it took a few hours until his eyelids fluttered. "What happened?" the nobleman stammered. "Why am I lying on the ground?"

The tzadik told him what had happened, but as soon as he heard the word "robbers" he began to scream. "My money! My money!" Rabbi Boruch tried to calm him down and told him that he should be grateful for being alive, but the nobleman remained extremely agitated and kept looking at the tzadik with barely concealed suspicion.

With no other choice the two set out on foot. After wandering for several days they came upon an encampment of hunters, some of whom were the nobleman's friends. Out of earshot of the wagon driver, the nobleman told them that he suspected his companion of having stolen his money. His suspicion was based on the simple fact that the driver was the only person who had known of its existence.

One hunter suggested that they shoot him immediately, but the oldest member of the party demurred. "Let's tie him to a tree," he proposed. "If he's guilty, he will die. If not, then G-d help him." The tzadik was immediately seized and bound.

Night fell, and Rabbi Boruch's tears flowed freely as he prayed the evening service. From the depths of his heart he implored G-d to save him, his voice echoing back in the eerie silence.

The sound of approaching footsteps suddenly cut off his words. It was the old hunter who had returned, the very one who had objected to killing him. "I wanted to see how you were," he said. "I never thought you were guilty in the first place. The real robbers have just been apprehended and have admitted to everything. It seems that when our foolish friend got drunk the other night, he boasted to everyone about all the money he was carrying."

It was the night of Tisha B'Av when Rabbi Boruch arrived back at the study hall, where his disciples were waiting for him expectantly. And everyone noticed that the tzadik's reading of the Book of Lamentations was especially emotional that year.


Source: Reprinted from //LChaimWeekly.org (#630), with permission.

Biographical note: Apologies, but it is not clear to me which Rebbe Boruch this is.

Connection: TISHA B'AV


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.

To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday--sign up here!

"Festivals of the Full Moon"
(Under the Full Moon" vol 2 - holiday stories)
is now available for purchase from ASCENT
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Book 1 of Yerachmiel Tilles's 3-volume set, "Saturday Night, Full Moon",
is also available for
purchase on our KabbalaOnline-shop site.

back to Top   back to this year's Story Index   Stories home page   Stories Archives
Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION