Weekly Chasidic Story #1028 (s5777-47) 29 Menachem-Av 5777
From the desk of Yerachmiel Tilles: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Daddy, I'm Cold; Where's My Blanket?"
On a cold winter night, Rabbi Eliezer-Zusya Portugal of Skulen saw one
of the orphans he was caring for shivering in his sleep.
Connection: Seasonal - the 35th yahrzeit of the Skulener Rebbe.
"Daddy, I'm Cold; Where's My Blanket?"
The pure righteousness of Rabbi Eliezer-Zusya Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe,
is well known, and even more for his extraordinary and constant deeds of kindness
and caring for others. What he was most famous for, though, was his loving devotion
to the [literally] hundreds of orphaned Jewish children before, during and after
WWII, personally rescuing them from Nazi violence and Communist oppression,
and raising them in his own home with tender care, until his was also able to
help them get married and start faithful Jewish homes of their own.
One freezing winter night, when the cold penetrated into one's very bones,
the rebbe noticed that one of the orphans he was caring for was shivering in
his sleep. He tiptoed into the room, removed the blanket from his son, and added
it to the blanket covering the shivering orphan.
Almost immediately, his son woke up and began crying. "Tatteh (Father),
I'm so cold!"
The Rebbe comforted him as best as he could, and gently explained to him about
the great merit he accrued for the extra special good deed he did of relinquishing
his blanket for the sake of a freezing orphan.
The words of comfort helped his son to calm himself, and he fell back asleep.
But only for a brief respite; the bitter cold could not be denied, and soon
the cry was heard once more: "Tatteh, I'm so cold!"
The Rebbe again tiptoed into the room and over to his son's bed, and whispered
in his ear. "I know you are suffering from the cold, my son. * I know,
I know. Believe me, I am also. But consider, please, between the two of you,
who is better off? Surely it is you. You may not have a blanket at the moment,
but you do have a father to cry out to. The poor orphan boy does not have even
and only biological child, Rabbi Yisrael-Avraham Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe
of today. Currently in his nineties, he is still highly active in good deeds
and as a Chasidic leader of thousands. Certainly not impaired as a result of
that freezing blanket-less night.
Source: Translated and adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Bein
Rabbi Eliezer-Zusya Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe [1 Cheshvan, 1898 -
29 Av 1982], immigrated to the USA in 1960, after imprisonment in Rumania and
international efforts to secure his release. He was a prominent follower of
the Shtefaneshter Rebbe and the author of Noam Eliezer and Kedushas
Eliezer, but is best known for his superhuman efforts to rescue Jewish orphans
and refugees in Eastern Europe before, during and after WWII and his continuing
support of them, and his "Chessed L'Avraham" network of schools for
children that continue until today. Those who merited to be in his presence
were astonished by the length of his prayers and the beauty and intensity of
the tunes that he composed, many of which have become internationally famous
today. He has been succeeded by his son and only biological child, Rabbi Yisrael-Avraham
Portugal (born 5783 (1923)].
In the mid-seventies I had the merit and great pleasure to be a sole Shabbat
Evening Meal guest of the Skulener Rebbe and his wife. Forty years later, I
still tremble when I recall the intensity, focus and slow pace with which he
Connection: Seasonal-the 35th yahrzeit of the Skulener Rebbe.
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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