Weekly Chasidic Story #1105
6 Adar I 5779)
His wife had been very sick, almost at death's door, and he had traveled to
Sochatchov to seek the Rebbe's blessing and advice.
Connection: Seasonal-109th yahrzeit of the Avnei Nezer rebbe.
Story in PDF
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Do Not Disturb...Unless..
1) The Gold Fifteen-Ruble Coin
Reb Avrohom Yitzchok, the regular shamash (attendant), of the Sochatchov
Rebbe, was once called to Warsaw for an important matter. Reb Moshe
David ("Duvid'l") temporarily served in his place and tended to the
Early one morning, the Rebbe approached Reb Moshe Duvid'l and told him, "Quick!
Bring me some water to wash. But hurry, the air is now pristine and clean of
all sins and crimes and from all worldly desires. It is an opportune time to
learn Torah. Take care that no one disturbs me at all. No one! Even if a person
should come with a golden crown, do not bring him before me."
And so the tzadik sat himself down to learn, aflame with the fire of
Soon after, a person arrived in modern dress, clean-shaven and wearing a short
jacket, and asked to see the Rebbe.
Moshe Duvid'l laughed. "Right now you want to see the Rebbe? The Rebbe
expressly forbid me to admit anyone this morning."
But then, the guest offered him fifteen gold rubles for his trouble, a vast
sum. Moshe Duvid'l was awestruck. He took the gold fifteen-ruble coin, entered
the Rebbe's study and told him what had transpired, showing him the coin he
stood to earn.
The Rebbe wondered aloud, "What? You can really earn such a vast sum through
me? Bring him in! Just remember: three minutes and no more."
Moshe Duvid'l pocketed the coin and brought the guest before the Rebbe. He
waited. After about ten minutes, he could no longer hold back and came in to
extricate the man from the Rebbe's room. What he heard was the Rebbe telling
him, "Remember to fulfill these three things that I said, and she will
have a salvation!"
The man left. The Rebbe, of course, did not disclose to Moshe Duvid'l what
they had spoken about.
One day in the following year, Moshe Duvid'l happened to be in Kalisch. A Chasidic-looking,
bearded Jewish stranger in a long frock-coat approached him and asked, "Do
you come from Sochatchov?" When he applied in the affirmative, the stranger
asked further, "And do you sometimes attend to the Rebbe?"
"Yes," answered the bewildered Moshe Duvid'l, whose astonishment
only grew when the Jew grasped him warmly and said, "If so, you must come
to my house to celebrate with us and enjoy a fancy meal."
So saying, he steered Moshe Duvid'l to his home. When the stranger entered,
he ordered his wife to quickly prepare a lavish feast. "For the man who
saved your life - here he is!"
And so it happened that the bearded, long-frocked host was none other than
the formerly beardless, short-jacketed stranger, who had once paid Moshe Duvid'l
handsomely to get in to see the Rebbe. He explained that his wife had been very
sick, almost at death's door, and he had traveled to Sochatchov to seek the
Rebbe's blessing and advice.
Among the three things that the tzadik had told them to do to save his
wife's life was to transfer his sons from the modern schools into the traditional
cheder (Torah-based elementary school). At first, his wife had resisted,
but eventually she agreed, and as soon as she did, she got better and better.
"And now she is as fit as a fiddle and healthy as can be!"
They gifted Moshe Duvid'l handsomely and sent him off in style.
Such was the love for his fellow Jews of Rabbi Avraham Bornstein the Sochatchov
Rebbe. In order that Moshe Duvid'l earn a nice tidy sum, the tzadik gave up
a precious ten minutes of his holy morning learning.
2) Not Even the Rain
Just how precious that time was can best be illustrated by two brief stories:
Once, Reb Gronim, the Shabbat Torah-reader for his rebbe, the Sefas Emes of
Gur, told of how he had visited the Sochatchover for Sukkos when he still
lived in Kroshnivitz. He was the Rebbe's guest and he slept in the Rebbe's sukka.
"The Rebbe himself made the bed and patted down the sheets and blankets
to guarantee a comfortable and warm repose. I lay down to sleep and the Rebbe
sat down to learn, aflame with excitement and devotion.
The Rebbe kept checking to see I was asleep, so I made myself as if I were
sleeping. Just then torrential rain began to fall. It was so strong and buffeted
the sukka so hard that the floor was already full of water. I peeked
out and saw the Rebbe approach the window in the sukka. He opened it
and called out, "What chutzpa (disrespect) these clouds have, that
they dare disturb me and interfere with my learning!"
No sooner had the tzadik uttered this admonishment, than the rain stopped
and the clouds discontinued their downpour!" See how precious the Sochatchover's
Torah study was in the Heavens!
3) Better Than a Blessing
It is a well-known fact among all who came to Sochatchov that the Rebbe would
often say, "If people only knew and realized what good favors I could accomplish
for them through my Torah study, no one would ever dare cross my threshold again
[to ask for a blessing]."
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the translation of ??? (embarrassed
apologies - my records are incomplete) from Abir HaRo'im, Volume II, pp. 283,
Rabbi Avraham Bornstein of Sochatchov [5600 - 11 Adar A, 5670 (Oct. 1839
- Feb. 1910 C.E.)] was a descendant of the Ramah and the Shach.
Years before his bar mitzvah he was recognized as a Torah genius. At age 13,
he married a daughter of the Kotzker Rebbe, with whom he learned almost daily
for nearly 7 years, until the latter's death, whereupon he became a follower
first of his uncle, R. Yitzchak-Meir of Ger, and then of R. Chanoch-Henech of
Alexander. Already a leading authority in Jewish law, in 1883 he became the
rebbe of thousands of chasidim and the founder of the Sochatchover dynasty.
His writings include the classic, Avnei Nezer (seven volumes of posthumously-published
responsa), and Eglei Tal (on the laws of Shabbat). He was succeeded by
his only son, R. Shmuel (1856-1926), author of Shem MiShmuel.
Connection: Seasonal-109th yahrzeit of the Avnei Nezer 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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