Weekly Chasidic Story #1124 (s5779-42/
21 Sivan, 5779)
All is in the Torah
Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Zinkov remarked to the gathered crowd. "In general,
the true greatness of the Maggid of Kozhnitz has sadly gone unnoticed by the
Connection: Weekly reading of Shelach (last week in Israel, this
week in Diaspora) -- Num. 14:31
Story in PDF
format for more convenient printing.
All is in the Torah
Once, Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Zinkov spent Shabbat in the town of Kamenitz,
Belarus. The normally quiet town overflowed with visitors, from chasidim of
great stature to simple townsfolk. All wanted to see the great rabbi and hear
his wise words.
During the morning Shabbat meal, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir asked for a copy of Avodat
Yisrael, by Rabbi Yisrael Hopstein, known as the Maggid
(Preacher) of Kozhnitz.
"Very few know of the secrets this book contains," he remarked to
the gathered crowd. "In general, the true greatness of the Maggid
has sadly gone unnoticed by the public."
Seeing that the book had not yet made its way through the packed throng, the
Maggid continued, "My father [Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta]
once instructed me to spend the Shabbat of Parshat Devarim in the Maggid's presence
"An incredible miracle, brought about by the holy Maggid, happened during
my stay there."
The crowd of chasidim leaned forward and strained their ears to catch every
last word. After all, who doesn't love a story?
"It had been ten years since Yaakov Baruch and his wife stood under the
chupah, and they had still not been blessed with a child. Yaakov Baruch
managed to mask his depression behind a face that radiated happiness. But it
was a façade. Inside, he was a broken man. Leah, on the other hand, didn't
even attempt to appear self-possessed, living as a downtrodden shell of her
former self. Her blank eyes reflected the agony that gripped her heart.
"One day, Leah's close friend told her, 'I'm surprised that you still
haven't done anything about your situation, preferring instead to mope all day
with folded hands.'
"Leah turned to her friend. 'What else could I possibly do? I've been
to doctors, attempted countless segulot (propitious behaviors), and my
Tehillim (Psalms-saying) has long been drenched with my tears.'
"'You have to visit the Maggid of Kozhnitz,' her friend said gently but
firmly. 'Many have already seen wonders through his blessings.'
"When Yaakov Baruch returned home later that day, he found his wife's
face glowing with joy.
"'What's all this about?' he asked cautiously.
"'Soon, with G d's help, we'll have a child!' she exclaimed enthusiastically.
'I will travel to Kozhnitz and ask the Maggid for a blessing. I will not leave
his house without his promise of children.'
"'OK then,' Yaakov Baruch said, his skepticism undetected by his wife.
"For weeks, Leah determinedly traveled the roads leading to Kozhnitz.
Upon reaching her destination, she didn't stop to rest from her difficult journey
and instead made her way directly to the Maggid's house. Striding up to the
assistant, she described her woes and demanded to be let inside the Maggid's
"Ever patient and respectful, the gabbai (assistant) listened to
her story and appreciated her determination in traveling to Kozhnitz.
'Listen to what I have to say,' the gabbai said once she finished speaking.
'Tomorrow is Friday. In the hours before Shabbat, the Maggid reads the Torah
along with the commentary of Onkelos. I suggest that you take advantage of this
opportune moment. Quietly come into his study and remain until he finishes reading.
Then you can approach him with whatever you need, and we'll see what happens.'
"To prepare herself for the long-awaited visit, Leah rented a room at
the local inn and spent the night reading Tehillim (Psalms), splattering
the worn pages with her tears until she lay down to rest. At the earliest hint
of sunlight, Leah rose, prayed and returned to her Tehillim.
"Around noon, Leah walked over to the Maggid's house and stood outside
his study. Inside, the Maggid was bending over a Torah scroll, as was his custom.
Surrounded by his disciples, the Maggid read the text with a fiery passion.
Without warning or a knock, the study door swung open and the woman was quietly
ushered inside by the assistant. The Maggid remained fixated on his reading
and didn't hear the arrival of this new guest.
"After finishing the last verse, the Maggid lowered himself into a chair
and requested to see the visitor. Leah presented herself silently.
"'Is your name Leah bat ("daughter of") Zissel?'
"'Yes,' she said, somewhat surprised. She had never mentioned her name
to anyone in Kozhnitz, much less the Maggid.
"'You come here because you seek G d's blessing of children?'
"'Yes,' replied Leah breathlessly. 'That is my prayer and request.'
"'If so, your salvation has already been spoken of in this week's Torah
portion, in which we read how Moses chides the people of Israel for being afraid
to enter the Promised Land. "Your little ones, whom you said 'laboz
[for prey] will be,' it is them I [G-d] will bring in
"'The Hebrew word "for prey" is laboz, which is also
an acronym for Leah Bat Zissel. This enables us to read the verse as follows.
"Your little ones, for whom you said laboz, that you pray
for Leah ben Zissel to have, will be-G d will grant your request.'*
"Leah's eyes welled with tears of happiness. She retraced her footsteps
and left the room, head still buzzing with the Maggid's promise.
"And it goes without saying that Leah and Yaakov Baruch were blessed with
As Rabbi Yitzchak Meir finished his story, a hand emerged from the crowd and
placed the book on the table. Picking it up, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir remarked, "Now
that you have an inkling of the Maggid's greatness, allow me to read a short
passage from inside his book-true G dly wisdom!"
1) I changed the translation to be more literal - see Koren Bible.
2) The author's original was "wish a blessing, but I could not resist the
Source: Translated and adapted by Asharon Baltazar
from Sichat Hashavua #865. Submitted by Daniel Keren. Reprinted with
permission from //Chabad.Org. Supplemented and lightly edited by Yerachmiel
Tilles for //ascentofsafed.com.
Rabbi Yisroel Haupstein [of blessed memory: 5497 - 14 Tishrei 5575 (1737
- Sept. 1814 C.E.)], the "Maggid" (preacher) of
Koznitz was a major disciple of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk and the
author of the chassidic-kabbalistic work, 'Avodas Yisrael' and other books.
His miraculous birth to an elderly couple is the subject of a famous Baal
Shem Tov story.
Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel [of blessed memory: 5515
- 5 Nissan 5585 (1755 -March 1825 C.E.)], the Apter Rebbe, was one of
the four main disciples of the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhinsk. He is also often
referred to as "the Ohev Yisrael," both after the title of
the famous book of his teachings, and also because its meaning ("Lover
of Jews") fits him so aptly. The Kapishnitzer Chasidic dynasty descends
Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Zinkov (5535- 1 Adar 5615), became
the Rebbe of thousands of chasidim after the passing of his illustrious father,
Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, in 5585. It is said that his life was a constant
stream of Tzedakah and chesed ('charity' and deeds of kindness).
Connection: Weekly reading of Shelach (last week
in Israel, this week in Diaspora) -- Num. 14:31. (Also in Deut. 1:39, which
will be read next month, so worth saving! Indeed, the story took place during
the week of Devarim.)
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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