Weekly Chasidic Story #1134 (s5779-52/
2 Elul, 5779)
When Rabbi Dov-Ber Shneuri (2nd Rebbe in the Chabad dynasty) was five years
old, he studied with a tutor in the home of Avraham the doctor.
Connection: Seasonal: Elul, the final month of the Jewish year -- preparing
for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur
Story in PDF
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When Rabbi DovBer, the 2nd Chabad Rebbe-to be, was five
years old, he studied under Reb Ber the melamed (tutor), in the home
of Reb Avraham the doctor. Once he overheard Dr. Avraham bemoaning, "We
are already far into Elul, but I haven't yet prepared the leeches!" [Leeches
were used for healing purposes and were only out during the warm summer months.]
When young DovBer came home after cheder (elementary school level for
boys in the yeshiva system), he used to spend time in the company of
the chasidim who were in the room next to the room of his father, Rabbi Schneur
Zalman, the 'Alter Rebbe' of Chabad. One day he saw them sitting around
and talking, when they suddenly began to laugh. Hearing them, the young boy
reprimanded them, "We are deep into Elul, you haven't yet prepared the
leeches, yet you sit here laughing?!"
And he left the room.
They immediately assumed that this was a vort ('word' of Torah) he had
heard from his father, the Rebbe, and began to think deeply into its meaning.
They concluded that just as leeches are used to draw out a patient's diseased
or overheated blood, during the month of Elul, the final month of the Jewish
year, so one should do away with one's negative desires in preparation for Rosh
HaShana, the start of the new year.
When word of their discussion reached the Alter Rebbe, he said, "Such is
the way of the Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Chasidic movement) - to learn a
lesson in avodas HaShem (serving G-d) from every physical thing that
one sees or hears. Whoever follows this path and uses all physical things for
spiritual improvement, will instill in himself and in his descendants a spark
of inspiration in serving G-d."
Successive generations of chasidim recall how on that Rosh HaShana, the
floor was wet with tears from the impact of the five-year-old Rebbe-to be's
vort; and how on Simchas Torah, the shoes of the chassidim were
worn out and torn by the exuberant dancing inspired by the Alter Rebbe's
Source: Adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles
from the translation in The Weekly Farbrengen #425 (MerkazAnash.com) from Sefer
HaSichos 5696 [of the Rebbe HaRayatz].
Connection: Seasonal - the month of Elul.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman [of blessed memory: 18 Elul 5505 - 24 Tevet 5573
(1745 - Dec. 1812 C.E.)], one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch,
successor to the Baal Shem Tov. He is the founder of the Chabad-Chassidic movement
and the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many
other major works in both Jewish law and the mystical teachings.
Rabbi DovBer Shneuri [of blessed memory: 9 Kislev 1773 - 9 Kislev 1827]
was the eldest son and successor to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of the Chabad
movement. The author of numerous deep, mystical texts, he is known in Lubavitch
circles as "the Mittler (Middle) 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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