Weekly Chasidic Story ##1162 (s5780-25/ 20 Adar, 5780)

Heavenly Soup

Toward the end of his life when he ate very little, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk explained, "I wish I could eat, but my body is rejectings are all things physical."

Connection: Seasonal -- This Tuesday, the 21st of the Jewish month of Adar, is the 233rd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Elimelech.


Story in PDF format for more convenient printing.

Heavenly Soup

Toward the end of his life, one of the dominant Rebbes in the history of Chasidism, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, ate very little. His friends and relatives implored him, but to no effect.

One time, when his son, Rabbi Elazar, pleaded with him to eat enough to sustain life, R' Elimelech said, "I wish I could eat, but my body is rejecting all things physical. However," he mused, "one time, during my years of wandering in exile, I lodged at an inn near a certain village, and there I ate a delicious soup. If that were available, I could eat it. But the inn is so far away!"

Many years after his father passed on, Rabbi Elazar happened to be in that village, and sought out the inn to which his father had referred. He asked the hostess whether he might have some of her special soup.

She said, "How I wish I could serve you the food that is appropriate for a great person like yourself. But we are very poor. Very few travelers pass this way, and we just have enough flour and beans to eat for our meals. I will be glad to make a bean soup for you."

When Rabbi Elazar tasted the soup, he experienced a spiritual delight, as though he were eating of the offerings of the altar in The Temple in Jerusalem. He asked the hostess, "Please tell me, what ingredients do you use for this soup?"

The woman began crying. "I am so sorry that it is so meager. I do not have any spices to put in. All I did was cook the beans with water, and then I prayed to G-d: 'Master of the Universe! You have provided me with the mitzvah of preparing a meal for a special guest. If only I had meat, vegetables, and spices, I would prepare a meal for him that would befit him, but I have nothing. But You, Master of the Universe, have everything. You have Gan Eden ('Paradise'), where there are all the finest scents and flavors. Please put some of these in the soup, so that my holy guest can enjoy his food.'"

Rabbi Elazar thought, "Now I know why my holy father longed for this soup. This pious woman's sincere prayers were answered, and the soup did indeed have the taste of Gan Eden ('Paradise')."

Source: Excerpted and adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from RabbiShimon.com (where it states: "Email comments and suggestions to: zion @ rabbishimon.com)."

Biographical note:
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk [of blessed memory: 5477 - 21 Adar 5547 (1717 - March 1787 C.E.)], was a leading disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov, and the leading Rebbe of the subsequent generation in Poland-Galitzia. Many of the great chasidic dynasties stem from his disciples. It is told that before he died, Rebbe Elimelech bequeathed the sight of his eyes to the Chozeh of Lublin, the spirit of his heart to the Kozhnitzer Maggid, the soul of his mind to Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, and the power of speech to Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt. Other major disciples included Rabbi Naftali Tzvi of Ropshitz, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov, and Rabbi Klonymos Kalman Epstein, known as the Maor VaShemesh. His book, Noam Elimelech, is one of the most popular of all chasidic works.

Connection: Seasonal -- This Tuesday, the 21st of the Jewish month of Adar, is the 233rd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Elimelech.

Editor's note: There is a story with a similar soup -- or perhaps the same soup! -- in Sipurei Chassidim by Rav Zevin, story #64 (English: Treasury of Chassidic Tales, vol. 1, page 104). I will feature this story in a few months, G-d willing.


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.

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