One Friday, the famed Chassidic master the
"Seer" of Lublin was traveling with some of his disciples
when they arrived at a crossroads. The wagon driver asked which way
to turn. Surprisingly, the Seer didn't seem to know what to answer.
Shrugging, he said, "Loosen the reins. Let the horses go in whichever
direction they will."
After a while, they arrived at a town. After several enquiries, they
soon realized that not only was this not the place they were seeking,
they weren't even on the right road.
"It's late. We'll stay here for Shabbat," the Seer announced.
Then he added, "But don't reveal my identity to anyone or tell
them that I am a Rebbe."
His followers were shocked. They had no money because the Seer never
allowed any to be kept overnight. However much he had in his possession
would be distributed to poor people before nightfall. If his identity
were to be kept secret, how would they be able to provide for themselves
When they asked him, he replied, "We'll do like all Jewish travelers.
We'll go to [Ascent or] the local shul tonight, and people will invite
us when they see we have no place to go."
And so they did. They prayed at the back of the shul, and
afterwards, all of the Rebbe's students and attendants were invited
individually to different homes. The Seer, however, was left in the
shul. He always took a long time for the Shabbat Evening prayers
and this week was no exception. By the time he finished, everyone
In fact, there was just one other person in the shul, an old
man of at least eighty years. He saw that the stranger was sitting
and reciting "Tikunei Shabbat" (selected passages
usually recited during the course of the meal on Friday night).
"Where are you going for your Shabbat meal?" he asked the
"I don't know."
"Why don't you eat at the inn where you are staying?" questioned
the elderly man, concerned. "If it is a problem of money, after
Shabbat I'll collect some money to pay your bill."
"I saw they didn't light Shabbat candles, so I presume that
I canot trust the kashrut of the food they serve there."
"I'm sorry," murmured the older man, "but at my house
my wife and I will have only bread and wine."
"I'm neither a glutton nor a guzzler."
"Come along then," said the apprehensive host. The Seer
After kiddush and hamotzie, while they were sitting
calmly at the table, the elderly man asked him where he was from.
Upon hearing his answer, he next asked him if he knew the Rebbe of
"I am always with him," was the Seer's response.
"That's wonderful," said his host. "Please tell me
something about him."
"Why do you want to know about him?" queried the Seer.
"Because," said the man, "I was his teacher in cheder
(classroom) when he was young boy, and he was not noticeably exceptional
in his studies. Now I hear that he is a great rabbi and does miracles."
"Did you notice anything unusual about him when he was a child?"
the Seer asked.
"Only one thing," the retired teacher replied. "Each
morning, when it would be his turn to read from the siddur,
I could never find him. He vanished! Later, when he would re-appear,
I would punish him for his unauthorized absence. One day, I decided,
'Enough already! I ought to find out where he disappears to.' I watched
him closely out of the corner of my eye. When he exited the room I
slipped out after him, keeping a good distance between us so he wouldn't
sense my presence. He went into the forest. I followed. I peered through
the trees and there he was, sitting next to a hive, being stung, and
crying out, 'Shma Yisroel Ad-ny Elokeinu Ad-ny echod!'
"After that, I never punished him again. Now, after all these
years, I would like very much to be able to see him in his glory,
but I don't know how it can be. I'm very poor and I've become weak
in my old age, so it is impossible for me to make the journey to Lublin.
Nevertheless, my desire is so strong, I fast one day a week that I
should have the merit to see him with my own eyes."
Finally, the Seer understood why events had been directed to bring
him to this particular town. Looking fondly at his host, he acknowledged
gently, "I am he, the Rebbe of Lublin."
The old man fainted instantly. His wife and special guest were able
to revive him only after great difficulty.
That Saturday night the Seer and his entourage departed the town
and continued their journey. The elderly man escorted them briefly
and then returned home. They stopped at the Seer's request at a not-too-distant
village, in order to enjoy the Melaveh Malka repast of Saturday
night. After the meal, the Seer said, "Now let us return to that
town to attend my childhood teacher's funeral and to deliver an appropriate
[Translated and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles (and first published
in Kfar Chabad Magazine - English) from Shemu Vitachi Nafshechem
Translator's note: I hope everyone realizes that this is a happy
story, not a sad one.
R. Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745 - 9 Av 1815), known as 'the
Seer of Lublin', was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787),
and presided over the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many of his insights
were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos