HOLY ARI HONORS A YOUNGER MAN
One weekday Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the
holy ARI, was in his house discussing Torah with his chief
disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital, when a local young man, Shmuel
Aceda, bashfully entered, dressed in Shabbat garb.
Immediately the ARI stood up and greeted him. "Boruch Haba!
Welcome!" He shook the fellow's hand and invited him to sit beside
R' Chaim gaped in amazement. His mentor never acted like this. Why
did he stand up for a man younger than him and of a lesser level of
scholarship? And why did he seat him on a chair?
As soon as the boy left, R' Chaim could no longer contain his curiosity.
"I've never seen you act in this manner with anyone before. What
is the reason for showing Shmuel such honor, if I may ask?"
"What are you saying!" replied the ARI. "I did not
stand up for this young man, nor was it him I greeted. What really
happened was this. I saw the soul of the Mishnaic sage, Rabbi Pinchas
ben Yair [father-in-law of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai], hovering
over the boy's head-a merit the lad earned today by performing a commandment
for which that sage was famous when he was alive. It was for him that
I stood up and it was him that I greeted."
R. Chaim marveled at this revelation. What had the young man done,
he wondered, to deserve such a special reward? With permission, he
dashed outside in pursuit of him.
Finding him in one of the cobblestone lanes, he asked, "Tell
me, Shmuel, what extra commandment did you do today?"
"The only thing I did out of the ordinary today," the fellow
answered hesitantly, "happened this morning while I was going
to shul. As usual, I left my house at the crack of dawn and walked
in the direction of the synagogue. As I turned a corner, I suddenly
heard crying from one of the windows. Why would adults be crying,
"I decided to find out. When I entered the house, I saw the
room was in shambles. The residents, still in their sleeping garments,
were standing in the middle, sobbing. A band of thieves had taken
everything of value, they told me, even their clothes.
"I gave the father my clothes and dashed home to put on my only
other garments, my Shabbat clothes. As you see, I'm still wearing
Delighted, R. Chaim kissed him and returned to his master.
"In the merit of this mitzvah," remarked the ARI, "Shmuel
certainly deserved that the tzaddik's soul should envelop him. Rabbi
Pinchas ben Yair was famous precisely for redeeming captives and helping
forsaken people whenever he could."
[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Safed: The Mystical City by
David Rossoff (available from the author at: POB 5437,Jerusalem).
You may pass on this email rendition to whomever you wish as long
as you give full credit, including the author's and Ascent's addresses.]
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534-1572), Known as "the holy Ari,"
revolutionized the study of Kabbalah and its integration into mainstream
Judaism during the two years he spent in Zefat before his death at
(For more on the ARI, please see our website: http://ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=sages)
(For teachings of the Ari translated into English, see http://www.thirtysevenbooks.com
Rabbi Shmuel Aceda (1538-1602) became in 1578 the head of
a major yeshiva in Zefat for the study of Talmud and Kabbalah, and
the author of a classical commentary on Pirkei Avot, Midrash Shmuel.
Most traditional versions of this story speak of Shmuel Aceda as a
boy at the time of the episode, which is impossible since the Ari
did not arrive in Zefat until 1570; I changed it accordingly. -Y.