Chassidic Story #219

(s5762-15 /posted 11 Tevet 5762)
"Patience and Peace"
Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki thought the Seer of Lublin had erred. "He must have in mind some other person--why me?"


In his younger years, Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki was a man of wealth and properity. He used to journey periodically to the Seer of Lublin. On one such visit the Seer said: "If a reasonable opportunity were to come up for taking a job as a private teacher, it would be a good idea to take it."

Rabbi Yitzchak was certain that the Seer had erred and in fact had in mind some other person: why should a propertied man like himself be interested in the meager stipend of a tutor? Out of respect, of course, he kept his thoughts to himself, and, after taking his leave, entered the rebbe's Study Hall.

A moment later a villager from near Ternigrad called on the Seer and wept bitterly. His sons were growing up to be coarse because they lacked a good schoolmaster. He was prepared to pay whatever was requested, so long as he had a conscientious teacher for his boys.

"If you can pay forty gold rubles," said the Seer, "then I would suggest that you hire the young man who left this room just now, and your sons, G-d willing, will do well in their studies."

The villager went out, found Rabbi Yitzchak, and told him that he would be agreeable to paying the sum the rebbe had stipulated, provided that he would travel back with him at once. Rabbi Yitzchak was now convinced that the rebbe had really meant what he had said to him. What he still did not understand was why the Seer thought to make a schoolmaster out of him.

Nevertheless he accepted the rebbe's orders without a second thought, and off he went. Before leaving Lublin, he managed to write to his wife, explaining why he was not yet returning home. After several days the received her reply: he had acted wisely in accepting this modest appointment, because the French, who were then at war with Russia, had marched through their town, and had plundered all their property. Even their fodder was gone.

Rabbi Yitzchak now began to teach Chumash to the villager's sons. They were not quick-witted, though, and they grasped not a word. Sorely vexed, he journeyed to Lublin, and told the Seer of his difficulties.

"Pray for them," advised the Seer.

This he did, and from then on, saw steady progress in this work.

Now, in the village, there was a regular minyan, of exactly ten men, and it once happened that one of them refused to join the others in prayer because of grievance he had against one of them. One of the other villagers quoted the patriarch Yaakov's blessing to his son Yisasschar, "The Torah says. 'He saw that rest was good…and bowed his shoulder to bear' [Gen. 49:15], and commented, "This suggests that if a man understands that tranquility is a good thing, then his is willing to bear anything, because whoever bears all the vicissitudes of life with equanimity and is never angry at another - has peace."

When the period of his employment came to an end, the villager asked him to stay on. Rabbi Yitzchak said: "Since I came here only because of my rebbe's orders, I must ask him about continuing here."

Once in Lublin, he was told by his rebbe that he no longer had to be a teacher. The Seer added: "Tell me, did you perhaps hear some quotable insight on the Torah in the village?"

Receiving no reply, the Seer asked again: "Is it possible that in half a year there, you heard nothing?"

Rabbi Yitzchak then recalled the villager's observation on patience and peace. He repeated it to the rebbe, who said: "If so, then you've heard a great deal."

When after many years, Rabbi Yitzchak became a renowned rebbe, he recounted this incident, and concluded: "Soon after this happened, I became wealthy once again, and gave away the stipend which I had earned as a tutor. As to the observation of that villager on peace and patience - why, I'm still working on it today.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition in A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll), as translated by the incomparable Uri Kaploun.]

Biographical notes:
R. Yaakov Yitzchok Horowitz (1745 - 9 Av 1815), known as 'the Chozer (Seer) of Lublin', was the successor to R. Elimelech of Lizensk (1717-1787), and leader of the spread of chassidus in Poland. Many of his insights were published posthumously in Divrei Emmes, Zichron Zos, and Zos Zichron.

Rabbi Yitzchak Kalish [1779 died 22 Nissan 1848] was the founder of the Vorki dynasty in Poland. Previously, through travel with his teacher, R. David of Lelov, he became a disciple of R. Yaakov Yitzchak (the "Seer") of Lublin and of R. Simchah Bunem of Pshischah. Some of his teachings and stories involving him appear in Ohel Yitzchak and Hutzak Chein. His son R. Yaakov David founded the Amshinov dynasty, while his son R. Menachem Mendel continued the Vorki dynasty.

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