# 339 (s5764-31/ 30 Nisan)

Twice Helpful Advice

The Rebbe Maharash exclaimed, "Fool! Are you going to say 'Halelujah' on a beam?"

Twice Helpful Advice

Once, two young men traveled to visit Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Maharash. They both wished to speak with him on the subject of how better to serve G-d. One young man was very learned, and the other, while not a very learned man, possessed a simple, yet pure faith in G-d.

The first man entered the study of the Rebbe for yechidut [a private audience]. He approached the Rebbe and asked him how he could improve his G-dly service, especially in the area of prayer. The Rebbe Maharash told the man to always hold a prayer book when he prayed, and that he should look at every word while praying. The young man told the Rebbe that he felt he could concentrate better when he pulled his tallit over his head, closed his eyes and prayed.

The Rebbe exclaimed, "Fool! Are you going to say 'Haleluka' [a sequence of Psalms in the morning prayers] on a beam?" The young man left the Rebbe thoroughly confused. What could the Rebbe have meant by suggestion that he prayed "on a beam?"

The young man asked some of the elder chasidim if they could decipher the meaning of the words, but they were unable to help him. After pondering the matter for a few hours, the young man suddenly realized to what the Rebbe had been referring. He remembered that once, while praying, he noticed a beam that ran the entire length of the synagogue. The young man decided to walk the entire length of the beam while saying the "Haleluka" prayer. He wanted to see if he could begin the prayer at the beginning of the beam, and reach the end of the beam at the conclusion of the prayer. After doing so, he understood what the Rebbe meant; his concentration during prayer would be greatly improved by using a prayer book for every word.

When the second man entered, the Rebbe told him that at every opportunity he should learn the complete Tanach [the books of the Torah, Prophets, and Hagiography]. He should study it in Yiddish translation, in order that he should be able to comprehend fully what he was reading. The Rebbe emphasized that he should utilize as much free time as possible in this study, such as while journeying on business trips and even between customers. The man took this upon himself, and devoted as much free time as possible to learning Tanach in Yiddish.

One winter, the man went away on a business trip, and as usual, spent every free moment studying the Tanach. He returned home a few days later after his business had been completed. After greeting his wife, he looked in on his child peacefully sleeping in his bed. Begin that it was a freezing, cold night, the father placed his heavy cloak which he had just removed on the sleeping form of his child, in order to keep the child warm. He then proceeded to discuss the various details of his trip with his wife. After they finished their conversation, they went to check on the baby. Upon doing so, they realized that the child was not breathing. He had suffocated under the heavy cloak!

The father shook the child back and forth, hoping to start the child breathing again, but to no avail. The wife ran to get a doctor. When she returned home, an amazing sight met her eyes. There was her husband sitting and playing with their child, as if nothing had happened. How could her husband, who was by no means a doctor, revive their child? When she inquired as to how he had done this, he told her about a portion of Tanach that he had learned while on his trip. It told about the prophet Elisha, and how Elisha revived a dead child by laying on top of him and breathing into his mouth.* So this man, with his pure and complete faith, figured that if this worked for Elisha it would work for him, too.

All those who knew the man and knew of his conversation with the Rebbe Maharash, realized the meaning of the Rebbe's instructions. It became clear that this miracle came about in the merit of his following the Rebbe's directive to constantly study Tanach, and also in the merit of his unwavering faith in G-d.

* II Kings 4:8-37, read in synagogue as part of the haftorah for the Weekly Reading, Vayera.


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition on www.lchaimweekly.org (#472).]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (2 Iyar 1834-13 Tishrei 1882), the fourth Lubavitch Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Maharash, was the sixth and youngest son of his predecessor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Tsemach Tsedek.


Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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