# 353 (s5764-47) 24 Menachem-Av 5764

Assessing Trees and Chickens

A follower of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev possessed a unique skill that was eagerly sought after by area merchants.

Assessing Trees and Chickens

A follower of Rebbe Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev possessed a unique skill that was eagerly sought after by lumber merchants. He was able to assess the worth of forest trees after a cursory examination. His talent was valued highly, since a lumber merchant often had to decide very quickly whether or not to purchase a forest.

Once, a wealthy lumber merchant attempted to hire this chasid, offering him a handsome salary. "Where is your business located?" asked the broker.

"In a town near the forest-filled districts of Siberia."

"That town is far-removed from the Jewish community. How will I educate my children?"

"That is no problem. You may hire a teacher for them at my expense."

"As you know, I am a chasid and require a mikvah to immerse in every morning."

"I will build a mikvah on the premises."

"What about a minyan?"

"I have eight Jewish men working for me there. You and your children's teacher will make ten."

"I would like to consult my Rebbe before making any kind of commitment. I will give you an answer in a few days."

The chasid arrived in Berditchev and requested an audience with the Rebbe. The attendant told him that the Rebbe was in the middle of judging a halachic question concerning a chicken. When he finished, the audience could be arranged.

The chasid waited outside. Soon, he overheard the Rebbe speaking.

"What a shame, little chicken. You had it so good in your owner's coop. You were fed hearty food, tasty millet seeds and crumbs. However, you were greedy for more, so you wandered outside in search of stray food, nibbling on anything you found. What came of your efforts? You swallowed this needle and it pierced your stomach. Now I am obliged to declare you treife - unfit to be eaten."

Listening to the Rebbe, the chasid realized that his words contained a lesson for himself as well.

"I no longer need to take the Rebbe's time," he told the attendant. "I already have my answer."


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from "From My Father's Shabbos Table" (pp. 58-59), Eliyahu Touger's excellent selection and translation from the first two volumes of Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik's 4-volume series, Reshimat Devorim.]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-25 Tishrei 1810) is one of the more popular rebbes in chassidic history. He was a close disciple of the second leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch. He is best known for his love for every Jew and his perpetual intercession before Heaven on their behalf. Many of his teachings are contained in the posthumously published Kedushat Levi.

Editor's note:
This story is not only connected to this week's Torah reading which features laws of kashrut, but also to chapter six of Pirkei Avot which we read this Shabbat afternoon for the third time this year. See Mishna 9, "Rabbi Yosay Ben Kisma said…".


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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