#355 (s5764-49) 8 Elul 5764

A Weighty Decision

The tzaddik, Rabbi Dovid of Lelov made his living selling beer and spirits to the local gentiles.

A Weighty Decision

Binyamin Adilman

"You must keep an honest balance and honest weights; an honest dry measure and an honest liquid measure; I am G-D who took you out of Egypt." (Levit. 19:36)
Rashi: "For this (keeping honest weights and measures), I brought you out of Egypt."

The tzaddik, R' Dovid of Lelov made his living selling beer and spirits to the local gentiles. "Once, I was in his home at dawn," recalled R' Yitzchok of Vorki, "just as he had enwrapped himself in his talit and tefilin in preparation for the morning prayers. A surprise knock at the door revealed a local peasant who had come to buy a jug of beer. No other members of the household were yet awake, so R' Dovid took care of the customer himself."

"He took the peasant's container and with great diligence, intently measured out the beer, making sure that the peasant got an exact measure of beer with no foam."

"As R' Dovid was pouring the beer, the gentile began to haggle over the price, trying to get a bit more beer for the same money. Abruptly, R' Dovid poured the beer back into the barrel, turned on his heels and headed back to his study to begin to pray."

"I could not understand what I had just witnessed. Why did he even bother to start with the peasant, and since he had already begun, why didn't he finish? Later that morning I had a chance to ask the tzaddik about the incident."

"From the time I was young," he answered, "I was taught that the guiding principle for a Jew is '…to know Him in all your ways'. (Proverbs 3:6) A person must have in mind to always follow G-d and to give Him delight in all his actions."

"Therefore when the peasant came looking for beer, I saw the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of keeping accurate weights and measures. (Levit 19:36, Deut. 25:15) But when I realized that our encounter had become no more than plain business, I withdrew myself, for what delight would the Holy One, blessed be He, have from this?"


Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from www.nishmas.org, the website of the former Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, headed by Rabbi Benyamin Adilman. He is also the author of a very interesting, but sporadically published, weekly parsha sheet, B'ohelei Tzadikim.

Biographical note:

Rabbi David Biederman of Lelov (1746 - 7 Shvat 1814) was a close follower of the "Seer" of Lublin. He was known for his extraordinary compassion for, and inability to see faults in, his fellow Jews. His main disciple was Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki, whose son, Yaakov David, was the first Amshinov Rebbe. Two printed collections of stories about him are Migdal David and Kodesh Halulim.


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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