Weekly Chasidic Story #704 (s5771-38 / 20 Iyar 5771)

Undrinkable Liquor

"Within a short time," Rabbi Chaim of Kossov promised the Jewish innkeepers and their families, "you will all be restored to your former homes and positions."

Connection: Seasonal -- 157th yahrzeit


Undrinkable Liquor

A wealthy Jew once approached the poritz [titled landowner] of Lantchin, as well as other poritzim in the area, proposing that they lease all the inns on their properties to him and let him hire innkeepers to run them as he saw fit. He offered them a good deal and the landowners agreed.

At the appointed time, all the poritzim informed their current innkeepers that their tenancy was over and that they must leave the inns. The area's Jewish innkeepers, together with their families and belongings, got together and traveled to apprise Rabbi Chaim of Kosov of the ill tiding that had befallen them.

"Within a short time," the Rebbe promised, "you will all be restored to your former homes and positions."

Meanwhile, the rich Jew placed his own friends in charge of the inns and bought a large quantity of whisky to sell in the taverns. But when the whisky was poured for the gentiles, they found it teeming with insects!

The farmers went to the poritzim to complain. Disbelieving the tale, the poritzim came in person to see the whisky. To their shock, the story was true! With their own eyes they saw the bugs in the whisky. The liquor was undrinkable.

The Jewish manager heard the farmers shouting angrily about the insect-ridden drink. Then he got wind of the news that the former innkeepers who were turned away from their posts, had gone to Kosov to visit the Rebbe. Putting two and two together, he understood that the Kosover Rebbe's hand was behind this bizarre phenomenon. He heard, too, that the Rebbe had promised the former innkeepers that they would soon return to their positions. Obviously, if he persisted in opposing the Rebbe's will, he would be afflicted with one trouble after another.

Being an intelligent man, he did not wait for the Ten Plagues to strike him. Instead, he offered the former innkeepers their old jobs and homes back.

The innkeepers, however, were not satisfied. As a group, they demanded fair compensation for the anguish and loss of profits they had suffered when fired from their jobs. They informed the wealthy Jew that he should come with them to Kosov to see the Rebbe and accept arbitration, and he agreed to do so.

"Jewish law is clear," the Rebbe explained; "fines are not assessed outside the Land of Israel. However, the manager must sell you the whiskey he bought at a very cheap price, as it is infested with bugs." The manager, seeing no use for the insect-infested whiskey, readily agreed.

After the manager left, the innkeepers turned to the Rebbe in confusion. "What!" they asked, "What are we going to do with insect-ridden whiskey? It is not even worth the low price we paid, as no one will be willing to drink it."

The Rebbe smiled. "Do not worry. Return to your homes and sell the whiskey at the normal price. Insect-ridden whiskey? Who ever heard of such a thing? Ridiculous!"

And indeed it happened. Not a solitary bug was to be seen in any bottle or glass.


Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Stories My Grandfather Told Me" (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald

Connection: Seasonal - 157th yahrzeit

Biographic note:
Rabbi Chaim Hager of Kosov (1768 - 25 Iyar 1854) succeeded his father, R. Menachem Mendel, as Rav and Rebbe in Kossov in 1827. He is the author of Toras Chayim. A prominent synagogue in Tsfat is named after him. His son, Menachem Mendel, became the first Rebbe in Vishnitz.


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