Weekly Chasidic Story #991(s5777-09 / 27 Cheshvan 5777)

Precious Kiddush Bread

Reb Yudel Holtzman sighed. "What shall I do? I have already borrowed and given away all the money for tzedakah (charity) I will have to give for all of next year."

Connection: Weekly Reading - Maaser (tithing) - Gen. 26:12 w' Rashi (+28:22 next week and 14:20 last month).

Precious Kiddush Bread

R.Rabbi Yehuda "Yudel" Holtzman was an accomplished, pious Talmudic scholar who lived in Jerusalem, and was known by all as a tzadik. One day, a charity collector came to R.Reb Yudel and told him of a destitute and sickly man who required an operation, for which he needed the sum of 60 liras. In those days, that was considered a princely sum. The collector was going from house to house trying to collect the money.

R. Yudel sighed. "What shall I do? I have nothing left from my ma'aser (tithe) money, and I have also already 'borrowed' from the ma'aser of whatever profit I will make for the next full year. All that has already gone to tzedaka [charity]."

Hearing this, the collector left Holtzman's home. He had not gone far, however, when he heard R. Yudel calling after him: "But we have to help the sick man. Go to the central gemach [interest-freeloan society] and borrow 20 liras in my name. I will pay the loan back at the rate of half a shilling per week. I've calculated that I spend half a shilling each week to buy wine for kiddush, but I can just as easily make kiddush over bread. I can use that half-shilling to pay back the loan."

The collector went to the gemach and received the loan. R. Yudel duly repaid it at the rate of half a shilling per week, by denying himself wine for kiddush.

It took him more than sixteen years to pay back the entire debt.

(This story was confirmed by a relative of Yudel Holtzman, who spent several Shabbatot at the Holtzman home, and each time saw R. Yudel make kiddush over challot instead of wine. This surprised him. He could not understand why R. Yudel had this practice. It was only years later, after R. Yudel had long passed away, that he learned of the loan from someone who heard about it from the charity collector himself. Then he understood.)


[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Stories my Grandfather told me (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald]

Connection: Weekly Reading - Maaser. 26:12 w' Rashi (+28:22 next week and14:20 last month).

Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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