Stories Archive:
#1188 - present (5781)

As told by Yerachmiel Tilles,
the co-founder and first educational director of Ascent-of-Safed, originator and maintainer of this website, and managing editor of Kabbala Online, who has hundreds of published stories to his credit, with many having been translated into other languages. He tells them live in Tsfat (Safed) nearly every week, at his home on Friday evenings and at Ascent on Saturday nights. To receive the Story every Wednesday by e-mail--with a printable PDF option--sign up here!


 

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1239 (s5781-51) 29 Elul 5781/Sep.6, 2021 Next Week

"Non-stop to Bangkok"

Seemingly, it didn't strike anyone as unusual that the elderly rabbi with the long white beard remained asleep even as the plane landed and people disembarked.

Connection: ROSH HASHANA


1238 (s5781-50) 22Elul 5781/Aug.30, 2021 This Week

"Mending a Broken Heart"

His father, who was present at his private audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, intervened . "If the Rebbe is asking you twice, you should think harder and remember!"

Connection--Seasonal: One long-standing Jewish custom on the days before Rosh Hashana, the “Day of Judgment”, is for people to ask forgiveness from each other.


 

1237 (s5781-49) 15 Elul 5781/Aug. 23, 2021 Last Week

"Childhood Brilliance and Frightening Dreams"

Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Ramban, summoned Rabbi Shneur-Zalman to the Heavenly Court because of the commentary he wrote encompassing their three commentaries on Scripture.”

Connection: This Thursday, 18 Elul, is the 276th anniversary of the birth of the Alter Rebbe.

 


 

1236 (s5781-48) 8 Elul 5781/Aug. 16, 2021

"Calculating Change"

The brother-in-law who was required to perform the rite that would free the unfortunate widow to remarry was feebleminded and seemingly unfit according to Jewish law to do it. She consulted the top rabbis in Lithuania, but they could not find a legal solution to help her.

Connection: the weekly Torah reading discusses the necessity and laws for chalitzah (Deut. 25:5-10).


1235 (s5781-47) 1 Elul 5781/Aug. 9, 2021

"Pierre- Louis and the Baal Shem Tov"

The Baal Shem Tov once gave one of his followers a closed envelope and asked him to travel to the castle of the local landowner, Count Radzvill, and after two days to open the envelope.

Connection: The Weekly Reading of Shoftim contains a strong exhortation (Deut. 18:13-15) to not be led astray by non-Jewish practices, and for spiritual; guidance to listen only to the Jewish prophet of the time.


1234 (s5781-46) 24 Av 5781/Aug. 2, 2021

"The Hot Dog Revenge"

"What!" protested Professor Velvl Greene to Rabbi Moshe Feller, "You know I don't keep kosher. And since I don't keep kosher in my house, why do I need a kosher meal on the plane?"

Connection-Weekly Reading of Re'ey, where we are told which animals, fowl and fishes Jews must not eat. (Deut. 14:4-11)


1233 (s5781-45) 17 Av 5781/July 26, 2021 Last Week

"The Kapo that Helped a Rebbe"

Last week we were ready to finalize my daughter's engagement, but then some people told me the boy's grandfather was a kapo in the Holocaust and we should stay far away from them.

Connection: Seasonal--21 Menachem-Av (Erev Shabbat) is the 64th yahrzeit of Rabbi Aharon of Belz.


 

1232 (s5781-44) 10 Av 5781/July19, 2021

"Clearly A Pre-Destined Match"

This lumber merchant had a son for whom numerous matches had been proposed. But a strange thing happened -- the moment the boy would see the girl, he would faint.

Connection: This Shabbat is also a Jewish holiday: the ‘Fifteenth of Av’ – “Matchmaking Day!”


 

1231 (s5781-43) 3 Av 5781/July12, 2021 Last Week

"The Genuine Royal Signature"

They reached Safed, weary, dusty and travel-worn. Rushing to the home of the 'holy Ari,' they told him of the impending calamity

Connection: Tuesday night Wednesday is the yahrzeit of "The Holy Ari" of Tsfat.


 

1230 (s5781-42) 25 Tammuz 5781/July 5, 2021

"The Soul in Charge"

The Moscovitz family was very concerned. Their gentile rivals were determined to expropriate the rights from them, at whatever price would be neccessary.

Connection - This week's double reading: Both portions deal with Moses having to 'arbitrate' requests concerning the division of The Land among the tribes.


 

1229 (s5781-41) 18 Tammuz 5781/June 28, 2021 Last Week

"Special Help for Special Needs"

She asked me, “How is the rebbetzin doing?” Taken aback at the use of this Yiddish term, I blurted, “Are you Jewish?” “I can’t tell you over the phone,” she replied laughing.

Connection (tenuous) - Weekly Torah Reading: In this week's portion we read about the process of dividing The Land among the Twelve Tribes (Num. 26:52-53), and the unique arrangements made for the special needs of daughters without brothers (27:1-11). [This theme continues into next week's double portion, when Moses has to deal with the ‘special needs of the tribes of Reuven and Gad]


1228 (s5781-40)) 11 Tammuz 5781 /June 21, 2021

"Running-Walking-Waiting to See the King"

Whenever Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Liska signed a letter he always added the words Ohev Yisrael (“one who loves his fellow Jew”). Once, when he was about to append these two words, the pen fell from his hand. He picked it up and tried again, with the same result.

Connection-Weekly Reading: Bilaam’s final prophecy contains much about Moshiach.


1227 ( (s5781-39) ) 4 Tammuz 5781 /June 14, 2021)

"Along the King's Highway"

A young man promised Rabbi Hillel of Paritch that he would get him to Lubavitch on time for Shabbos - but with two conditions:

Connection-Weekly Reading: "King's Highway" is mentioned (Num. 20:17).


1226 ( (s5781-38) 27 Sivan 5781 /June 6, 2021)

"Nuclear Explosions "

"As soon as I entered the rabbinate, I became concerned about being able to retain my intellectual independence while serving as a community rabbi at the will of a synagogue's board of directors. Therefore, I decided that I also needed to secure an independent source of income."

Connection: This coming Saturday night-Sunday is the 28th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.


1225 ( (s5781-37) 20 Sivan 5781 /May 31, 2021)

"Trapped in a Hezbollah Mine Field"

After the passing of HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu in 2010, former IDF general Effi Eitam came to the rabbi's home and told the mourning family this story, in which he was personally involved.

Connection: This Shabbat is the 11th yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.


1224 ( (s5781-36) 13 Sivan 5781 /May 24, 2021)

"The Proper Art of Eating and Seeing"

He wanted to serve his Rebbe something that he thought the rebbe would certainly enjoy. So what did he do? He brought the Rebbe some ice cream!

Connection: The Weekly Reading of Baha'alotecha portrays A) the proper eating of the Manna and the improper eating of the quail; B) The greatness of the character trait of humility and the importance of seeing others favorably.


1223 ( (s5781-35) 7 Sivan 5781 /May 18, 2021)

"The Incomparable Blessing"

"Sir, please tell me, why on every Festival day do you always leave before Birchat Kohanim ('The Priestly Blessing')?"

Connection--Weekly Reading of Naso:The source of the “Blessing of the Kohanim” text is in the middle of this parasha (Num. 6:22-27).


1222 ( (s5781-34) 29 Iyar 5781 /May 10, 2021)

"A Torah Scroll for the Generations"

As a young girl she would ride alone on a donkey for several miles through the desert to bring home the necessary wheat to be later ground and prepared under exacting supervision for the Passover matzah.

Connection -- Seasonal: The festival of SHAVUOT, commemorating the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.


 

1221 ( (s5781-33) 21 Iyar 5781 /May 3, 2021)

"A Son for a Son"

A soldier nearby heard the shot and went to investigate. He found a fellow Israeli soldier bleeding to death. While waiting for the help he summoned, he kept applying pressure to the wound--literally holding the injured man's life in his hands.

Connection -- Weekly reading, which includes a detailed section on the relative evaluations of Jewish lives (young vs. old, etc) when a pledge is made to the Holy Temple do donate someone's economic worth.


1220 ( (s5781-32)14 Iyar 5781 /April 26, 2021)

"Lag b'Omer and Carrots"

Suddenly he felt that he had been magically transported from the court of the Shinnova /Rebbe in Galitzia to Mt. Meron in time for the Lag b'Omer celebrations.

Connection -- Seasonal: the festival of LAG B'OMER.


 

1219 (s5781-31) 6 Iyar 5781 /April 19, 2021)

"How Beautiful is this Tree!"


Near where the Kotzker Rebbe lived, there was a forest where the Rebbe used to walk frequently.

Connection (2): 1- Weekly Study: The Mishna quoted is from the chapter of Pirkei Avot that we study this Shabbat afternoon. 2: Weekly Reading: Ahavat Yisrael - "Love for a Fellow Jew" (Levit: 19: 18)


 

1218 (s5781-30) 30 Nissan 5781 /April 12, 2021)

The Heavily Bearded Doctor

"Twenty years passed and I never thought even once of my past. I was totally involved in my new life and my medical career, and I couldn't have cared less about Judaism or my parents.”

Connection: Wednesday, Iyar 2 (tiferet sh’b’tiferet), is the 137th yahrzeit of the Rebbe Maharash.


 

1217 (s5781-29) 23 Nissan 5781 /April 5, 2021)

Three Spiders

Rabbi Baruch-Shalom Schneersohn, great-great-grandfather of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, receives a message from Heaven

Connection--Weekly Reading: The latter half (Levit. ch. 11) presents Laws of Eating Kosher


 

1216 (s5781-28) 16 Nissan 5781 /March 29, 2021)

From Generation to Generation:
The Continuing Pesach Meal of the Baal Shem Tov

"In the closing hour of his miraculous Pesach in Ishtanbul, the Baal Shem Tov made a 'Thanksgiving meal,' and requested that all his descendants for ten generations make such a seudah every year and tell the story….I am a ninth-generation descendant, and this is a scrupulously observed tradition in my family.

Connection--Seasonal: Last hour of Passover


1215 (s5781-27) 9 Nissan 5781 /March 22, 2021)

The Isolation Seder of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A young boy approached the Rebbe after Maariv on the first night of Pesach and, on behalf of his mother, invited the Rebbe to his home for Seder. The Rebbe smiled and thanked the boy profusely.

Connection: Seasonal Passover Seder in Isolation


1214 (s5781-26) 2 Nissan 5781 /March 15, 2021)

A Meal for Eighteen Strangers

"One month I was in the hospital. I almost died. B’H, I survived Corona, and now I want to make a Thanksgiving Meal."

Connection: Weekly Readings – this week: Vayikra is completely devoted to describing (nearly) all the different kinds of offerings in the Holy Temple, including various forms of the Shelamim/Peace Offerings; Next week: Tzav provides the details of the Thanksgiving Offering (Levit. 7:11-15), which one form of the Peace offering.


1213 (s5781-25) 24 Adar 5781 /March 8, 2021)

Lost Shabbat in Yonkers

"Sorry, Rabbi, but this is my last Shabbat morning in Shul. I got offered a job and I'll have to work on the Sabbath."

Connection: Weekly Reading – the significance and sanctity of Shabbat observance (Ex. 31:12-17).


1212 (s5781-24) 17 Adar 5781 /March 1, 2021)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe's' Rabbi

He sent the first edition to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and hoped to receive the Rebbe’s blessing and encouragement, but he received no response at all. This distressed him greatly.


Connection: Adar 17 (this Monday) is the 36th yahrzeit of Rabbi Zalman-Shimon Dworkin


 

1211 (s5781-23) 10 Adar 5781 / Feb 22, 2021)

"Special Favor from the Most Unexpected Source."

When a rabbi and three priests were forced to participte at a Million-Muslim-Men Prayer Ceremony in Teheran

Connection: On PURIM we read that Mordechai did not bow down to Prime Minister Hamam, the descendant of evil-incarnate Amalek. So, too, we do not bow down to the descendants of wicked Haman.


1210 (s5781-22) 3 Adar 5781 / Feb 158, 2021)

"Saved by Covid-19!"

The singer responded, “This is my living. I can’t perform for free.”

Connection: The weekly reading of Trumah opens with a list of a large variety of monetary and non-monetary donations. Time is also a donation!


 

1209 (s5781-21) 26 Shvat 5781 / Feb.8, 2021) L

"The Positively Handicapped Genius"

"When Uri-Yitzhak Shachor first arrived, we knew there was a big task to be managed," the Rosh Yeshiva recalls. "Yet, today, we are at the point that Uri Yitzhak is an essential light in the yeshiva."

Connection: The Weekly Reading of Mishpatim is the basis for nearly all the Torah's rulings in matters of civil law.


1208 (s5781-20) 19 Shvat 5781 / Feb.1, 2021)

"Your Bride or Your Mother?"

The relatives of the unmarried man begged Rabbi Shlomo-Zalman Auerbach to convince him to place his mother in an old age home.

Connection: The Weekly Reading contains the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20); ‘Honor your Father and Mother” is the 4th.


#1207 (s5781-19) 12 Shvat 5781 / Jan.25, 2021)

"The Irreligious Shabbat Observing General"

"Rebbe Yissacher Dov of Belz told me, 'You want to join the army? I will not try to stop you, but I demand that you must always keep Shabbos.'"

Connection: Weekly Reading - Not to go on Shabbat more than a kilometer in an uninhabited area. [This is the first specific mention of Shabbat observance in the Torah. -- see Beshalach Ex. 16:25-30]


#1206 (s5781-18) 5 Shvat 5781 / Jan.18, 2021)

"A Blessing for Broadway"

"I [Dudu Fisher] am descended from generations of those who opposed Chassidism, and yet I am walking this earth because of a blessing from Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Schneersohn,,who was the Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch from 1920 to 1950. "

Connection: Seasonal -- 10 Shvat (Shabbat, Jan. 16) is the 71st yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz.


#1205 (s5781-17) 27 Tevetv 5781 / Jan.11, 2021)

"The Party Spoiler"

The party hosted by the local Moroccan Jewish community was a success, with the cruel Muslim ruler seemingly enjoying himself very much, bu then Baba Sali made his entrance.

Connection: Seasonal -- 4 Shvat (Sunday, Jan. 11) is the 37th yahrzeit of Baba Sala.


#1204 (s5781-16) 20 Tevetv 5781 / Jan. 4, 2021)

"An Acknowledged But Unalterable Mistake"

The Imperial Government replied, “Yes, we see that the provincial government gave you permission, but they mistakenly permitted you to use land that is not theirs. Your loved ones and your Rabbi must be removed from the place where they are now buried.”

Connection: Seasonal -- 1This Friday 24 Tevet, is the 209th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman of Chabad.


#1203 (s5781-15 / 13 Tevetv 5781 /Dec.28, 2020)

"The Final Word"

The “Bnei Yissaschar” was in his final hours. His eyes were closed; a medley of awe and ecstasy played upon his holy face.

Connection: Seasonal -- 18 Tevet (Shabbat, Jan. 2) is the 180th yahrzeit of Rabbi Zvi-Elimelech Shapira, the “Bnei Yissaschar.”


#1202 (s5781-14 / 6 Tevetv 5781 /Dec.21, 2020)

"The Delayed Delivery"

“I wish you to deliver this letter yourself, not by messenger. And give it only to the people I have addressed it to,” said the Baal Shem Tov.

Connection: Seasonal -- This Sunday Dec. 20, 2020, was Hei Teves (5th day of the Jewish month of Tevet) the Chabad "Holiday of the Return of the Holy Books," ("Didan Netzchak") the events of which in the late 1980's included a delayed delivery.


#1201 (s5781-13 / 28 Kislev 5781 /Dec..14, 2020) Last week

"The Menorah vs. the Swastika in 1930's Nazi Germany"

or 51 of the 52 weeks of the year, the menorah belongs to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

Connection: Seasonal -- CHANUKAH


#1200 (s5781-12 / 21 Kislev 5781 /Dec..7, 2020)

"The Magical and Anti-Magical Chanukah Lights"

While on the phone with the sorcerer, he absently looked out his window and noticed Chanukah lights burning in a neighboring house.

Connection: Seasonal -- CHANUKAH


#1199 (s5781-11 / 14 Kislev 5781 /Nov.30, 2020)

"The Shah, the Ayatollah and the Book of Tanya"

The next Shabbos in shul, the entire community celebrated the miracle with me that took place in the merit of the Tanya.

Connection: YUD-TES KISLEV!


#1198 (s5781-10 / 7 Kislev 5781 /Nov.23, 2020)

Wedding Hardships

For some, meeting their life-partner is like encountering a long-lost friend, and marriage like slipping on a pair of comfortable houseshoes. There are those, however, who have to drag themselves to the chupah—their cold feet weighing them down like icebergs.

Connection: Weekly Reading (Talk about wedding hardships!)


#1197 (s5781-09 /29 Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Nov.16, 2020)

Necessary Repairs

Two yeshivah boys decided to take a drive north in order to visit some of the gravesites of the righteous in the Tsfat area. Things were going along smoothly until…

Connection: A recent personal eventl


#1196 (s5781-08 /22 Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Nov.9, 2020) Last week

Hebron Stairs of Hope

Although the majority of Schwartzie’s summers in Israel was spent teaching in ASCENT, he always spent at least two weeks in Hebron. His daily schedule included immersing, praying in Machpelah Cave, learning Torah in the Menucha Rachel shul; reciting some psalms at the graves of Jesse and Ruth; and of course, talking to every IDF soldier along the way.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- Jewish rights in Hebron, and especially the ownership of Machpelah Cave, date back nearly three thousand seven hundred years (3695, to be precise), as documented in the opening verses (Gen. 23:1-20).


#1195 (s5781-07 /15 Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Nov.2, 2020)

The Trench Bargain

We asked him why he said the lengthy blessings after a meal so slowly and carefully; after all, it was just a simple weekday meal.

Connection: The first mention of blessing G-d after eating is implied in Gen. 21:33 and explained explicitly by Rashi


#1194 (s5781-06 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Oct.25, 2020)

Unintended

Hearing voices, the innkeeper peeked through the keyhole of Naftali Katz's room and and saw him sprawled on the floor, begging and pleading, even though no one else was in the room..

Connection: Weekly Reading of Lech Lecha (Gen XX:X-X -- Abraham rescues from captivity his nephew and brother-in-law)


#1193 (s5781-05/1 Mar-Cheshvan 5781 /Oct.19, 2020)

Laser Vision

Here was a man who was not religious, sitting in front of me without a yarmulke, and he was telling me to consult the Lubavitcher Rebbe! about a major life decisionI almost fell off my chair.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Noach ( building the 'Tower of Bavel', the world's first skyscraper, was a significant techical-logistical achievement)


#1192 (s5781-04/ 24 Tishrei, 5781 /Oct.12, 2020) Last week

A Sudden Specialist

The doctor told them there was no cure, but they insisted, saying that the Ribnitzer Rebbe had sent them specifically to him

Connection: Seasonal -- Monday, the 24th of Tishrei (the day after Simchat Torah outside of Israel), is the 35th yahrzeit of the Ribnitzer Rebbe


#1191 (s5781-03/ 11 Tishrei, 5781 /Oct. 7, 2020)

“Sweet Songs I Shall Weave”

On Simchat Torah night 1961, shortly before dawn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught to the large crowd assembled there a version of the popular Anim Zemirot song which had never been heard before.

Cannection: Seasonal -- SIMCHAT TORAH


#1190 (s5781-02/ 11 Tishrei, 5781 / Sept. 29, 2020)

Stuck in the Chain (At the Crossroads, Part 2)

The Sukkot festival was drawing to a close. The young Chabadnik reloaded his basket with the four species, the vodka, the cookies and the pamphlets.

Cannection: Seasonal -- SUKKOT


#1189 (s5781-01/ 3 Tishrei, 5781 / Sept. 21, 2020)

"The Surprise Cantor"

It was just before the start of Yom Kippur when suddenly a mysterious stranger appeared in the shul. Without a word of introduction he went up to the reader's stand and began to chant the Kol Nidre prayer

Cannection: Seasonal -- YOM kIPPUR



12?? ( (s5781-??) 18 Elul 5781 /May 10, 2021) Next week

"A Truly Matched Couple"

The Baal Shem Tov told his concerned chasid: "Don't worry - for the right girl, your son will not faint."

Connection -- The Baal Shem Tov was born on Elul 18, 5458 (1698)

 

 


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