16 Nov A Powerful Story
One of the methods by which we can smoothly absorb vital Torah teachings is through the vehicle of a story. I would like to share with you a welldocumented vignette which carries some powerful and important lessons. There was a chossid of the Maggid MiKozhnitz by the name of Reb Yosef. He and his wife were childless for many years. Often, he would ask the Maggid for a blessing but the Rebbe was not forthcoming. Finally, Reb Yosef’s wife, who was painfully pining for a child, forcefully told her husband that he should say to the Rebbe, “My wife told me not to leave the Rebbe’s presence until he blesses us with a child.” Although uncomfortable, Reb Yosef acceded to the wishes of his suffering wife and told the Rebbe in her name that he wasn’t going to budge from the spot where he stood until he received a blessing. The Rebbe stared at him and asked him, “Are you ready to become completely impoverished in order to have a child.” Reb Yosef was a responsible man and told the Rebbe that he couldn’t honestly answer the question unless he first asked his wife. So, he went home and posed the question to his wife and she immediately responded, “What a question! What wouldn’t I do in order to coddle a child in my arms?” Reb Yosef went back to the Rebbe and told him that they were ready to accept his demands. The Kozhnitzer Rebbe then told him, “Travel to the venerable Chozeh MiLublin and he will provide you with instructions.” Dutifully, Reb Yosef journeyed to the Chozeh and told the famous Rabbi that he was sent by the Kozhnitzer to receive instructions on how to go about having a child. The Chozeh gazed at him for a while and then informed him, “When you were a younger man, you were engaged to a girl and then broke off the engagement. You should know that your actions caused her tremendous pain. You never properly appeased her nor did you ask her for forgiveness. It is because of this that you are not able to have children… Travel now to the great market at Bolta. There you will find her and there you should ask for her forgiveness.” So, Reb Yosef set off to Bolta without having any idea how he was supposed to find a women he hadn’t seen in many years. Indeed, for several days he searched to no avail. One day there was a huge storm and he, together with others, ran for cover into a nearby store to get shelter from the rain. As it was very crowded within this small enclosure, he was pushed very near to a woman. Being a religious chosid, he backed away from her whence she turned to him and said, “Many years ago you backed away from me and now you are doing the same thing!” He looked at her and realized with amazement that this was the very woman he was searching for. Immediately, he revealed the purpose of his mission, apologized profusely and begged for her forgiveness. She responded that she had a very poor brother living in Slovakia who was having trouble marrying off his daughter because of lack of funds. She stipulated to him that if her were to go to her brother and give him 200 golden coins to help him marry off her niece, she would forgive him. Reb Yosef calculated that if he liquidated all of his possessions he would amass the required 200 golden coins. He went home, procured the money and traveled on to Slovakia. There, he found her brother and indeed his daughter’s shidduch was about to unravel because he could not afford the wedding and the dowry. Reb Yosef went over to him and gave him the 200 golden coins. The man looked at him incredulously and said, “I don’t even know you. Why are you doing this kindness?” Reb Yosef revealed the whole story to him, and that his sister agreed to forgive him if he would help. The man looked at Reb Yosef as if he were a lunatic. “What are you talking about? My sister has been gone for 15 years. I buried her with my own hands. What games are you playing with me?” Shocked and startled, Reb Yosef went on to describe exactly how she looked to the minutest detail and the brother paled saying that he was indeed precisely describing his sister. Reb Yosef went home and remarkably within the year, he and his wife were blessed with a healthy son! This is a well-documented story. One of the places you can find it is in the Sefer Aperyon Shlomo. Next week, we will discuss a variety of lessons that can be learned from this extraordinary story. Let me conclude with words of caution to my dear readers. As COVID-19 rages all around us, please don’t let down your guard and in the merit of protecting ourselves and caring for others, especially those who are older and have medical conditions, may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.