Weekly Chasidic Story #861 (s5774-39 / 26 Iyar 5774)
Miraculous Shabbat Stew
Nobody realized what a lofty level Rabbi Shlomo Goldman of Zvhil was on until the following story happened.
Connection: Seasonal–69th yahrzeit of Rebbe Shlomke
Although Rabbi Shlomo Goldman of Zivhil, known as “Reb Shlomke,” was acknowledged by all as a genuine Chasidic Rebbe, he still managed to conceal the extent of his greatness. Everyone knew he was learned, and inspired; what they did not realize was what a lofty spiritual level Reb Shlomke was on until the following story happened:
In Zivhil was a drunkard whom we shall call Andrei. He was basically harmless, being content with a bottle or two of vodka. Although Andrei was not Jewish, he liked to frequent the Jewish section of town, because he knew from experience that he wouldn’t get beaten up there like would happen to him in other parts of town, and he was also aware that the Jews were compassionate people, who would give him food when he went begging.
One Saturday morning, after a big drinking binge the previous night, Andrei felt especially hungry. He knocked on several doors, but got no answer, as it was Shabbat and the residents were in shul. The next house he went to also yielded no response, but he noticed the door was not locked properly. The homeowners, in their rush to get to shul had left the door unlocked.
Andrei opened the door, and was greeted by a set table with beautiful golden braided loaves of challah, a decanter filled with red wine, and other delicacies. There was a heavenly aroma coming from the stove; the smell of the cholent* and kugel** was making his mouth water.
* A stew left on the Shabbat stove overnight from before sunset
** A sometimes sweet casserole, usually based on noodles or potatoes or rice.
Andrei didn’t know where to start. The wine attracted him the most, but he thought it would be best to get some food in his empty stomach first. He opened up the pot of cholent and scooped out a big portion for himself, which he shoved down his throat like a man who had never seen food before. A huge piece of kugel followed the cholent.
At this point, he heard people outside, walking home from shul, and he thought it would be best to leave the house right away, before he would be caught red-handed. He was still chewing his food, as he headed for the door, but was stopped in his tracks by the golden challah on the table; it looked so good and he was still so hungry. He ripped out a huge chunk of challah, took a big bite from it and reached for the doorknob.
Andre had so much food in his mouth that he couldn’t chew properly. A piece of challah went down the wrong pipe and he couldn’t breathe. Andrei gasped for air and his face turned colors, as he began to choke on the challah, and moments later he fell down, dead, in front of the door.
A few minutes later, the couple who lived in this house arrived home. They tried opening the door but there was something preventing the door from opening more than a crack. The husband pushed with all his might and got the door opened. They walked into the house and looked to see what was blocking the door. They were in a state of shock when they saw, Andrei, the town drunkard, lying on the floor of their house.
The husband stated shaking him and yelling at him to get out of his house, but soon realized that Andrei was completely lifeless. He saw the big chunk of challah next to Andrei and surmised what had transpired. They began to panic. Just recently there had been pogroms in the area. If people found out that Andrei was found dead in a Jews’ house they will accuse the Jews of killing him. Even though they couldn’t care less about Andrei, they would use any opportunity to attack the Jews. The wife told the husband to go run to the Rebbe, Reb Shlomke, and ask for his advice.
The homeowner rushed over to the Rebbe’s house and told him what happened. The Rebbe concurred with him that the townspeople might use this as an excuse to make another pogrom. Reb Shlomke took a spoonful of his cholent and told him to take it and put it into the dead drunkard’s mouth. Thoughts started going through the man’s mind–how could he feed a dead man?–but he did not ask any questions. He was a simple Jew who had complete trust in whatever the Rebbe told him.
He walked home briskly, being careful not to drop the cholent. He tried to put the cholent in Andrei’s mouth, but his mouth was sealed shut. So the man said in a panic “Reb Shlomke said I should feed you the cholent“.
At the mention of the Rebbe’s name, the lifeless drunkard opened his mouth, and the man quickly placed the Rebbe’scholent in as far as he could. He almost fainted from fright due to what he saw next. Andrei got up from the floor and looking straight ahead, walked out the door.
The man followed Andrei, curious to see what would happen. Andrei walked across town, in a zombie-like manner, looking straight ahead. After several minutes, Andrei arrived at his own residence. As soon as he stepped inside, he fell down to the floor, lifeless as before.
The man ran back to his house to tell his wife over what happened. They had just witnessed an open miracle. They had seen a dead man get up and walk across town to his house. They now realized that Reb Shlomke was a lot more than he made himself out to be.
The story spread quickly and everyone now knew that their Rebbe was a very holy man, who had tried to conceal his greatness. It is said that this event is what prompted Reb Shlomke to start thinking about moving to another place, where people wouldn’t know him.
Eventually he did move to Jerusalem, where he managed to conceal his identity until one day someone from Zivhil bumped into him in shul and revealed to everyone who he was. After that throngs of people flocked to him for his advice and help until his passing on 26 Iyar*** 5705/1945. One of the tzadikim at the funeral smelled different fragrant spices coming from Reb Shlomke’s body. Later on, he asked Reb Shlomke’s son, Reb Gedaliah, what the source of this custom was. Reb Gedalia replied that they have no such custom. They realized that this beautiful smell was actually from this great tzadik himself. May his memory be a blessing.
*** The 41st day of Counting Omer, Yesod sh’b’Yesod in Kabbalah, associated with essence of righteousness.
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from //zchusavos.blogspot.co.il (posted: May 13, 2007)
Connection: Seasonal-69th yahrzeit of Rebbe Shlomke.
Rabbi Shlomo (“Reb Shlom’ke”) Goodman of Zivhil (?-26 Iyar–yesod of yesod–1945), the first one of the dynasty to be based in Israel, was a descendent in direct paternal line from Rabbi Yechiel-Michil, an important student of the Baal Shem Tov known as the Magid of Zlochov. For a long time after he came to Jerusalem, no one knew his true identity as the very holy Rebbe to whom thousands had flocked in his native land, until a chance visitor from his hometown revealed his secret to the stunned worshipers in the shul he was attending. So once again he acquired thousands of followers and admirers. Famed for his remarkable deeds of kindness, he particularly concentrated on rescuing youths from missionaries and inculcating the importance of the laws of family purity to the masses, while still finding time to answer complicated questions in Jewish Law.
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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