Weekly Chasidic Story #684 (s5771-18 / 29 Tevet 5771)
Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki delegated a worldly chasid to try to have the government retract from its plan of burning all extant copies of theShulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat
Connection: Weekly Reading – verse 10:1
A chasid called Reb Mottel of Kalshin had extensive business interest in Warsaw, and spoke Polish fluently. One day his rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki, called for him and asked him to approach a certain powerful minister with a view to having the government retract from its plan of burning all extant copies of the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat – that part of the Code of Jewish Law which deals with civil and criminal matters.
The intention of the authorities was to compel Jews to take all their litigation to the secular courts which dispensed justice according to the law of the land, instead of settling their differences before the rabbinical courts. Though no such decree had yet been promulgated, it was known that this was in the offing.
Reb Mottel protested: “But that minister has a raging temper. He threatens to shoot anyone who so much as approaches him on missions of this sort!”
Replied the tzadik, “When the Almighty sent Moses to save his brethren, He did not say ‘Go to Pharaoh’ but ‘Come to Pharaoh.’ (Ex. 10:1) Moses was afraid of the Egyptian despot, so G-d invited him to come along with Him!
The chasid thereupon set out to encounter the minister, happy and unafraid, confident of his rebbe’s spiritual accompaniment.
The powerful man found himself awestruck in the presence of the chasid who stood thus before him – and granted his request.
Rabbi Yitzchak Kalish (1779, died 22 Nissan 1848) was the founder of the Vorki dynasty in Poland. Previously, through travel with his teacher, Rebbe David of Lelov, he became a disciple of Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak (the “Seer”) of Lublin and of Rebbe Simcha Bunem of Pshischah. Some of his teachings and stories involving him appear in Ohel Yitzchak and Hutzak Chein. His son Rebbe Yaakov David founded the Amshinov dynasty, while his son Rebbe Menachem Mendel continued the Vorki dynasty.
[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (Artscroll).]
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.