Original translations/adaptations by Yrachmiel Tilles – co-founder of Ascent of Safed, creator of Ascent’s seminars, editor of Ascent Quarterly, director of Kabbala Online and maintainer of this internet site and its e-mail lists. To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday–sign up here! A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of our most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.
#721 (s5771-55 / 20 Elul 5771)
The Rebbe Stronger Than a Cossack
The doctors told Rabbi Mordechai Dov of Hornsteipel that it would be necessary to sear one spot on his body with a burning-hot lance.
Connection: Seasonal – 107th yahrzeit / supplement to story #717 (see below).
#720 (s5771-54 / 13 Elul 5771)
The Baal Shem Tov said: “Today a new soul that had not previously occupied a physical body has come into the world.”
Connection: Seasonal – Chai Elul, this Shabbat, is the birthday of both the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe of Chabad
#719 (s5771-53 / 6 Elul 5771)
Translating the Translator
“I want to go to the town of Lubavitch,” insisted Robin Dixon of the Los Angeles Times; “the seven-hour drive from Moscow is not a deterrent.”
Connection: Seasonal – 9/11
#718 (s5771-52 / 29 Menachem-Av 5771)
“It Happened in-Tzfat”: From the Ascent Archives
ASCENT generally does not accept already observant singles for Shabbos, for various reasons, and yet….
Connection: Seasonal – ASCENT’s 28th Birthday on Rosh Chodesh Elul 5770 / Sept. 1, 2011
#717 (s5771-51 / 22 Menachem-Av 5771)
Three approaches to Pain
Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman, the Lelover Rebbe who settled in Tel Aviv, although normally punctual, was once three hours late for a celebration.
Connection: Weekly Reading – ch. 13?
#716 (s5771-50 / 16 Menachem-Av 5771)
The Tenth Man
“Rabbi [Levi-Ytizchak] Schneerson, I’m very thankful to have reached here without being caught. Now you must do a great favor for me.”
Connection: Seasonal — 67th yartzeit
#715 (s5771-49 / 8 Menachem-Av 5771)
Three True Believers
Rabbi Yitzchok of Radvil heard of the greatness of Rabbi Avraham “the Angel” (son of the Maggid), and traveled to see him, arriving during the day before Tisha B’av began.
Connection: Seasonal — Tisha B’av
#714 (s5771-48 / 1 Menachem-Av 5771)
The Shameful Celebration
It was the custom of Rabbi Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz to make a festive meal for completion of a Talmudic tractate on Hei Av, the yahrzeit of the holy Ari of Safed.
Connection: Seasonal — 439th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the “holy lion” of Safed
#713 (s5771-47 / 22 Tammuz 5771)
The Pacing, the Exclamation, the Confession
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi asked his visitor to please pay a visit to his colleague, the saintly Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, and convey his regards.
Connection: Seasonal — 229th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin
#712 (s5771-46 / 15 Tammuz 5771)
Exile and Redemption
The Ohr HaChaim refused the enormous payment offerred for a piece, saying, “This is not a butcher shop; the meat is reserved for needy Torah scholars.”
Connection: Seasonal — 268th yahrzeit of the Ohr HaChaim
#711 (s5771-45 / 9 Tammuz 5771)
Blessed Army Service
My father’s Rabbi was not available and so he took me to a different one, a “Gutta Yid,” the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneerson.
Connection: Seasonal — 131st anniversary of birth; 84th anniversary of miraculous release from Soviet prison
#710 (s5771-44 / 2 Tammuz 5771)
The Kiss and the Smile
To the Lubavitcher Rebbe, honoring Jewish traditions–including those not part of of Chabad tradition–was very important.
Connection: Seasonal — 17th yahrzeit
#709 (s5771-43 / 25 Sivan 5771)
Captured by a Nine-Foot Cobra
…a divine revelation in the jungles of South Vietnam, February 1969.
Connection: Weekly reading — Num. 21:9
#708 (s5771-42 / 18 Sivan 5771)
Only One Did Not Faint
He commissioned the then 31-year-old Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, known to be intimately familiar with theChida‘s writings, to head a team of esteemed Sephardic rabbis.
Connection: Seasonal — first yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former chief rabbi of Israel
#707 (s5771-41 / 11 Sivan 5771)
Rabbi Dovid Leikes, one of the greatest chasidim of the Baal Shem Tov, asked several followers of the Chernobyler, “Do you have perfect faith in your Rebbe?”
Connection: Seasonal — We are still in the ‘Days of Completion” for the Festival of Shavuot, which was the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov
#706 (s5771-40 / 3 Sivan 5771)
In the Merit of the Fourth Commandment
Rabbi Nachum of Horodna decided to ask the company to allow the Jewish soldiers to desist.
Connections (2): Seasonal — Shavuot festival; Weekly Reading — healing of Miriam
#705 (s5771-39 / 26 Iyar 5771)
Rabbi Yossele Tulchiner, son of the famed Seer of Lublin, packed a number of his dear departed father’s momentos into his travelling bag.
Connection: ??? Perhaps Seasonal — ticking/counting towards The Shavuot festival, anniversary of receiving the Torah from G-d at Mt. Sinai.
#704 (s5771-38 / 20 Iyar 5771)
“Within a short time,” Rabbi Chaim of Kossov promised the Jewish innkeepers and their families, “you will all be restored to your former homes and positions.”
Connection: Seasonal — 157th yahrzeit
#703 (s5771-37 / 13 Iyar 5771)
The Whisper Cure
Since his disturbed daughter was not well enough to travel, he hoped to persuade the Baal Shem Tov to journey home with him.
Connection: Seasonal – Lag B’Omer
#702 (s5771-36 / 7 Iyar 5771)
Two Gold Medals and One Silver
Hundreds watched in astonishment as the man with the beard and long sidelocks hesitantly ascended the podium.
Connection: Weekly Reading – The Sabbatical Year
#701 (s5771-35 / 28 Nisan 5771)
Who Goes Up First
The spinning of the wheel for certain wealthy and poor followers of the Rebbe Maharash of Lubavitch.
Connection: Seasonal – Tifereret sh’b’Tiferet & 171st anniversary of birth
#700 (s5771-34 / 23 Nisan 5771)
The Cold Compress Cure
The Ksav Sofer thought for a few days and then recommended that Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeldtravel to the Divrei Chaim for help.
Connection: Seasonal – 135th yahrzeit
#699 (s5771-33 / 13 Nisan 5771)
They finished their Seder Night meal as quickly as possible and rushed to the Tzemach Tzedek‘s home, but the Rebbe’s secretary would not let them in.
Connections (2): Seasonal – the holiday, 245th yahrzeit.
#698 (s5771-32 / 6 Nisan 5771)
Sensitivity in the Wee Hours
They struck a deal: the case would be brought to the Lubavitcher Rebbe even though they did not count themselves among the Rebbe’s followers.
Connection: Seasonal – 109th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
#697 (s5771-31 / 29 Adar B 5771)
The “Repulsive Beggar” Test
Eliezer Lippman and his wife Mirush’s boundless hospitality did not go unnoticed in the Heavens.
Connection: Torah Reading – the ultimate skin disease
#696 (s5771-30 / 22 Adar B 5771)
Just before his passing, the Apter Rebbe made an intense promise.
Connection: Seasonal — 33rd yarhzeit of Rabbi S. Y. Zevin (and 182nd of the Apter Rebbe)
#695 (s5771-29 / 16 Adar B 5771)
The Feminine Antidote
Rabbi David of Zubeltov, son of the rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov, once became so ill that even the best physicians despaired of his life.
Connection: Weekly reading – 10:1-2
#694 (s5771-28 / 8 Adar B 5771)
Purim During Pesach!
Upon finishing the reading of the Scroll of Esther, a soul of a deceased person suddenly appeared to Rebbe Yosef Meir of Spinka.
#693 (s5771-27 / 2 Adar B 5771)
Baseball to Boston
The Bostoner Rebbe reports a childhood experience: Not having the vaguest idea what was baseball, I decided to just watch from the sidelines. But the teams were one man short, so soon I was surrounded by eager classmates.
#692 (s5771-26 / 24 Adar A 5771)
The Silver Cane
The chasid of the Baal HaTanya forgot to leave his cane outside before entering the Rebbe’s room.
Connection: Weekly Reading – lots of silver
#691 (s5771-25 / 17 Adar A 5771)
The Rebbe R. Elimelech of Lizhensk described what he had seen in Heaven while hovering between life and death.
Connection: Seasonal – 224th yahrzeit
#690 (s5771-24 / 10 Adar A 5771)
Reconstruction and Deconstruction
Rabbi Akiva Eiger announced publicly that whoever had his house built on Shabbos would not see it stand for long.
Connection: Weekly Reading – Not to do specific types of work on Shabbat (verse 34:21 – and also next week, 35:3)
#689 (s5771-23 / 3 Adar A 5771)
An Almost Unique Heirloom
The girl excelled in her studies and became a successful pediatrician, working in the top hospital in Poland.
Connection: Weekly Reading – gold jewelry
#688 (s5771-22 / 26 Shevat 5771)
“It is forbidden to hurt people’s feelings,” declared the “Beit Yisrael” of Gur
Connection: Seasonal – 34th yahrzeit
#687 (s5771-21 / 19 Shevat 5771)
Down Went the Clown
“My decision is according to the wisdom of the Ben Ish Hai,” The Bagdad Muslim judge proclaimed
Connection: Weekly Reading – Court executions
#686 (s5771-20 / 12 Shevat 5771)
Tropical Oranges in a Russian Winter Orchard
It was the 15th of Shvat and they had no fruit, so the Baal Shem Tov told his wagon driver to drive the sleigh off the main road and into the fields.
Connection: Seasonal – Tu b’Shvat
#685 (s5771-19 / 6 Shevat 5771)
The Chasidic Railroad Line
“We used to sing, ‘G-d should give us good health and life, and we will be reunited with our Rebbe’ (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch).”
Connection: Seasonal – 61st yahrzeit
#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 the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat
Connection: Weekly Reading – verse 10:1
#683 (s5771-17 / 21 Tevet 5771)
The Judgment and the Advice
Reb Noah was a devoted disciple of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. His son eventually married the Rebbe’s daughter.
Connection: Seasonal – 198th yahrzeit
#682 (s5771-16 / 14 Tevet 5771)
Before becoming the world-famous Rebbe of Pshischa, Rabbi Simchah Bunim earned his living as a businessman.
#681 (s5771-15 / 7 Tevet 5771)
The Kohen Pals
“The last time I was in a synagogue was over sixty years ago in Poland, and that is when the Germans came and took my entire city to Buchenwald.”
Connection: The Fast Day of the 10th of Tevet is the traditional date for saying Kaddish for Holocaust martyrs whose passing date is unknown
#680 (s5771-14 / 1 Tevet 5771)
The Tailor’s Investment
The Shinover Rav looked at him strangely. “Perhaps you can help her out, Berel,” he suggested. “One day it might stand you in good stead.”
Connection: Seasonal – 111th yahrzeit
#679 (s5771-13 / 23 Kislev 5771)
Until Saturday Night, Chanukah
“Although it was still afternoon of the Sabbath of Chanukah, the chaplain came to conduct the Chanukah menorah lighting service for us.”
Connection: Seasonal – Chanukah
#678 (s5771-12 / 16 Kislev 5771)
When Yehuda & Shayna Tilles and family exited Jerusalem driving to his brother’s wedding in Tiberias, they didn’t imagine the drama and miracle it would involve.
Connection: Seasonal – 20 Kislev (2/12/09)
#677 (s5771-11 / 8 Kislev 5771)
Mission impossible in Manhattan’s East Village
The emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe had made a promise to a grieving father that he would find his runaway teenage daughter.
Connection: Seasonal – 14 Kislev (21/11/10)
#676 (s5771-10 / 1 Kislev 5771)
Out and Back
When the Kaf HaChaim was preparing to publish the first volume of his momentous work, he had no idea how to pay for the cost of printing.
Connection: Weekly Reading – Leaving the Land
#675 (s5771-09) / 24 Mar-Cheshvan 5771
An Ongoing Story of Courage and Sacrifice
The hero of this story is about to get married in a few days!
Connection: Seasonal – Wedding invitation!
#674 (s5771-08) / 17 Mar-Cheshvan 5771)
A Mission in Guyana
“There will be hair growing on my palm before you find another Jew living in this country!”
Connections (2): Weekly Reading — the dedication with which Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, journeyed from Israel to Syria to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. Seasonal — It is almost always during this week that thousands of the “shluchim” (emissaries. delegates) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe from all over the globe convene in Brooklyn for their annual conference.
#673 (s5771-07) / 11 Mar-Cheshvan 5771)
First and Second Thoughts
The Chernobyler Rebbe opened the drawer where he kept the money he was given for personal use; his attendant was surprised.
Connection: Seasonal – 223rd yahrzeit
#672 (s5771-06) / 3 Mar-Cheshvan 5771)
The Glory of Israel
One of the major accomplishments of the holy Rhiziner Rebbe in the Holy Land was the building of a synagogue in Jerusalem.
Connection: Seasonal – 160th yahrzeit
#671 (s5771-05) / 28 Tishrei 5771)
Three Precious Gifts
When Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov took leave of his Rebbe, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg. the latter gave him three gifts: a loaf of bread, a coin, and his own white silk robe.
Connection: Weekly Reading – various animals
#670 (s5771-04) / 21 Tishrei 5771)
A Rebbe’s Shocking Fee
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev suddenly turned to the teacher of small boys and said, “If you would like, I will give you three words of advice.”
Connection: Seasonal – 201st yahrzeit
#669 (s5771-03) / 13 Tishrei 5771)
A Comatose “Hallucination”
Two followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe knocked on the door of an apartment and were immediately let in by a young man with long hair and blue jeans.
Connection: Seasonal – Sukkot
#668 (s5771-02) / 7 Tishrei 5771)
Late for Kol Nidrei
Nopbody could understand why Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev was delaying to begin the Yom Kippur Evening prayers.
Connection: Seasonal – Yom Kippur
#667 (s5771-01) / Erev Rosh Hashana 5771)
Two Parables for Prosperity
The Modzitcher Rebbe rebuffed a chassid seeking advice on his parnassah, saying, “I don’t occupy myself with the frivolities of this world.” Immediately after this, another chassid entered the Rebbe’s room and spoke to the Rebbe for a full two hours – about his parnassah.
Connection: Seasonal – Rosh Hashana