Weekly Chasidic Story #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).
R’ Mordechai Dov of Hornsteipel fell ill with a violent cough. He went to consult doctors in the city of Kiev, and was told that it would be necessary to sear one spot on his body with a burning-hot lance. The doctors told him in advance that the treatment was extremely painful; so painful, in fact, that the patient had to be tied to a chair in order not to move during the process.
“There will be no need to tie me,” the Rebbe answered quietly. “I will not move.”
The doctor began the treatment and the Rebbe, true to his word, did not move a muscle. He did not emit as much as a groan as his skin was scorched with a searing-hot metal stick. Amazed at this incredible willpower, the doctor remarked to the Rebbe’s son, who was standing nearby, that just the day before he had performed the identical treatment on a Russian Cossack. The moment the hot lance had touched the Cossack’s skin, he had jumped out of his seat — ripping open the restraint that bound him — and escaped through the window.
The Rebbe, who overheard, surprised them all with his response: “Believe me, when a Jew comes to me and pours out the troubles that weigh down his heart, when he so desperately needs help and there is no way to help him, that pain burns more fiercely within me than even a burning-hot lance.”
[Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from “Stories my Grandfather told me” (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald]
Connection: Seasonal – 107th yahrzeit of the Hornsteipeler.
Editor’s note: You can also consider this story a continuation of #717, from four weeks ago.
Rabbi Mordechai Dov Twerski of Hornsteipel [1840-1904] was named after his two maternal great-grandfathers, Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl and Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch. He was also a direct descendant of Rabbi Zusha of Anipoli and the son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim of Sanz. A highly respected Talmudic scholar, he composed a popular book of Chasidic guidance, Pele Yoetz.
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.
To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday—sign up here!