Weekly Chasidic Story #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
Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shinova was standing in the train station when suddenly he heard the sound of someone crying. “Who is crying?” he asked Berel, the tailor, who was also waiting for the train.
“It’s a little girl,” answered Berel. “Why is she crying?” the tzadik wondered. “I don’t know,” said Berel. “I’ll go ask her.”
After a few minutes he came back and said, “The little girl’s purse is lost. She has no money to buy a ticket to get home.”
The tzadik looked at him strangely. “Perhaps you can help her out, Berel,” he suggested. “One day it might stand you in good stead.”
Berel paid for a train ticket for the girl with his money and gave it to her. She thanked him profusely as she wiped away her tears. Soon after that the train arrived and they both had to board. When they reached the station of his tailor shop, Berel got off.
A short time later a general came into the shop and ordered new uniforms for all the soldiers under his command. Berel was very happy because the large job would ensure him a good income.
As soon as the general left, Berel set to work. He brought the material, measured it, and cut it. Then he sewed the pieces together to make uniforms. He made them shorter than the usual uniforms to save money and increase his profit. He hoped the general would not notice.
But the general did notice. When he received the uniforms and saw that they were short, he became very angry and sent a squad of soldiers to arrest the Jewish tailor.
Berel saw the soldiers coming. Frightened, he sneaked out through the back door, running as fast as his legs could carry him. “The Shinover rav will surely help me,” he thought desperately. “I’ll go to him.”
He ran and ran. Finally, he reached the home of the rebbe. “I am in terrible trouble,” Berel cried out. “Rebbe, please help me!”
“What is it, my son?” the Shinover asked, concerned.
Berel told the rebbe his whole story. The tzadik promptly advised him to go to Vienna and speak to the officer who was in charge of his case.
Berel took the train to Vienna. It turned out to be difficult to find out who was the officer he needed to see and how and where to locate him. Finally he met someone who said he knew which official it was and where he lived, and would write down the information for him. But then, when the friendly man handed Berel the slip of paper with the name and address, he warned him, “This officer is mean. And he does not like Jewish people.”
Berel was scared, but he knew he must follow the rebbe’s instructions. He went to the officer’s house and knocked on the door. The door opened. A little girl stood there – the same little girl who had cried at the train station. She ran inside excitedly calling, “Father! Father! Come quickly! It is the man who was nice to me when I lost my purse!”
Berel was amazed. “This is a miracle from G-d.” he thought.
The girl’s father appeared. “So you are the man who saved my precious daughter,” the officer exclaimed, taking Berel’s hand in his. “I have wanted to thank you all this time, but I did not know your name or where you lived. How can I ever thank you and show you my gratitude?”
“I am in danger of being arrested and you are the officer in charge of my case,” Berel said. “You can help me by pardoning me for making the uniforms short.”
“Of course I will pardon you,” the officer promised. “I always thought the old uniforms were too long, anyway. The soldiers used to trip on them when they ran. And I will make sure you are paid in full for the work, as well.”
Berel left Vienna with a light heart and pockets full of money. Sitting on the train on the way home, Berel thought about how he had been saved because he had been kind to a little girl in need.
Suddenly he remembered the odd look that the Shinover rav had given him at the train station when he told him to help the little girl. “The rebbe must have known from the beginning what was going to happen,” thought Berel in wonder. “And then later, when I was running away, he knew just where I should go. Praised be G-d. What a great rebbe I have!”
Source: Adapted from “Why the Baal Shem Tov Laughed” by Sterna Citron (Jason Aronson Inc.)
Connection: Seasonal – 112th yahrzeit
Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shinova, (1813- 5 Tevet 1899), was the eldest son of the Divrei Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz. As an emissary of his father, he founded the Sanzer synagogue in Tzefat. He served as the rabbi of Shinova from 1855 till 1868, and then again from 1881 till his passing. Many of his Torah insights into Scripture, Law and Kabbalah are collected in Divrei Yechezkel.
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.