Weekly Chasidic Story #806 (s5773-35 / 26 Iyar 5773)
The Washerwoman’s Tale
For years, she lived with the memory of the promise to her from Rabbi Shlomo of Zvil.
Connection: Seasonal–68th yahrzeit of R. Shlomo of Zvil
The blessings of Rabbi Shlomo of Zivhil were always fulfilled to the last detail. In Jerusalem, the story is told of the pious and good woman who washed clothes in the Rebbe’s home. One day, after she had finished her work, she stood in the doorway of his study and asked him to bless her with children.
R’ Shlomo regarded her for a few moments, then shook his head. “I’m sorry; I cannot help you.”
Then, after another few moments, he added, “However, I bless you with this: that in your merit others will be remembered and find salvation.”
For decades afterwards, the washerwoman lived with the memory of that promise. Then, 19 years after the death of the Rebbe, she herself died and was buried on Har Hamenuchot. On her gravestone were etched the words: “Here lies the woman Miriam, daughter of Maman, a”h (“may she rest in peace”), who passed away on the 24th of Tevet, 5724 (1964).
In the year 5753 (1993), twenty-nine years after the washerwoman’s death, a former neighbor of hers saw Miriam in a dream. In the dream, Miriam said, “I was a washerwoman in the house of Rebbe Shlom’ke of Zivhil. I had no children, and asked him for his blessing. The Rebbe told me that he could not help me, but blessed me that in my merit others would be remembered and saved. I ask that they come up to my grave and pray for the elevation of my soul. I promise that barren women will be remembered.”
From that day, many women have ascended to visit Miriam the washerwoman’s grave on Har Hamenuchot and, in the merit of the sincere prayers they poured out there, many have indeed been remembered and have gone on to bear the children they so dearly craved.
Source: Adapted and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from “Stories My Grandfather Told Me” (Mesorah) by Zev Greenwald
Connection: 68th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlom’ke of Zivhil/
Rabbi Shlomo (Shlom’ke) of Zivhil (?-26 Iyar–yesod of yesod–1945) was the first one of the dynasty to be based in Israel. For a long time after he came to Jerusalem, no one knew his true identity as the 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.