Weekly Chasidic Story #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?
In 1948, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman, the Lelover Rebbe, was invited to participate in a pidyon haben[Redemption of a First-Born Son] ceremony and festive meal in Jerusalem. The rebbe left his home in Tel Aviv early, in order to arrive on time. But the hour to begin the celebration came, and there was still no sign of the guest of honor.
The guests waited an hour, and another hour. The Rebbe had still not arrived. Three hours passed before the Rebbe finally arrived, his face beaming with joy as he rushed to wish mazal tov to the father of the month-old baby boy. Nobody asked him why he had arrived so late, nor did he offer an explanation.
After the meal was over, the Rebbe slipped away quietly and made his way to a doctor’s office. He told the doctor that several hours earlier, when he was en route to Jerusalem, the bus on which he was traveling was involved in an accident. The bus had turned over, and several passengers had fallen on the Rebbe, crushing him beneath them. The doctor examined him and discovered that several of his ribs were cracked.
The doctor stared at the Rebbe in amazement. “How could you sit calmly through a meal, acting as though nothing was wrong? Broken ribs cause excruciating pain!” he exclaimed. “How could you bear it?”
To the Rebbe, however, there was no other way to behave. Unwilling to detract from another person’s joyous occasion, he had chosen to ignore the pain and suffer in silence.
In his last years, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman suffered a tremendous amount of pain. His doctors could not understand how he could bear it silently, without crying out.
His explanation was simple. “If one keeps in mind that everything comes from G-d and that everything that happens reflects His will, then one can learn to tolerate anything.”
Another time he said, “You wonder how I can bear so much suffering? It is simple. I wholeheartedly believe that Mashiach will arrive at any moment and all pain will disappear. Since I know that my suffering will last only seconds longer, it is easy to bear.”
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from “Glimpses of Greatness” (Moznaim) by Rabbi David Koppelman.
Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman (1903 – 24 Tevet 1987), sixth-generation Rebbe of Lelov, lived in Tel Aviv for many years, later moving to Bnei Brak. He was accepted also by many Karliner chasidim as the new Rebbe after the passing of Rabbi Yochanan of Karlin-Stolin in 1956. His second son, Rabbi Shimon Nosson Notte Biderman, lived most of the year in Tsfat, due to health reasons, where he was beloved by his chasidim as well as many others who came to seek advice from him.
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.
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