Weekly Chasidic Story #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
The tzadik Rabbi Yitzchak of Radvil, having heard of the greatness of Rabbi Avraham Hamalach [“the Angel” – son of the Maggid of Mezritch], decided to travel to see him. He arrived on Erev Tisha B’av. That night, as everyone sat on the floor of the shul reading Eicha [“Book of Lamentations”] and mourning the destruction of the first two Holy Temples, a bitter cry suddenly broke out. Rabbi Yitzchak turned and saw “the Angel” sitting with his head between his knees, weeping bitterly. Long after everyone had left, he continued watching Rabbi Avraham, who sat in the same position without moving. When the clock struck midnight, Rabbi Yitzchak retired for the night.
The following morning, Rabbi Yitzchak arrived early to shul and found Rabbi Avraham Hamalach still mourning, a puddle of tears surrounding him, From time to time, he would lift his holy head and ask in a pained voice, “He’s still not here?”
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Other tzadikim living during the time of the tzadik Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, the Yismach Moshe, said that he was a reincarnation of Yirmiyahu Hanovi [the prophet Jeremiah), who prophesied the destruction of the first Holy Temple. The Yismach Moshe would constantly cry about the exile, especially during the Three Weeks, and his longing for Moshiach was remarkable. Next to his bed, his finest Shabbat clothing lay prepared, and before sleeping he would warn his attendant to wake him the moment the shofar blast of Moshiach was heard. Whenever he heard some bustle in the street, he would run to determine whether Moshiach had arrived.
Once, a notice arrived to his home that on a coming date his beloved son-in-law would be arriving for a visit. This caused a stirring of great joy and everyone prepared for his arrival. The special day came, but the visitor was nowhere to be seen, and the family became restless, imagining possible reasons for his delay. The Yismach Moshe sat in his room engrossed in learning, while some family members stood outside waiting impatiently. Suddenly a carriage was seen in the distance. The Rebbe’s attendant ran in to bring the tzadik the good news, “Rebbe, he has arrived!”
Hearing this, the Rebbe jumped from his place in excitement, put on his fine Shabbat garments, including kapota(long black frock-coat and shtreimel (elaborate, round fur hat) and ran outside toward the approaching carriage. Seeing none other than his son-in-law descending from the carriage, he was unable to bear the pain and fell to the ground in a faint. When his family revived him, they heard him moaning to himself, “Oy! It’s not him. He still has not yet arrived.”
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The chief Rabbi (a century ago) of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, related that as a student learning in theyeshiva (of the Chatam Sofer) in Pressburg, he once overheard a woman ask her friend what she had prepared for supper.
“Squash,” the other replied.
“And for tomorrow?” the woman questioned further.
“Chas v’shalom [Heaven forbid]! Don’t speak like that! If Heaven forbid Moshiach does not come by tomorrow, then I will make lentils [a food often associated with mourning].”
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from passages in Lma’an Yishme’u #72, <avreicheilubavitch @gmail.com>.
Connection: Seasonal – Tisha B’Av.
R. Avraham the Malach (“the Angel”) [1739 – 12 Tishrei 1776] was the son of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch. While still a young man he chose an ascetic and secluded lifestyle, and on his father’s passing in1772 declined to assume leadership of the chasidic movement. He wrote a work entitled Chesed L’Avraham, and died at the age of 37. His only son, Rabbi Shalom Shachna of Probisht, was the father of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin.
Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum [1759-28 Tammuz 1841], known as the Yismach Moshe after the title of his book of Torah commentary, was famed both as a scholar and wonderworker. A disciple of the Seer of Lublin, he was instrumental in the spread of Chasidut in Hungary. His descendants founded the dynasties of Satmar and Sighet.
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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