Weekly Chasidic Story #867 (s5774-45 / 9 Tammuz 5774)
Two Missions Completed
The chasidim were astonished when the Klausenberger Rebbe refused to allow them to summon another doctor to treat him.
Connection: Seasonal–20th yahrzeit of the Klausenberg-Sanz Rebbe
The Klausenberger chasidim wanted to call a doctor; maybe there was still something that could be done to help their ailing Rebbe, Rabbi Yekusiel-Yehuda Teitelbaum. But the Rebbe would not hear of the suggestion. Instead he said, “Let me tell you a story.”
Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1561-1640), later to be renowned as the “Bach” (the initials of his book Bayit Chadash) one day visited his son-in-law, Rabbi David ben Shmuel HaLevi (1586-1667), later to be renowned as the “Taz” (for his book Turei Zahav.) When Rabbi Yoel arrived, the entire town went out to welcome him with the traditional greeting of “Shalom Aleichem” except for one young scholar, who did not step forward.
“What nerve!” Rabbi David objected to the young man, upset by the dishonor to his esteemed father-in-law.
“I was informed by Elijah the Prophet himself that Rabbi Yoel has been placed in a ban of excommunication by the heavenly court, and for this reason I did not extent a formal greeting to him,” replied the young man.
Rabbi David was shocked by this response. He asked the scholar for more details.
“Once, Rabbi Yoel was passing through a certain town. Two men were arguing about a wagon full of wood that one man had sold to the other. The purchaser claimed that he had agreed to a price of three gold coins while the seller was adamant that he had sold it for 3 1/10 gold coins.
“When the two men saw Rabbi Yoel, they asked him if he would arbitrate their claim.
“‘What amount of money is under dispute,’ asked Rabbi Yoel.
“‘One-tenth of a gold coin,’ they responded.
“‘I should delay my journey and be inconvenienced for one-tenth of a gold coin?’ Rabbi Yoel remonstrated.
“The accusing angels in heaven had a heyday with the rabbi’s flippant comment, for our Sages teach, ‘A suit involving one copper coin is to be treated as earnestly as a suit involving a hundred coins.”
Rabbi David hurried to his father-in-law to ascertain whether or not this story was true.
Indeed, Rabbi Yoel remembered the incident as it was out-of-character for him to have made such a comment.
The two men realized that this young scholar had been brought by Divine Providence into their midst on this day in order to help Rabbi Yoel do teshuva (repent) and set things right. They convened a rabbinical court that immediately annulled the heavenly ban.
Rabbi Yoel then approached the young man and asked him a favor. “I see that you are an upright and G-d fearing person in the eyes of heaven. I therefore would like to give you my manuscript, a commentary on the Arba Turim (a section of the Code of Jewish Law) that I plan to publish under the title Bayit Chadash. Before I publish it I would like you to look it over and give me your opinion.”
The young man agreed. A little while later, Rabbi Yoel approached the young man and asked if he had had a chance to look over the manuscript and was ready to return it.
“I will not return it to you even in twenty years,” responded the young scholar.
Shocked, Rabbi Yoel asked for an explanation. “Does my work not meet your approval? If so, tell me what is wrong with it for I gave it to you so that you would look it over with a critical eye.”
The young man said, “Your book is good and does good. However, as soon as you publish it and it is distributed around the world, you will have completed your life’s mission and there will be no reason for you to live in this world. Therefore, I will do all I can to delay its publication so that you remain here with us in this world.”
“If that is the reason why you have withheld your comments, then I will not delay its publication,” said Rabbi Yoel. “For, as you yourself noted, the world needs it.”
The young man had no option but to return the manuscript to its author, who set about publishing it, volume by volume. Over the course of nine years it was published.
In 1640, soon after the publication of the final volume, Rabbi Yoel Sirkes passed away in his eightieth year.
The Sanz-Klausenberger completed his story. Then he added, “So it is with me. If, with G-d’s help I have completed my mission here in this world, then I have nothing to do here and do not want you to call another doctor.”
Source: Supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles from Living Jewish #425, where it was reprinted from //L’chaimWeekly.org.
Rabbi Yekusiel-Yehudah Halberstam [10 Shvat 5665 – Shabbat, 9 Tammuz 5754, the same week as the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s passing (January 10, 1905 – June 18, 1994 C.E) .)], the Klausenberger Rebbe, also became the post-war Rebbe of the Sanz Chassidim. One of the foremost Chasidic leaders of his generation, he is best known for his revitalization of the study of Talmud through “Mifal HaShas” and the building of a hospital, Laniado, in Netanya, that functions at the highest standards of Jewish law and medical practice.
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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