Weekly Chasidic Story #808 (s5773-37 / 11 Sivan 5773)

When Someone Cares

“Since this route has been your custom for many years,” said the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch, “it is not advisable to diverge from it.”

Connection: Weekly Reading (end)-Num. 12:13-Moshe’s prayer that Miriam be healed.

Every year, on his way from Petersburg to the annual regional fair in Nizhni-Novogorod, a certain wealthy chasid of the Tzemach Tzedek would first make a stop in Lubavitch to see his Rebbe, and then in the small village of Dobromishl to visit an aging pious sage who had been his childhood teacher. He would leave a sum of money to help with his upkeep and then continue on his way.

One year the chasid was delayed, and he left home only after the fair had already begun. Nevertheless, he stopped in Lubavitch to receive a blessing, but intended to skip his visit to Dobromishl. He asked the Tzemach Tzedek’s opinion on this.

“Since this has been your custom for many years,” said the Rebbe, “it is not advisable to diverge from it.”

Heeding this advice, the chasid traveled to Dobromishl and visited his old teacher, who greeted him with a warm welcome. Being in a great hurry, however, he planned to leave immediately after praying Mincha, but even before he finished, the sky darkened and a fierce storm set in. The teacher invited him to remain at his home overnight, but the chasid insisted on keeping to his original schedule. However, when he was then beset by a severe headache, he had no choice but to agree to his host’s redoubled pleas that he stay.

The following morning, the chasid awoke feeling very ill, suffering with what appeared to be a dangerously high fever. A doctor was urgently summoned to the village from the nearby town of Orsha. When he was diagnosed with typhus, a telegram was immediately sent to his family, and to the Tzemach Tzedek, that he should pray on the chasid’s behalf.

After eight difficult weeks, he was finally well enough to travel to Lubavitch. He was not able to suppress a sense of grievance toward the Rebbe who had advised him to visit his childhood teacher, for it had been on the way to Dobromisl that he had contracted a cold, which no doubt led to the typhoid fever. Indeed, as soon as he entered theTzemach Tzedek‘s study, he broke into tears: “Rebbe, why did you send me to Dobromishl?”

The Tzemach Tzedek replied by quoting the Talmud: ” ‘A man’s legs may be depended upon to take him to the place to which he is summoned’ – that is, to where G-d has ordained that his life should end. The word for ‘summoned’–demisba’ei–can also be understood to mean ‘pray’ in Aramaic. That means that ‘A man’s legs may be depended upon to take him to the place where there is someone who is able to pray for him.’ You owe your life to the devoted prayers of your childhood teacher!”

Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from “L’ma’an Yishm’a’u” #176 and “A Treasury of Chasidic Tales” p. 71-73.

Connection: Weekly Reading (end)-Num. 12:13-Moshe’s prayer that Miriam be healed.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn [29 Elul 1789-13 Nissan 1866], the third Rebbe of Chabad, was known as the Tzemach Tzedek, after his books of Halachic responsa and Talmudic commentary called by that name. He was renowned not only as a Rebbe, but also as a leading scholar in his generation in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah.


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.