Monday, June 18, 2007
THE TRISKER MAGGID: ON THE TABLE and UNDER THE BED
The following story is from Rav Zevin’s Sippurei Chassidim [A Treasury of Chassidic Tales], and is also found in The Holy Beggars’ Banquet on page 191.
The Sacrifice on the Table
Intro: The Chassidic Tish, where the Rebbe shares his meal with his Chassidim and virtually anyone else that wishes to participate, has been a Chassidic custom since its inception. Many reasons are given for this seemingly strange practice. Below you will find yet one more aspect.
Rebbe Avraham, the Maggid of Trisk, at his own expense, would personally house and feed any person who came to him. People come to Trisk by the hundreds and by the thousands; among them were people of means, Torah scholars, famous rabbis, pious people, and the like. All, regardless of rank, were expected to eat at the Rebbe's table. Weekday, Shabbos, festival, it made no difference.
After each festival had passed and all the Chassidim had left, Rebbe Avraham would be left with a large debt. Finally a group of his most intimate Chassidim approached the Rebbe and inquired of him, "Rebbe, what is the purpose of feeding all the people who come to you, if it results in your becoming a pauper and having to beg for money from the rich Chassidim in order to pay off your debts? Wouldn't it be far better not to feed everyone and thereby not incur such large debts?''
The Rebbe listened in silence and said nothing. The Chassidim took the Rebbe's silence to mean that he agreed with their suggestion.
Later, however, when they returned to work out the details, Rebbe Avraham spoke up and said, "Our Sages of blessed memory teach us that when the Holy Temple was standing, a sacrifice on the altar would bring about forgiveness. Since the destruction of the Temple, the table from which we eat serves the same purpose. And now I tell you," the Rebbe said emphatically, "what I give my Chassidim to eat is 'a sacrifice,' a 'food offering for the fire,' and from this food there is a 'sweet savor for the L-rd,' [based on the verse in Bamidbar, 28:2] and through this food, forgiveness is given to me and to all my Chassidim.''
And so Rebbe Avraham of Trisk continued to feed all the Chassidim who came to him.
Under the Bed
The following story is found on several websites, including Ascent and Hasidic Stories, but its source is the book “Shlomo’s Stories” by Shlomo Carlebach with Susan Yael MeSinai.
Most people are so out of touch with life in this world that they think it's crazy to speak of life on the Other Side. But it isn't. There's life in this world and the next. According to Jewish tradition, while Heaven is more pure, life in this world is the central focus. Men come here to be fixed and made whole.
Word has it that the tzaddikim run both worlds. Essentially, they run the whole show. The Heavenly Court is governed by tzaddikim who have died recently. They replace other righteous men, tzaddikim who've been in Heaven too long to remember the reality of struggle in this world.
Once Rebbe Michel Zlotchever passed away, he was called to judge on the Heavenly Court. As soon as he took his place, he came down harshly on all those he had to review.
"How could you do such wrong?" he yelled at them.
Finally, one of the tzaddikim on earth realized what was happening and began to complain: "You can't appoint, as a judge, a man who has never sinned! What does the Zlotchever know of the hardships of Moishe the Water Carrier? He comes from a family that for thirteen generations made no mistakes."
The worldly tzaddikim protested his severity so much that it was finally decreed that the Zlotchever would be retired and the tzaddik who had first complained should take his place. The decree went out just before Shabbos. The tzaddik on earth barely had enough time to say good-bye to his wife.
Judging is done in heaven, but fixing takes place in this world, sometimes before the Judgment, sometimes after. We are speaking here of fixing the souls of those who have left this world. Judging will determine whether you go to Heaven or Hell, whether you are permitted to come back to life.
But if the merchandise is damaged, it's not a question of Paradise or reincarnation. The vessels are broken. They need to be mended and made whole again. This kind of repair doesn't take place in Heaven. Nor can we do it ourselves.
A soul who needs fixing has to come back into the world and look for a tzaddik to help him. Naturally, if he was close to one while he was alive he will have no problem, because his soul is still attached to that tzaddik. But what happens to a person who was never attached to a tzaddik during his lifetime?
Everybody knows that the Trisker Maggid, Reb Avromoleh, was one of the eight sons of Rebbe Motteleh of Chernobyl who was mamash a tzaddik gadol. Reb Motteleh was the center of all the tzaddikim. He took care of the living and the dead and was the master of the lamed-vav tzaddikim, the Thirty-Six Righteous Men who hold up the world.
Before he passed away, Reb Motteleh divided his kingdom among his children and put the Trisker Maggid in charge of the people from the Other Side.
Reb Avromoleh lived like this. At eight o'clock in the morning he'd get up, go to the mikveh and pray. At two o'clock in the afternoon, he would start to yawn. "I'm so tired, I've got to lie down a little bit." He'd go to his room until three, then pray both afternoon and evening prayers. At ten o'clock at night he might start yawning again. "I'm so tired. I've got to go back to my room."
The fact of the matter is that the Trisker Maggid never ate and never slept. He also never kept any books in his room, because - as everybody knows - when he closed the door to his room he was dealing with souls from the Other World who needed fixing.
People from the Other Side are not able to read Torah. In order to avoid making them feel bad, the Trisker Maggid never permitted books in his room. If he found one, he put it out.
The Trisker Maggid once came to a village where only one Yiddeleh [Jew] had enough room in his house to accommodate the Rebbe and his Chassidim. But this man was a real Misnagid [an opponent of Chassidus]. He had heard many stories from his fellow Misnagdim and was suspicious of the rumor that the Trisker Maggid never slept and never ate.
"Eating I can believe. He sleeps so much, he doesn't need to eat. But he doesn't even keep a book in his room, so you can't tell me he isn't up there napping!"
This wealthy Yiddeleh was more than happy to have the Trisker Maggid as his guest, because it would give him a chance to prove what Reb Avromoleh was doing behind closed doors. "He's snoring, I'm sure."
While the Trisker Maggid was davening Ma'ariv, the evening prayer, the Yiddeleh managed to get into Reb Avromoleh's room and to hide under the bed.
At ten o'clock, the Trisker Maggid said to his Chassidim, "I have to go back to my room."
The rich Yiddeleh heard Reb Avromoleh come into the chamber and felt him sit down on the bed.
No sooner had the Chassidim closed the door to give the Rebbe a little privacy when it seemed to open again. A crowd pushed their way into the room. The man could hear the shuffle of feet, the murmuring appeals.
During the day, the host had already witnessed the Trisker Maggid's audiences with ten, maybe even thirty people, at a time. But this sounded like thousands. What was happening? Where were all these people coming from? How could there even be a place for them in this little bedroom?
During the day, people would complain: "Rabbi! I'm sick. Please cure my back." "I need money for my business."
"Would you find a wife for my son?"
But by night, the people were saying, "Rebbe! I'm so broken! They won't let me into Paradise. They won't let me into Hell. All I can do is wander. Rebbe, please fix my soul."
The worst was that the Misnagid heard so many voices in the room. But when he peeked out from underneath the bed, he couldn't see any feet. The Yiddeleh was so frightened that he was shaking and had to do his best to keep his teeth from chattering.
Suddenly, he heard another, different voice cry out: "Rebbe! Have compassion on my tormented neshama [soul]. Fix me! Fix my soul!"
"What can I do for you?" the Trisker Maggid asked. "While you were alive, you never bothered to come to me. You didn't even give me one kopeck for tzedaka, one penny for charity, to connect yourself to me. So how can I help you now?"
"There must be a way!" The poor soul pleaded with the Rebbe, from a place of deep anguish.
"Actually, there is one way. Your neighbor, Shmuelik, was one of my top Chassidim. Shmuelik gave me a great deal of charity during his lifetime. If he were to tell me now that one penny of the riches he gave as tzedaka was for you, then I could find a way to help you."
"Shmuelik would do that for me, I'm sure."
"Fine! Then I want you to go and ask him!"
"How can I do that? He won't believe that I come from you."
"Then I'll send somebody along to act as your witness." At this point, the Trisker Maggid gave a strong, swift kick under the bed and said to the Yiddeleh: "Come out!"
When the Yiddeleh realized that the Trisker Maggid was about to send him into the Other World as witness to an exchange between two souls, he began pleading from under the bed. "Please, Rebbe! Don't do this to me! I promise I won't tell anybody what I saw!"
The Yiddeleh came out, crawling on his stomach. He was crying, screaming, clinging to the Rebbe's feet.
"Please, Rebbe! You've seen! I have a wife and three children. I don't want to die yet. I'm not ready to die!"
"G-d forbid you should die. But if you're going to spy on me, you must go as my witness. Take my stick and walk with the soul of this man to the cemetery."
The Yiddeleh looked around. The greatest nightmare of all was that there was absolutely no one else in the room, only himself and the Trisker Maggid.
"Knock on the first grave in the second row and say that Avraham ben Chana orders Shmuel ben Rivka to give one penny to fix the neshama of this Yiddeleh - Yosseleh, his neighbor."
Reb Shlomo concluded the story by saying: The beautiful aspect of this story is that I actually heard it from the great-great-grandson of the man who hid under the bed. It goes without saying that he lived to become a very great Trisker Chassid.
And Yrachmiel of Ascent added: [This was] confirmed by the general manager of Ascent, who is the great-great-grandson of the Trisker Maggid.
Zechuso yagein aleinu v’al kol Yisrael – May the Trisker Maggid’s merits protect us all!