Tuesday, September 04, 2007
A Bracha for…A Thief?
See also last year’s post: Saved at the Mikva
"I learned from all my teachers," David HaMelech says in Tehillim [119:99]. Our Sages tell us in Pirkei Avos [4:1] that a truly wise person is he who learns from everyone. Indeed, the Maggid of Mezritch taught the Rebbe Reb Zusia [of Anipoli] that one can learn three things from a baby, and seven from a thief. Among those seven is that "a thief never gives up. If he fails the first time, he keeps on trying until he succeeds." Sometimes, however, his success is not in what he thinks it should be, as our story teaches us…
This story is from Rabbi Dr. Avraham J. Twerski’s wonderful book, The Zeide Reb Motele.
A Bracha for…A Thief?
En route, the driver suddenly stopped and said, ''Rebbe, I am a highway robber. It is nothing for me to kill someone to rob him. I want you to give me a bracha for success. If you do not, I will kill you.''
(Author's note: Is it not absurd, that a person who robs and murders has faith in the blessing of a tzaddik? Indeed, the Talmud acknowledges this phenomenon. ''A thief who undermines a wall, prays to G-d that he should not be detected'' [Ein Yaakov, Brachos 63]. The Alter Rebbe explains this phenomenon. A person who is at so low a spiritual level is like someone in a dream. In a dream, gross contradictions can exist side by side. Although he is aware that there is a G-d, he can live with the absurd inconsistency of asking G-d's help in stealing.)
Zeide R. Motele did not lose his composure. ''Listen to me,'' he said. ''A similar incident occurred to my grandfather, R. Zusia, who was set upon by a group of thugs, who threatened to kill him unless he gave them a bracha. My grandfather said, 'You will soon find the body of a poritz [feudal lord], who had a great deal of money with him. If you take that money and cease your evil ways, I give you my bracha for success. But if you continue in your ways, I assure you that you will be caught, and the police will lead you in chains before my house.'
''And so it was. Some of the group did teshuva and were successful. Those who remained bandits were captured and led away in chains before R. Zusia's house.
''I have no wealthy poritz to give you, but I tell you this. If you will desist from your evil ways, things will go well for you. If you do not, I assure you, your end will be bitter. Mark my words! Now, if you wish, you may kill me.''
The driver sat stunned, then fell to Zeide R. Motele's feet, begged his forgiveness and asked him to guide him to teshuva. He eventually became a Chassid of Zeide R. Motele, and was known in Hornosteipel as the baal teshuva of Bobruisk.''