Sunday, November 25, 2007
Of Smoke and Beans
HaBocher b’Shirei Zimra
The Kah Ribon Niggun
Today I would just like to share two brief anecdotes. The first also appeared on Rav Lazer Brody’s blog, but was submitted by yours truly:
I heard this incident from the brother of the one who heard it first-hand, named Rav Avraham.
There is a Modzitzer Chassid who lives in the Lower Galil, on Kfar Gideon, just outside of Afula. As you can imagine, someone dressed in Chassidic garb is a bit unusual to find on the Egged buses in this part of the country. So my friend's brother, Rav Avraham, is traveling on the bus and a man spots him and asks him if he's a Gerer Chassid. R. Avraham says, "No, I'm a Modzitzer."
So the man says, "Nuch besser - even better - I have a story to tell you about your Rebbe."
Of course by now R. Avraham's curiosity was piqued, and he was "all ears."
When Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz ZT"L [great-grandfather of the present Rebbe Shlita] was still in Europe, a young man was seen in his Beis Medrash, smoking on Shabbos! The Chassidim didn't know what to do with this, so they went and told the Rebbe.
Rebbe Shaul [center] walking with his entourage
When the Rebbe, who was a big man - tall and broad - heard this, he began to run towards the man who was smoking. But the man just continued, undaunted, to puff away. When Rebbe Shaul approached him, he said to him, "B'farhesia - in public - you dare to do this?"
My dear readers, I've been told that Rebbe Shaul had a voice like thunder! You can be sure that these words penetrated the very being of this man! How do I know? Read on...
From that day on, the man never smoked on Shabbos. All week long he would smoke, but not on Shabbos. Other than that, he was completely non-observant. He came to live in Eretz Yisrael, and raised his family in one of the secular kibbutzim in the Lower Galil.
His children couldn't figure it out - this man didn't keep Shabbos, he smoked all week long, yet on Shabbos, Abba never lit up! It got to them so much that they decided to investigate what Shabbos is all about. I probably don't need to tell you that they are fully observant Jews by now - just from that "B'farhesia?" statement of Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz! And yes, the one who told the story was one of these children!
As Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to say, "You never know!"
At the Tish this past Thursday night, a new sefer was on sale called "Emes L’Yaakov." It was written by one R. Yaakov Emanuel Koppel z"l, who was the son-in-law of the Divrei Yisrael, the first Modzitzer Rebbe, and thus a brother-in-law of Rebbe Shaul, the second Rebbe. He was also a Chassid of both of them, as well as of the Imrei Aish, the third Rebbe. This anecdote appears in the sefer.
"The Rebbe, my brother-in-law, was once in Lodz [the author’s hometown]. Late one night, about 1 or 2 in the morning, the gas lamps weren’t giving good light, because of the intense cold. We were discussing the mind’s ability to grasp things delicately and quickly, which some people are blessed with.
"The Rebbe then told me that he does not count the grains of wheat when they are ground into flour, to be baked into matzos for Pesach. Rather, he looks at them carefully and he knows their amount. I was amazed by this, and he offered to be tested.
"I went to a cafeteria and found a jar of coffee beans, and placed them before him. He studied them for a moment or two, and he called out a number, which was very close to the actual amount. It took me a full five minutes or more to actually count them. I tried this a number of times, and each time I was amazed at the results.
"The Rebbe then told me that if a person puts his entire concentration on the object he is looking at, he can grasp the amount in a moment.
"And then he added – 'This is the secret of davening [prayer]. One should daven in this way.' "
Zechuso yagein Aleinu v’al Kol Yisrael – May the Imrei Shaul’s merits protect us all!