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Monday, January 18, 2010


The Tzaddik in Gehinnom

Tonight and tomorrow, the 4th of Shvat, is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Moshe Leib of Sassov, a talmid of the Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg. Born in the year 5505 [1745] in Brody, he was the author of several chiddushim on the Talmud [Chiddushei RaMaL], Likkutei RaMaL, and Toras RaMaL HaShalem. He subsequently became a Rebbe in his own right with many followers, and was famous primarily for his love of his fellow Jews and his creative musical talent. Previous posts:
How R. Moshe Leib Sassover Became a Chassid
Intense Love of the Jewish People

A Niggun to Live and Die For

The following story was also told by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, albeit in a slightly different form. This version is from the L'Chaim website, which in turn took it from The Crown of Creation, by Chana Weisberg, published by Mosaic Press.

At his grandson's circumcision celebration, the great Chassidic master, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810), recounted the following episode:

"This morning I arose very early to prepare myself to perform the bris mila of my dear grandchild. At daybreak I opened the window and saw a penetrating darkness in the heavens. As I wondered about the blackness before my eyes, it was made known to me that this very day a prince of Israel, the holy Tzaddik, Rebbe Moshe Yehuda Leib Sassov, had passed away.

"As I mourned for that master of Israel, I heard a voice cry out: 'Make way for Rebbe Moshe Yehuda Leib!'

"When Rebbe Moshe entered the celestial realms, the Tzaddikim and Chassidim formed a joyous circle around him. Suddenly, he heard a voice reaching from one end of the world to the other. Intrigued, he began following it until he found himself at the gates of Gehinnom (Purgatory).

"Without waiting for permission, Rebbe Moshe entered Gehinnom. The guards saw him walking back and forth as if looking for somebody. They were certain that he had come there by mistake and they politely asked him to ascend to his proper place in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden).

"Rebbe Moshe said nothing. The guards repeated their request, but he remained silent and did not move. They didn't know whether to drive him out or permit him to remain. They decided to confer with the Heavenly Court, but even it was puzzled. Never had a Tzaddik descended into Gehinnom of his own desire. Rebbe Moshe was summoned before the Throne of Glory where he made his request known.

"Rebbe Moshe began, 'Master of the World, You know how great is the mitzva of redeeming captives. I have occupied myself with this mitzva my entire life, and I have never differentiated between wicked captives and righteous captives. All were equally beloved by me, and I had no peace until I had succeeded in freeing them. Now that I have entered the World of Truth, I find that there are many captives here, too. I wish to fulfill this mitzva here, as well.

"'I will not leave Gehinnom until I have fulfilled this mitzva. So dear are Your commandments to me that I have observed them no matter what the place or time or penalty might be. If I cannot bring these wretched souls to freedom, I would rather remain with them in the fires of Gehinnom than to sit with the righteous and bask in the light of the Divine Presence!'

"Rebbe Moshe's words flew before the Throne of Glory, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, uttered the decision:

'Great are the Tzaddikim who are ready to relinquish their share in Gan Eden for the sake of others. Because this mitzva is so noble, let it be calculated how many people Rebbe Moshe Yehuda Leib redeemed during his lifetime, both they and their children, and their children's children until the end of time. That number he may redeem here, also.'

"The Book of Records was immediately brought, opened and read. The names of all those who had been redeemed by Rebbe Moshe were counted and their children and their children's children. The final figure arrived at was sixty-thousand souls from Gehinnom to Gan Eden.

"Rebbe Moshe began to walk through Gehinnom, looking into countless pits and caves where he found souls who had suffered for hundreds of years and who had long ago lost all hope of redemption. One by one he gathered them and when he was finished, he found their number to be exactly sixty-thousand. Column after column emerged from Gehinnom, marching with them at their head, until they arrived at Gan Eden.

"When all sixty thousand souls had entered, the gates were closed."

After recounting this story, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak named his little grandson Moshe Yehuda Leib and blessed him to grow up to emulate the holy Tzaddik, Rebbe Moshe Yehuda Leib of Sassov.

Zechuso yagein Aleinu, v’al Kol Yisrael – May Rebbe Moshe Leib’s merits protect us all!

Amen, inspiring post
Are any of his works in English by chance?
i dont understand this part with bones and graves. does it mean that in olam aba we will have bodies or it means something else?
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