Grand Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum Z"L
The Satmar Rebbe and an act of chesed
The world depends on three things, on Torah study, on serving HaShem, and on kind deeds.
In this Mishnah of Pirkei Avos nothings else matters, not even the social status of someone. We cannot pick and choose our chasadim. We cannot wait if the person of our type or our sect. The opportunity presents itself and we must not let it go to waste.
Not only the person depends on it, the whole world depents on it.
The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, once went to visit one of his chassidim in hospital. The Rebbe sat at the the man's side, giving him encouragement and hope. In the meantime, his gabbai excused himself, stepped out of the room, and did not return for a half- hour. By the time he returned, the Rebbe was prepared to leave. He wished the sick Chossid a refuah shlema and they left.
On the way back to Williamsburg, the Rebbe asked his gabbai where he had gThe gabbai explained, ' I stepped into the hallway with the intention of returning a minute or two later, but I heard someone moaning. I peeked into a room down the hall and saw a man who seemed down en dejected. I told him who I was and what I was doing there and how the Rebbe came to be mevaker choleh a chossid of his.
" The bedridden man let out a krechtz. ' Oy, that person is zo lucky that his Rebbe lives nearby. I am a Gerrer chossid and my Rebbe lives halfway across the world. If only he could sit by my bedside now! " I stayed at the fellow's bedside to give him chizuk, because his Rebbe was not there.
The Rebbe listend intently to the story. Then, although they had already arrived back in Williamsburg and the Rebbe had many other things to take care of, he asked to be driven back to the hosptial, so he could spend some time with the Gerrer chossid.
When they entered the man's room, the fellow could not believe it. The Satmar Rebbe had come to visit him! Little did he know that the Rebbe had actually made a special trip! The Rebbe told the Gerrer chossid stories and vertlach of hope, infusing him and cheered him up. One hour later after he arrived, Rav Yoel wished the chossid a refuah shlema and returned home.
If an opportunity for chesed, and act of kindness, presents itself, we must not let it go to waste. After all, the world depends upon it.
Brace for the Avalanche
The Baal Shem Tov was once traveling with a group of students, when he came upon a stranger. The Baal Shem Tov whispered something in the stranger's ear. The stranger immediately turned on his heels and began walking in the opposite direction. Later, one of the Baal Shem Tov's students met the stranger and asked him what the Baal Shem Tov had said.
The stranger blushed and then shared his story :
I have a best friend. We grew up tigether and were always closer than brothers. We did everything together. We went to school together, and after school we always played together. When we grew up, we married girls from the same town and now we live next to one another.
A short while ago, my friend made a lot of money. He had borrowed large sums beforehand, and now those investments were paying dividends. When I walked into his house, I saw a huge pile of money on the dining room table. I was happy for him that he made a lot of money, but I wanted to teach him a lesson about how to take care of it. After all, anybody could have come into the house to steal it. And so, in an innocent prank, I took the money and brought ir into my house. My original plan was to return it witin the hour.
Before I had a chance to return it, however, word got out that a large sum of money was stolen from his house. The entire town was talking about it. I ran to return the money, but before I had a chancd, I saw a large crowd gathered in front of his house. Afraid to admit what I did, I decided to wait until things calmed down and everyone left. But you know the way these thibgs go. The longer I waited, the harder it became to give it back.
A great business opportunity arose, and I decided that instead of returning the money, I would invest ir and return the principal to my friend later. I was on my way to invest the money when I bumped into the Baal Shem Tov. Sensing that I was about to transgress, he whispered to me that I should return the money and he would vouch on my behalf that I had no evil intentions when I had taken the money.
And that, concluded the gentleman, is precisely what I did.
Sometimes we slip up, we do something wrong. But instead of stopping in our tracks, we try to cover up our missteps, and end up in further trouble.We must realize that the only way out is by reversing course immediately.
At times, you may find yourself sliding down a slippery slope. As soon as you realize, quickly change direction, before the descent really takes on speed.
A young man named Avraham ("Avrumel") Greenbaum lost his entire family in the Holocaust. After the war, he came to America and wanted nothing to do with Judaism. He changed his name to Aaron Green, moved to Alabama and married a woman there, who, miraculously, was Jewish.
The day his oldest son Jeffrey turned thirteen, they were not going to celebrate his bar mitzvah. Instead, Aaron decided to recognize the day by taking Jeffrey to the mall and buying him anything he wanted there.
When they went into a big electronics store and were browsing, Jeffrey's eye caught something in an antique shop across the way. He was mesmerized. He couldn't take his eyes off what he had seen.
He told his father, "I don't want anything from the electronics store. I want to go across to the antique shop." When they got there, the boy pointed to an old menorah and said, "That's what I want for my bar-mitzvah."
His father couldn't believe it. He was letting his child purchase anything he wanted in the whole mall and this is what he was choosing? He tried to talk him out of it, but couldn't.
Aaron asked the shop-owner the price of the menorah. To his surprise, the man replied "Sorry, that's not for sale."
Aaron said, "What do you mean? This is a store." He offered a lot of money for it.
Again the owner refused, this time explaining, "I found out the history of this menorah. A man constructed it during the war and it took him months to gather the wood. It survived, but he did not. It's going to be a collector's item. It's not for sale."
Meanwhile, Jeffrey kept telling his father, "That's what I want. All I want is the menorah." So Aaron Green kept offering more money until the owner finally agreed to sell.
The boy was so excited. He took the menorah up to his room and played with it every day. One day the parents heard a crash from Jeffrey's room. They ran upstairs and saw the menorah shattered to pieces. The father yelled at his son for being so careless, as he paid so much money for it.
Afterwards, Aaron felt bad about his reaction. He suggested to his son, "Let's try to glue it back together."
While holding one of the pieces, the father noticed a piece of paper wedged inside. He pulled it out and started reading. Tears welled up in his eyes and soon after he fainted.
His family threw water on him and revived him. "What happened?", they asked.
He replied, "Let me read you this letter. It was written in Yiddish, so I'll translate.
"To whoever finds this menorah, I want you to know that I constructed it not knowing if I would ever have the opportunity to light it. Who knows if I will live till Chanukah to see it being kindled? In all probability, going through this war, I will not. But if Providence brings this menorah to your hands, you who are reading this letter, promise me you will light it for me and for us, my family, and those who gave their lives to serve G-d Al-mighty."
Aaron Green then looked up at his family and, in a choked-up voice with tears still in his eyes, said, "The letter is signed by my father."
They were all speechless. That family recognized the Divine Providence involved, how could they not! The hand of G-d was undeniable, taking a menorah from Europe and bringing it back to the family in a remote mall in Alabama, inspiring their spiritual journey.
Source: by Yerachmiel Tilles of Ascent Tzfat from a submission by Chayim Berkowitz of Tsfat, who received it from Yosef Hurwitz