When the Berditchever Rejoices, All the Angels Rejoice
One Shabbos, the Berditchever was visiting Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh. In the morning, after he had made Kiddush, Reb Baruch returned to shul to observe how the Berditchever, who was still davening, prayed the mussaf service. Just as Reb Baruch entered the shul, he heard Reb Levi Yitzchak yelling, "Kesser!" with such great excitement that he leaped up and jumped onto the cantor's podium!
Upon seeing this, Reb Baruch called to his attendants, "Quick! Hand me a gartel!" but there were no prayer sashes in the immediate vicinity. Reb Baruch wrapped a towel around his waist in lieu of a belt and recited the Kedushah of Kesser together with the holy Berditchever.
Later Reb Baruch explained that when he entered the beis midrash, he saw the entire host of angels from heaven gathering together to recite the Kedushah together with the holy Berditchever. He asked for a gartel so that he could join them.
A different time Reb Baruch told his students regarding Reb Levi Yitzchak's remarkable devotion to prayers, "When the Berditchiver rav recites the blessings of the morning Shema and says the words 'who fashions servants and ministering angels and whose servants and ministering angels all stand at the summit of the universe,' all the angels come down from on High and advocate on behalf of the Jewish people."
The Tchortkover Rebbe would often relate the following story:
Reb Moshe'le from Zhvill, the son of Reb Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, was once visiting the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh. At that time, the chassid Reb Yaakov Mohilliver, who was known by his nickname Reb Yakovka, was also visiting Reb Baruch. Reb Yakovka was the court jester and would entertain Reb Baruch by acting out the antics of the holy Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchever, how he would bow and prostrate himself during the shofar blowing or during the lighting of the Chanukah candles. The Rebbe Reb Baruch would laugh out loud at these performances, and it appeared as if he was making fun of the holy Berditchever.
Reb Moshe'leh of Zhvill was present at Reb Baruch's Shabbos table when Reb Yakovka performed his comedy act, mimicking Reb Levi Yitzchak's bowing and gestures that he would make when he served the Creator. Reb Baruch laughed so hard it seemed that his stomach would burst! But Reb Moshe'leh was beside himself with anguish. How could anyone in the world could laugh and make fun of such a Tzaddik as the holy rav of Berditchev?
The scene replayed itself at each of the Shabbos meals: Reb Yakovka acted out different antics of the Berditchever's holy avodah, and Reb Baruch did not stop laughing during the entire meal.
Reb Moshe'leh's hair stood on end and he felt chills run through his body as he observed the travesty going on before him. He could find no explanation for Reb Baruch's shameful behavior.
Although he had originally planned on spending another Shabbos in Mezibuzh, he immediately decided against it. On Sunday, he came to take his leave of Reb Baruch and return home. "Why are you in such a hurry? Stay a little longer. Spend another Shabbos with us," Reb Baruch entreated his guest.
Reb Moshe'leh could not contain himself. He burst out with a pained heart, "How can you make fun of the holy Berditchever Rav whom I know to be a saintly man of G-d!"
"Another good Jew who does not know what he is saying!" Reb Baruch exclaimed. "For several years now the holy Berditchever has in mind all the kavanos that the kohen gadol had in the Beis HaMikdash when he prays. In order to preempt the prosecutions of the satan, I have no choice but to mock and belittle the Berditchever's avodah. This nullifies the prosecutions of the satan and hastens the redemption and the rebuilding of the Mikdash. I know the truth in my heart, that the holy rav of Berdichiver is great and awesome. My laughter is solely to cancel the satan's evil intentions."
Eating with the Berditchiver
Once the Berditchiver was visiting the holy Rav Baruch of Mezibuz. Rav Baruch was known to be extremely sensitive, fussy and exacting. Every detail had to be just right. Rav Baruch would also get angry if he was disturbed. The Berditchiver wanted to sit at Rav Baruch's table and eat a meal with the holy Ba'al Shem Tov's grandson and so he asked him: "Reb Baruch Leyb, my love! I wish to sit across from you so that I do not disturb you with my gesticulations and motions!" Rav Baruch was greatly pleased since he did not wish to say this and make such a request himself.
Therefore when the attendants set the table for the meal, they set the table width-wise instead of lengthwise. So that although the Berditchiver and Rav Baruch were at opposite ends of the table they would not seem to be seated so far away from each other.
Rav Baruch sat on one side of the width and the Berditchiver sat opposite him on the other side. When they had pronounced the HaMotzi blessing over the bread, the Berditchiver was seized with a great fiery passion and in his excitement he called out: "Rav Baruch Serdtse!" (As was his custom to call Jews by this slavic term which means My heart! My beloved!) As soon as he said the word Sertse, he leaped up onto the table next to Rav Baruch. Off course he caused all the dishes and glasses to smash and break and come crashing down from the table. This was the Berditchiver's behavior when he was enraptured with dveykus! (Eser Oros 3:9, Devarim Areivim p24-25)
One of the chassidim of the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh rushed to tell his Rebbe the news of the Berditchever's passing. The Rebbe Reb Baruch was known to criticize Reb Levi Yitzchak's ways, and the chassid thought he was bringing "good" news. Instead, Reb Baruch practically fainted and began to cry and wail in distress.
He admonished the harbinger of such terrible news. "Don't think that when I spoke against Reb Levi Yitzchak I did so in order to diminish his stature or blemish his honor! Reb Levi Yitzchak rose to the loftiest levels, to the highest spiritual realms above that of even the ministering angels, and I was afraid they would harm him in their jealousy. Therefore I used trickery and guile to hide my intentions and pretended to belittle and mock his holy ways to silence their jealous accusations."
That chassid did not live out the year.
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
join the mailing list to keep updated about new projects here: