Words of Harsh Rebuke
Once a Maggid a wandering preacher arrived in Berdichev to give a sermon
since he needed to raise money to marry off one of his daughters. He asked
Rav Levi Yitzchak for permission to speak in the Bais Midrash. The
Berditchever gave him permission on one condition, he was forbidden to speak
disparagingly about the holy children of Israel during his speech. In the
midst of his sermon, the preacher got carried away and forgot his promise
and he began sharply rebuking the Jewish people with harsh words. When the
Berditchever Rav heard the words of the preacher he ran over to the aron
kodesh and opened its doors pleading: "Ribono Shel Olam - Master of the
World! Do not believe what this man is saying! Just give him the money that
he needs to marry off his daughters, just do not let him speak negatively
about Israel - the Jewish people!' (Otzar Yisroel)
It is written in the holy sefer Orach LaChaim of Reb Avraham Chaim of
Zlotchov: "I heard from my mechutan, the pious Rebbe and genius Reb Levi
Yitzchak the meaning of the verse "Hashem's eyes are toward the righteous
Tzaddikim" (Tehillim 34:16). Tzaddikim must have two eyes. With one eye they
should see the greatness of the Creator, and with the other they should gaze
upon their own humility.
Seeing but Not Seeing
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev had finally recuperated from a long illness
that had debilitated him so that he had fallen from his lofty level.
Finally, he had recovered and regained his previous greatness and strength.
Once, at the end of Shabbos soon after his recovery, Reb Levi Yitzchak
entered the Koznitzer Maggid's study to bid him farewell.
"Where does my master intend to travel?" the Maggid asked his Rebbe.
"I was invited to debate the misnagdim who oppose Chassidus, and I was
unable to do so due to my long illness. Now that I have recovered, I wish to
fulfill my duty and travel there to carry on the debate."
Surprised, the Maggid asked how the Rebbe could possible succeed.
"And what do they know that I do not know?" was Reb Levi Yitzchak's reply.
"The misnagdim have no greater knowledge than I."
"But even I have questions regarding your behavior! For example, why do you
pray the Shemoneh Esrei with open eyes?"
"Sertse! (My beloved heart!)"9 answered the Rebbe. "Do you think I am seeing
anything when I am praying?"
"I know that while you are praying your thoughts are turned toward the
higher realms and spheres, and you are totally divested of your existence in
this world, and your physical sense of sight is not operating at that time
at all. I know all this, but your opponents will never believe that my
master is not simply distractedly looking around in the midst of the
Shemoneh Esrei prayer."
Reb Levi Yitzchak conceded and decided not to undertake the trip.