An Esrog and a Heavenly Promise
Once there was a great shortage of Esrogim for the Succos holiday, and Rav
Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was without an Esrog.
He sent emissaries to wait on at the crossroads to see if anyone traveling
by might perchance have the fruit with them. The emissaries met a Jew who
had an Esrog however he was not traveling to Berditchev and he wished to
continue traveling. The emissaries asked him to stay in Berditchev for
Succos in order to allow Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev to have the merit
and opportunity to bless the Esrog, however the latter declined, explaining
that he had been traveling far and wide for some time and that now he wished
to spend the holidays at home with his family. He was unwilling to relent.
As they were triying to persuade him Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev himself
arrived and begged the Jew to stay for Succos and still the Jew refused. Rav
Levi Yitzchak said to him "I promise you that in exchange for staying, you
will be with me in my place in heaven." When the stranger heard this promise
from the holy Tzadik he agreed, and he traveled with them to Berditchev to
stay for Succos. He entered an inn and the entire town rejoiced.
Rav Levi Yitzchak sent a proclamation to the innkeepers and throughout
Berditchev that no one was to allow the stranger who was a guest to enter
any of the succah booths to eat! The entire town was commanded that if the
guest should ask someone to enter their succah to eat they must refuse him
entry. The guest knew nothing of the conspiracy and when he left the
synagogue after the prayers and attempted to enter the succah at the inn to
make Kiddush he was barred and refused entry. He began to shout and yell
with no avail. He went to the neighbors and asked their permission to enter
their succah, however they refused him entry as well. He understood that
something was amiss and after questioning them, they admitted that Rav Levi
Yitzchak had commanded them to bar his entry.
The guest ran to Rav Levi Yitzchak and asked him "Why have you repaid me
evil for the kindness I did for you?" Rav Levi Yitzchak answered him, "If
you relinquish the promise I made to you to be with me in heaven I will
allow you to enter the succah." An inner battle raged within the guest. What
should he do? Finally he decided to forgive Rav Levi Yitzchak his promise as
long as the Rav would allow him to fulfill the mitzvah of succos with joy!
The next day Rav Levi Yitzchak invited the guest to his own personal succah
along with the important personages in town and explained his odd behavior.
"Now I once again promise you that you shall be together with me in my
portion in heaven!," said Rav Levi Yitzchak. "I wanted you to withstand this
test, so that you should acquire the portion yourself and be worthy of my
promise, rather than having received it as a gift!"
(Shemuos VeSippurim I)
Such is the power of the mitzvah of Sukkah!
Wishing you a Gut Yom Tov,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
Phone: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-54-842-4725
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