Monday, September 27, 2010

Taking the Esrog to Heart A Story about the Alexander Rebbe

Every year, Rav Chaim Elazar of Pietrokov would send Rav Yechiel of
Aleksander an beautiful esrog for the upcoming sukkos holiday.

One year the Rebbe took a good look at the citron fruit which the Rav of
Pietrokov had sent him and decided that this etrog was not for him. He
handed the esrog to his shamash and asked the attendant to return it and ask
for a new one in exchange.

When the attendant arrived with the Rebbe's request Rav Chaim Elazar was
distressed, he was in great sorrow since he had no other esrogim of equal
beauty and hadar such as this one. Then he had an idea. He told the Rebbe's
attendant, "Come let us visit Rabbi so and so, I also sent him a beautiful
hadar esrog, but surely when he hears that we need it for the Aleksander
Rebbe he won't be able to refuse us!" They arrived late at midnight and when
they knocked on the door they roused the sleeping rabbi in a fright. When he
saw who his guests were and heard the reason why they had come he was sorely
dissapointed to part with the beautiful esrog he had recieved but felt he
had no choice, how could he turn away the Aleksander Rebbe's gabbai and the
Rav of Pietrokov like that?"

The gabbai was delighted and he set off straight for the Rebbe's home.
However no sooner did he arrive and his foot crossed the Rebbe's threshold
when the Aleksander Rebbe turned to him in dismay and said "What despair and
black foul waves of depression have you brought with you when you entered?
Tell me what happened to you during your journey!"

When the attendant related the entire episode to his Rebbe, Rav Yechiel
urged him, "Quick make the return trip and give that poor despondant rabbi
back his own esrog!" The gabbai hurried to do as the Rebbe had asked.

A few days later Yom Kippur was fast approaching but the Rebbe still had no
esrog. Suddenly he remembered, "My son, please come here," he called. "You
know every year the Rav of Pietrokov also sends me a box of simple esrogim
to hand in the sukkah for decorations. Perhaps I should open that box and
together we will examine it's contents. Maybe there is an esrog in there for
me, who knows?"

They opened the box and sure enough the Rebbe took out one of the esrogim
and proceeded to begin lauding its praises and describing its beauty. Now
they say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but standing there the
Rebbe's attendant looked at the esrog in the Rebbe's hands and compared it
with both the esrog the Rebbe had given back and the other one he had
returned as well, and this one did not seem nice to him at all!

The Rebbe turned to the chassid and saw his astonishment and declared: "And
what do you know about esrogim anyway eh? You think you know what a
beautiful esrog is do you? Let me tell you, an esrog alludes to the heart!
Are you a maven in hearts? Do you understand a Jewish heart?!"

All those present understood that the Rebbe could discern using his faculty
of Divine intuition and ruach hakodesh that this was "his" esrog.

The Aleksander Rebbe used to say:

"I am very succesful, I always manage to procure and get the most beautiful
esrogim! The reason is that when they bring me my esrog I dont even look at
it until after the recitation of Selichos of the thirteen attributes of
mercy. The reason I wait is that with the tears I shed reciting those
Selichos I wash away any stain or blemish that was on my esrog!"

Kol Tuv,
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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