Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Berditchever Stories for Zos Channukah

Sorry I meant to send this out on time for Shabbos:
Please enjoy the following Stories and Insights for Zos Channukah
Cooling Off in the Snow
The Chossid Reb Shaul Leib Gantz used to relate the following story every year on Channukah, and this was his tale:
Once on Channukah the holy Ropshitzer was seen entering his home while his feet were sore and bleeding. When his family questioned him as to why he appeared so bruised and injured he answered that he had been rolling in the snow (in those days this was a common form of self affliction for penitents to repent their sins).  When his family exclaimed their surprise that an elderly tzadik such as himself still felt the need for such heavy measures of torture and self affliction, he explained himself by telling them the following story:
"When I was a young man I was filled with a great burning desire to see the holy Berditchever Rav light Channukah candles! Nothing could deter me, not the long distance, nor the lack of funds for travel. And so, in the dead of winter, in the bitter cold, I began my trip and set out on foot towards Berditchev. Since I had no money, not only was transportation was out of the question, but I spent my nights sleeping on the hard benches of the beis midrash, warming myself by the oven in the cold winter nights with neither a blanket nor a cover. Many a day I froze as the bitter winds bit at me, and the frost hung on my beard and whiskers. I relied on the hospitality of strangers for food and eventually a carriage driver spotted me and had mercy on me and took me part of the way gratis.
Eventually I reached Berditchev, cold, hungry but with a fire burning inside me goading me on. When I reached the Berditchever Rav's home my heart leapt, however when I entered it dropped into my stomach.
Now the Berditchever's Rav's home was not like the homes of today, large and well furnished, it was but a small cramped flat with only two rooms. In the larger room were congregated a great many Jews who, like myself, had come to observe the holy tzadik's avodah in lighting the Channukah candles. How, I thought to myself, will I ever see the Berditchever with such a crowd here preceding me. I grew dismayed at the thought that all my efforts could have been in vain. But I was determined at all costs to see the Berditchever and then I had an idea. I began to creep on the ground on all fours in between the legs of the assembled crowd.
Now this was in the Ukraine in the winter, all the assembled were wearking heavy boots caked with mud and clay. Nonetheless I continued on all fours pushing my way through the crowd of booted feet as I was stepped on and jostled. Obviously when I emerged I was covered in bruises and mud but I had succeeded in reaching the far side of the room. Thus on my hands on knees I peered through the cracks and crevices of the ill fitted wooden double doors and this is what my eyes beheld:
There stood the holy Berditchever Rav, author Kedushas Levi, his face aflame, his excitement and ecstacy palatable as he stood pouring oil into his menorah! Off course there was more oil on the floor than there was in the menorah but I had seen enough!
Now understand my children," concluded the Ropshitzer, "that today I once again remembered that Channuka and the look in the Berdicthever Rav's eyes, his excitement set me aflame once more, and the only way I could contain myself and cool off was to roll in the snow, which is what I just did."
What Does the Poritz Know About Pleasure and Comfort?
Once the holy Kedushas Levi entered his beis midrash on Channukah and observed a group of chassidim assembled together speaking in undertones. When they noticed the Berditchever approaching their hushed whispers ended and they stood silent. "What were you discussing?" asked the Berditchever. Abashed and silent the chassidim's cheeks burned red with shame as they stood silent unanswering. However the Berditchever was not so easily disuaded, and he pursued the matter once again, "Nu, what were you discussing, eh?" Finally, one of the chassidim confessed, "Rebbe, we were discussing the Graf Potatzski, the local squire and how much wealth and material comforts he has." The Berditchever looked back at them and countered, "does the Graf light Channukah candles?" "Off course not Rebbe!" answered the astonished chassid, "The Graf is a gentile!" "Well then," answered the Berditchever declaring with finality, "then surely he has no true simcha nor joy in his life at all!"

No comments: