Tuesday, January 19, 2016




Asher Pasach – “He passed over the houses of Bnei Yisrael” (Shemos 12:27).

The Munkaczer Rebbe told how one Parshas Bo a strange thing happened. Rav Moshe Leib Sassover stood up after davening the Shabbos Maariv and began to recite the beracha for Hallel! No one dared interrupt the Rebbe, who was so enraptured – and, to the amazement of all present, Rav Moshe Leib proceeded to recite the entire Hallel, just as we do on Pesach night after Maariv!

The following year, his talmidim gathered again on Parshas Bo expecting the same thing – but it was Shabbos as usual. It seems that that year he had reached such levels of dveikus that he drew down upon himself the light of Pesach night, owing to the auspicious time of the parsha. For this reason he recited the full Hallel as we do on Pesach. (Divrei Torah Munkacsz VIII 36; Siach Zekeinim I p. 96)

It was Parshas Bo in Lizhensk and the talmidim of the holy Tzaddik, the Rebbe Reb Melech, were gathered together at their Rebbe’s table. It was Rav Moshe Leib Sassover’s first Shabbos in Lizhensk with the Rebbe Reb Melech, who honored Rav Moshe Leib with saying a D’var Torah at the tisch.

This is what Rav Moshe Leib said: When Hashem came to Mitzrayim (Egypt), he found it full of filthy, impure idols and all forms of idolatrous practices. When Hashem saw the Jewish homes, however, “the houses of Bnei Yisrael,” He was filled with great joy! And so Hashem “skipped over” them, pasach al batei Bnei Yisrael – Hashem skipped and danced with joy over the Jewish homes!

Hashem was so happy and overjoyed that He danced as one who is overjoyed dances and skips! Hashem danced over the Jewish rooftops, so to speak, shouting: “Here lives a Jew, here lives a Jew! – Du voint a Yid! Du voint a Yid!” And so saying, Rav Moshe Leib himself jumped up onto the table and began to dance and sing, “Du voint a Yid! Du voint a Yid! – Here lives a Jew, here lives a Jew!”

(Chiddushei HaRamal II p. 8)

Permit me to add that I think the same can be said today. Wherever we go in chutz la’aretz, in the galus of North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine, London, Paris and Rome, wherever Hashem’s Shechina wanders with us in exile, the lands are full of impurity, filth, idolatry, atheism, ignorance, debauchery, cruelty, licentiousness and worse! There, among all the darkness, when Hashem discovers a Jewish home filled with light, surely He dances for joy over those Jewish homes, singing, “Du voint a Yid! Du voint a Yid! – Here lives a Jew, here lives a Jew!”



“But for all of Bnei Yisrael there was light in their dwellings (settings)” (10:23).

What was this dirty, shapeless mass? Yankel was exasperated. He had been digging and mining for weeks. Day after day he had made his way to the mines, donned heavy work clothes and lowered himself to the seemingly bottomless pit. There, the excavations proceeded in the pitch dark, a darkness of never-ending night. One thing held him: the promises that this mine had yielded diamonds worth a fortune. He had toiled and labored in grime and dust, and at the end of each disappointing day dragged his weary aching muscles back, scrubbed off the muck and grime and filth, vowing that the next day would bring the treasure. Now his pickaxe struck something hard and he dislodged an unwilling dark, hard mass. What was it? Could it be? He washed off the clinging mud and dirt and shouted out, “Eureka! I have it!”

The other miners gathered around. “Uh, what do you have there, Yankel?” asked Moish. Moish was a bit slow. Yankel showed him the rough, uncut stone.

“What? This hunk of rock? This piece of stone? What’s so special about it?”

“What’s so special?” yelled Yankel incredulously. “Just you wait till I have it cleaned, cut, polished and set in a golden setting! Then we will see!!!”

When a person first discovers a diamond, it looks like little more than a dark, black, grimy stone. It is dirty and does not shine from its place nested in the wall of the mine. First it has to be chipped away and removed from the wall. Even then it looks nothing like a diamond. Then it must be scrubbed and cleaned. Even then it bears no resemblance. One must have it cut and polished to reveal its sparkle. Even then its true splendor is not yet revealed, for only when it is set in the proper setting of gold or silver does it glow, allowing its beauty and splendor to truly shine through.

The holy Rizhiner, Rav Yisrael, explained our pasuk using the mashal of a precious stone as follows: “But for Bnei Yisrael there was light be’Moshavosam” – in their settings, just like a precious stone needs a proper setting, as any jeweler will tell you. Every Jewish soul is a diamond in the rough. It can be in a state of lowliness and suffering, living a dark and bleak life. But even in the darkest times a Jew must remember that he has a lofty soul, a diamond that can be cleaned and polished through Torah study and mitzva observance. But a lot depends on the setting. A Yid must be in the proper setting, in a Jewish neighborhood, in a Yiddishe home, in the Beis Medrash, Yeshiva, seminary or kollel. Then, set in its proper setting, the Jewish soul will truly shine with an otherworldly brilliance.



Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following story about the simcha of being a Yid:

Rav Shmuel Munkis was one of the greatest talmidim and Chassidim of Rav Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad and author of the Tanya.

A fire once broke out in his home that destroyed everything and razed his entire home to the ground. Everything went up in flames. Everything was destroyed; there was nothing left. Nothing but…miraculously, one bottle of mashkeh (spirits) was spared! Quickly, Reb Shmuel sntached up the bottle and ran with it to the Beis Medrash.

He began to pour out generous portions of mashkeh, distributing it while calling out, “L’chaim, l’chaim!” And so he began to dance and sing in joyful ecstasy, “Hoy, hoy, hoy – shelo asani goy! – Blessed is Hashem for not making me a gentile!!!”

His friends shook their heads sadly. Their worst fears had been confirmed: Rav Shmuel had lost his mind along with all his worldly possessions! The blow must have been too much for him to bear, they concluded.

Hearing their dire pronouncements, Rav Shmuel contradicted them, explaining his bizarre behavior: “If I were a non-Jewish idolater who worshiped my own handiwork, sticks and stones, then the fire would have consumed my idols and would have burned my god. But I am a Yid! I believe in the one true G-d Who made the Heavens and the earth, Who is incorporeal and transcendent – Whom no fire can harm or touch! And so the fire may have consumed all my earthly possessions but I still have my G-d!”

And so he continued to sing, dance and distribute mashkeh: “L’chaim, l’chaim! Hoy, hoy, hoy – shelo asani goy!!!”


Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following parable about Hashem’s mercy as a Father for His children:

There were once two brothers, Reuven and Shimon. Reuven was the elder, the firstborn son, a successful merchant and a cunning businessman, who soon amassed a fortune and grew wealthy. Shimon, the younger son, was destitute. He tried his hand at many and various odd jobs and professions, yet sadly, fortune did not smile upon his many endeavors and he was left impoverished.

One day, as Shimon passed by his brother’s mansion, he decided to go in and ask for his brother’s help. Perhaps if I tell him of my plight and explain my dire situation, he will have mercy and help me out, he reasoned.

The guards at the gate reluctantly let him enter, and the butler led the vagabond before the master of the house, because he had introduced himself as his younger brother. Reuven beheld his younger brother before him. He was dressed in rags and tatters and Reuven felt disgust rather than pity. With barely concealed annoyance, he listened to his younger brother’s pleas, turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to his entreaties.

“My brother, please do not turn me away!” begged Shimon.

“Go away! Who do you think you are? I am an only son – I have no brother! You have the wrong address!” Reuven yelled and had Shimon removed from the premises.

“How can you do this to me? I am your own flesh and blood!” But Reuven was unmoved.

Some days later, Reuven went to visit his parents’ home. He was appalled when his father’s reception was cold and remote. “Who are you?” asked his father.

“Abba, have you gone senile? It’s me, Reuven, your firstborn son!”

“I have no son named Reuven. You must have the wrong address,” insisted the father stubbornly.

Nothing Reuven said or did mattered. His father feigned total ignorance, finally spitting back at him in anger, “I am Shimon’s father! If you are his brother, then I am your father as well! And if not…!” Reuven hung his head in shame – he understood the message.

Concluded Rav Melech Biderman: A Yid must always recognize his brothers in distress! For how he treats his brothers, so will his Father treat him back! For Hashem is Av HaRachaman – a merciful Father.


The Husyatiner Rebbe revealed himself in a dream to Rav Nachum Mordechai Frum about a decade after he had passed away. In his dream, the Chassid Rav Nachum Mordechai held a kvittel, a note with his petition and his name, and asked the Tzaddik, the Husyatiner Rebbe, for a yeshua, a blessing for salvation. The Husyatiner answered him thus: “When Moshe Rabbeinu came down Har Sinai, Hashem revealed to him that the Kaddish DeRabbanan recited after Ein Keilokeinu and before Aleinu has the power to bring about yeshuos and refuos, salvation and healing, and it is a segula for all manner of things!” The Husyatiner told him to publicize this segula in his name and the Gedolim present in the dream accepted his words, concurring that this was as a Halacha leMoshe MiSinai!





Rav Dovid of Lelov used to travel among the villages to help bring back Jews to Hashem and urge them to do teshuva. He was once traveling in the company of the Yid HaKadosh of Peshis’cha, when they passed a certain village. Rav Dovid excused himself, saying to the Yid HaKadosh, “I must go in here – I’ll be right back.”

When the Lelover returned, the Yid HaKadosh asked him what he had done there and what he had seen. Rav Dovid told him the following story:

I entered the fleish gesheft and there I found the butcher with a large, sharp meat cleaver in his hands raised above his head, about to strike his own father, saying, “If I did not fear G-d, I would chop off your head with this meat cleaver!!!”

“Did you hear that?” concluded Rav Dovid. “Aza yiras shamayim – now that is some fear of Heaven that he had!” And he so worked himself up over the butcher’s yiras shamayim that it took him quite some time to calm down again! (Otzar Yisrael)


A Chassid named Reb Yankel made his living selling tallow candles at the market fair. As his family grew, so did their needs and his livelihood did not suffice. He decided to borrow money, purchase two horses and a new wagon, and thus buy more tallow in order to make more candles to sell at the fair. Before doing so, however, he visited his Rebbe, Rav Dovid of Lelov, to secure a beracha for success.

The Tzaddik listened to his Chassid’s idea, blessed him with hatzlacha and rested his head in thought and rapture. Awakening from this state, Rav Dovid reached over and lifted a simple wooden cup that sat on the table. “Here,” he told the astonished Chassid, “take this wooden becher and may it serve as a shemira, a talisman, to guard you on your way!” He paused and added, “May this wooden becher be a segula for hatzlacha and shemira!” So saying, he presented the bewildered Chassid with the simple wooden cup.

Reb Yankel trusted and honored his Rebbe – and so too he treasured the simple wooden cup, taking it with him on his travels. He went from village to village buying tallow. After making a large number of candles, he wrapped them up, bundled them and headed to far-off Warsaw to try his hand selling them at the fair and making a profit.

One day, as the wagon made its way along the deserted country roads, a highway robber assaulted Reb Yankel. He jumped out, terrified the horses, grabbed their reins and threatened Reb Yankel.

“Stop here! Now, you dirty old Jew – give me all your money this instant or I will slit your throat!” he shouted, brandishing a long, sharp knife!

Poor Reb Yankel was terrified. “Please,” he begged, “have mercy on my poor wife and children and do not turn them into orphans! Spare my life and I will gladly give you all you ask.”

“Hurry up, you dirty Jew – I know your money is well hidden, get it for me now and I will consider sparing your worthless life!”

Trembling from head to toe, Yankel went to fetch his purse, his quivering lips soundlessly whispering the words of the Viduy (confession), his fingers fumbling on the ropes that tied his bundles securely. Just then he remembered the wooden becher.

“Please allow me a quick sip of brandy to steady my frazzled nerves – my hands are shaking so I cannot open the knots!” he begged the robber.

“Hurry up! Hey, what do you have there? You Jews are always keeping the best for yourselves – gimmee that brandy! Hand it over!” And so saying, he snatched the wooden cup from Yankel, and proceeded to down the entire cup of brandy. As he greedily guzzled down the liquor he began to gasp and choke – and fell down dead.

Yankel was so frightened, he kept reciting Kriyas Shema and Viduy till he noticed that the violent murderous robber was not moving. When a bird finally came down and sat on the robber’s hat, Yankel realized he was dead. A miracle! Yankel tried to pry the wooden wonder becher from his mouth and had to cut it free. He then decided to load up the dead body unto his wagon reasoning, “Who knows what would happen if a dead non-Jew were found on the road? Perhaps the authorities would try to blame the local Jews and start a blood libel! When I reach Warsaw, I will ask the chevra kadisha for help and we will bury him somewhere.”

When he reached Warsaw the town crier called out in the streets, “The police are offering anyone a thirty-thousand-ruble reward for the capture of the murderer and thief, Robert the Robber! Dead or Alive! Thirty-thousand-ruble reward for the highwayman who has been terrorizing the good citizens of Warsaw!”

Reb Yankel was overjoyed; not only had he escaped, but he had captured the robber as well! He proceeded to the police station to claim his reward. When the officers heard his story they sized up the poor, weak, old Jew and laughed and scoffed! “Ha, Ha, Ha! Be off with your jokes! Robert the Robber would clobber you!”

They wouldn’t listen to his pleas, but the sheriff himself, hearing the commotion, came outside. Reb Yankel led him to the wagon and presented the dead body of the robber to the astonished sheriff and his astounded officers. Reb Yankel collected his reward and rejoiced in the Lelover Rebbe’s words. The wooden wonder becher brought with it both shemira and hatzlacha! It had safely guarded him and had been the secret of his success! [This story was heard by Moshe Adler, a descendant of Reb Yankel, the one to whom these miracles occurred. He testified that he had seen the wondrous wooden cup himself.] (Shem Tov Maasei Tzaddikim p. 89)






A modern German Jew known as Deutschel once visited Rav Mordechai of Lechovitch. Rav Mordechai told him, “There is no greater mussar sefer than a clock! When the clock strikes and the hour chimes, the clock is saying, ‘Another hour has passed, never to return!’”

When the Deutschel heard these holy words from the Tzaddik, his heart was seized with such a longing to repent that he immediately awakened to teshuva and was transformed on the spot into a sincere yerei shamayim! From that day forward, he told people that whenever he heard a clock strike the hour, it chimed for him the Rebbe’s message again and again, “Another hour of life has gone by, have you done teshuva?”

“Whenever I hear the clock strike the hour,” he later explained, “I remember all the past hours of my life and what I have done with my allotted time, how I have taken advantage of my time in this world or failed to take advantage of my life and wasted my years!” (Shem Tov)

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