Friday, July 24, 2009

Rizhiner and the Tzemach Tzaddik

The Tzemach Tzaddik was the son-in-law of the holy Rizhiner Rebbe. The Rizhiner was known for his riches and malchus (royalty), but for all of his material wealth, he was on a very high, exalted level. When it came to physical matters such as eating he took after the tradition of his grandfather, Reb Avrohom the Maloch (the angel), given this title for his reluctance to partake in earthly delights such as food.

One day when the Tzemach Tzaddik and the Rizhiner were engaged in a meal, the Rizhiner put his fork down after he was only half way through with his meal. When the Tzemach Tzaddik questioned him the Rizhiner said that before he was born, he had made a deal with his neshomo (soul), only to eat enough to get by, and not a morsel more. The Tzemach Tzaddik then commented that he just realized something. "All my life there was something that bothered me, and I just figured out the answer," he said. "On Friday night we sing shalom aleichem, welcoming the the angels that accompany us home from shul into our homes. But then, just a short while later, we sing tzeischem lesholom, bidding them farewell. Why do we send them away so soon? Now I realize why. It's because angels can't partake in earthly pleasures. They can't taste food. We don't want to show them disrespect by eating in front of them, so way say goodbye before we begin our meal," at which point the Tzemach Tzaddik put down his fork, indicating that he was in the presence of a maloch at that moment, the Rizhiner himself.

Speaking of food, the mother of the Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg and his brother Reb Pinchus once complained that one of her sons doesn't say bircas hamazon (grace after meals), and the other doesn't say kriyas shema al hamitah (prayer before going to bed). (one didn't eat and one didn't sleep).


Tzemach Tzaddik said...


Nice story. I know a slightly different explanation: that when the angels will leave, during the shabes meal, we will not even notice. So we say goodbye at the end of Shalom Alechem, so that it counts for whenever they decide to leave. But of course they are welcome to stay!

BTW, he was called the Tzemach Tzaddik from the name of his book. Not to be confused with the Tzemach Tzaddik written a few centuries before by Rabbi Leone Modena.

Anonymous said...

The Tzemach Tzedek was the soninlaw of the Mitteler rebbe.

Chazzan805 said...

Yes, but this story is actually about the Tzemach TzAddik with an "a," Rav Menachem Mendel Hager, first Rebbe and founder of Viznitz.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying that for me