Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cryptic words of the Maggid

For the Yahretzeit of the Maggid of Mezeritch, yud tes Kislev, a most unusual story.

It was shabbos, and disciples of the Maggid sat around the table, while followers stood forming a small crowd to the end of the room. It was leil shabbos, and the Maggid was giving over words of Torah. When he completed his thoughts he paused. He then stated, "if there is anyone here in the this room who could give over lashon harah (evil speech, gossip) about Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, I could promise him a cheilek in olam habah (a share in the world to come)." The room was completely silent, presumably out of astonishment and shock. Nobody budged. The Maggid stated one more time, "if there is someone here who could give over a good piece of lashon harah about Rebe Levi Yitzchak, come forward. I could promise him a cheilek in olam habah." There was no response. People didn't know what to make of his words, but some suspected that he was talking in code. The third time he asked there was a bit of a rumble toward the back of the room. A young man in his 30's, a man who had recently become successful in business, had stood up. As he took a step forward the chassidim grabbed hold of him. "No," they said. "You don't understand what he's saying. He's not talking on a level that you and I can understand. He doesn't really mean what he's saying." And so the man sat back down.

During the shabbos day meal the Maggid, once again, gave over his statement to those assembled in the room. He asked three times, as he did the night before, but not a sound was to be heard in the room. During shalous sheudis (the third meal), after he had finished speaking Torah, he stated in a particularly heavy tone, "if there is anyone here who could give me a good, juicy bit of lashon harah against Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, I could promise him a cheilek in olam habah." Upon his third utterance the young man stood in the back of the room stood up, and there was no stopping him this time. He had been holding back all of shabbos, but not any longer. He walked toward the Maggid, looked down at him, and could barely contain himself. "I have a piece of lashon harah against Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev," he said. "It happened last week. I was in Berditchev on business, and I thought I would pay a visit to this man that everyone says is a great tzaddik (righteous person). I asked around one morning, and people directed me toward his shul. As I was about to open the door of the shul Reb Levi Yitzchak threw the door open from the inside and, garbed in tallis and tefillin, and a crazed look in his eye, he said to me, 'WHAT WOULD GAVRIEL SAY? WHAT WOULD MICHAEL SAY?' Then he charged back into the shul. Could you believe this?" said the young man. "Reb Levi Yitzchak talks in the middle of davening!!! Even worse, he leaves the shul, and says crazy things!" The Maggid looked into the young man's eyes deeply, and said, "you have made a very, very grave mistake my friend. You may not know it, but Reb Levi Yitzchak is the advocate in shamayim (heaven) for all Yidden! When a Jew's case comes to the court above Reb Levi Yitzchak stands against the prosecuting angels, and picks out the merits of that particular Jew that will save him from punishment, or even worse, gehinom. When you were in Berditchev last week you were staying at an inn. On the morning that you had gone to meet Reb Levi Yitzchak you had breakfast at the inn, and as you were leaving the dining room you noticed a silver spoon lying on a table. As you walked by the table you discreetly put the spoon into your pocket. When you reached Reb Leve Yitzchak's shul he was exactly at the point of his davening when he intercedes on behalf of klal Yisroel (the Jewish nation). When they got to your case in shamayim Reb Levi Yitzchak, for the first time in his life, had no defense! He couldn't think of a single word to say on your behalf. You live comfortably, you've done well in business. You didn't need that spoon! But you took it. And as you approached he asked you what the malachim (angels) Gavriel and Michael would say about this completely unnecessary act of thievery. Now," said the Maggid, "you are to go immediately back to Reb Levi Yitzchak in Berditchev, and tell him all that has transpired here this shabbos. You will then ask his forgiveness for speaking lashon harah about him, and you will accept upon yourself whatever teshuva (repentance) he puts upon you for speaking the lashon hara and stealing the spoon.

The young man set out for Berditchev the next day, and the story goes that the extensive process of teshuva which Reb Levi Yitzchak designed for the young man, replete with renewed passion for Torah and for mitzvos, was of the type to assure him a place in the world to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. It was an amazing story!!