Thanking G-d For The Miracle - Before It Even Happens
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg

Rí Leibele Eiger, the grandson of the famous gaon Rabbi Akiva Eiger (son of the gaon Rí Shlomo Eiger) became a Kotzker chassid. We wonít go into all the details of his story, how the Chassidim took note of this very special lamdan and gaon, Rí Leibele Eiger, what they did to arouse his interest in chassidus, and the trials they put him through in order to prove to him how his yiras Shamayim up until then wasnít real. In short, Rí Leibele became an ardent chassid and follower of Rí Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.

When Rí Leibeleís family got word of this, particularly his father, a staunch misnaged, that his son was ensnared by the "cult" and had become a chassid, they were devastated. They mourned for him and, as was customary in those days, they sat Shiva for him. Some say they sat Shiva twice as for one who became an apostate, ríl.

Although the grandfather, Rí Akiva Eiger, was not a chassid, he wasnít as strongly opposed as his son (the Mitteler Rebbe met Rí Akiva Eiger in the summer of 5585 [1825], and in a special letter printed in his Igros Kodesh, Vol. 1, p. 281, the Mitteler Rebbe describes their encounter to his son-in-law, the Tzemach Tzedek) and he wanted to check out the reports and see if things were really as bad as he had heard.

Rí Akiva Eiger sent a reliable person to Kotzk to investigate his grandsonís behavior and to ascertain whether he was still a G-d-fearing Jew. He gave the man signs by which he could tell whether his grandson was only externally G-d-fearing or was a yerei Shamayim through and through. According to the way the story is told, one of the signs was to see if he was particular about washing his hands properly and bíhiddur.

The shliach arrived in Kotzk and began searching for the "outstanding young man," Rí Leibele, the son of the "incredible genius," Rí Shlomo Eiger, grandson of the "famous genius," Rí Akiva Eiger.

These descriptions elicited the scorn of the Chassidim of Kotzk, who expressed their feelings about these exalted titles in no uncertain terms: How did he dare utter these adjectives in the bastion of truth which was Kotzk? Finally someone did him a favor and said, "Oh! You must mean Leibel Shlomo. Youíll probably find him sitting at some farbrengen."

You can well imagine how shocked the shliach was, a G-d-fearing Jew who was careful to give fitting honor to the Torah and to Torah scholars. He certainly didnít anticipate such blatant disregard for Torah and for such outstanding Torah scholars.

He did his best to locate Leibel Shlomo, and when he did, he watched him closely. He observed his general conduct, particularly the signs Rí Akiva had given him, and found that Rí Leibelís yiras Shamayim was intact. Perhaps this is why he was so bothered that Rí Leibel was in Kotzk, of all places.

What surprised the shliach more than anything else was the fact that Rí Leibel devoted so much time to farbrengens. The table was set with many bottles of vodka and herring, and the participants not only said líchaim numerous times, but also drank, sat lost in thought a lot, and were quiet a great deal of the time. Even when from time to time the shliach heard them discussing inyanim, they werenít divrei Torah in the usual sense.

"Why do you devote so much time to these farbrengens?" the shliach asked Rí Leibel directly. "If you were someone who wasnít so learned and you were unaware of the preciousness of Torah Ė okay, you could spend your time telling stories and singing. But you?! You know how to learn! You appreciate the value of Torah! How can you allow yourself to waste so much time on these things?"

"I have nothing to tell you. A misnaged like you simply cannot understand," replied Leibel, shocking the shliach all the more. "If you want to understand it anyway, letís try going to my Rebbe. Maybe there you will get an answer to your question."

The shliach agreed to go to the top, to the one responsible for everything going on there, and to hear his explanation. The shliach went to Rí Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and presented his complaints. "You take promising young men, those who can learn and who made great strides in Torah study, and you waste their time with stories and singing! Whatís it all for?"

The Rebbe smiled and turned to his loyal shamash (who later became a rebbe), Rí Tzvi Hirsch of Tomoshav, and said: "Answer him!"

Rí Tzvi Hirsch began with a story. When the Beis HaMikdash still stood and the Jewish people made the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim three times a year, there was a man who lived in a little village somewhere between Keziv and Emana [these places are mentioned in the Mishna as the borders of Eretz Yisroel, but here Rí Tzvi Hirsch was alluding to something: between "keziv" Ė that is, sheker, falsity Ė and "emes," truth].

Somehow on each Yom Tov something came up preventing him from making the trip to the Beis HaMikdash. Once he had to harvest his crop, which he couldnít leave in his field, another time his wife was sick, and another time it was something else. He reached old age without having been to the Beis HaMikdash even one time.

One day the old man decided that things couldnít go on like this any longer. How could it be that the whole world made a big deal about the Beis HaMikdash, yet he had never been there? He decided that come what may he would be oleh regel that Pesach.

He set out from his village and began to walk. He reached a crossroads and didnít know where to go. He asked passersby for directions, and they looked at him in wonder: How was it possible that such an old Jew didnít know the road to Yerushalayim, when every Jew went there three times a year? They finally concluded that he must be used to taking a different route, so they showed him the way.

The same scene repeated itself at every crossroads. He stood there and asked for directions, and people looked at him as though he were crazy, but were still kind enough to help him find the way. The old man silently endured all the odd looks, and said to himself: Itís all worthwhile, if only I get to see the Beis HaMikdash at least once in my life!

The closer he got to Yerushalayim, the more strangely people looked at him. Perhaps earlier they could imagine that he used to travel by a different route, but now that all roads converged and all led to Yerushalayim, thus they couldnít use this merit in his favor any longer. More and more, people looked at him askance.

When he finally arrived in Yerushalayim and began asking people the way to the Mikdash, he was openly laughed at. Children pointed at him and cried: Thereís the meshugana who doesnít know where the Beis HaMikdash is!

After enduring all this and finally arriving at the Har HaBayis, he was stopped and told that he might be a tamei meis (impure), and he needed to be purified by the ashes of the red heifer. He had to wait a week and go through the entire cleansing process (which he had never heard of before and which seemed exceedingly strange) of being sprinkled on the third and seventh days, immersing in a mikva Ė the whole thing Ė but he willingly went through it all so that he could finally achieve his aim: the Beis HaMikdash!

The moment finally arrived. It was Erev Pesach, and the old man entered the Beis HaMikdash. He walked up Har HaBayis and headed in the direction of the Mikdash, full of trepidation and excitement. This was it. He had finally made it through all the obstacles, overcame them all, and now here he was at the Beis HaMikdash. Now he would see whether it was all worth it.

The entire Jewish people had come and the path was full of thousands of people leading their sheep for the korban Pesach. The bleating of the thousands of sheep on all sides made the old man wonder: Is this the proper preparation for the holiest site in the world?

The gates were opened and people entered. The sacrificing of the korban Pesach began. Kohanim were rushing about barefoot and dressed in tunics. The noise was deafening with the sounds of sheep, there was pushing, and blood on the floor. The man stood in the midst of all this wondering what he was doing there. Had he suffered all that time only to come to a giant slaughterhouse?

At this point in the story, Rí Tzvi Hirschel Tomoshaver turned to Rí Akiva Eigerís shliach and said with a smile, as though imparting a secret: Now if the man would have a bit of nerve he wouldnít hesitate to go right over to the Kohen Gadol, the one in charge of everything going on there, with the question: Whatís going on here? Whatís this all about? Vos zet men du?

The shliach returned to Rí Akiva Eiger and told him what he had experienced. He testified that his grandson had remained a true yerei Shamayim, but the atmosphere there was "a bisel vild" (a bit wild) in his opinion.

Hearing this, Rí Akiva Eiger told Rí Shlomo to invite his son Rí Leibel home for Shabbos. Rí Leibel preferred to come on a weekday because his father would find spending a Shabbos together a bit much, but Rí Shlomo said he had to fulfill his fatherís command and accept the invitation for Shabbos.

So Rí Leibel went to spend Shabbos with his father. Rí Shlomo finished davening and ate the Friday night meal. He finished his evening shiurim and went to sleep, but his son hadnít yet returned from Kabbalas Shabbos.

It was only when the father got up in the morning to daven at dawn that Rí Leibel remembered to come back from shul after the davening. Somehow he made Kiddush, ate something for the Shabbos meal, and lay down for two hours. Then he began his preparations for Shacharis. His davening ended very close to sunset, and it was with difficulty that he managed to make Kiddush and have something to eat before davening Mincha, which lasted late into the night.

When he came to say Havdala early Sunday morning, his father shouted: "What kind of behavior is this?! Iím not even talking about the proper times for davening! This is so vild Ė are there no limits?!"

Rí Leibel grasped the lapels of his fatherís coat and shook them in great emotion saying: "Dear Father, I donít daven to the sun or the moon, but tzum heiliker Bashefer (to the holy Creator)."


Weíve already mentioned numerous times in this column what the Rebbe MH"M said (Parshas Eikev 5713, unedited):

"Der Eibershter iz a guter un der Rebbe iz a guter" (Hashem is good and the Rebbe is good), and he relates to each one according to the way he wants and according to the way he relates in turn. Someone who looks at the Rebbe as one who is "way up there," far higher even than the seventh heaven, for even the seventh heaven is low compared to him Ė the Rebbe too will show himself as one who is far beyond, exalted, and distant. But someone who wants to be with the Rebbe right here in this physical world, the Rebbe will respond in kind and reveal himself as such. He will be very close to the Rebbe right here in this physical and material world!

One who is stubborn can ask and cry: What is all this about? What do you see in all this? But one who comes bípashtus, with simple sincerity, one who comes to the Rebbe without questions Ė he knows that the Rebbe is here. He joins in the Rebbeís minyan and farbrengs with the Rebbe without questions, excuses, and explanations Ė not even genuine explanations, like, "holiness doesnít depart from its place," and, "where a manís will is, thatís where he is," and the like. He has no questions and, therefore, there is no need for explanations. He strives to use every spare moment, knowing that he is in the Beis HaMikdash, and every move he makes is being observed (as the Rebbe writes in the last general letter of Motzaei Shabbos, 21 Elul, the day of the chanukas haíbayis of 770 [5751]), including his speech and his thoughts.

And despite the pain, which is felt especially when we donít hear and see the Rebbe, we know with the utmost certainty that the Rebbe is literally with us bígashmius, and the Rebbe extends his blessings to us, davens on our behalf, farbrengs with us, and accepts the cry of "Yechi Adoneinu."

Whoever does his best to feel and live with this, will be given the ability to live this way, to recognize and feel the Rebbe in his life, and will be able to take it back home with him, too.

After all, this is what going to the Rebbe is about, not just to live with the Rebbe while being in his dalet amos, but to take the "air of Moshiach" back home, to the rest of the world.

Weíve mentioned the Shelah HaKadosh (on Parshas BeShalach) here a number of times. Chazal say that Hashem wanted to make Chizkiyahu Moshiach, and it was only because he didnít sing Shira, recounting G-dís praise in thanks for the miracles that he experienced, that caused Chizkiyahu to lose the opportunity. The Shelah explains that this maamer Chazal does not mean that Chizkiyahu neglected to praise Hashem after the miracles occurred, for it says explicitly in Tanach that he did. What Chazal are saying is that despite Chizkiyahuís wonderful qualities of emuna and bitachon, he waited to sing Shira only after the miracles occurred, and not before.

The Geula will come, says the Shelah, when we wonít wait to see the Geula and the miracles, but we begin the Shir Chadash, the song of thanks for the Geula and the incredible miracles, before the Geula takes place, out of our tremendous trust and joy over the Geula even before it happens. This in itself will bring the Geula.

So let us all sing together, "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu VíRabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach líolam vaíed!"


"You know how to learn! You appreciate the value of Torah! How can you allow yourself to waste so much time on farbrenging?"




If the man would have a bit of nerve he wouldnít hesitate to go right over to the one in charge with the question: Whatís going on here?




Chazal are saying that Chizkiyahu waited to sing Shira only after the miracles occurred, and not before.




You think you know when a peula is successful and when it isnít, but you have no idea whatís really going on. You may think your efforts have failed, but itís only an illusion.





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