Stories of Tzadikim / 09 It's not too late
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
A Gut Voch everybody, they say a story that there was a particular wedding that was going to take place and everyone was super excited about it. For the usual reason, but this wedding in particular because the Baal Shem Tov was going to be mesader Kiddushin. The Baal Shem Tov knew the family and he was going to be mesader kiddushin. The way chasunas would work in the old country is that they were usually done outside, by the river and the whole town was invited.
The day of the chasuna came the whole town was there, everyone was super excited. They waited in anticipation for the Baal Shem Tov and his people to come with the Chassidim. Finally the Baal Shem Tov arrives, the music playing and the chuppah is beginning. It was an unbelievable sight. Meanwhile the Baal Shem Tov is standing under the chuppah going through the process of the chasuna. All of a sudden there’s a wagon that was passing by, because it was outside by the river. All of a sudden a person in that wagon sticks his head out to see what’s going on to see the chasuna a little. The Baal Shem Tov takes notice of that person in the wagon, the Baal Shem Tov turns to the chosson and kallah and says excuse me I have to to take care of something I’ll be one minute. They stop the chasuna and he runs to the wagon, says something to the person in the wagon for 30 seconds. The wagon goes on, the Baal Shem Tov comes back and they continue with the wedding. All the Talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov were confused by this, to interrupt a chasuna it must be that the person in the wagon was one of the 36 hidden tzadikim. The chassidim decide that they want to find this person to get a bracha and hadracha, to connect to another tzaddik.
They wait until after the chasuna is over, they start going around the town trying to find that wagon. They can’t find it at all, one day goes by, then another and they keep circling the area. They keep taking walks and rides around the area they can’t find it. About a week or 2 later these chassidim happen to be traveling to a neighboring town and they see that wagon that was by the chasuna in the driveway of a particular house.
They get out, they knock on the door and a regular looking jew opens the door. The Chassidim asked him, sorry to bother you, but is that your wagon outside? He says yes, They say let me ask you a question. Were you in that town for a chasuna about a week or 2 ago? The man tries to think but doesn’t recall. They specify that there was a chasuna, maybe you passed by and the Baal Shem Tov came to talk to you? He jogged his memory and he remembers, “Yes, that was actually me.” The chassidim ask “Please give us a Bracha!” He answers, “I’m just a normal guy you don't want my bracha” If the Baal Shem Tov was willing to stop the chasuna and speak to you,clearly you're not just a regular yid. “I’m telling you I'm a nobody and am just a regular guy you don’t want a bracha from me.”
“So then if you’re a regular person what’s your story, why would the Baal Shem Tov stop the chasuna what did he tell you?” He begins to blush a little and says he’d rather not talk about it. The chassidim say “We were looking for over a week, we're not leaving until we hear this story. Who are you, what did the Baal Shem Tov say to you?” He says okay if you need to know here’s the story. I have a neighbor across the street. We get along nicely but aren’t the best of friends. The way his business runs is that he’s out for business for 3 to 4 months a year and whatever he brings back in that time is how he supports his family for the rest of the year.
It happens to be that a couple of weeks ago I was at home, a day just like today. And it happens to be the day that my neighbor came home from his business trip. I see from my window that this man came back with a big sack with all the money he made on this trip. I see that he puts this bag on the front porch and walks into his house. I assumed that he was going to come back immediately to take the money, what if someone were to take the money and all his parnossah was lost? I was thinking to myself how irresponsible this is and that someone should teach him a lesson. I said you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to teach him a lesson. I’m going to take it for a few minutes so he comes out and gets scared just for a little then I’ll teach him that it could’ve been a real stealer and he’ll learn to never do that again.
I ran over across the street, took the bag into my house and I waited a couple of minutes. All of a sudden I hear screaming, A ganav, a ganav someone stole my money. The neighbor’s wife hears and comes out to see what happened. He explained how someone took all the money he just worked hard for. I was planning on only facing the husband now there’s his wife, and other neighbors are getting together to try to help find the ganav. It’s getting crazy. People are starting to accuse each other. Let me hold on to the money overnight. It was a bad idea, I'll give it to the neighbor in the morning when things calm down.
On the way to shul I see signs about returning the bag of money with a reward that people put together. Everyone was talking about it in shul. I became paranoid when anyone would say good morning. I would assume they’re all suspecting me. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t function. I got to a point where I think I just have to move. No one knows this secret. His wife doesn’t know why he’s not sleeping well and he can’t function. No one knows the secret, everyone is accusing other people but I can’t function.
One day I decided to get on my wagon and just go. Just to get out of town, to clear my mind before I make any rash decisions leaving my family without being able to explain why. He gets into the wagon and travels randomly. He ends up in this shtetl and he happens to notice there’s a huge chasuna going on. He watches the commotion, the chasuna. Meanwhile the mesader kiddushin notices and makes eye contact with him. At that moment I froze, there was something magnetic about those eyes. He approached me and what he said to me mamash changed my life.
What did the Baal Shem Tov say? He didn’t ask who I am, what my story was here. All he said was one simple sentence. It’s not too late. Whatever you think you can’t fix, it’s not too late. I was so taken aback by those words and I said to myself maybe it’s not too late. What am I worried about? this whole thing was my simple mistake and it can be simply fixed by returning the money and everything can go back to normal.
Those simple words of the Baal Shem cut through the clouds and confusion. It's not too late. I went back to town, gathered all my strength and I was expecting to admit to what I did and he was going to punch me in the face and maybe call the cops. But you know what? This is the right thing to do, it’s the simple solution. I went there, I started crying, took the money out and explained how big of a mistake it was. Instead of punching him this man hugs him and thanks him, you don’t even know how much pressure you’re alleviating off my back.
These words of the Baal Shem Tov have to be heard by us. More often than not, the menios, the obstacles that we see between us and the people we have to be are just delusions, clouds of the mind. We have to be able to just hear the words of the Baal Shem cutting through all that confusion and darkness, getting to the truth. Which is just to be mesaken, just fix it’s not too late. Those corrections we feel we have to make in our lives, just focus on that and with the strength of the Baal Shem and the tzadikim we can get to a place of correction, of truth, of clarity and to become the people we know we have to become b’ezras Hashem we will become. Hashem should bless each and every one of us with a week of Nachas, Simcha, and Bracha. A week of Geulah B’mheirah b’yameinu amen.