Stories of Tzadikim / 18 Why don't you like Jews?
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
Gut voch everybody, I’ll tell you a maaseh. Until the Baal Shem Tov was 36 years old he was very hidden, he didn’t publicize himself as a Tzadik yesod olam. But this Maaseh we have is one of the rare stories from before that point. Before his public display of greatness that is attributed to him.
There was a big city that was experiencing a drought, and especially back in those days it caused great difficulty. These were frum holy jews, and they were trying to figure out what to do. Maybe we’ll make an asifa, everyone will get together one day we’ll make a taanis, daven slichos. What we’ll do is we’ll gather funds to hire one of the biggest maggidim to shmooze and to get everyone to do Teshuva. Back in that day they had Rabbonim and Maggidim. Maggidim were traveling darshanim, very often they were big talmidei chachamim and tzadikim. They would travel from place to place giving shmuezen and that’s how they made a parnassah.
There was a stereotype about maggidim, not all of them were like this but stereotypes have truth to them somewhat. That the Maggidim were the opposite of the philosophy of the Baal Shem. The Baal Shem Tov felt that the way to bring yidden closer to Hashem was with love, telling them how great they are and showing them the power they possess. The Maggidim of old were the opposite, talking about punishments, Schar Ve’Onesh. So the city gets together to hire one of the biggest Maggidim, the whole city is there.
The opening line the Maggid opens up with is “You guys are all Reshaim!” Why do you think this is all happening! The reason it’s not raining is because you guys are always sinning. You deserve this! Halevai you should suffer and die in this world, to take away the pain and suffering you’ll have in the next world. It happens to be the Baal shem Tov is in the crowd and he’s jumping out of his skin to hear this.
At some point he can’t take it anymore, he jumps out and in front of the whole city he asks, why do you hate yidden so much? What did they do? They give you parnassah! The maggid says what are you talking about? I don't hate yidden. The Baal Shem Tov answers yes you do, that’s why you’re talking like this. You think that’s what’s going to bring the rain? I’ll show you how to do it! He takes the yidden on both sides of him, they make a little rikud, a few minutes later a storm comes, thunder and lightning and it begins to rain.
There was a time in jewish history where the way to bring jews close to Hashem was with a stick. But the Baal Shem Tov revealed to us that there has been a change, that the way to bring geula and yeshua is with simcha, talking up to yidden, showing how much power they possess. To show them how unbecoming it is if they don’t live up to who they are, B'etzem.
We should be zocheh to have a geulah in that way. A geulah b’rachamim, b’chassadim. A geulah where all the shefa comes not g-d forbid with the way of the old maggidim, but with simcha and the way of the Baal Shem tov.