Stories of Tzadikim / 26 Even Higher
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
A gut voch everybody. The sfardim have been saying slichos the whole month, but us Ashkenazim we start tonight. I want to share a nice maaseh. It's a slichos’dik maaseh about R’ Moshe Leib sossover.
Among the Talmidei Habaal Shem tov he was known as the fisherman, he would bring in all the lost neshamos. It was known the during slichos, R’ Moshe Leib never showed up to shul. He was never there for slichos he always came late or by davening. This created a big commotion in the town. Chassidim would say why is he not there? Because he’s in shamayim. But the misnagdim would say he’s not there because he’s sleeping.
There were 2 misnagdim that took it upon themselves to actually find out what’s going on. They get up extremely early, even before slichos. They hide in the bushes behind Reb Moshe Leib’s house to stakeout the situation. They see what happens, very early before anyone else is waking up for slichos. They see movement in the house, and they see that Reb Moshe Leib looks around to make sure no one’s watching and he leaves the house. But he’s not wearing his regular Kapote and Chassidish levush, he’s wearing a peasant outfit and carrying an ax and a sack.
The 2 misnagdim continue following him from a distance to make sure the Rebbe won’t see them and they notice that he’s going all the way out to the forest. To a public domain, not owned by anyone and he begins chopping down trees. He gathers together firewood in his sack and he continues on. They continue following him until eventually he gets to the edge of town.
They see this little hub of a place and he knocks on the door. An old widow comes to open the door, she doesn’t recognize the Sossover rebbe. He says hi, I’m here i’m selling firewood would you like to buy some. She says ys I actually would like some but I don’t have the money for it. Don’t worry about it, you'll owe me the money. I'll be back, you’ll pay me back when you can.
She says it’s heavy for me, I’m an old woman and I don't know how to start a fire. He says don’t worry, I'll take care of it. She says but I feel bad I want to pay you for your time. And he urges not to worry about it. You can pay me back when you can. She goes back inside and he goes to cut the wood into smaller pieces and to stoke a fire.
The 2 misnagdim overhear as he’s working he’s saying slichos by heart. That’s the maaseh. The 2 misnagdim come back to town, slowly but surely people find out about what he’s doing. The chassidim ask him if it’s true that he goes to shamayim for slichos? His response is that I probably go higher.
It’s not possible for a jew to go into yomim noraim by himself. The only way to go in, is with other yidden. When a person has chassadim and mesirus nefesh for other yidden like Reb Moshe Leib did. To give up his slichos for a widow he knew was going to be cold and alone. That’s higher than shamayim itself. We should come into slichos, into yom hadin with confidence and security knowing that Hashem will do nissim and niflaos for us. To have a good year of geulas and yeshuos b’vias goel tzedek amen.