Stories of Tzadikim / 29 That Special Esrog
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
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A gut voch everybody. You know, bezras Hashem, we’re all getting ready making hachanos for the yuntif of sukkos. One of the biggest hachanos that a person does in this time is to get the nicest lulav and esrog they possibly can.
I’ll tell you maaseh about a yid who also cared very much about these mitzvos. There was a yid from a particular shtiebel. Every yid has their itzvah that they make a particular inyan out of. And this yid, wasn’t a rich person but his inyan was to buy the nicest esrog. It was known in the town that he would travel to other towns, to Yaniv and he would spend a fortune on his Esrog and it was known that on sukkos you go to that shul and you get to see Yankel’s esrog. It was one of the social events of the year for him where he gets to show off his esrog.
One year he was saving up, he saved 50 Rubles, and he was traveling before Yom kippur, he goes to Yaniv, whatever the location was that he gets his esrogim. On his travels he happens to stop by an inn, a hotel to stay the night. He’s sitting by the bar having supper and he overhears that there’s a yid next to him mamash moaning, crying and kvetching there’s something bothering him. So there’s the bartender there, he asks him what’s on his mind.
This yankel is over-hearing this. This yid says what he does for a living, he’s a wagon-driver. People hire him to go from place to place so his whole parnassah depends on his horses. My mazal is one of my horses died. What am I supposed to do? I have no money to buy a horse and I don’t know what to do.
This bartender is like a shadchan, he knows everyone's inyan. He wasn’t necessarily the greatest person in the world but he says you know what? I can get you a horse. It’ll cost you 50 Rubles. 50 Rubles? I don’t have that kind of money. The bartender says I’m barely breaking even! It was Hashgacha that this Yankel saved 50 rubles. Yankel overhears this and he says what am I going to do, travel to Yaniv to buy an esrog knowing this yid doesn’t have a parnassah?
He goes to the bartender and says listen. Between me and you, what’s the lowest you can do for this horse? He says between me and you 45, but I’m basically losing money. He pulls out 45 rubles, gives it to him, this bartender says to this other yid find this yid over here you’ll get your horse. Thanks so much you mamash saved life. Don’t thank me, thank the ribbono shel olam Yankel says.
Meanwhile he’s traveling to Yaniv where the nicest esrogim are but he won’t be able to buy anything there. 5 Rubles can barely get him an esrog in the regular market with that money. Everyone is expecting a huge esrog. He heads back home and on the way he sees someone selling a shvach lulav and esrog and goes back. His wife is expecting to see him all happy, it’s the highlight of his year and he’s all dejected. He tells her the whole story and says maybe for davening i’ll go to the neighboring town to Lizhensk so everyone won’t see my shvach esrog. She says fine, so that’s what he does.
Sukkos morning that’s what he does. He's a new person in the shul and he’s in the back shaking his lulav and esrog. Even there he doesn’t want people to see him. Reb Meilech starts davening for the amud, they’re about to bench hallel and all of a sudden Reb Meilech stops and turns around smelling for something. There’s a sniff in his face, it seems like he smells something beautiful and at some point he stops and goes back to his tefillah.
Reb Meilech runs over to his brother Reb Zusha, and says did you smell what I smell? HE says of course! We need to find this esrog. Meanwhile they’re trying to find this smell and they get to Yankel. They say we don’t know who you are, you’re new to the shul but tell us the story of your esrog. Because your esrog smells of Gan Eden. He says my Esrog? It’s 5 Rubles, barely kosher. But Reb Meilech says, tell me the maaseh about this esrog. So he tells him this story and how he gave everything he had to this other yid and all I got was this esrog.
Reb Meilech and Reb Zusha say you know the first part of the story, let us tell you the sequel. What’s the next part? You should know, this happened to you Erev Yom Kippur. Over Yom Kippur there was a terrible Gzeirah over Klal Yisroel. The way Reb Meilech described it was that you had Malach Michoel the angel Michoel and all the malachim up above trying to bring the schism before the Ribbono Shel olam. But the problem was, as they’re schlepping all the schism the satan comes with a huge pile of aveiros and blocks the path. What happened?
Reb Meilech says that the yid that you helped was a poshut yid, he doesn’t know much. But he was so overwhelmed with Hakaras hatov to Hashem, he took the money, went outside and took the whip that he uses to drive. He said master of the world, I don’t know how to daven. How am I going to thank you, and praise you. All I know how to do is crack the whip in the air. And that’s going to be my tefillah, my thank you. And he says thank you so much for all the good you’ve done for me and giving my parnassah back.
When he said those words, thanking Hashem and cracking the whip all of a sudden in shamayim that reverberated mamash as lightning bolts. All of shamayim shock by that. They heard in shamayim, all the malachim also heard a crack of a whip. Then they saw the far far end of this road that was being blocked by the satan, that Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev himself was riding the horse and that whip was propelling the horse with Reb Levi Yitzchak and he went so fast that it trampled all the aveiros the satan brought and with that all the zchusim were able to go up to shamayim.
Don’t underestimate the power of your actions and helping another yid, it’s poel yeshuos.
Hashem should help us, whether we have an expensive set or a cheap set that we should be moser nefesh for yidde. The chasimah is on Yom kippur but the real chasimah is on Yom kippur and we should see bias goel tzedek b’heirah b’yamenu amen.
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