Stories of Tzadikim / 31 Working on our Tefila
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
Gut Voch everybody, I’ll tell you a mayseh. One of the Baal Hatanya’s sons, Reb DovBer (who later became the Mitteler Rebbe) was known as not just a genius but a huge eved Hashem. Someone who davened with intense dveykus.
The mayseh goes when the future Mitteler Rebbe was young, when he was married he went to his in-laws in a different town for a shabbos. He noticed at shul when he was davening there was a particular yid wasn’t davening with as much kavannah and hislahavus that this jew could have. The Rebbe saw it as part of his avodah to help other yidden so he went over and told this yid we can all work on our tefillah and you too. This yid said I know, I need to work on it and maybe I'll get to the point where I'm doing as good as I can do and maybe even as good as you.
Let me tell you why we are different. My parents are simple people. When my parents were having a kid Hashem saw that my parents were trying, simple yidden. So Hashem gave simple parents a simple child. I’m a simple neshama. Not only am I simple, I was raised in a home that was g-d feeling. I went to yeshiva but when I was 14-15 years old I had to go help my father make a parnassah.
The years went on, I daven 3 times a day, go to the mikvah I learn whenever I can but that’s as far as my education goes. When it was time to have my own parnassah, my mazal was that I work in the shuk, I sell merchandise. So what do you think I do in my store all day? I’m talking to people and hondling all day, constantly. The truth is, most of my clients are non-jewish farmers. I sell farming equipment and most of the clients are non-jews. When they come and they hondle enough they’re finally ready to pay but they don’t have the money on the. So I have to keep track, write down they’re name and address and it’s a whole process to get the money.
These are farmers, they work very early in the morning so I have to get there very early, before sunrise to get to their house. Then when I get there they see me and they know I’m here to collect money so they try to push it off, have me sit down, meet their family and then maybe I’ll get their money.
That’s my life. When I come home, I’m already tired and I shlep myself to mincha and Maariv. I will try to open a sefer a mishna. Is my kavannah perfect? No. But it’s the best I can do this is the pekelach I was dealt with.
And now he says, let’s turn to you. What about you? Your parents, your father, your mother are the tzadikim of the generation and have big big neshamos. What kind of neshmos did Hashem give them? A big neshama, so you have one too. Now that you have a big neshama, you were raised in the house of the Baal Hatanya. Raised in the house of Tzadikim, to people who are devoting their lives to Avodas Hashem. You don’t have to do anything but sit and learn and devote yourself to avodas Hashem. You have to appreciate where you come from and where I come from.
That was the end of the conversation. The Rebbe never ever had a conversation like that. No one ever spoke to him like that. He was mamash shaken up. At the end of the day this yid’s right. What is my entire Avodah’s worth? Everything that I’m committing all my Avodas Hashem maybe is nothing compared to them. It’s true that my davening is greater than his, but based on the background that I have he’s right. He laid out the situation very well. Who knows what my avodah’s worth, maybe it’s worth much less than this yid.
He was mamash shaken up to the core like this. He decided after Shabbos was over he’ll go back home to his father, he’s going into yechidus by the Baal Hatanya to work this out.
As a side note, by these tzadikim obviously the Baal Hatanya was his father, but he was also his Rebbe. It’s a funny, interesting relationship. You go into yechidus by his father, the Rebbe.
So he went to yechidus, the Baal Hatanya worked it through with him and said whatever he said. But weeks later when this particular chossid found his way to the Baal Hatanya also through yechidus. Famously the Baal Hatanya said I want to give you a yasher koach. Why? He said my son is going to be a rebbe. But he wasn’t yet a chossid. You had the zechus of turning my son into a chossid. So I want to give you a shkoyach.
A chossid is someone that understands that with all their Avodas Hashem, with all their big madreigos, who knows maybe another yid that’s given a more difficult situation in life, a more difficult pekelach to bear and he does what he can to serve the Ribbono Shel Olam at his level who knows maybe Hashem has more nachas ruach from him. That level of Bittul, of humility, of honesty. To be able to see yourself as another jew, to not measure yourself based on benchmarks that are tangible but to understand that in terms of where this person is coming from, what type of Avodah this person is receiving and then to not know who the ribbono shel olam is getting more nachas from. From the person with the strongest abilities in the world or maybe it’s the one with the least abilities in the world. To not know the answer to that, it’s a big zechus.
Hashem should bless us, we should be zoche to become chassidim like that. Be humble and honest with ourselves. To appreciate another jew, to appreciate Avodah that any jew is able to muster up at whatever level they have. To serve Hashem with whatever they can. We should have a week of nechama, yeshua, parnassah and shefa mamash ad bli day, b’vias goel tzedek amen.