A relative of the Rebbe Maharash once came from the Holy Land to visit him in Russia. While The Rebbe questioned him about the Jews in Israel the visitor commented, "I don't understand what is written that in the Holy land dwell lofty souls. I haven't seen that they are more special there than the Jews here."
"Oh, Let me tell you a story that I heard from my father about a simple Jew in the Land of Israel" said the Rebbe.
was once a simple Jewish farmer who lived outside of Jerusalem. He did
how to study Torah, nor did he even understand the words of his prayers.
In fact, he couldn't grasp the order of the prayers; when he
came to the city once a week to sell his produce, he would go to the
local rabbi, who would write down the order of the prayers for him for
the seven days of that week.
Once, the farmer came and was shocked to see that the Jewish stores were closed!
What's going on? He thought. Could he possibly have miscounted the days? Was it perhaps Shabbat today?
relieved he was when he saw a Jew carrying his tefillin. "No, it's not
Shabbat". But after inquiring as to what was going on, he was told that
a public fast-day.
A fast day? Why hadn't
the rabbi warned him? He quickly rushed over to the rabbi. "Rabbi!" he
cried out. "Today is a fast day!? You didn't write it down and I already
ate and i said the wrong prayers!"
"Relax", said the Rabbi. This is not a regular
fast day. We just decreed this special fast-day for the residents of
Jerusalem because of the possibility of a drought due to our lack of rain,
but you don't live here and so you are not obligated."
"When you need rain, you decree a fast?" he questioned. "When my
fields don't have enough rain" said the farmer, "I go out and say to
the One Above, 'Father! I need rain.' And then it starts
"If that's so" said the rabbi, "Why don't you try it now and let's see if it works here too"
And so the farmer went out and through tears he cried
out, "Father in Heaven! Can it be that the people of Your holy city will expire
from famine? Don't You see that they need rain?"
Immediately the sky
darkened and rain began to fall.
As the Rebbe Maharash completed the story, he said to his visitor , "So? Do you think you are able
to distinguish who in the Land has a lofty soul?"