Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Reward of being Hospitable - Parents of R'Zusha Anipoli & R' Elimelach of Lyzansk

Eleizer Lippman and his wife, Mirush, were unusually hospitable people. Weary travelers and/or hungry beggars were never turned away. Their boundless hospitality did not go unnoticed in the Heavens. And a discussion up on High ensued as to how best to reward the couple. But then the Adversary stepped up and commented: "What they are doing is not really so difficult. So, some of them are poor and dressed in rags. A bit disheveled or even smelly. What of it? Would they treat a repulsive beggar with as much kindness and care as anyone else?" questioned the Adversary with a cynical smile.
And so it was decided that Eliezer and Mirush would be tested.
Days later, a leper knocked on the door of Eliezer and Mirush. Mirush smiled at the leper and invited him in.  "It is not necessary for me to come inside. I know what I look like" said the leper as he pointed to his many open, oozing sores and his matted hair.
"I have not bathed for months." he said quietly, ashamed of the horrific odor he emitted.
"Please do come inside," Mirush offered and she led him in and prepared warm, nourishing food. She insisted the leper stay in their home until he was healed.
Twice a day, Mirush applied special creams to the leper's sores. As his skin improved, Mirush carefully peeled off the ragged clothing which had been sticking to his body. Then Mirush arranged for the leper to bathe and she gave him a new set of clothing.
After a few weeks when the leper fully recovered they gave him some money, and Reb Eliezer accompanied him part of the way. The guest then said to Reb Eliezer, "In the merit of the kindness and hospitality you show toward every person, including a leprous beggar like myself, you and your wife will raise children who will be righteous tzadikim." 
From that time forth, their children began to excel in Torah learning, performance of mitzvot and in the refinement of their personality. Two of their sons, are the famous great R. Zusya of Anapoli and R. Elimelech of Lyzhansk.

Lofty Souls in the Holy Land

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.
There was once a simple Jewish farmer who lived outside of Jerusalem. He did not know 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?
How 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 it was 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 to rain."
 "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?"