Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
The Power to Heal - a story of the Neshkizer rebbe
A story from Magid Yitzhak Buxbaum. You can order his new book, The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov, on his website, www.jewishspirit.com. You can also read more stories on his website, including one more about Rabbi Mordechai Shapiro of Neshkiz, the hero of this story, in Reb Yitzhak's online journal.
Reb Yitzhak writes: This story teaches us how we are supposed to pray for someone suffering or seriously ill — until we actually squeeze our soul out of our body, because we cannot bear to be in this world if they suffer so much! We may not reach this exalted level in our praying, but this tale provides a shining model of what to strive for.
The Power to Heal
Rebbe Mordechai of Neshkiz was at a big wedding in Slavita, Russia, which many great rebbes and rabbis attended. At that time, early in his career, the Rebbe of Neshkiz had become famous as a miracle worker, but many of the other Torah leaders did not yet know him. After the wedding, when the Neshkizer had already left, some of the Torah leaders who remained discussed among themselves how the Rebbe of Neshkiz had become such a great miracle worker. And they began to consider that perhaps his power was not from the side of holiness. So they decided to send two delegates to Neshkiz to ask him about it. If he would not tell them, then certainly he was not from the side of holiness, and they would do everything possible to oppose him. So they sent two rabbis to him to ask him why he was able to perform such great miracles.
The Rebbe greeted these two rabbis, who bluntly asked him their question. In reply, he went over and got a Kabbalistic siddur, and opened it to the page with the prayer Ana BeKhoach. He then pointed out to them the Kabbalistic secrets found in every verse and phrase of the prayer. He said, "If one wants God, blessed be, to help with livelihood, one meditates on this divine Name in this part of the prayer; if one wants another kind of help, one meditates on this other Name." And he continued to show them that all the divine Names that effected salvation in every possible situation are found in Ana BeKhoach. "But the truth is," he said, "I've never used any of these Names. Let me tell you how I came to have the power to do all these miracles."
"When I was a young man I once went out for a walk to be alone and to take a rest from my divine service [of Torah study and prayer]. While on the street, immersed in my thoughts, I heard the rumble of carriage wheels; I looked up and saw an open carriage slowly pass by, and in it lay a man who was terribly sick, with sores covering his body from the soles of his feet to the top of his head; and he was groaning in pain. I immediately began to weep for him. And I prayed for God, blessed be He, to send healing and cure him!
"I wept and prayed so much that my soul actually left my body. When I came to the Upper World, the angels began to yell at me, 'What are you doing here? Your time to pass away hasn't come yet!' And they ordered me to return to this world. I told them, 'If there can be someone in that world who is so sick and suffers so much, I don't want to be there any more! I can't bear it!' They passed what I said on to the heavenly court and the court sent back a promise to me that because I really felt the man's pain, anyone on whom I had pity would immediately be healed. That's where I got the power to perform all these miracles of healing."
When the two emissaries took this information back to the tzaddikim and Torah leaders who had sent them, they then sent out messages to all the cities where Jews lived to tell them that all the sick people should immediately go to Neshkiz and the Rebbe there would heal them.
And that was what happened. Sick people from all over went to Neshkiz and were healed, and so many of those who were crippled or bed-ridden threw away their crutches or the wooden pallets they had been carried there on, that they were used to heat up the baths.
I always feel it's important to cite the source of your story.
Posted by: Rabbi Eli Mallon at September 25, 2008 9:29 PM
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006