Monday, May 27, 2013

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The Story IS the story…

via Lma’an Yishme’u

th (7)The Rambam writes that speaking highly of the noble qualities of tzaddikim (the righteous) is beneficial, for it encourages one's listeners to want to follow their ways. Rabbeinu Yonah writes that by praising tzaddikim one is praising HaShem, and doing so also brings out the good within the speaker.

(פיהמ"ש אבות א,טז, שערי תשובה שער ג')

Sent by the Tzemach Tzedek (the 3rd Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch) to Ruzhin to take care of a public matter, the chossid and gaon Reb Aizik Homiler used the opportunity to observe the ways of the Ruzhiner chassidim and of their Rebbe, the tzaddik Reb Yisroel. At that time, two chassidim came to Ruzhin to receive the Rebbe's haskama (approval letter) for seforim (holy Jewish books) they had written. One was filled with chiddushei Torah (holy insights in the Torah and Torah learning topics) and the other recounted sippurim (stories) of tzaddikim and notable chassidim.

The Rebbe instructed that part of each sefer be read aloud. After sitting in dveikus (holy meditation) for some time, he proceeded to praise the telling of sippurei tzaddikim (stories of the righteous), an activity in this world that arouses echoes in the heichalos of tzaddikim in Olam HaBa (the holy chambers of the righteous in Heaven), and then delivered a pilpul (religious Torah law discussion) on some of the chiddushei Torah (law insights) that appeared in the first sefer. Having done that, he instructed his gabbai (assistant) to write haskamos (approval letters) for the seforim, first for the sippurim and then for the chiddushim.

Reb Aizik was impressed with the tzaddik's pilpul on the second sefer, but was puzzled by the precedence he had given to the sippurei tzaddikim. A few days later, at a Rosh Chodesh seuda, the tzaddik suddenly said, "This gaon is surprised at the priority I gave to the sippurim. In fact, this was addressed long ago by Rashi, who asks why the Torah begins with the story of the Avos, before listing the mitzvos. This is because the sippurim tell us about the greatness of HaShem's involvement in the world."

Turning to Reb Aizik, he concluded, "I followed the same order the Torah used."

(אג"ק מוהריי"צ ח"ו ע' עו)

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