Thursday, October 17, 2013

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Tales of Chassidim - Reb Chaim Chaikel of Amdura

via Lma’an Yisme’u

Reb Chaim Chaikel of Amdura was a great talmid (Torah student) of the Mezritcher Maggid (the disciple and leader of the chassidic movement after the Baal Shem Tov). He wrote a sefer "Chaim Vachesed". Reb Chaikel passed away on the 23rd of Adar, תקמ"ז.

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Once, during krias shema al hamita (the Jewish prayer said before falling asleep in bed), Reb Chaikel fainted. When he was revived people wanted to know the cause of the faint. Reb Chaikel answered with a parable:

A mighty king had many servants, each charged to make different kinds of clothing and vessels for the king's court. Every morning they would receive their task and every evening they would present their work to the king. These items were kept in the king's treasury.

A certain servant was lazy. Not only did he not do his job correctly but also ruined the material which he was given to work with. When it came time to go before the king, the servant was so overtaken by the shame that he fainted.

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The story behind Reb Chaikel's becoming a chossid is the following:

The Mezritcher Maggid once called in Reb Aharon of Karlin ("Hagodol") (who later became a Rebbe and the founder of the Karliner chassidic movement) and told him that "in Amdur there is 'A gegosener Menorah' (a ready-to-light Menorah). It just needs to be lit."

Reb Aharon went to Amdur and found a shul (synagogue) where Reb Chaikel was learning in his tallis and tefillin. Reb Aharon went up to him and asked him "Vos tut a yungerman?" (What do you do, young man?). Reb Chaikel answered "I learn Torah lishma!" (I learn Torah for no personal gain). Reb Aharon turned to him and asked, "If so where are the "devorim harbei"? (The Mishna says that those who learn Torah lishma merit 'many things'). Having said this, Reb Aharon turned and left the shul.

Reb Chaikel was taken aback by these words and went looking for Reb Aharon. When he found him, he asked, "Indeed, where are the "dvorim harbei"? Reb Aharon answered, "This you will get in Mezritch."

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