Dreaming of Moshiach

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Neshama Confesses Sins to the Living

Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, zs'l, was a Gaon, Gdol HaDor, and Av Bet Din ("Father of the House of Justice"). His righteous wife, a'h, was very punctilious preparing for Shabbat Kodesh, even when they were very poor. She would somehow always scrap up some pennies to purchase fish and meat for Shabbat.

One Thursday, the Rabbanit was unable to find fish in the market, since the weather was very stormy and the fishermen did not catch anything. "No one will have fish for Shabbat," the fisherman said to her. When he saw the pain on her face, he said, "Wait a little while, 2 fishermen will be returning soon from the sea, maybe they succeeded catching a fish."

About an hour later, the 2 fishermen returned and sold her the only 2 fish they caught. While standing there with fish in her hand, the wife of a rich man appeared in the market and requested fish from the fisherman. The fishermen replied that there no fish are available. The rich man's wife pointed at the Rabbanit's fish and asked the fishermen how she got fish. They told her that only 2 fish were caught and since the Rabbanit waited patiently and paid for it, they are hers.

When the rich woman's wife heard this, she yelled, "Who is this poor woman? Is it proper that this worthless woman gets the fish while everyone else doesn't? I'm going to take the fish!". She walked over to the Rabbanit and grabbed the fish out of her hand and quickly fled away on her carriage, commanding the driver to go fast.

The Rabbanit stood there nailed to the ground, shocked, and began weeping. After about an hour when she calmed down, she went home and told her husband, HaRav HaKadosh Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, what occurred at the market.

The Rav called his helper and commanded him to go to the rich man's residence and return the stolen fish. "If they don't want to return the fish, tell the rich man's wife, in my name, that she's arrogant. (In hebrew, חצופה also means פרוצה whore). The helper was terrified to go on this mission and begged to be dismissed, "If I say that the wife is arrogant (whore), I'll be killed before the words are even out of my mouth." The Rav comforted his helper and told him there is nothing to be afraid of, it's a very important mission he's being sent to do. The helper refused. The Rav threatened him if he doesn't do as told, he will be excommunicated.

The helper went, with Emunah in HKB'H. When he got to the rich man's house, he said, "I have come on a mission from the Rav and he commanded me to return the fish that your wife stole at the market today from the Rabbanit."

The wife of the rich man heard this as well as well as other important people who were in the house. In front of everyone, the rich man's wife yelled curses at the Rav and Rabbanit. The helper waited for her to become silent, turned to the guests in the house and said, "You know me, I'm the helper of the Rav in his house and in the Bet Din and must fulfill his commandments and repeat his words." The guests encouraged the helper to say what was stuck in his throat, and the helper announced, "The Rav commanded me to say infront of all the people in this house, that this woman, the rich man's wife, is arrogant (whore)." The helper did not wait one second and fled from the house for his life.

In the rich man's house, the wife started yelling, "I warned you who the Rav and Rabbanit are! Why are you all silent and not protecting me?" The rich man was very embarrased and in order to save his ego, he said, "You heard what the Rav said about my wife. I want all of us to agree right now that we are going to expel the Rav and his family from our city."

The guests were bewildered and not sure what to do. They knew that the rich man has much influence in the city. They also wondered how the Rav dared to say such harsh words infront of the rich man, his wife, and the guests. But they knew that their Rav is a smart, just, and righteous man, and would not say anything irrational.

They all agreed not to do anything for the time being and on Shabbat, they will try to influence the Rav to take back his words, and if he won't do it, they will notify him that he's no longer wanted and must leave. This way they will come out 'clean', not expelling the Rav quickly, without just.

On Shabbat, the whole townspeople showed up at the shul, everyone heard what happened... When the Rav entered the shul, no one stood up for him to show respect. Even worse, the rich man sat on the Rav's chair. The Rav understood immediately what is going on and knew their plan to expel him. The Rav stood quietly at the entrance of the shul, and the congregants got very scared and stood up for him, except the rich man. The Rav didn't hesitate and approached his usual chair and raised the rich man out of his chair, and sat instead of him in his chair. When he sat down, he asked out loud, "My brothers, what do you want from me?."

The head of the community replied, "You are very dear to us, respectful Rav. But the rich man is also very important to us. We are demanding that you cancel the derogatory remark about his wife, or proove that it's true."

"I'll do as you ask," replied the Rav, "But not on Shabbat. Tomorrow, b'h, you will all witness the truth and see that I did not lie."

Everyone accepted this except the rich man, "If the Rav has something to say, let him say it now and not postpone it for tomorrow. He probably wants to run away as soon as Shabbat is over."

Before anyone can respond, the Rav looked at the rich man and silenced him with his holy eyes. Afterwards he got up and said, "It's better if you keep silent, you fool! I did not lie and will not lie! And you, shame and disgrace on you, behind your back your wife sinned and you don't even know. Tomorrow, the man she committed the sin with will appear and give testimony what your wife did, and she'll have no choice but to confess."

The rich man was shaking from anger. The Rav called his helper and said to him, "Tomorrow morning, you will take my stick, go to the cemetery and knock on the specific grave I'll tell you. You will tell the soul, in my name, to appear at the Bet Din, 10 in the morning, earth time." He turned to the congregants and told them, "Tomorrow at 10 am, you will all come and bring the woman with you and you will all know that there is GOD!."

The following day, the Rav arrived, wrapped in his Talit and Tefillin and told his helper to make a small separation from curtain for the dead witness. The rich man's wife refused to come to the Bet Din but she was warned that if she doesn't show up, the dead man will get her either dead or alive. Forcibly, she arrived.

The Rav turned to the community and said, "If you will hear the voice of the man that worked in the rich man's house and died a year ago, will you recognize him?". "Yes", they all replied. The Rav turned his head towards the curtain separator and said, "You, ploni ben ploni, tell the community what went on between you and the wife of the rich man."

The community got frightened when the dead man started speaking. "Listen, today I confess infront of you and will reveal things that I hid from you when I was alive and because I concealed it, my sins grew multifolds and have no rest. Maybe after hearing my confession, you will be able to pray for me and ease my suffering neshama.

I was loyal employee at the house of the rich man. One day, the rich man travelled to Bucharest for business and I was in the house, doing my work. Towards evening when I got ready to leave, the wife of the rich man approached me and asked me to sleep in the house for the night, for she was afraid to stay alone. I agreed and stayed in my working room, which is placed far from her bedroom. At midnite, the wife came to my room and tempted me to sin with her, with promises of money. She even threatened that if I don't comply, she will begin yelling that a robber in the house, coming to steal all their money and warned me that I'll spend the rest of my life in prison. This is how she enticed me to sin."

With a crying desperate voice, the dead man pleaded, "According to judgment, I am guilty. Know that I am in Kaf Hakela, moving and wandering while getting beaten up. I don't have permission to even enter Gehenom ."

The Rav turned to the woman and told her to confess. She was too petrified to even open her mouth. The fear that possessed her and the tears running down her face prooved her guilt.

"Wicked!", yelled the Rav, "Are the words of the dead man true? Will you confess your sin?". With great effort, in a defeated voice, the wife said, "I cannot deny the dead man's truth. Everything he said is true."

The Rav turned to the community and said, "I promised you that I'll deliver the truth and today, you all witnessed the truth."

The Rav commanded to prepare divorce papers (Get) for the wife. 2 witnesses signed it, and infront of the community, the rich man divorced his wife, as per the Jewish law.

The Rav prepared for the sinning woman a Tikun. It was a very severe tikun, but she whole- heartedly accepted everything the Rav told her to do. The Rav also did a tikun for the dead man, because he confessed his disgraceful sins in public. After the Rav did a tikun for his neshama, the soul found rest.

From that day on, the name of the Tzaddik Kadosh Elyon Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, zs'l, was known in all of Europe. May his merits protect us all, amen.




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו