Dreaming of Moshiach

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Tremendeous Test

A tremendeously inspiring true story...

In Antwerp, Belgium, Jews succeeded tremendeously in the business of jewellery and diamonds. In both areas, they are flourishing and are prosperous.

Eliyahu is a Jew whom immigrated from Georgia (near Russia) and opened a jewellery store in a popular area, with many stores similar to his.

A few years ago Eliyahu and Rav Shabtai Slavisky, Lubavitcher Community Rav, became close. Thru the years, as Eliyahu began learning about Judaism, with thanks to Rav Slavisky, he began observing a few Mitzvot, such as Tefillin and Kashrut. From time to time, he would learn and observe new Mitzvot.

But in one area Rav Slavisky suffered a great failure for Eliyahu - keeping the Shabbat. Just like his merchant freinds, Eliyahu would also keep his store open on Shabbat, "It's the best day for sales," claimed Eliyahu to the Rav. The Rav told him that any financial gain on Shabbat is without blessings but Eliyahu would not listen.

One day Eliyahu comes to the Rav, his eyes sparkling, "I decided not to open my store any longer on Shabbat," he excitedly announced. The Rav was no less excited, "Well done!", he said to Eliyahu and kissed him on the forehead. Months passed and Eliyahu kept his promise.

One Sunday, Eliyahu called the Rav, "Honorable Rav, I must see you right away, it's an emergency!". "Come over," Rav Slavisky invited him. When Eliyahu showed up, he was very nervous. "I need a tikun (correction), a big tikun!", he said.

"For what reason?," asked the Rav carefully. Eliyahu began to tell him what happened to him yesterday, on Shabbat. It was the Shabbat before the x-tians new year and Jewish jewellery merchants in Anterwep call it - how ridiculous - "Shabbat HaGadol", because this Shabbat is the most popular day for buyers to purchase jewellery for their wifes. Profits on this day is beyond imagination.

"All night long, I was turning in bed", confessed Eliyahu, "I kept thinking about the biggest day of sales that I'll miss tomorrow and the thought would not leave me. When I woke up in the morning, I felt my intestines turning like a tornadoe inside me. I managed to go to shul, but during the prayers, I was unable to concentrate. When I returned from the shul, I decided to pass by, only pass thru, the street where my store is, only to peek, and continue on...".

"I entered the street. What can I tell you? It was a difficult sight for me. All the stores were packed with buyers and buyers and buyers. Only my store is closed, empty, and desolate."

"Suddenly, the next door merchant recognized me, "Hey, Eli, what's going on? You retired?," he asked in amazement. His words cut my flesh, "No, I don't open on Shabbat," I answered. He looked at me like someone who lost his mind. "I am totally serious. It's been months. I don't open the store on Shabbat," I said to him.

"He looked straight at me and said, "Listen good, Eli, give G.od all the Shabbats of the year, but one Shabbat He must give you. To close the store on Shabbat HaGadol? I am surprised at you... Open your eyes, look what's happening here!", he said and pointed on the crowd packed into his store and all the stores."

"I almost gave into temptation. At the last second, I picked up my legs and ran home. I was so confused. I did Kiddush for my wife and children, and suddenly, I felt so dizzy. I saw in my eyes bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings floating. I thought about my friends, at the end of the day will be laughing all the way to the bank and I missed this opportunity. My legs wanted to return to my store."

"That minute I knew that I must do something extreme, 'I don't feel good', I blurted out, 'I'm going to take a rest'. I shut myself in the bedroom. I emptied a half a bottle of Vodka into my intestines and within a minute or 2, I was deep asleep and woke up towards the night. To the praise of my wife, she didn't ask any questions. She probably felt that I'm buring inside."

Eliyahu finished his story and apologized to the Rav, "I am sorry that this is the way I behaved on Shabbat, drunk and asleep. I come to you to give me a tikun, please."

Eliyahu noticed that Rav Shabtai Slavisky's eyes were tearing. Eliyahu also began to cry, "Is there no hope for me? Is there no tikun for me?," he asked in fear.

Rav Shabtai Slavisky needed a few moments to calm down from the excitement, "No, dearest Eliyahu, you don't understand. I'm not crying about your sin. The opposite is true, I'm crying because I'm jealous. You are a Tzaddik. As a matter of fact, you are much more than a Tzaddik. This is why it says, 'במקום שבעלי-תשובה עומדים, אפילו צדיקים גמורים אינם יכולים לעמוד' Where penitents stand…not even the perfectly righteous can stand."

Eliyahu was confused. "Look," said the Rav, "I am examining the Shabbat that I went thru and trying to compare it to the Shabbat you passed. I woke up in the morning, dunked in the Mikveh, went to shul, prayed calmly. Nothing bothered me and definitely, there was no storm brewing in my mind. I returned home, had Shabbat meal, with fish, meat, and songs. A total pleasure. It's clear what the Shabbat offered me but what did I offer the Shabbat? What did I sacrifice for Shabbat? I have no answer."

"Your Shabbat, Eliyahu, after years of regularly opening your store on Shabbat, you were able to overcome it and stopped working on Shabbat. Here you are, standing infront of all the crowded stores, deliberating and suffering. And yet, you were successful to withstand this tremendeous test. Do you have any idea what pleasure your Shabbat gave to the Upper Worlds? Now you can understand why I'm so jealous of you...".

Eliyahu understood the Rav and felt very encouraged. In his heart, he knew that from now on observing Shabbat will not be a matter of deliberation and doubt. After surviving the temptation of Shabbat HaGadol, nothing will break him now.

Translated from http://www.chabad.org.il/Magazines/Article.asp?ArticleID=1257&CategoryID=496




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