Monday, March 31, 2008
What's the Take-Away Point of This Story? - Chernobyler Ma'aseh
My friend Rabbi Reuven Boshnack shared with me the following story told over to him by the Rav of his Shul, Rav Mordechai Twersky. We were discussing the story and we were trying to put our finger on exactly what the take-away point of the story is. Any thoughts would be appreciated. The story goes like this:
Rav Mordechai Twersky heard this story from his father, who heard it from his father, going back to the courtyard of Rav Mordechai of Chernobyl, the Chernobyler Magid, the son of Reb Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, the Meor Einayim.
There was a blind man who was always seen standing beside the Chernobyler Magid during Havdalah. People thought this was a strange sight so someone asked the man what his story was.
He told over that when he was younger, he was a Chossid of the Chozeh of Lublin. Every Shabbos the Chozeh went into his room for a period of time after Shabbos mincha, but before going down to join the rest of the Chassidim for Shalosh Sheudos. This man was very curious to know what the Chozeh was doing during this time. So one Shabbos, he hid in the closet in the Chozeh's room before mincha was over to see what the Chozeh was doing.
When the Chozeh entered the room, it was completely dark already and the man couldn't see anything. So he left the closet and walked up to where the Chozeh was sitting. The Chozeh had a sefer open and seemed to be learning it, although there was virtually no light in the room. The man approached closer and looked at the open sefer that the Chozeh was holding. He saw that there was light coming out of the sefer.
In disbelief, he ran out of the room, but it was still dark outside the room also. He felt his way down to Shalosh Sheudos, but there was no light there either. Even after Shabbos, no one seemed to have any candles lit. He eventually realized that he couldn't see any light because he was blind! The next morning, he went to the Chozeh to ask him for help. He explained what he had done and asked the Rebbe to forgive him. But the Rebbe told him that if someone looks at another person's "Ohr Pnim," there is nothing he can do to help. He begged that he do something, so the Chozeh told him that perhaps if he went to the Chernobyler Magid, he could help him.
So he traveled to the Chernobyler Magid and told him the story. The Magid told him that one cannot look at the Ohr Pnim of a Tzadik like the Chozeh without consequences. But he said, "It is said that if one gazes at the light of the havdalah candle, that it restores 1/500th of his eyesight."
Therefore, the man would stand with the Magid every Motzoi Shabbos as he made havdalah, and would look at the candle. It is said that by the end of his life, the man could see enough to make out shapes.
This is a very interesting ma'aseh, but if anyone has an insight into the take-away point, I'd like to hear your thoughts!
(Picture of Rav Mordechai Twersky of Flatbush courtesy of Wikipedia)
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