Chassidic Story #247

story #247 (s5762-43/ 29 Tammuz)
Rabbi Moshe Galante of Zefat heard about the extraordinary holiness of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the ARI). He decided to seek his advice.


The pious and well-known scholar, Rabbi Moshe Galante of Tsfat (Safed), heard an account from his brother about the extraordinary holiness of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the ARI), the foremost Kabbalist of the generation. He decided to seek his advice. Perhaps the Ari could help him to further perfect himself, he thought excitedly.

"Frankly, I never thought before that you were anyone special, but now that I have heard differently, I have come to request of you a tikun [rectification] for my soul.

"Why ask me?" asked the ARI, modestly, "I am not a prophet."

After several further rounds of request and denial, R. Galante pleaded: "It is stated that you have the power to discern the root of a person's soul and his previous incarnations, but I am not asking for that. I just want to know what have I done that requires rectification from the day my soul was born into this body until now, so that I will not have to undergo any further reincarnations. I know you can see such things on a person's forehead; please read mine!"

At this impassioned plea, the ARI gazed intently at R. Moshe for a moment and murmured, "borderline theft." Instantly, R. Galante jumped up and ran off, not even saying goodbye. As soon as he reached his home he stripped off his clothes and donned sackcloth and ashes. Throwing himself to the ground, he cried out to G-d, weeping and slapping himself the entire time. Finally, he sent for all the employees of his textile business and demanded that if anyone felt that he or she had been shortchanged or paid unfairly in any way, to please present a claim now, even for the tiniest amount. When they all denied any wrongdoing on his part, R. Galante exclaimed: "What are you doing to me! Don't you see what condition I am in? The ARI has said that I am guilty of borderline theft."

He then spread out a large amount of money before them and said: "Each of you take however much you wish. If I owe you anything, then the debt is cancelled; if not, it is a present." Even then no one responded, until finally one woman stepped forward and took a small sum.

R. Galante then hurried back to the ARI, who assured him that his forehead no longer revealed any trace of sin. He went on to explain that the woman who had taken the money did a delicate kind of weaving, and it could be considered that she deserved a slightly higher wage than the other workers.

Needless to say, after this episode R. Galante always acted towards the ARI with the greatest of respect.


[Translated and freely adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Shivchei HaAri. You may distribute this e-mail as long as full attribution is given, including Ascent's email and internet addresses, as in the heading.]

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Biographical notes:
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Holy Ari), 1534-1572, was the most influential Kabbalist since Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai 1800 years ago. Much of Chassidic thought is based on the Ari's teachings, as recorded by his main disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital.

Rabbi Moshe Galante [1540-1614] was one of four (along with Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of Shulchan Aruch) to receive semicha from Rabbi Yaakov Beirav in the 'renewal of semicha' controversy. He and his brother Avraham (1540-1588), who subsequently became the city's chief rabbi, lived in Tsfat in the 1500's.

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