Stories Archive:
#929-983 (5776)

As told by Yerachmiel Tilles,
The co-founder and first educational director of Ascent-of-Safed, originator and maintainer of this website, and managing editor of Kabbala Online, who has hundreds of published stories to his credit, with many having been translated into other languages. He tells them live in Tsfat (Safed) nearly every week, at his home on Friday evenings and at Ascent on Saturday nights. To receive the Story by e-mail every Wednesday--sign up here!


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#984 (s5777-01 / 29 Elul 5776)

The Missing Sobs of the Shofar

Although he was often asked to lead the synagogue in prayer and was always chosen to sound the shofar on Rosh HaShana, it wasn't enough.

Connection:Seaonal - Rosh HaShana.

#983 (s5776-55 / 23 Elul 5776)

Still Asleep at Midnight

"What's so urgent that can't keep until morning?" asked Rabbi Shmuel Munkes.

Connection:Seaonal - Week of Selcichot before Rosh HaShana.

#982 (s5776-54 / 16 Elul 5776)

Greater than Resurrection

I saw the Baal Shem Tov perform wonders, but that ability did not interest me; I sought to see remarkable levels of sanctity.

Connection:Seaonal - Chai Elul: 318th anniversary of the birth of Israel Baal Shem Tov

#981 (s5776-53 / 9 Elul 5776)

The Oldest Living Man's Real Claim to Fame

When interviewed during the Guinness World Records ceremony at his Haifa home, his calm response to all the attention encapsulated his basic outlook on life.

Connection:Seaonal - September 15 (this week) plus Elul 22 (next week)

Click here for an updating SUPPLEMENT

#980 (s5776-52 / 2 Elul 5776)

Ship Shape, Boat Bye

World War I was raging in Europe, when a worried couple came to see Rabbi Pinchas Dovid HaLevi Horowitz, the first Bostoner Rebbe, in Boston's North End. They feared for their son's life.

Connection:Weekly Reading - being drafted for war (Deut. 20:1-9).

#979 (s5776-51 / 25 Menachem-Av 5776)

ELUL: the Month of No Visitors

One wealthy person felt so desperate, he decided he had to go to the Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk even during Elul.

Connection:Seasonal - The climactic month of Elul begins this Shabbat.

#978 (s5776-50 / 18 Menachem-Av 5776)

The Monetary Value of Expensive Mezuzot

His rabbi explained to him that if you spend extra effort or money to enhance a mitzvah, "G-d will repay you."

Connection:Weekly Reading - Contains the 2nd section of the Shma Yisrael prayer, which includes the 2nd mention of the mitzvah of mezuzah.

#977 (s5776-49 / 11 Menachem-Av 5776)

Hospitality Repercussions

The head of the Rabbinical Court declared that a husband shouldn't bring guests home without permission from his wife, and vice versa.

Connection: Seasonal - Av 11-13 (Aug. 15-17, 2016), the 29th annual Klezmer Music Festival in Tsfat

#976 (s5776-48 / 4 Menachem-Av 5776)

Wake Up!

Once, the holy Arizal of Tsfat, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, came to Rabbi Avraham Halevi Bruchim with grave tidings: "It has been disclosed to me that all the years allotted to you have passed....I see only one possibility for you to live."

Connection: Seasonal - Av 5 (this year: Aug. 8-9) is the 444th yahrzeit of the holy Ari.

#975 (s5776-47 / 26 Tammuz 5776)

The Land of the Living

The Tzemach Tzedek remarked, "I have two and a half chasidim,"-one of them being Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef of Drivin.

Connection: Weekly Reading - Preparing to live in the Holy Land.

#974 (s5776-46 / 19 Tammuz 5776)

Worse Than an Apostate?

Much to the chasid's surprise, Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin laughed. What was so funny? His clarifying explanation was even more perplexing:

Connection: Seasonal: Tammuz 22 (this year: July 28) is the 224th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin

#973 (s5776-45 / 14 Tammuz 5776)

Heavenly Protection from a Book and a Rabbi

The Israeli-dressed man entered the study hall of the Husyatin chasidim in Tel Aviv, scanned the bookcases and pulled out a volume of "Ohr HaChayim." the famous commentary on the Torah by the 18th century sage and kabbalist, Rabbi Chayim Ben-Atar.

Connection: Seasonal: The 273rd yahrzeit of the Ohr HaChayim is on Tammuz 15 (this year: July 21).

#972 (s5776-44 / 5 Tammuz 5776)

The Rejected Ruble

"Now remember," the Tzemach Tzedek told him, "pay me back at the end of the term!"

Connection: Weekly Reading of Chukat (outside Israel), where we learn that the Jews' clothes did not wear out during the 40 years, in the merit of Aharon, brother of Moshe.

#971 (s5776-43 / 28 Sivan 5776)

Disney World Comes to Lubavitch

He decided to consult with a Rabbi, but before he could he 'happened' to encounter a Chabad friend.

Connection: Shabbat is the 22nd anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

#970 (s5776-42 / 21 Sivan 5776)

The Ninety-Year-Old's Father's Tallit

When he saw this he was astounded. Never having encountered anything like this before, he was afraid to continue.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Shelach (outside Israel) -- concludes with the mitzvah of attaching tzitzis (intricately woven strings) to the corners of one's four-cornered garments.

#969 (s5776-41 / 14 Sivan 5776)

Chasidic Love for the Land of Israel

At the expense of great travail and even life itself, many chasidic rebbes sought to support the Holy Land.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Shelach (Israel) -- the love of The Land and its opposite.

#968 (s5776-40 / 8 Sivan 5776)

Simple Sincere Singers of Psalms

The greatest disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, outstanding in purity and Torah scholarship, could not fathom their master's fondness for uneducated Jews, even if they were pious.

Connection: Seasonal -- This week began with the Festival of SHAVUOT. Besides its biblical significances, it is also the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov and of King David, author/compiler of the Book of Psalms.

#967 (s5776-39 / 29 Iyar 5776)

A Scroll and a Menorah for Adelaide

"The Qantas Airline pilot looked at me, looked at the precious Torah in my hands, and gave me a big grin."

Connection: Seasonal -- Shavuot, festival of "Giving of the Torah"

#966 (s5776-38 / 22 Iyar 5776)

The Blessing of Thirteen

"There is no more room in the house, and we can't really afford any more children."

Connection: Weekly Reading of Bamidbar - census.

#965 (s5776-37 / 15 Iyar 5776)

The One-Eyed electrician at Meron

When the man from the Israel Electric Company stepped back from the tomb marker of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, someone suddenly grabbed his arm and astonished him by saying, "Praise G-d! My prayers are answered. Rabbi Shimon sent you to me!"

Connection: Seasonal -- Meron, Rashbi

#964 (s5776-36 / 8 Iyar 5776)

A Matter of Lineage

A chasid brazenly challenged his rebbe, Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz: "My lineage is more distinguished than yours!"

Connection: Seasonal -- 190th yahrzeit of the Rofshitzer on Iyar 11.

#963 (s5776-35 / 1 Iyar 5776)

A Critical Exchange

Having lost all his money, he turned to Reb Shmuel-Shmelke of Nicholsburg to write a letter of introduction for him,

Connection: Seasonal -- 238th yahrzeit of Reb Shmelke on Iyar 2.

#962 (s5776-34 / 24 Nissan 5776)

Getting Away From There

"My parents forced me to come back from years in India for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur."

Connection: Seasonal -- Passover Leftovers

#961 (s5776-33 / 17 Nissan 5776)

Red Wine Forever

"The accident happened on Tisha B'Av, 1982....I had only one good eye. I had to close my practice since I couldn't schedule any surgeries."

Connection: Seasonal-114th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Nissan 11 (4 days before Pesach).

#960 (s5776-32 / 10 Nissan 5776)

A Passover Seder Debate

One Passover, the chasidim were upset. They could sense that the Baal Shem Tov was not in his usual buoyant spirits.

Connection: Seasonal-Passover Seder.

#959 (s5776-31 / 3 Nissan 5776)

Rebbetzin vs. Rabbi in Paris

"As a young boy with a healthy sense of curiosity, I wanted to know why Rabbi Shneur-Zalman Schneerson had called for my father at this late hour."

Connection: Seasonal-a week or so before Pesach.

#958 (s5776-30 / 25 Adar B 5776)

The One honest Man

"Was everything you did for the mitzvah itself and not for monetary compensation?" challenged the Rebbe Rashab.

Connection: Seasonal-96th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shalom-DovBer Schneersohn on Saturday night

#957 (s5776-29 / 18 Adar B 5776)

Signs of a Kosher Host

Two Chassidim whose rebbe had passed away traveled to visit Rabbi Meir of Premishlan in order to decide whether or not to choose him as their new rebbe.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- "Cud-chewers and Hoof-splitters"

#956 (s5776-28 / 11 Adar B 5776)

The Blank Paper Jest

The general who Catherine the Great appointed to govern over the city of Shklov was cruel and vicious.

Connection: Seasonal -- PURIM

#955 (s5776-27 / 4 Adar B 5776)

Ignore the Bolsheviks

They heard the voice of Rabbi Sholom-Dovber Schneersohn of Lubavitch: "The Bolsheviks are in the city. I cannot exist together with them. But for the sake of Purim, we'll forget them; go buy plenty of vodka and let there be light for the Jews!"

Connection: Seasonal/Weekly Reading (added section) -- "Remember what Amalek did to you" - May his name and all traces of him be blotted out.

#954 (s5776-26 / 27 Adar A 5776)

The Royal Accountant

The third partner in the business of importing feathers and hides from Russia and Galicia was the son of Rabbi Sar-Shalom, the first Rebbe of Belz

Connection: Weekly Torah portion -- The "book-keeping" for the Sanctuary donations is the theme for the entire Reading

#953 (s5776-25 / 20 Adar A 5776)

The Unknown Rabbinical Authority

When the wife of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach passed away after 54 years of marriage, he was heard to utter the most remarkable words at her funeral.

Connection: Seasonal-21st yahrzeit of R. Shlomo-Zalman

#952 (s5776-24 / 13 Adar A 5776)

The Rebel Against Shabbos - A Modern Tale

One Shabbos, he decided to teach those impudent Ultra Orthodox a lesson. He drove his car down Meah Shearim Street "like a Roman charioteer," as he described it...

Connection: Weekly Reading-the opening verses speak of the prohibition against doing certain forms of work on the Shabbat.

#951 (s5776-23 / 6 Adar A 5776)

Beware of Praising the Sick

Amazed at the explanation of his young son, Rabbi Avraham Borenstein, the Sochatchover Rebbe-to-be, the father repeated it to his Rebbe when he was next in Kotsk.

Connection: Seasonal-106th yahrzeit of the Avnei Nezer rebbe.

#950 (s5776-22 / 29 Shvat 5776)

Life-and-Death Matters

In November 1938, the Chief Rabbi of London, Rabbi Yechezkel Abramski, embarked on a frantic campaign to secure funding to ensure that every kindertransport child would be placed in a proper Jewish environment.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Trumah ("Contributions"). .

#949 (s5776-21 / 22 Shvat 5776)

Activating Sources of Income

There were very few people from whom Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk ever agreed to accept money.

Connection: Seasonal - the 157th yahrzeit of the Kotzker falls on Monday of this week.

#948 (s5776-20 / 16 Shvat 5776)

The Junior Draftsman

"One day I applied for a job at a huge woodworking factory that produced furniture and other items for the government. Because it was wartime, the factory was open seven days a week. "

Connection: Weekly Reading--Shabbat is the 4th of the 10 Commandments.

#947 (s5776-19 / 8 Shvat 5776)

An Unusual Portrait

"We are Sephardi Jews of rich ancestry, yet we had a picture hanging on our wall of a bearded Ashkenazi man in a black hat, a suit, and a tie."

Connection: Seaaonal -- Yud Shvat (Tuesday night-Wednesday) is the 66th yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz.(and the date one year later his son-in-law officially accepted the role of successor).

#946 (s5776-18 / 1 Shvat 5776)

Silver Nitrate Disaster

The doctor took a more personal interest in Daniel's treatment, suggesting more spiritual, Jewish channels of healing

Connection: Weekly Reading - Concludes with the first two mentions of tefilin in the Torah

#945 (s5776-17 / 23 Tevet 5776)

The Strongman of Shklov

The opponents of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Chabad plotted to throw stones at him as he departed their city.

Connection: Seasonal - the 204th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shneur Zalman falls on Monday night - Tuesday of this week

#944 (s5776-16 / 16 Tevet 5776)

Children in Dreams and Wheelchairs

Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira was an accomplished scholar and kabbalist who performed many miracles in 19th century Morocco. His tomb in Egypt is an official antiquity site protected by the government of Egypt.

Connection: Seasonal - the yahrzeit falls towards the end of this week..

#943 (s5776-15 / 9 Tevet 5776)

How to Explain?

They assumed that they had somehow pulled into the wrong driveway and drove around the block. Alas, it was their address.

Connection: Seasonal--end of December.

#942 (s5776-14 / 3 Tevet 5776)

The USA Presidential Decision in 1948

President Truman said to Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, "I am glad of the opportunity to explain to you why I recognized the State of Israel."

Connection: Weekly Reading - Pharaoh appreciated Yosef so he helped his people

#941 (s5776-13 / 25 Kislev 5776)

A Timely Invitation

Most of us know the importance of simply closing the door on missionaries the very first time they appear at our homes.

Connection: Seasonal: CHANUKAH

#940 (s5776-12 / 20 Kislev 5776)

Double Jeopardy

The Sadigorer Rebbe suffered more in prison from his coarse Ukrainian cellmate than he did from any physical pain.

Connection: Weekly Reading (Yosef in Egypt) and Yud-Tet Kislev (the founder of Chabad, in Russia) - a tzadik in prison.

#939 (s5776-11 / 11 Kislev 5776)

A Swift Solution

"I mean what I say. A promise is a promise," replied the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- which begins: "Yaakov sent messengers" (to his estranged brother).

#938 (s5776-10 / 4 Kislev 5776)

Sold into Slavery

The local rabbis decided to consult Rabbi Yaakov-Shimshon of Shepetovka about the woman whose husband, according to the account of his friend, had passed away in a distant land.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- Gen. 31:38-40--exposed to elements while guarding the flock.

#937 (s5776-09 / 27 Mar-Cheshvan 5776)

Sixty Thousand Descendants

At his grandson's circumcision celebration, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev recounted the following episode Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Sassov:

Connection: Weekly Reading - "Toldot" = generations, offspring

#936 (s5776-08 / 20 Mar-Cheshvan 5776)

The First Match

He told Rabbi Moshe-Zvi of Sevran about the difficulties he was having finding a wife. Because he was a poor Torah scholar and a widow, no one would offer him a match.

Connection: Weekly Reading - Finding a Match

#935 (s5776-07 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan 5776)

The Modern Slaughterer with an Ancient Knife

Totally out of character, Rabbi Yehuda-Zvi of Strettin requested a portion of juicy tender meat.

Connection: [Midrash on] weekly reading 1) Gen. 18:7 with Rashi----The patriarch Avraham slaughtered three calves, one for each of his three guests. 2) Gen. 22:6,10-the knife of Abraham..

#934 (s5776-06 / 6 Mar-Cheshvan 5776)

The Judge with an Excellent Memory

His father blamed the Rosh Yeshivah and filed charges against him of brainwashing his 18-year-old son and of engineering his flight from home.The trial aroused great interest, and took place in a packed courtroom

Connection: [Midrash on] weekly reading--Terach abandoned the ways of his holy ancestors, and Avraham turned from the ways of his father, Terach, and cleaved to the One G-d.

#933 (s5776-05 / `29 Tishrei 5776)

A Jew Who Has Gratitude to a Dog

"Humans can never be trusted. The only love that is unconditional is the one from your pet."

Connection: Weekly reading -- Living with Animals (Noah's Ark)

#932 (s5776-04 / `24 Tishrei 5776)

Full Cycles

After both men had finished speaking, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin bent down and put his ear to the ground.

Connection: Weekly reading -- Gen. 3:19

#931 (s5776-03 / ``14 Tishrei 5776)

Two Rickety Sukkahs

As winds howl outside, the fatherreassures his family that the holiday candles will not blow out and the sukkah will remain standing.

Connection: Seasonal--festival of Sukkot

#930 (s5776-02 / 8 Tishrei 5776)

A Heaven-Inspired Torah Code

His former student, now a noble, summoned the Ramban to appear before him…on Yom Kippur!

Connections (2): Weekly Reading--verse 32:26 is central to the story; .Seasonal--the events of the story took place on Yom Kippur

#929 (s5776-01 / 3 Tishrei 5776)

Good Advice Twice

For the last twelve years of the life, the Tchebiner Rav's health seriously declined, and he was instructed by his doctors to take a rest every afternoon..

Connection: Seasonal--Erev Yom Kippur


How to Live to Be 104

At age 104, David Schleifer doesn't look a bit older than 72, the age of his son, the sole survivor of five children.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- fuflfilling the commandments, avoiding speaking evil of others.

#9?? (s5776-?? / ? Shvat 5776)

An Unusual Portrait

"We Sephardim typically decorate our walls with portraits of Sephardi tzadikim - usually arrayed in turbans and robes - but in our house we had a picture of an Ashkenazi man in a black hat, a suit, and a tie."

Connection: Seasonal-we are between Tammuz 3, the yahrzeit of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Tammuz 12, the birthday and Liberation Day of his predecessor, the Rebbe Rayatz.


Archived Stories (click on the desired year):
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