Stories Archive:
#1082 - 1137 (5779)

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 every Wednesday by e-mail--with a printable PDF option--sign up here!


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#1137 (s5779-55/ 23 Elul, 5779)

The Purpose of Gold; the Power of Tanya

The two daughters married two brothers, with the approval of the Rebbe Rashab, who stipulated that the two couples live in different cities.

Connection: Seasonal --yahrzeits (2)
This week: 23 Elul 5779, 82nd yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir-Shlomo Yanovsky, maternal grandfather of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Next week: 6 Tishrei 5780, 45th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chana Shneerson, mother of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe.

#1136 (s5779-54/ 16 Elul, 5779)

Which Comes First?

The Baal Shem Tov stood still, his washing cup poised to pour water on his hands in preparation for the blessing on bread, but instead of continuing, he stopped

Connection: Seasonal -- Chai Elul, the eighteenth day of the Jewish month of Elul (this year: Tues. eve - Wed., Sept. 18,) marks the 321st year since the birthday of the Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the revealer of the Chassidic movement in 1734, on his 36th birthday.

#1135 (s5779-53/ 9 Elul, 5779)

In the Air to Brisbane

A Chabad chasid visiting in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was summoned by a Rebbe from a different chasidic group, who told him about a family in Boro Park that was searching for their long-lost daughter.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Ki Teitzei -- Laws of Divorce (Deut. 24:1-4)

#1134 (s5779-52/ 2 Elul, 5779)

Elul Leeches

When Rabbi Dov-Ber Shneuri (2nd Rebbe in the Chabad dynasty) was five years old, he studied with a tutor in the home of Avraham the doctor.

Connection: Seasonal: Elul, the final month of the Jewish year -- preparing for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur

#1133 (s5779-51/ 25 Menachem-Av, 5779)

The Almost Certain Death Sentence in Tiberias

"It was not a miracle at all; it is a clear verse in the Torah" insisted Rabbi Yaakov-Shimshon of Shepetovka

Connection: Weekly Reading of Re'eh -- the verse, "Open, you must open your hand to him [the needy fellow-Jew,]..." (Deut. 15:8) plays a starring role in the story.

#1132 (s5779-50/ 18 Menachem-Av, 5779)

From Reiki to Rabbi

He opened a Reiki Center in Israel and soon he was making an exorbitant amount of money. His secretary reported to him, "You are booked for the next two years and you're almost a millionaire."

Connection: Last week's Reading contains the first section of the "Shma Yisrael" prayer; this week's Reading, Vaet'chanan, concludes with the second section.

#1131 (s5779-49/ 11 Menachem-Av, 5779)

The Saturday Surprise Sign

After his wedding, my father was allocated a department of his in-laws' family store to manage. He requested to close it on Shabbat, but was told categorically "Better to close 6 days a week, so long as you work on "Saturday".

Connection: The Weekly Reading of Vaet'chanan contains both the verse "Shma Yisrael" and a repetition of the Ten Commandments, of which the Obervance of Shabbat is the fourth.


#1130 (s5779-48/ 4 Menachem-Av, 5779)

The Teacher Only when the Student is Ready

Towards the end of his tragically short life, the Ari was forced by Heavenly decree to migrate from Egypt to Tsfat, in order to find his destined main student.

Connection: Hei (5th) Av (Monday night - Tuesday) is the 447th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the "Holy Ari" and leader of the Safed Kabbalists

#1129 (s5779-47/ 25 Tammuz, 5779)

The Not Yet Celebrated Celebration:

Victory Over "a Heinous and Implacable Adversary"

Connection: Seasonal -- The date of the main event of the story is Tammuz 26 (2019: July 27)

#1128 (s5779-46/ 18 Tammuz, 5779)

Making Peace in Heaven

The Baal Shem Tov added some words about the importance of reciting Psalms, and all present felt that the celebration had taken on a more meaningful tone.

Connections: 11) Weekly reading (of this week outside of Israel) -- G-d awards His "Covenant of peace to Pinchas.
2) The peace-making tendencies and abilities of Aharon (Brother of Moses and the first High Priest) are mentioned in this week's chapter of Pirkei Avot (ch. 1, Mishna 12).
3) In the Torah reading of Massai (to be read next week both in Israel and outside), the date of Aharon's death is mentioned (Num. 33:38), the only one in the entire Five Books of Moses!...
4) …And that date, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av coincides with the day before Shabbat next week.

#1127 (s5779-45/ 12 Tammuz, 5779)

Married for Money?

Having heard about the wisdom of the Kotzker Rebbe, he decided to visit him and seek his counsel.

Connection: In this story, 4 distinct events were orchestrated by the Al-mighty over a period of a year or so; in the next-to-last verse of the Torah reading, Balak, read this past Shabbat in Israel and read this week outside of Israel), five events had to miraculously happen almost simultaneously (see Num. 25:8 with Rashi and Talmud Sanhedrin 82b) for the execution by Pinchas to be considered justified and valid, not murder.


#1126 (s5779-44/ 5 Tammuz, 5779)

The Shwarma Rebbe

"Can it really be true that what the Lubavicher Rebbe said applies to me too, an uneducated Jew who is only partially observant!?"

Connection: Seasonal -- This past Shabbat, Tammuz 3, was the 25th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

#1125 (s5779-43/ 28 Sivan, 5779)

Ladders of Life

"At first all I could see was the Rebbe's eyes. All the words I'd prepared flew right out of my head."

Connection: Seasonal -- Shabbat, Tammuz 3, is the 25th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

#1124 (s5779-42/ 21 Sivan, 5779)

All is in the Torah

Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Zinkov remarked to the gathered crowd. "In general, the true greatness of the Maggid of Kozhnitz has sadly gone unnoticed by the public."

Connection: Weekly reading of Shelach (last week in Israel, this week in Diaspora) -- Num. 14:31

#1123 (s5779-41/ 14 Sivan, 5779)

Paying Full Attention

He begged and begged the Baal Shem Tov to teach him the language of birds and animals.

Connections: (1) Seasonal: Last week started with the festival of Shavuot, which is also the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov

                   (2) The haftorah of (the first day of) Shavuot is quoted in the story;

                   (3) Weekly reading of Baha'alotecha (last week in Israel, this week in Diaspora) - see Num. 11:17

#1122 (s5779-40/ 8 Sivan, 5779)

The Lazy Son-in-Law

Before they could digest what just happened, the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread wafted softly into their nostrils.

Connection: Weekly reading of Naso (Haftorah) - Shimshon HaGibor ("Samson the Mighty")

#1121 (s5779-39/ 29 Iyar, 5779)


--by the Nazis, by the Rabbi, by the Holy Letters

Connection: Seasonal -- SHAVUOT: the Festival of the Giving of the Torah

#1120 (s5779-38/ 22 Iyar, 5779)

The American Author and Two Lubavitcher Rebbes

"The American Jewish community is wonderful," the Lubavitcher Rebbe told Herman Wouk. "While you cannot tell them to do anything, you can teach them to do everything."

Connection: Seasonal -- Prepared during the Shiva for great Jewish author, Chayim-Aviezer-Zelig (Herman) Wouk

#1119 (s5779-37/ 15 Iyar, 5779)

A Blessing For a Friend

As it is not my nature to push or order people around, I requested to be in charge of the area immediately outside the Rebbe's car door -- to open it as soon as the [Lubavitcher] Rebbe arrives and to close it as soon as the Rebbe is seated.

Connection: Seasonal -- Lag b'Omer!

#1118 (s5779-36/ 8 Iyar, 5779)

Chasid or Rebbe?

"Wow!" thought the local Jew. "Not only is he a tzadik, he is also humble. A true tzadik!"

Connection: Seasonal -- Thursday, Iyar 11, the 192nd yahrzeit of Rabbi Naftali of Rofshitz.

1117 (s5779-35/ 1 Iyar, 5779)

A Good Deal in Siberia

"I returned in a state of confusion. The last thing I expected from the Rebbe Maharash was a business tip."

Connection: Seasonal -- Tuesday, Iyar 2 (Tiferet sh'b'Tiferet) is the 185th anniversary of the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash.

#1116 (s5779-34/ 24 Nissan, 5779)

Back from a Broken Back

"The [Lubavitcher] Rebbe greeted us, asked us our names, and then turned to me and said: 'I don't understand your question.'"

Connection: Weekly Reading (outside of Israel) of Acharei Mot. Mr. Stauber's story begins with a reference to Yom Kippur, a major theme of the Reading, and ends with an event akin to the meaning of the Reading's name.

#1115 (s5779-33/ 17 Nissan, 5779)

Seeking Elijah After Two Seders

The Baal Shem Tov sent him to spend both Seder nights in a dilapidated hut with an impoverished family.

Connection: Seasonal - Passover Week

#1114 (s5779-32/ 10 Nissan, 5779)

Sascha and the "Kremels"

Every day at exactly 8:20 a.m., rain, snow or shine, he would leave to get to his job on time. He never deviated from this schedule, except on Shabbat and holidays.

Connection: Seasonal - Erev Pesach

#1113 (s5779-31/ 3 Nissan, 5779)

A Global Change

During his flight, Rabbi Halperin found himself seated next to an Israeli-Arab Knesset member, Mohammed Watid of the Marxist-associated "Mapam" party, who was on his way to meet with members of the PLO in New York!

Connection: Seasonal--the 117th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Tuesday, 11 Nissan 5779 (April 16)

#1112 (s5779-30/ 25 Adar B, 5779)

The Unavoidable Option

The Chasam Sofer told him: "We don't have a choice. You and he must go and drown yourselves in the Danube River" (?!?)

Connection: This week's Torah reading of Tazria opens with the commandment of male circumcision.

#1111 (s5779-29/ 18 Adar B, 5779)

The Prince, the Queen, and the Rabbi

The Rabbi was invited to a very special dinner in Canada with Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband, Prince Phillip. He informed the organizers that he would be unable to attend because of his special dietary needs.

Connection: This week's Torah reading of Shemini contains much information about Keeping Kosher

#1110 (s5779-28/ 11 Adar B, 5779)


The driver was a professor...and his passenger a rabbi.

Connection: Seasonal - PURIM!

#1109 (s5779-27/ 4 Adar B, 5779)

Two Real Estate Bargains

The doctor was a non-Jew and as yet unknown in Israel, but in the U.S. he was swiftly gaining acclaim for the unique method he had developed that offered the hope of a cure for terminal cancer patients.

Connection: Seasonal - This is the first full week of Adar B, the Jewish "Month of Mazal," and there certainly is plenty of good mazal in this story.

#1108(s5779-26/ 27 Adar A, 5779)

Jewish Honesty

Penniless as always, patient as always, Reb Zusya of Hanipoli knew no rest - and now his wife was nagging him for a new dress.

Connection: The Weekly Reading of Pekudei (and of previous week, Vayakel) feature the the craftsmanship and output of the inspired Jewish workers to build the Sanctuary (Mishkan)

#1107 (s5779-25/ 20 Adar A, 5779)

The Baal Shem Tov Loses a Shabbat

"No! By the looks of you, you are all chassidim and I despise chassidim. Go away!"

Connection: Weekly Reading of Vayakel opens with the mitzvah of Shabbat observance

#1106 (s5779-24 / 13 Adar A, 5779)

Purim of Basra

In 1774, Karim Khan, the Vizier of the Shah of Persia, arrived with a great army and besieged the city of Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, after Bagdad.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 14th of Adar Rishon, (Tuesday) is “Little Purim.” This story highlights another alternative Purim date.

#1105 (s5779-23/ 6 Adar I 5779)

Do Not Disturb...Unless..

The Sochatchover Rebbe wondered aloud, "What? You can really earn such a vast sum through me?

Connection: Seasonal-109th yahrzeit of the Avnei Nezer rebbe.

#1104 (s5779-22 / 29 Shevat 5779)

Inside the Holy of Holies

Reb Leib Sarah's, one of the greatest of the Baal Shem Tov's disciples and himself a person of renown, asked his rebbe for permission and blessing to settle in the Holy Land, his heart's desire. The Besht's reply was negative.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 4th of Adar (this year: Shabbat, Feb 9) is the yahrzeit date of Rabbi Leib Sarah's.

#1103 (s5779-21 /22 Shevat 5779)

Road Work

The Rebbe requested that I try to see to it that his wife, the Rebbetzin Chaya-Mushka, gets out of the house every day for fresh air. Usually, we would drive out to a park in Long Island.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 22nd of Shevat (this year: Monday, Jan. 28) is the 31st yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin.

#1102 (s5779-20 /15 Shevat 5779)

The Emperor, the Elder and the Fig Tree

"Just as when you entered the land and found plants that others had planted, so too shall you plant for your descendants." Commentary on Levit. 19:23

Connection: Seasonal -- TU B'SHVAT - the Jewish New Year's Day for Druit Tree

#1101 (s5779-19 /8 Shevat 5779)

The Paris to Petersberg Train Cabin

Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Shneersohn of Lubavitch winced with each bite the man took. He couldn't bear seeing a Jew act that way.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 10th of Shevat (this year: Wednesday, Jan. 16) is the 69th yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz.

#1100 (s5779-18 /1 Shevat 5779)

Channeling the Ultimate Authority

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Chabad and Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak of Berditchev were deep in discussion of a difficulty in the Rambam. Rabbi Meshulam-Zusha of Anapoli silently observed them.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 2nd of Shevat (this year: Tuesday, Jan. 8) is the 219th yahrzeit of Reb Zusha.

#1099 (s5779-17 /23 Tevet 5779)

The Rebbe and Napoleon

Rabbi Shneur Zalman perceived that what Napoleon wanted to accomplish with his revolution was a refusal to accept any authority, which in turn would weaken religious adherence.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 24th of Tevet (this year: Tuesday, Jan. 1) is the 206th yahrzeit of the first Chabad Rebbe.

#1098 (s5779-16 /16 Tevet 5779)

The Missed Appointment

One year, after the prayers of Rosh Hashanah drew to a close, Rabbi Yehudah-Tzvi of Strettin made an enigmatic statement to his chasidim.

Connection: Seasonal -- The 18th of Tevet (this year: Thursday, Jan. 24) is the 177th yahrzeit of the Bnei Yissaschar.

#1097 (s5779-15 /9 Tevet 5779)

What Price Tefillin?

Before Yitzchak Thaler was deported to a labour camp somewhere in Poland, he made himself a belt with pockets, in which he hid three things: ...

Connection: Seasonal -- This week, on Tuesday, is the sunrise-to-nightfall Fast of the Tenth of Tevet. It commemorates the onset of the siege outside the walls of Jerusalem that led to the destruction of the Holy Temple on the Ninth of Av. In addition, in our times it has become the date to say Kaddish for those martyrs of the Holocaust (and all the others through the centuries) whose date of death is unknown.

#1096 (s5779-14 /3 Tevet 5779)

At the Crossroads

"He was wrapping tefillin on Jewish men; the five teenagers were offering "Shalom" stickers to all drivers."

Connection: Weekly reading of Vayigash continues the saga of Yosef and His Brothers

#1095 (s5779-13 /25 Kislev 5779)

Discovered in Alabama

"I don't want anything from this electronics store for my bar mitzvah. I want to get something in the antique shop across the way."

Connection: Seasonal - CHANUKAH

#1094 (s5779-12 /18 Kislev 5779)

Brazenly Disturbing the Rebbe

Rabbi Shneur Zalman [of Chabad] was confident that the Maggid [of Mezritch] knew the situation down to the last detail, for righteous people are not bound by the conventional ways of learning information.

Connection: Sesaonal -- Monday night-Tuesday is the Chasidic celebration, Yud-Tes Kislev.

#1093 (s5779-11 / 11 Kislev 5779)

Last-Minute Shabbat Meals at Chabad of Athens

These were 150+ Jews from all walks of life, with varied backgrounds and clothing styles, who were concerned about Shabbos. Everyone coming off the plane was united in one thing: Shabbos is our gift and our inheritance from the Creator and we would uphold it.

Connection: This week's Torah Reading Vayishlach, Ya'akov establishes limits for distance allowed for walking in uninhabited areas on Shabbat (33:18)

#1092(s5779-10 /4 Kislev 5779)

Stranded on Shabbat

Here he was, alone on a dusty road in the Galilee, and Shabbat was approaching!

Connection: Weekly reading of Vayeitzei, from where we derive the distance restrictions for walking outside of residential areas.


#1091(s5779-09 / 27 Cheshvan 5779)

An Unexpected Gift

'Your flight will soon take off. Just stay out of trouble and make sure to never come back to India.'

Connection: The murders occurred during the week leading up to Parshat Toldot, this week's Torah Reading


#1090 (s5779-08 / 20 Cheshvan 5779)

The Very First Match

"I could never consider nullifying the marriage without a specific order to do so from the Rebbe, R. Moshe-Zvi of Savran."

Connection: Weekly Reading of Chaye Sarah -- the above story's title is a good description of its dominant theme.

#1089 (s5779-07 / 13 Cheshvan 5779)

Special Kosher for Special Needs

A Brooklyn restaurant dishes out a healthy serving of compassion.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Vayera, of which the mitzvah of hospitality is a major component -- see Gen. 18:2-8 (+ 21:33 with commentaries).

#1088 (s5779-06 / 6 Cheshvan 5779)

Mrs Mozart, Dr Frankl, and Rabbi Schneerson

"If Freud were in the concentration camps, he would have changed his position."

Connection: Weekly Reading (beginning) "Lech Lecha" -- "Go to Yourself" or "Go for Yourself" -- the truest expression of "man's search for meaning."

#1087 (s5779-05 / 29 Tishrei 5779)

A Large Glass of Strong Wine

The Baal Shem Tov asked if he could try the wine, undiluted.

Connection: Weekly Reading -- "He [Noah] drank of the wine and became drunk." (Gen. 9:21)

#1086 (s5779-04/23 Tishrei 5779)

Great Tongues of Roaring Fire

It is impossible to hear Rabbi Levi-Yitzchak of Berditchev lead the prayers and not be inspired. Don't you know that, young man?"

Connection: Seasonal -- This Thursday, Tishrei 25, is the 218th yahrzeit of the Berditchever.

#1085 (s5779-03/14 Tishrei 5779)

Empty of Beauty, Full of Joy:

The Etrog that Made the Lubavitcher Rebbe Smile

Connection: Seasonal -- Sukkot

#1084 (s5779-02/7 Tishrei 5779)

The Red Army Officer Roommate

I wanted to return home to Samarkand before Yom Kippur, but no tickets were available. I offered large amounts of money, triple the usual price, but still could not acquire a ticket.

Connection: Seasonal -- Yom Kippur

#1083 (s5779-01/ Erev Rosh Hashana 5779)

The Guest Who Wore All White

The soldiers wouldn't allow the woman to enter the tombsite of Rachel in Beit Lechem; riots were going on and the Arabs were throwing rocks at anyone who attempted to approach.

Connection: Seasonal -- Rosh Hashana (see Jeremiah 31:14-19, which also constitutes the last 6 verses of the Haftorah of the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana)

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#1xxx (s578x-01/ 29 Elul, 578x)

Rosh Hashana in a Non-Kosher Restaurant!??

The Rabbi joined in the lively Kabbalat Shabbat service even though the sun was still high above the rippling Atlantic waters.

Connection: Seasonal --ROSH HASHANA 5780! Let's start the year as kosher as possible -- in all aspects of our lives, not just food.

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