Stories Archive:
#1240 - present (5782)

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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1294 (5783-01) 3 Tishrei 5783 (Sept. 28, 2022) Next Week

"Inner Peace"

I lost everything in the Holocaust. An old friend found me a job in the Vaad HaHatzala ('Rescue Council') offices in Paris. The constant workload my position required helped me maintain my sanity.

Connection: This Motzei Shabbat (Sat. nite), the 6th of Tishrei 5783, starts the 60th yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin Chana.

1293 (s5782-55) 23 Elul 5782/Sept. 19, 2022 This Week

"The Sound of Silence"

As the word spread that the famed Hornisteipel Rebbe would be in the city, Jews from all the neighboring towns and villages flocked to Ushomir.

Connection: Starts in the last week of Elul; concludes on Rosh HaShana.

1292 (s5782-54) 16 Elul 5782/Sept. 12, 2022 Last Week

"The Yom Kippur Mistake"

He listened to their pleas and was almost moved to remain with them. But then he recalled the long journey he had traveled to be expressly with the Baal Shem Tov, and refused the nine Jews.

Connections: 1) 18 Elul (Sept. 14) is the anniversary of the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov (and the Alter Rebbe of Chabad).
2) ELUL is the month of Teshuvah, dedicated to preparing for Rosh HaShana & Yom Kippur.

1291 (s5782-53) 9 Elul 5782/Sept. 5, 2022

"Help From a Haunted House"

As they neared the inn, he accidentally bumped into a coach parked nearby. A string of obscenities rang through the air as the other driver roundly cursed whoever it was that dared bump him.

Connection: The problems of divorce and aguna are set forth in this week's reading, Ki Teitzei.

1290 (s5782-52) 2 Elul 5782/Aug. 29, 2022

"The Astonished Bedouin"

A loud argument between two angry men within the walls of the Beit Din (rabbinical court) of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad disturbed the quiet of the morning. Whoever might have entered would have been surprised at what he saw.

1) This week's Torah portion was Shoftim / "[Rabbinical] Judges."
2) Tis coming Friday, 13 Iyar, is the 113th yahrzeit of the Ben Ish Chai.

1289 (s5782-51) 25 Av 5782/Aug. 22, 2022

"Double Weddings Twice"

Their friends wanted to rejoice at both weddings, but how is it possible to dance at two weddings at the same time?

Connection: One of the main sources for the commandment of tzedakah (‘charity’) is in this week’s Torah reading. (Deut. 15:7-8)

1288 (s5782-50) 18 Av 5782/Aug. 15, 2022

"A Walking Miracle"

"Even my father, who was not always able to accompany me to my regular hospital check-ups, came along to see what miracles might occur this time."

CONNECTION: The mitzvahs of tefilin and mezuzah are mentioned both, in last week's and this week's Torah reading. These four verses are incorporated into the Shma Yisrael prayer.

1287 (s5782-49) 11 Av 5782/Aug. 8, 2022 k

"The Farmer's Unmarried Daughter"

Yankel became a staunch admirer of the Baal Shem Tov, traveling to Mezibuz whenever he had any questions about farming techniques.

Connection: This Friday, the 15th of the Jewish month of-Menachem Av, when the unmarried "daughters of Jerusalem and Zion" would wear borrowed white dresses and dance together in the outskirts of Jerusalem, in the hope of being discovered by their destined soul mate. Therefore, this date is known as "Jewish Matchmaking Day.
(For a deep dive into the historical and mystical significance of this occasion, see Appendix C in my 2nd book, "Festivals of the Full Moon.")

1286 (s5782-48) 4 Av 5782/Aug. 1, 2022

"The Most Mysterious & Extraordinary Wedding Present"

"Now for the wedding gifts from the bride's family..." and waited for the Seer of Lublin to answer.

Connection: Seasonal - Tisha b'Av is also the (209th) yahrzeit of the Seer of Lublin.

1285 (s5782-47) 26 Tamuz 5782/July 25 2022

"The Second Slap"

The sound of a slap was heard in the synagogue. Everyone present turned around and were astonished to see that the person giving the slap was no other than the Rabbi!

Connection: In "the Three Weeks" leading to Tisha b'Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples and the exile of the Shechina (Divine Presence).

1284 (s5782-46) 19 Tamuz 5782/July 18, 2022

The Master and the Lad

Despite their disagreements and differences, a number of years later when Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin visited the Alter Rebbe of Chabad on a communal matter, the Alter Rebbe treated him with utmost respect and deference.

Connection: This Thursday, Tammuz 22 (July 21), is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin.

1283 (s5782-45) 12 Tamuz 5782/July 11, 2022

Honoring One's Teacher; Honoring One's Student

Because of the strong relationship between them, the Ohr HaChayim requested that his disciple remain with him a few more days before making his departure to Israel.

Connection:This Thursday,15 Tammuz, is the yahrzeit-hilula of the Ohr HaChayim

1282 (s5782-44) 5 Tamuz 5782/July 4, 2022

"On the Way Down the Masada Snake Path"

The day was much hotter than forecasted, it must have been 90 degrees. So I was quite surprised to come across a man sitting alone on a stone bench, out in the open sun. Oddest of all - he was jabbing a scissor in his ear!

Connection: Just like in the Weekly Reading of Chukat (this past week in Israel; this week outside of Israel) - "The people did not have any water." (Num. 20:2)

1281 (s5782-43) 28 Sivan 5782/June 27, 2022

"A Timely Delivery"

"The Rebbe blessed him and handed him two dollars, saying, "One for you, the second for the taxi driver."

Connection: This coming Shabbat is the 28th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

1280 (s5782-42) 21 Sivan 5782/June 20, 2022

"For the Sake of Heaven"

A festive atmosphere permeated the town, due to the presence of the three tzadikim in the home of Rabbi Chaim of Sanz

Connection - weekly Torah reading of Korach (Num. 16): "Which is a controversy for the sake of Heaven? The controversy between Hillel and Shammai [and, in this episode, between the Divrei Chaim and his son, the Divrei Yechezkel]. And which is not for the sake of Heaven? The controversy of Korach and all his faction." [Avot 5:17].

1279 (s5782-41) 14 Sivan 5782/June 13, 2022

"The Professor, The Spy, and The Rebbe"

"I entered the Rebbe’s office holding two sheets of paper. The first contained all my personal concerns. The second referred to the situation in Yemen."

Connection - Weekly Torah (this week in Israel; next week in Diaspora): The Reading, Shelach, is mainly the parsha of the Spies.

1278 (s5782-40) 7 Sivan 5782/June 6, 2022

"The Story Behind the Miraculous Torah Scroll of the Baal Shem Tov"

For years the scroll was brought out only on Hashana Rabba, Shemni Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

Conections: 1) Sunday was [the first day of] the festival of Shavuot, the anniversary of G-D speaking the Ten Commandment on Mt. Sinal. The stone tablets on which they were subsequently engraved were the forerunners to our parchment scrolls.
2) That day is also the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov.

1277 (s5782-39) 29 Iyar 5782/May 30, 2022

"On the Way from the Pawnshop"

Every year Mr. Matzliach would invite ten Torah scholars to his home on the first night of SHAVUOT, for whom he prepared a fine feast. One year, however, Matzliach was in a weak financial situation...

Connection: The holiday of SHAVUOT

1276 (s5782-38) 22 Iyar 5782/May 23, 2022

"The Rebbe and Gen. Moshe Dayan"

"We met at Ammunition Hill. It was clear that he was struggling with physical discomfort."

Connection: This week is the anniversary of the Six-Day War (and it culminates in 'Jerusalem Day').

1275 (s5782-37) 15 Iyar 5782/May 16, 2022

"The Jogger in 18th Century Beirut"

"If you don't bring me the full sum by the appointed time," the Turkish pacha demanded, "you and all your families will be expelled from Tiberias."

Connection - seasonal: LAG b’OMER – part of the story takes place in Meron

1274 (s5782-36) 8 Iyar 5782/May 9, 2022 Last Week

"Far, Near and Expensive"

“The information I just received from the postman may be that very assistance the Mittler Rebbe foresaw,” thought Reb Mordechai Liepler.

Connection: We are in the 2nd week of the Jewish month of Iyar, colloquially called “the month of healing” because the Hebrew letters of its name abbreviate “I, G-D, am your healer.”

1273 (s5782-35) 2 Iyar 5782/May 2, 2022

"An Irresistible Team"

The Rebbe Maharash often rode in his carriage in the countryside, always passing through a certain village, although he never stopped off at the Jewish-owned inn there.

Connection: Tuesday of this week, 2 Iyar, is the birthdate of the Rebbe Maharash..

1272 (s5782-34) 24 Nissan 5782/April 25, 2022

"The Helpful Prisoner"

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, one of the greatest students of the Maggdid of Mezritch, had not the slightest idea what crime he could have committed that caused the authorities to arrest him as a lowly criminal. He was extensively interrogated, and...

Connection: Next Monday, 1 IYAR (Rosh Chodesh) is the yahrzeit of the Vitebsker.

1271 (s5782-33) 17 Nissan 5782/April 18, 2022

"Crumbs of Matza"

"I've noticed that you don't stay for the Blessing of the Cohanim on the holidays. Is something wrong? You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. I just wondered."

1270 (s5782-32) 10 Nissan 5782/April 11, 2022

"Even in Bangladesh"

"Things are quiet now," his business associates reassured him. "The cyclone is distant and the streets here are calm. You can come. There's nothing to worry about." But Mr. Max Cohen still was not convinced.

1) Passover Seder will take place on this Friday evening - Shabbat.
2) Tonight, Tuesday, 11th Nissan (April 12) starts the 120th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

1269 (s5782-31) 3 Nissan 5782/April 4, 2022

"The Last Clean Cup"

Before Passover, the Baal Shem Tov would instruct which new cups could be set upon the table and which should be set aside. He provided no reasons for his directives.

Connection: With this Shabbat we will be deeply into the season of Preparing for Pesach. Also, the end of next week's Torah reading discusses immersing vessels

1268 (s5782-30) 24 Adar II 5782/March 27, 2022)

"Beyond Expectations"

The Rebbe said that as a child he once visited Chaim-Moshe at home, and that he lived in a dilapidated house in shocking destitution.

Connection: Saturday night - Sunday, Nissan 2 (2022: April 3), is the 102nd yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rashab

1267 (s5782-29) 18 Adar II 5782/March 21, 2022)

Coronated by Media in Siberia

The city was everything they feared - the thermometer read way below zero. The synagogue's bathroom facilities consisted of a frozen bucket in the courtyard.

Connection: The main event took place in the week after Purim. Also, the rabbi was also a shochet, and a major section in this week's Torah reading is about which animals and birds are eligible for kosher slaughter.

1266 (s5782-28) 11 Adar II 5782/March 14, 2022)

"Purim in Southern Lebanon"

Purim 1985. A lonely platoon of IDF soldiers, stuck in a small fortress. There were some occasional loud noises, but they did not come from kids cranking noisemakers.

Connection: PURIM!

1265 (s5782-27) 4 Adar II 5782/March 7, 2022)

"Raspberry Preserves"

This was not the sort of conversation one would expect on a Sunday morning grocery run…

Connection: Revealed reason: This week we append to the weekly Torah reading the passage (Deut. 25:17-19) about Amalek called "Zachor," and almost for sure the Jew-hating Nazis (as in this story) were true descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau.

1264 (s5782-26) 27 Adar I 5782/Feb. 28,, 2022)

"The Singapore Surprise"

Two brothers from the American Wolfson family were hoping to close an important business deal involving many tens of million dollars.

Connection: In both the story and this week's Torah reading of Pekudei, mountainous amounts of monetary value are prominent -- precious metals in one, world currency in the other -- and honesty being probed and confirmed

1263 (s5782-25) 20 Adar I 5782/Feb. 21, 2022)

"President s Day"

In the American experience, anti-Semitic federal government decrees have been virtually unthinkable… But in December 1862, it happened for the first time.

Connection: "President s Day", a USA national holiday, falls this year [2022] on February 21.

1262 (s5782-24) 13 Adar I 5782/Feb. 14, 2022)

"Fondling Gold Coins"

He was surprised to see his father, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua-Heschel of Apta, fondling with affection the gold coins that had been sent to him on Purim.

Connection - "Purim Katan" falls on Tuesday of this week (Feb. 15)

1261 (s5782-23) 6 Adar I 5782/Feb. 7, 2022)

"Second Chance"

"Just before my wife died, she made me promise her never to marry again," he wept. "But I am still young and have never been blessed with children!"

Connection: The 7th of the Jewish month of Adar is the date that Moses passed away. The Torah tells us that G-D Himself buried him (whatever that means). An ancient tradition is that therefore for the Chevra Kadisha ("Jewish Burial Society") Adar 7 is a holiday - a day off - (and in some places a fast day), because on that day G-d takes care of burials.

1260 (s5782-22) 29 Shevat 5782/Jan.31, 2022)

"Priorities & Calibrations"

In 2005, Chabad of the Valley, under the leadership of Rabbi Yehoshua "Josh" Gordon, was sued in the Woodland Hills, California, Bankruptcy Court.

Connection: Monday night-Tuesday, 29 Shvat / Erev Rosh Hodesh Adar (2022: Feb. 1), is the 6th yahrzeit of Rabbi Gordon.

1259 (s5782-21) 22 Shevat 5782/Jan.24, 2022)

"The Finder"

In the last ten years, the name Shashi Karko has become a symbol of the finding of lost objects.

Connection-this Week's Torah reading: Returning lost objects (Ex. 23:4 - see also Deut. 22:1-3).

1258 (s5782-20) 15 Shevat 5782/Jan.17, 2022)

"An Anonymous Kindness"

During a Shabbat evening meal while on vacation at a Florida hotel in 1988, a chasidic women at her table said to Mrs. Edith Bloch: "I am very sorry about the passing of your Rebbetzin Schneerson. I have a nice story to tell you about her."

Connection: Next Sunday night – Monday, the 22nd day of the Jewish month of Shvat, is the 33rd yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin Chaya Moussia.

1257 (s5782-19) 8 Shevat 5782/Jan.10, 2022)

"The Letter from an Orphan Janitor"

He was shy, spoke with a bit of a stutter, had no talent for writing or teaching or much of anything else. He couldn't give charity because he didn't have any money. He tried to learn Torah but couldn't really concentrate for long. All he could do was be honest, nice and pray.

Connection: Tuesday night-Wednesday is Yud Sh'vat, the anniversary of the passing of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1950, and the anniversary of the official acceptance of his son-in-law to be 7th Rebbe in 1951.

1256 (s5782-18) 1 Shevat 5782/Jan.3, 2022)

"The Secret of Lavish Hospitality"

The young man could not understand why Baba Sali asked him to stay overnight.

Connection: Monday night-Tuesday, Shvat 4, is the 38th yahrzeit of the Baba Sali.

1255 (s5782-17) 23 Tevet 5782/Dec.27, 2021

"Napoleons True Intentions"

In the eyes of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad, Napoleon was the greatest threat to the heart and soul of Judaism.

Connection: This coming Tuesday is 24 Tevet, the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad.

1254(s5782-16) 16 Tevet 5782/Dec.20, 2021

"WWII Dream Mission "

During the "Two Hundred Days of Fear" in the spring of 1943, Arab rioters destroyed the burial place of Rabbi Ya'akov Abuchatzeira.

Connection: Tevet 20 (Friday) is the yahrzeit of famed tzadik, Torah scholar and Kabbalist, R. Yaakov Abuhatzeira.

1253 (s5782-15) 9 Tevet5782/Dec.13, 2021

"Does G-D Ride the Brooklyn Subway?"

"I’ve been living in New York long enough not to start conversations with strangers. But being a photographer, I have the peculiar habit of analyzing people’s faces, and I was struck by the features of the subway passenger on my left."

Connection: This Tuesday is the dawn-to-nightfall Fast Day of the Tenth of Tevet, when [in addition to commemorating the Siege of Jerusalem leading to the destruction of the Holy Temple,] Kaddish is also said for the murdered victims of the evil Nazis whose dates of death are unknown

1252 (s5782-14) 2 Tevet5782/Dec.6, 2021

"Growing a Spiritual Present"

Prince Philip had been a senior commander in the British navy for many years even after his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II, and he wondered if Rabbi Avrohom-Yitzchok Glick was a former comrade-in-arms.

Connections (2): The first paragraph reminds us of Chanukah. Also: the theme of beards is mentioned in the Torah reading of last week (Gen. 42:8 with Rashi)

1251 (s5782-13) 25 Kislev 5782/Nov.29, 2021

"A Chanuka Blaze "

Of the group of 18 Jewish prisoners in a Siberian forced-labor camp, Mordechai Chanzin was the eldest, and therefore honored to usher in Chanukah by lighting the first candle.

Connection: Chanukah

1250 (s5782-12) 18 Kislev 5782/Nov.22, 2021

"A Chasidic Megillah"

He would recite the details of the epic story at night and again in the morning, the same as is done with Megillat Esther.

Connection: YUD-TES KISLEV

1249 (s5782-11) 11Kislev 5782/Nov.15, 2021

"Who was ‘La La Salica’?"

Miraculous stories are told by Moroccan Jews about the miracles which are said to occur on the merit of Salica, for those who pray at her grave.

Connection – weekly Torah reading of Vayishlach: the episode of Dina bas Yaakov (Gen. 34:3-5).

1248 (s5782-10) 4 Kislev 5782/Nov.8, 2021

"Words of Wisdom for Acquiring Wisdom"

He couldn't reconcile himself to the thought that a man many years his junior had so much knowledge, while he, an elder chasid, understood nothing of what the young man had taught.

Connection: Shabbat, 9th of the Jewish month of Kislev, is the date of the passing of Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch, known in Chabad as “the Mittler Rebbe,” and also the date of his birthday.

1247 (s5782-09) 26 Cheshvan 5782/Nov.1, 2021

" Heavenly Porridge"

The pantry was bare, except for a little flour, nor was there firewood. How could she prepare a meal?

Connection-weekly reading: "He [Yaakov] brought him [Yitzchak] wine and he drank" (Gen. 27:25).
Midrash Tan'huma Yashan: "From where did Jacob have wine? The Archangel Michael brought him wine for the Garden of Eden."

1246 (s5782-08) 19 Cheshvan 5782/Oct.25, 2021

"The Queen of Early New York City Jewry"

The Rogaotchover Gaon replied: "If your question is if you are allowed to divorce, the answer is yes; but whether you should do so is not a question for a Rabbi but for a Rebbe."

Connection - this week's Torah reading, 1st verse (Gen. 23:1): "The life of Sarah was 127 years…" Rashi: "All the years she was equally good."

1245 (s5782-07) 12 Cheshvan 5782/Oct.18, 2021

"Angels in Action in Netanya"

"My father told us what the budget of the trip was, so that we wouldn't ask him in the middle of the trip for all sorts of extras that he hadn't budgeted for."

Connection: The angels disguised as humans, only appeared to be eating (see Gen. 18:8 with Rashi.)

1244(s5782-06) 5 Cheshvan 5782/Oct.11, 2021

"The Timely Delayed Dollar"

"I have no interest in your religious wedding ceremony! In fact, it pains me; it simply conflicts with everything I stand for! My son, I love you and would do anything you ask of me, but I cannot attend a religious wedding."

Connection-weekly reading of Lech Lecha (17:10): "This is my covenant which you must preserve between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised."

1243 (s5782-05) 28 Tishrei 5782/Oct.4, 2021

"Claude from Ghana vs. Rabbinical Court!"

"My friend told me a Jew from Israel is looking for someone to manage his household. I never met a Jew before but I know they are the Chosen People. It will be an honor to assist you while you are in Ghana."

Connection: The Seven Noahide Laws are mentioned in this week's Torah reading, No'ach.

1242 (s5782-04) 20Tishrei 5782/Sep.26, 2021

"Simchat Torah for Mother"

"Although I am Torah-observant, my holidays lately have not been filled with synagogue prayers and pretty dresses and festive food."

Connection-Seasonal: SIMCHAT TORAH

1241 (s5782-03) 13 Tishrei 5782/Sep.19, 2021

"A Refined Thief in the Sukkah?"

The "Megaleh Amukot" warned his wife that the door of his room has to stay closed at that time and that no one should enter, because it would be dangerous.

Connection: -- Seasonal: the festival of SUKKOT

1240 (s5782-02) 7 Tishrei 5782/Sep.13, 2021

"A Yom Kippur Appeal to a Hated Kapo"

Rabbi Yisroel Spira, the Bluzhever Rav, was a beam of spiritual light in the
darkened evil of the Lemberg-Yanovsky labor camp. A few days before Yom

Connection: YOM KIPPUR


1239 (s5782-01) 29 Elul 5781/Sep.6, 2021

"Non-stop to Bangkok"

Seemingly, it didn't strike anyone as unusual that the elderly rabbi with the long white beard remained asleep even as the plane landed and people disembarked.

Connection: ROSH HASHANA

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