Stories Archive:
#1294 - present (5783)

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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1343 (5783-50) 18 Elul 5783 (Sept. 4, 2023) Last Week

"The Single Unatonable Sin"

"The key to salvation is in his hands. They heed his words in Heaven!" was how he described Rabbi Ben-Tzion Abba-Shaul.

Connection: see Deut 29:14.

1342 (5783-49) 11 Elul 5783 (Aug. 28, 2023) Last Week

"Saved by a Wedding"

"You mean to say that a Jew, a chasid of my in-law Rebbe Shneur-Zalman, can be in charge of a whole town?" the amazed Berdichover Rebbe asked. "How can that be?"

Connection: Next Sunday night-Monday is Chai (18th) Elul, birthdate of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman.
[It is also the birthdate of the Baal Shem Tov. If you feel you are missing out on Besht stories, you might consider joining my video & audio story WhatsApp group (with email option also), where there will be three of them on the next two Saturday Nights. To join or for more information, click here.]

1341 (5783-48) 4 Elul 5783 (Aug. 21, 2023)

"The Worth of Miracles"

She placed her son under the table in the room where the Rebbe known as the Tzemech Tzedek received people for private audience.

Connection: Marriage and Divorce are topics presented in the weekly Torah reading, Ki Teitzei.

1340 (5783-47) 27 Av 5783 (Aug. 14, 2023)

“The Year of Building”

The rabbi from France was waiting with twenty of his donors to give the Rebbe the keys to the multi-million-dollar campus that he had just completed in Paris.

Connection: True vs false prophecy is discussed in this week’s Torah reading, Shoftim (Deut. 18:15-21).

1339 (5783-46) 20 Av 5783 (Aug. 7, 2023)

"The Rebbe's Young Translator"

"The Lubavitcher Rebbe said to the three brothers, 'If you wish for your brother's recovery, you must commit to observing the kosher dietary rules.' I translated it to Spanish for them, but apparently not properly.

Connection: This week's Torah reading, Re'ey, has a large section [Deut. 14:3-21] of basic laws for keeping kosher.

1338 (5783-45) 13 Av 5783 (July 31, 2023)

"A Superiour Scholar and True Friend"

"I told my teacher, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, about the doctors we consulted and that we had tried everything. He looked at me with penetrating eyes and asked: 'Are you praying?' Truthfully, his question irritated me."

Connection: This week, on Friday 17 Av (Aug. 4) is the 3rd yahrzeit of Rabbi Steinsaltz/Even-Yisrael.

1337 (5783-44) 6 Av 5783 (July 24, 2023)

"The Curiosity-Attracting Shoes Salesman"

The Slonimer Rebbe noticed an interesting stranger: "He's stately, well dressed. He has an inner calm that I don't see often. He even has a glowing aura."

Connection: On the Shabbos that completes the week in which Tu b'Av falls, the weekly reading includes (both a repetition of the Ten Commandments and) the first mention of the Shma Yisrael prayer.

1336 (5783-43) 28 Tammuz 5783 (July 17, 2023)

"The Helpful Gentile Woman on the Airplane"

"Excuse me sir. I see that you are a Jew. May I ask you: something: What is the attitude among Jews about those who flee their religion?"

Connection: Rosh Chodesh Av (this week, Wednesday) is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Shlomo of Bobov

1335 (5783-42) 21 Tammuz 5783 (July 10, 2023)

"Stages of Printing"

"I received a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to publish a book of my stories. I decided it was worth it to try to find a printer for it on-line.

Connection: The second half of this week's Torah reading, Maasai, reports the 42 places the Jews stopped during their 40 years in the desert. The Baal Shem Tov famously said that for individuals, these stages correspond to the 42 stages of their life.

1334 (5783-41) 14 Tammuz 5783 (July 3, 2023)

"A Mitzvah Path to Protection"

Baba Sali's face shown with light! He instructed his attendant to set the table with many pastries, fruits and drinks. "Eat something and don't worry," he told them. "Everything will be all right."

Connection: The Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy are recited several times in the special fast day prayers.

1333 (5783-40) 7 Tammuz 5783 (June 26, 2023)

"Where, Oh Where, is Exit 5?"

"I was supposed to meet the Sanzer Rebbe in NJ at 9 pm; however, that afternoon I was told that Bob Dylan wanted to speak with me in NYC at 8 pm."

Connection: The 9th of the Jewish month of Tammuz is the 29th yahrzeit of the Sanz-Klausenberg Rebbe.

1332 (5783-39) 30 Sivan 5783 (June 19, 2023)

"Not Once, but Twice!"

"I was about to travel to Colombia, where a sale of emeralds was already arranged that would gain me a profit of almost one million dollars.

Connection: Wednesday night-Thursday is the 29th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

1331 (5783-38) 23 Sivan 5783 (June 12, 2023)

"Forty Captured Torah Scrolls From Iraq"

The secret underground base of the Mossad is known as "the Hole." No one knows where the Hole is - unless he needs to know. Still, it was arranged for Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to visit the Hole.

Connection: The 25th of the Jewish month of Sivan (2023: Tuesday, June 13) is the 13th yahrzeit of the former chief Rabbi of Israel, the sage and kabbalist, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

1330 (5783-37) 16 Sivan 5783 (June 5, 2023)

"Saved by Strands and Knots"

The fighting in Gaza was fierce, and Jews in America were looking for ways to increase the spiritual armor that protected the young soldiers in the IDF.

Connection: Weekly Torah reading of Shelach - the last eight verses.

1329 (5783-36) 9 Sivan 5783 (May 29, 2023)

"The Rabbi’s Motorcycle Accident"

Her reaction puzzles me. Almost 400,000 Jews live in that Paris neighborhood; it’s hard not to know today is Shabbat eve.

Connection: Baalotecha (Read this Shabbat in Israel but the coming Shabbat outside Israel) Num. 9:15-25 (Divine signs); 11:25-26 (Divine messengers).

1328 (5783-35) 2 Sivan 5783 (May 22, 2023)

"The Busy Afternoon Before Shavuot"

After the passing of the Tzemach Tzedek, and especially a few years later when a few of his sons established their courts in other towns, the number of visitors to Lubavitch and of customers in his inn fell drastically.

Connection: The Festival of Shavuot (Thursday night - Friday, May 25-26)

1327 (5783-34) 24 Iyar 5783 (May 15, 2023)

"A Happy Surprise in the Moslem Quarter"

Towards the end of the 19th century, Rabbi Yitzchak Vinograd bought an empty lot in the Muslim quarter and there built a yeshiva; the location was chosen because of its proximity to the Temple Mount.

Connection: The Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) celebration this year starts on Thursday evening, 28 Iyar, May 18.

1326 (5783-33) 17 Iyar 5783 (May 8, 2023)

"From Hebron to Meron"

At midnight, the two chief Rabbis of Hebron were walking together to Machpela Cave . As soon as they reached where Shimon and Shmuel were standing, Shimon disappeared, leaving Shmuel by himself.

Connection: Lag b'Omer in Meron

1325 (5783-32) 10 Iyar 5783 (May 1, 2023)

"The Miraculous Mugging!"

"Your son has a rare disease. I know what the cure is and I know the only pharmacy in the city where you can get the medicine. But there's a problem: it costs a few thousand dollars."

Connection: This is the second week of the Jewish month of IYAR, known as the "Month of Healing." [In Hebrew, the letters of Iyar are an acronym for "I, G-d, am your doctor."]

1324 (5783-31) 3 Iyar 5783 (April 24, 2023) Last Week

"Each One Has A Name"

The six books of mystical-religious verse of Zelda Schneurson-Mishkovsky, first cousin of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, were bestsellers, admired by Jewish Israelis across political and religious spectrums.

Connection: for Yom Hazicharon "Israel Memorial Day" for Fallen Soldiers

1323 (5783-30) 26 Nissan 5783 (April 17, 2023)

"To Russia with Love"

My wife and I spent a few years in California, had a baby, and settled into our traditional lives. But I wasn't really happy. I knew there was more for me out there.

Connection: The fifth verse of the first half of this week's Torah reading, Tazria, presents the Torah commandment for circumcision (in contrast to G-d's personal instruction to Abraham in the Torah section of Lech Lecha, 500 years earlier).

1322 (5783-29) 19 Nissan 5783 (April 10, 2023)

"Children of Silence"

The best doctors in Israel all agreed that the problem was not physical, but psychological. Their son's death had been so traumatic that her body had shut down in response.

Connection: The main part of the story takes place on the festival of "Seventh Day of Passover

1321 (5783-28) 12 Nissan 5783 (April 3, 2023)

"From Chabad to Conservative!"

He had a daughter who, as a student in UC at Berkeley, rebelled against the family values she had been brought up with, and became deeply immersed in the anti-establishment culture that was dominant there at the time.

Connection: PASSOVER

1320 (5783-27) 5 Nissan 5783 (March 27, 2023) Last Week

"Mr. Rock & Roll demands answers from the Rebbe"

In my early twenties, I was invited to travel with the Rolling Stones on a concert tour; I saw more immoral human behavior than most people will ever see in a lifetime.

Connection: This Saturday night-Sunday, the 11th of the Jewish month of Nissan (this year: April 2), is the anniversary of the birth in 1902 of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Schneerson.

1319 (5783-26) 27 Adar 5783 (March 20, 2023)

"The Death Camp Matzah Squad"

Two Chabad chasidim, one Belz and the Klausenburger Rebbe had the bravery and presence of mind to secure wheat and bake matzah amidst the abysmal oppression and suffering.

Connection: PASSOVER

1318 (5783-25) 20Adar 5783 (March 13, 2023) Last Week

"From Bleached-Blond Princess to Queen Mother"

My name was not only designed to sound non-Jewish, but was carefully calibrated to look symmetrical up on the marquee. By age 3, I was already competing in beauty pageants.

Connection: This week we read the last sections of Shmot (Book of Exodus), which concludes with a reckoning and detailed accounting of all that was invested in fulfilling G-d's commandment to build the Sanctuary, the predecessor to the First Holy Temple in Jerusalem nearly one thousand years later. Similarly G-d expects each of us to do a periodic spiritual account and reckoning, such as described in this story.

1317 (5783-24) 13 Adar 5783 (March 6, 2023)

"Purim Justice"

The large masqueraded motley crew danced and tottered their way into the household of the tzadik, Rebbe Zvi-Hersh of Zhidachov. Of course, in that whole itinerant band there was not one man sober.

Connection: The Holiday of Purim

1316 (5783-23) 6 Adar 5783 (Feb.27, 2023)

"Two Inspired Gifts"

He yelled at the pauper that he should be ashamed of himself for not having any Torah thoughts to share.

Connection--Weekly Reading: The 'uniforms' for the Kohanim-priests.

1315 (5783-22) 29 Shvat 5783 (Feb.20, 2023)

"Carrying a Beard"

The main synagogue of Gur in Jerusalem was packed wall to wall, but they determinedly pushed themselves through the surging crowd, trying to get as close as possible to the Rebbe, the Beis Yisroel.

Connection: The 2nd day of the Jewish month of Adar (2023: Feb. 23) is the yahrzeit of the Beis Yisroel

1314 (5783-21) 22 Shvat 5783 (Feb.13, 2023)

"The Nicest Gift Imaginable"

On Purim, all of Crown Heights, and many, many people from further away, would bring shalach manos to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his Rebbetzin, Chaya-Mushka.

Connection: The 22nd day of the Jewish month of Shvat (this Wednesday) is the yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbetzin.

1313 (5783-20) 15 Shvat 5783 (Feb.6, 2023)

"From Nechemia to Nechemaih"

Even though Rabbi Nechemiah ultimately accepted the Tzemach Tzedek as his Rebbe, their relationship remained one of sincere and egalitarian friendship.

Connection: R. Nechemiah entered the world on Tu b'Shvat and left the world on Tu b'Shvat.

1312 (5783-19) 8 Shvat 5783 (Jan.30, 2023)

"A Summons to Spiritual War"

"What we heard and saw during that Purim meal we did not hear or see our entire lives - shocking terrifying things for those who witnessed them. The pain of the Rebbe was overwhelming."

1) Wednesday this week is the 10th of the Jewish month of Shevat, the date that the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe passed from this material world to his eternal reward, in the year 5710/1950.
2) Weekly Torah reading of Beshalach: Many parallels are intentionally presented to the Crossing of the Reed ("Red") Sea.

1311 (5783-18) 1 Shvat 5783 (Jan.23, 2023)

"In the Rocking Chair"

Unexpectedly, people began to bring her photographs of Baba Sali, even though they knew nothing about the deepening soul connection with him that she felt. And more photographs kept coming her way from different sources.

Connection: Thursday (Jan. 23), 4 Shvat on the Jewish calendar, is the hilulah-yahrzeit of Baba Sali.

1310 (5783-17) 23 Tevet 5783 (Jan.16, 2023)

"A Rabbi's Chemical Cure for Insanity"

Shortly before his Bar Mitzvah, the boy suddenly stopped eating and drinking, and began wandering aimlessly around the house, mumbling incoherently to himself like a madman.

Connection: Tuesday of this week, Tevet 24, is the yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe of Chabad.

1309 (5783-16) 16 Tevet 5783 (Jan. 9, 2023)

"The Singing Stutterer"

During the farbrengen, one of the participants cried out very loudly, shocking the young woman so much that it caused the onset of birth pangs.

Connection: This week's Torah Reading of Shmot tells us that Moses had a stuttering problem (Ex. 4:10).

1308 (5783-15) 9 Tevet 5783 (Jan. 2, 2023)

"Tipping the Scales of Justice"

The phone rang in Ben Meed's office. A restrained, sorrowful voice asked to speak to the president of WAGRO (Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization). "Speaking," responded Mr. Meed.

Connection: The Fast of the Tenth of Tevet (this year: Jan. 3), in addition to commemorating the start of the siege of Jerusalem which culminated in the destruction of the Temples on Tisha b'Av, has also become the day on which Kaddish is recited for all those whose death day is unknown.

1307 (5783-14) 3 Tevet 5783 (Dec. 26, 2022)

"The Real Thing"

The chasid felt humiliated when the Rebbe Reb Boroch of Mezibuz publicly berated him, but he accepted it, thinking, “most probably the Rebbe did this to atone for my flaws.”

Connection to weekly Torah reading:
The beginning relates the extraordinary mesiras nefesh demonstrated by Yehuda, the 4th of our patriarch Yaakov’s twelve sons, by offering himself to be Pharaoh's viceroy in place of Benyamin, his youngest brother.

1306 (5783-13) 25 Kislev 5783 (Dec. 19, 2022)

"Attic Inspiration"

During their first Chanukah, they marked the eight days by drawing a menorah. Every evening of Chanukah, they would pencil in one more flame. That was the best they could do. But in the 2nd year,...

Connection: The 8-Day Festival of Lights

1305 (5783-12) 18 Kislev 5783 (Dec. 12, 2022)

"The Team of Story and Prayer"

The thinking behind the selection of Raphael Levin as one of the delegation was that many of the members of Etzel and Lechi [Irgun and 'Stern Gang'] had great respect for his famous father, Rabbi Aryeh Levin, especially those arrested by the British.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Vayeishev:
Like Yosef jailed in Egypt, Rabbi Aryeh Levin was "The Father of Prisoners

1304 (5783-11) 11 Kislev 5783 (Dec. 5, 2022)

"A Timely Crossing of The River"

After listening to the innkeeper's request for advice, the Maggid of Mezritch pointed to the youngest of his companions, Rabbi Shneur-Zalman of Liadi. "Please go ask him," he responded. "He has exceptional wisdom."

Connections (5):
1- Next Monday night (Dec. 12), starts Yud-Tes [19th] Kislev, a Chasidic celebration commemorating the yahrzeit of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov;
… 2 - the miraculous release from Czarist prison of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad rebbe,
… 3 - and the publication of his magnum opus, Sefer Shel Beinonim ("Tanya" vol 1).
… 4 - Also, last Sunday was Yud [10th] Kislev, the anniversary of the liberation of his oldest son and successor, Rabbi Dov-Ber [see the last four paragraphs of the story],
… 5 - and the preceding day [last Shabbat] Tes [9th] Kislev, was the date of R. Dov-Ber's birth and of his eventual passing.

1303 (5783-10) 4 Kislev 5783 (Nov 28, 2022)

"Full and Empty Synagogues"

Of the thirty men gathered in the shul to say the morning prayers, most seemed to be conducting some type of business transaction.

Connection - Weekly Reading: Yaakov's reaction to his dream of the ladder ascending from Earth to Heaven: "Surely G-d is in this place and I did not realize.... This is none other than the House of G-d, and this is the Gate of Heaven." (Gen. 28:16-17)

1302 (5783-09) 27 Cheshvan 5783 (Nov 21, 2022) Last Week

"Against All Odds"

The explanation we gave the Rebbe about the business is that we were having problems with the Israeli bureaucracy.

Connection (tenuous) -- Weekly reading of Toldot (ch. 26): Starting a business in Israel and succeeding despite government interference.

1301 (5783-08) 20 Cheshvan 5783 (Nov 14, 2022)

" No Payos Allowed"

Miriam simply did not yet agree to meet the young man; she first wanted to make sure that he was "in the ball park." She did not want to experience another evening of disappointment and frustration.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Chaye Sara: Matchmaking!

1300 (5783-07) 13 Cheshvan 5783 (Nov 7, 2022)

"The Best Whisky of All"

How would she obtain enough food for her eleven orphaned children. Their tavern was doomed; she hadn't the faintest idea how to prepare the special whisky; nor was there anyone to ask.

Connection: This story revolves around an incident that is strongly parallel to the miracle that dominates the Haftorah of this week.
1299 (5783-06) 6 Cheshvan 5783 (Oct.31, 2022)

"Facial Recognition".

It happened that Reb Mottel Chernobler became so critically ill that he fell into a coma; he was hovering between life and death.

Connection: Shabbat, 11th of the Jewsh month of Cheshvan, is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Nachum Chernobler.

1298 (5783-05) 29 Tishrei 5783 (Oct.24, 2022)

"Found in a Chengdu Cosmetic Store"

That afternoon, both couples with all their children went to the famous and gigantic New Century Global Mall in Chendu, China, which has an indoor beach along with a water park, and many other different entertainment facilities for kids.

Connection: Weekly Torah Reading of Noach (the universal Torah commandments for Non-Jews, commonly referred to as "The 7 Laws of Noah" ("Do the Seven, Go to Heaven").

1297 (5783-04) 24 Tishrei 5783 (Oct.19, 2022)

"Two Shockingly Revealed Secrets"

When the Baal Shem Tov was first gaining fame as a healer of souls and a worker of miracles. the well-known Torah scholar, Rabbi Yaakov-Yosef of Polnoye, was suspicious that the charismatic new leader was a charlatan.

Connection: The 24th of Tishrei is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Yaakov-Yosef

1296 (5783-03) 14 Tishrei 5783 (Oct.9, 2022)

"Roof Boards"

If a Jew was on the poor side, finding boards out of which to build the walls of his
sukkah was always a problem.

Connection: SUKKOT

1295 (5783-02) 8 Tishrei 5783 (Oct.3, 2022)

"The Psalm-Sayer and the Medal of Courage"

The desert night was silent. In the distance a faint rumbling was heard through the wind that became louder and louder. Suddenly they appeared -- over a hundred tanks!

Connection: YOM KIPPUR

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

"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.

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