Stories Archive:
#1345 - present (5784)

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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1387 (5784-44) 2 Tammuz 5784 (July 8, 2024) This Week

"It Happened on the BQE"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe looked at him directly and said, "Why are you asking me? Ask a Rav in Cleveland whether to buy the business or not." His wife was crushed. They stood in line for five hours for that!?

Why this week: Monday night-Tuesday is the 30th yahrzeit of the LubavitcherRebbe.

1386 (5784-43) 25 Sivan 5784 (July 1, 2024) Last Week

"Kabbalists and Politics"

That night, Rabbanit Tzviyah, wife of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz'l, received two phone calls, from Baba Sali and then from the Gerrer Rebbe. Shortly after, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe arrived, all three with the same message.

Why this week: The 25th of the Jewish month of Sivan (2024: July 2) is the 14th yahrzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.

1385 (5784-42) 18 Sivan 5784 (June 24, 2024)

"The Flying Four-Cornered Garment"

They told us that three terrorists had infiltrated nearby. Two were intercepted, but one got away and was somewhere in the vicinity, so no civilians were being allowed into the area.

Why this week? The last Aliyah of this week’s Torah section, Shelach, presents the mitzvah of attaching tzitzit to four-cornered garments. [The text also comprises the final paragraph of the Shma Yisrael prayer.]

1384 (5784-41) 11 Sivan 5784 (June 17, 2024)

"UCLA, USC, and Members of the Tribe"

One boy told me that his family was so disconnected from their Jewish roots that they sent him to Catholic school, and for his bar mitzvah took him to tour Italy’s cathedrals and museums.

Connection: Why this week? Jewish students received Shabbat and Holiday meals for free, just as their ancestors did during the 40 years in the desert, as described in this week’s Torah section.

1383 (5784-40) 4 Sivan 5784 (June 10, 2024) Last Week

"The Unfortunate True Answer"

“I want to know the real reason the Jewish people are so persecuted and suffer so much,” insisted the King of Vienna. “If you don’t supply me with the true explanation, I will expel all the Jews from Vienna."

Why this week? Shavuot

1382 (5784-39) 26 Iyar 5784 (June 3, 2024)

"The Baal Shem Tov's Miraculous Visit to Berlin"

The innkeeper riding with the Baal Shem Tov was deeply concerned. It was already impossible that they could reach Berlin, a journey of 700 miles, in time for Shabbat.

Connection: Why this week? The Baal Shem Tov's yahrzeit is on the first day of Shavuot, which is on Tuesday night-Wednesday, June 11-12.

1381 (5784-38) 19 Iyar 5784 (May 27, 2024)

"A Most Extraordonary Opportunity - Refused!"

The Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lyzhinsk said: "Tell me, why is your rebbe, Rabbi Aharon-Leib of Premishlan, so conceited?"

Why this week? See the first three words of this week's Torah reading, Behukotai, with the explanation of Rashi. See also the next-to-last Mishna in this week's chapter of Pirkei Avot, 5:21. (See also the last clause in Avot 4:10)

1380 (5784-37) 12 Iyar 5784 (May 20, 2024)

"The Crashing Wheelchair"

Through the window they saw a woman lighting Festival candles. They noticed that next to her a man with a radiant, joyful face was lying in a bed.

Why this week? LAG B'OMER -- Rabbi Shimon bar-Yochai, Meron

1379 (5784-36) 5 Iyar5784 (May 13, 2024)

"Double Jeopardy"

"It's not like I woke up one morning and wanted to donate a kidney," he said. "My own nine children, ages 2 to 14, are my first priority."

Why This Week? The Jewish month of Iyar is often referred to as the "Month of Healing"-primarily because the four letters that spell Iyar in Hebrew are an acronym for G-d's holiest name.

1378 (5784-35) 28 Nissan 5784 (May 6, 2024)

"The Jolted German Jew"

"Please, Rabbi," gasped Mr. Deutch as he leaned toward the 'Saba Kadisha of Radoshitz.' "Anything but that! I'm prepared to give you all my money and all my belongings, but not that!"

Why This Week? The weekly Reading of Kedoshim: first and last verses 19:1, 20:26 ["Be holy"], and verses 19:27-28 [not to shave beard or peyos].

1377 (5784-34) 23 Nissan 5784 (May 1, 2024) Last Week

"A Series of Impositions"

I felt this person was a little bit of a shlimazel, so I graciously went over and helped him take his remaining luggage off the carousel and place them on his cart.

Why this week?: This Shabbat we begin the weekly study of Pirkei Avot. Chapter One contains: "…They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say…Be cautious in judgement…. [Mishnah 2]; …Joshua the son of Perachia would say: …judge every man to the side of merit. [Mishnah 6].

1376 (5784-33) 17 Nissan 5784 (April 25, 2024)

"The Disappearng Words of The Haggadah"

It seemed like a miracle. For his entire life he had been so poor and now he was getting richer every day. Soon he had everything he had ever dreamed of: family, money, and a beautiful home.

Why this week? The week-long Festival of Pesach

1375 (5784-32) 7 Nissan 5784 (April 15, 2024)

"The Astonishing Wrong-Line Blessing"

"How did the Rebbe know that! It definitely verifies that he has uncanny powers of perception! However, it also proves he isn't infallible!"

Why this week? The 11th of the Jewish month of Nissan (this Friday) is the anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1902.

1374 (5784-31) 29 Adar II 5784 (April 8, 2024)

"The Convincing Words of the Apostate Jew"

The Apter Rebbe made up his mind not to respond to the apostate Jew-hater at all. He told the man he would speak to him when the grass started growing on the stick standing nearby.

Why this week (2): 1- Pre-Pesach blood libel season; 2- Nissan 5 (Shabbat) is the yarhzeit of the Apter Rebbe.

1373 (5784-30) 22 Adar II 5784 (April 1, 2024) Last Week

"Fixated on Chicken Wraps"

The parents had a flat tire that delayed them for 3 or 4 hours. By the time they came, their 9-year-old daughter was very emotional, upset and hurt. Even when camp ended and she was back home, it remained a sore subject that lingered in the air.

Connection: Weekly Torah reading of Shemini - eating only kosher food.

1372 (5784-29) 15 Adar II 5784 (March 25, 2024)


On Seder night, the anti-Semite royal advisor hid under the Jew's window and saw how he, his family and his many guests were eating and drinking with plenty, all purchased with the king's money.

Why this week: It is said that telling a certain three stories in the month before Passover help to provide for the festival in abundance.

1371 (5784-28) 8Adar II 5784 (March 18, 2024)

"The PURIM Night Revolution Resolution"

One day Mottele's Russian Army commander decided to change his approach. He called Mottele in for a long and serious talk, trying one last time to convince him to "take the right step."

Why this week? PURIM

1370s385 (5784-27) 1 Adar II 5784 (March 11, 2024)

"Fast of Feast?"

Three emissaries of the ruler came to Rabbi Elazar Rokeach of Amsterdam on an urgent mission.

Connection: The importance of increasing simcha joy this entire month of Adar Sheini that started today, + Happy Purim!

1369s125 (5784-26) 24 Adar I 5784 (March 4, 2024)

"The Precious Coin"

The Ktav Sofer was visibly upset, his face white as frost 

Connection: This Shabbat's additional Torah Reading

1368 (5784-25) 17 Adar I 5784 (Feb.26, 2024)

"Slaps of Love"

How Rabbi Moshe Weber of Jerusalem dealt with a Jewish man who wanted to marry a non-Jewish woman, and how the three of them met again in the USA, in Pittsburgh.

Why this week? Monday night-Tuesday is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Weber.

1367 (5784-24) 10 Adar I 5784 (Feb.19, 2024)

"The Eight Ivys and the Seven Sisters"

"I hear these miraculous stories about you. Can they all be true? Do you know more medicine than the doctors? Do you know more law than lawyers? What is this?"

Connection: You tell me!

1366 (5784-23) 3 Adar I 5784 (Feb.12, 2024)

"A Two-Way Surprise at the Tzfat Cemetery"

"Everyone was in great shock, As I ran up the hill with nearly fifty people behind me, I saw that the ladies who were waiting couldn't stop crying from joy over what was happening."

Connection: The 7th of Adar (this Friday) is a holiday for the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish "Burial Societies") worldwide (some also fast). It is the date of Moshe's passing. Who buried him? G-d Himself! No need for the Chevra Kadisha. That's how it became their annual vacation day, and the one date they need not worry about being weakened by fasting.

1365 (5784-22) 26 Shevat 5784 (Feb.5, 2024)

"The Bankrupting Shabbos Break-in"

I'd given the insurance company serial numbers for most of my equipment, but not for many of the newer and more expensive items. I became really nervous. Will they still pay? If not, it would cost me $10k to buy everything again.

Connection: The Torah reading of Mishpatim contains most of the civil law commandments about money and theft.

1364 (5784-21) 19 Shevat 5784 (Jan.29, 2024)

"A Surptise Visitor in Paris"

In order to assess the condition of the many Jewish refugees who were then living in Paris, the wife if the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushya, made a clandestine visit to the city

Connection: Wednesday night - Thursday, 22nd of the Jewish month of Shvat, is the yahrzeit of the 7th Luvavitcher Rebbetzin.

1363 (5784-20) 12 Shevat 5784 (Jan.22, 2024)

"Divinely Arranged Synchronicity"

How an urgent call to visit a newborn baby scheduled for high-risk surgery at Boston's Children's Hospital led a Chabad shliach to see G-D's ways, and how an anecdote shared by the child's mother left him in tears.

Connection: The 12th day of the Jewish month of Shvat [this year: Monday, Jan. 21] is the 7th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz of beloved memory.

1362 (5784-19) 5 Shevat 5784 (Jan.15, 2024)

"How to Fool The Secret Police"

The Rebbe Rayatz of Chabad gave him peculiar instructions for how to escape the clutches of the notorious NKVD (KGB).

Connection: This Shabbat, the tenth of the Jewish month of Shvat, is the 74th yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz (and the 73nd anniversary of his son-in-law officially ascending to the Leadership of Chabad)

1361 (5784-18) 27 Tevet 5784 (Jan. 8, 2024)

"An Outrageous Marriage Made in Tsfat"

"When this wealthy widow from South America arrived in Tsfat and saw my pitiful state, she became extremely distressed," explained R. Tzvi Cohen to Baba Sali.

Connection: The 4th of the Jewish month of Shevat (20204: Sunday, Jan. 14) is the yahrzeit of the Baba Sali.

1360 (5784-17) 20 Tevet 5784 (Jan. 1 2024)

"Naming a Mother and Daughter"

At the time I was holding that fax, I felt as if I was literally holding ruach hakodesh [Divine inspiration] in my hands.

Connection: The name in Hebrew of the 2nd book of the Torah, which we started studying this week, and the name of its first weekly reading, is Shemot, which in English means "NAMES."

1359 (5784-16) 13 Tevet 5784 (Dec.25, 2023)

"The 12th Century Rabbi Who Travelled the World"

The Rambam ordered his servants to set up the Ibn Ezra in a room with a pile of onions. He was to peel onions for the next three days. The Ibn Ezra was not very pleased with this arrangement.

Connection: The yahrzeit of the Rambam is on 2o Tevet (this year: Jan. 1, 2024) There is a major annual pilgrimage to his burial site in neighboring Tiverya (Tiberias).

1358 (5784-15) 6 Tevet 5784 (Dec.18, 2023)

"A Small Kindness Repaid with a Big One"

World War I. A young Jewish soldier from Minnesota was stationed in a small German town. Having some free time and feeling out of place, he decided to explore what the local Jewish population was like.

Connection: This Friday is the "Fast of the Tenth of 10 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.

1357 (5784-14) 28 Kislev 5784 (Dec.11, 2023)

"Chanukah Sorcery in Iran"

The eve of Chanukah in Iran. They had hoped to reach home before the holiday began, but the sudden storm ruined their plans. They knocked on the door of a local Muslim house, shaking from cold.

Connection: CHANUKAH (sunset, Thursday, Dec. 7 - sunset, Friday, Dec. 15)

1356 (5784-13) 21 Kislev 5784 (Dec. 4, 2023)

"The Nazi's Grandson from Bordeaux"

I noticed a young man standing at the back, looking a little bewildered and out of place. It turned out he spoke neither Hebrew nor English, but I managed to communicate with him in broken French.

Connection: In this week's Torah reading, Vayeishev, there are four prophetic dreams.

1355 (5784-12) 14 Kislev 5784 (Nov. 27, 2023)

"The Straw Lion and the Tailor"

"Why hadn't the Maggid of Mezritch spoken a single word of Torah to him," the Sassover worried. "All he did was tell me childish stories."

Connection: Yud-Tet Kislev, this Shabbat, is the yahrzeit of Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch.

1354 (5784-11) 7 Kislev 5784 (Nov. 20, 2023)

"Moshe & Moshe, A & M"

"I would be very glad to help you, but what can I possibly do?"… Finally, he agreed, although of course, it was not possible to say that he knew what he was agreeing to do.

Connection: Tet [9th] Kislev (Wednesday) is the birthdate and the yahrzeit date of the Mittler Rebbe, while Yud [10th] Kislev the anniversary of his release from interrogation and false arrest.

1353 (5784-10) 29 Cheshvan 5784 (Nov.13, 2023)

"The Helpful Hitchicker"

The Toldos (Rebbe Yaakov-Yosef HaKohain of Polnoye) asked his younger contemporary, the Vitebsker (Rebbe Menachem-Mendel of Horodok), what he could do to overcome his quick temper.

Connection: A stretch. Looking for a story about this week's Torah reading, called Toldos, I searched on that name in my [very large] future folder, and this story about "The Toldos" was the first item to show up.
[Another 'hit': A Baal Shem Tov story connecting to the childlessness of Yitzchak & Rivka at the beginning of the Reading. You might want to view the video in my Saturday night WhatsApp group this week].

1352 (5784-09) 22 Cheshvan 5784 (Nov.6, 2023)

"Sons of Fatima"

"The Sheik in charge of the Cave of the Patriarchs came out and started rebuking and shouting at the Jewish visitors. And it seemed he was right….The Jews were all silent--except one."

Connection: This week's Torah Reading, Chaye Sara, 1) opens with [Sarah's death and] Avraham's registered purchase of the field in which Machpela Cave is situated, and 2) continues with the saga of arranging the match between Yitzchak and Rivka (Isaac & Rebecca).

1351 (5784-08) 15 Cheshvan 5784 (Oct.30, 2023)

"A War Story from My Colleague at Ascent - Oct. 2023"

The soldiers did not want us to stop. We give them an island of stability and sanity in a world that has gone insane.

Connection: /Society/Current Events/

1350 (5784-07) 8 Cheshvan 5784 (Oct.23, 2023) Last Week

"Two Crumpled Pictures"

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. C. Your seven-year-old son, Boaz, says that he hates religious rabbis, but he doesn't know why."

Connection - Weekly Torah reading: Gen. 12:5

1349 (5784-06) 1 Cheshvan 5784 (Oct.16, 2023)

"Between Two Brothers"

Two brothers told the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe that they were very frightened, for they had just learned that brothers [married to two sisters] should not live in the same city.

Connection: Connection: the 3rd of the Jewish month of Mar-Cheshvan (Tuesday night-Wednesday) is the yahrzeit of the Rhuziner Rebbe. [And with next week's Torah reading, Lech Lecha, see Gen. 13:5-9 on the matter of two 'brothers' having a problem because of living in the same area.]

1348 (5784-05) 24 Tishrei 5784 (Oct.9, 2023)

"Accessing the Hidden Lights of Creation"

An uncle of the girl in Mexico was dispatched to Netivot, in southern Israel, to seek the blessing and advice of the holy Baba Sali.

Connection: The third verse in the weekly Torah reading encapsulates the theme of the story.

1347 (5784-04) 19 Tishrei 5784 (Oct. 4, 2023)

"The Shirtless Torah Dance"

They were starved, beaten and lashed, often with whips fashioned from their own confiscated tefillin.

Connection; Simchat Torah

1346 (5784-03) 11 Tishrei 5784 (Sept. 26, 2023)

"The Floating Sukkah"

The police increased their surveillance. Anything that might be construed as a possible start to building a sukkah was immediately halted.

Connection: SUKKOT Festival

1345 (5784-02) 3 Tishrei 5784 (Sept. 18, 2023)

"Stranded in Kano"

"Everybody but me prostrates whenever one of the Moslem chieftains rides past in flowing robes on a coal black horse."

Connection: YOM KIPPUR

1344 (5784-01) 25 Elul 5783 (Sept. 11, 2023)

"Secret Power of The Shabbat Stew"

When the Tzemech Tzedek explained that the cholent was made prior to Shabbos and was left to simmer the whole night, the doctor pushed the plate of food away, stating that it was not healthy.

Connection: This year, Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat

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