Monday, February 03, 2014

A Story About Snow and What G-d Wants From Us

On  this past Xmas eve, not so long ago, though I've traveled through universes since then, I had reason to go deep into New Jersey and sleep at a friend's home.  I had assumed the school he works in (a modern Orthodox co-ed place) was closed on Xmas, but it wasn't.  He was asleep when I got to his house at 11 PM and he was gone for work when I got up for the nine o'clock minyan.  I was very tired and fell asleep right away, reading. His daughter doesn't live at home and I slept in her intact old room.  She had shelves filled with my kind of sefarim.  I picked a book called The Legendery Maggidim: Stories of Soul and Spirit by By Eugene and Annette Lebovitz (2002). I opened to page 272.

I am a big fan of stories.  And yet I am picky.  I own many story books. And from these 100, or maybe way way more, books I get on average between zero and one or two stories that resonate for me and that I find fit to tell to others.  This story is a memory for me because of the experiences I associate with it:: Reading it out of my element, falling asleep reading it, finishing it in the early morning, writing bullet points about it in my diary. I now I will remember writing it up and posting it on this post Super Bowl snow day.

I'm generally not into miracle stories. My stories are analogies and midot related. I think the point of the story is to teach us to be better. This one has some of a midot element to it. The jury is still out, but the odds don't look good for this story ever being shared by me.  Except for now.


A father and son traveled to Rav Shalom of Belz for a brachah before the son's wedding.  After giving the brachah Rav Shalom told the father that if he ever found himself in a near death situation to remember his connection to G-d and to cry out Shmah as loudly as he could and to thus sanctify Hashem's name.

As they head home it begins snowing harder and harder until it is blizzard conditions. They are blinded by the storm and get off course and lost in a forest where their horses fall into a ditch.  The father saying Shmah at the top of his lungs.

After a while they are surprised to hear a voice call back, "I hear you, keep shouting so I can find you. Afraid, but hopeful the father continues t call out as a light is shined increasingly closer to him.  A man extends long poles down into the pit which the father and son grab onto.  He saves them.

The man brings them to his inn and after meeting their needs and providing them with blankets, schnapps, tea, and hay for their horses, he tells them his story. He had been a wagon driver, working for a minimal wage, but not finding it to be a terrible job. One scorching summer day he tied the horses to a post and went to get a drink.  The horses were stolen and he was scared of repercussions from his boss. He ran away and continued to run and wander. When he passed through Belz someone told him that the Belzer Rebbe was open to all people.  He was dubious, but figured he'd give it a try.

The Rebbe listened to and absorbed the man's situation.  He told the fellow that G-d treats people the way they treat each other. He instructed the fellow to act toward others with love. The Rebbe asked him to promise that he would always respond to any cry of hep that came his way. Then the Rebbe told him that an opportunity to purchase an inn would come his way, that he should buy it, and that all would go well.

The innkeeper got the inn and kept his word of always helping people in need.

The night before, when he was already comfortably in bed, he dozed off and in a ream heard a voice telling him to go out into the storm and find 2 Jews that were stuck and in great danger. The voice told him where to go and said to hurry.  He pulled himself out of bed and forced himself out into the night, into the storm. He arrived at the forest and heard a distant voice crying out in a language he didn't understand, though he heard the voice and its urgency. He persevered and saved father and son.

When he heard this story the father thought long and hard. The Rebbe had told him to remember his G-dliness and to sanctify G-d's name.  The Rebbe told the innkeeper to respond with his fullest capacity to any cries of help from others. The father wondered about the connection between these two stories and ideas.  He concluded that helping others and sanctifying G-d name are intertwined because assisting others is one of the primary ways to sanctify G-d's name in this world.

(Adapted by book named above from YL Belkrowitz's Anshei Mofeit - Yechi Am, 1977)


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