Monday, March 5, 2012

A Purim Story

One Purim, after shachris, Rav Shmelkeh of Nikolsburg, zt”l, noticed a very wealthy man lingering in shul. This person said much more Tehillim than was his wont and then began to slowly learn the day’s Chok L’Yisrael and recite Zohar. Rav Shmelke approached this wealthy man and immediately got to the point. “You should know that you are nothing more than a soldier who has deserted his post. This is true despite the Torah you are learning since one who runs away from a battlefield where his unit is fighting is a deserter even if he joins a different unit in different circumstances. Why are you different from a foot soldier who suddenly turns up at the stables where the cavalry keep their horses and tries to join them? The moment they realize that he is a member of a different unit he will be tried for treason or at least sent back to his unit with a warning. You are just the same. Your job is to be at home now and wait for the many poor people who will visit your house and give them a generous donation in accordance with your great wealth. Doing anything else, even learning in the beis midrash, is abandoning your post!” After he told this anecdote, the Rebbe of Vitzhnitz added, “I knew a certain wealthy man who would visit my father every Purim day. He would wander around the beis midrash and hang around with the gabaim specifically on this day, since he felt that every moment spent away from home was more money he could keep in his bulging pockets. This person was a ‘kamtzan l’mehadrin!’” The rebbe continued, “This is how I understand the gemara in Bava Basra 10. There we find that Rabbi Elazar gave tzedakah and only then davened. This was to remove any suspicion on the part of observers that he was davening at length to get out of fulfilling the mitzvah of giving charity!”


Neil Harris said...

Interesting, because R Moshe Weinberger says the same story over in the name of the Beis HaLevi.

Freilichen Purim!

Micha Golshevsky said...

Thank you for leaving the comment.
The source for this story is שרפי קודש, ע' ש"ע
I have heard a similar story about the Beis Halevi stopping the gevirim from learning on Shavuos night in his city, however.
Have a sweet and joyous Purim!