Before you read my story, please take a moment and say Tehillim for my grandfather, Moshe Ben Rochel. Thank you.
How was your week and Shavuos (yum, yum)??
Okay, so I guess I pretty much failed at my promise of telling you some Alaskan stories. So here’s a small one: To begin, let me just tell you that the Alaskan sun is basically bipolar. In the winter, earliest shabbos starts 3:20ish and ends earliest at 5:10ish. In the summer though, it starts latest 11:15ish (don’t worry, we bring it in early ;)), and ends latest at 2:06am. Mmhh. 2:06. That’s because at a certain point there IS no sundown, so we can only end shabbos when it’s the next day. Anyway, this shabbos my window shade broke. Wonderful. I didn’t think much of it, being that it’s still only the beginning of the summer, it was actually dark at 12:30am when shabbos ended this week. Well, I forgot. Early Sunday morning I woke up to bright sun blinding my eyes – sunrise these days is at 5am. Never mind I had to wake up for Hebrew School three hours later… I actually don’t know what time it was exactly, since I was just busy unsuccesfully hanging a blanket over my bunkbed – doesn’t work too well if you’re half asleep.
Anyways, enjoy the story!
This weeks story is way shorter than last week, and it is a cute little story about the Maggid of Mezritch, one of the greatest students and the successor of the Baal Shem Tov, whom we spoke about last week.
Slightly adapted from Chabad.org
There was once a young single chossid (follower) named Meir, who came to spend the High Holidays with his Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch. Before he left, he went into the Maggid’s room, and complained about his difficulties in finding a wife, since he was very poor, so no one offered him a match. The Maggid was very relaxed, and told Meir, “Go in peace. Accept the first match offered to you.”
Satisfied, Meir went on his way. On the back home, he stopped by an inn for the night. Cold from his journey, he sat closely huddled to the inn’s oven, where there were a bunch of time-wasters and mischief-makers sitting and drinking away. He tried to stay out of vision, but looking for some fun, they noticed him, and asked who he was and what he was doing there.
He shortly said, “I went to visit my Rebbe.”
This was not good enough for them. “What did you ask and what did he answer?” they pried.
With no choice, he explained that he complained about finding a match, and that the Maggid said to accept the first match proposed.
The group eyed one another, and in mere seconds, they formed a prank.
“Excellent!” one trouble-maker jumped up. “I’ve got a first-class match for you! My sister is a young divorcee, and she’s even here right now!” (She was, in fact, no way related to him; but she was the daughter of the wealthy innkeeper who was not home then.) “Fine,” Meir said coolly. “I agree.”
The group laughed their way into the kitchen where the young girl – we’ll call her Sarah – was standing, and explained the joke to her, asking her to play her part, as it would do well for her fathers’ business since they would order many drinks for a l’chayim (toast). She agreed and they had a small engagement party right then and there.
“Why don’t we make the wedding ceremony right now?” one of the group suggested. “But none of us know how to perform a wedding ceremony with a contract!” another countered.
Meir stepped in, saying that as a yeshiva student, he knew how. This made everyone laugh harder. They took a white table cloth and 4 broomsticks to hold it up, and he wrote out the kesubah (marriage contract) and betrothed a giggling Sarah as his wife. After the ceremony, the group was having so much fun, they began to tug at his hat, make fun of him without restraint, and even began to slap him around. Seeing how things were going for him, he made a quick escape to an empty cottage to spend the night.
The next day he ventured near the inn, but didn’t get too close, lest he’d get beaten up again. He suddenly heard a cry, “Here comes the father of the bride!” He came closer.
“How do you do, father-in-law?!”
“Who is this? What is he saying?”
His daughter came out to greet him, and explained that they made an engagement and marriage ceremony just for fun!
The innkeeper – we’ll call him Velvel – became furious. He turned to Meir. “You idiot! What’s the big idea of marrying my Sarah? These boys may not know the seriousness of a wedding ceremony with a contract and kosher edim (witnesses), but if you are a chossid and yeshiva student as you appear, you surely know better! Didn’t you realize they were making fun of you?!” And to make his point clearer, he slapped poor Meir across his face. He thought twice, backed off, and, changing to a nicer tone, he offered a large sum of money to Meir to give a get (divorce) to Sarah.
Meir refused and didn’t budge. Several times he made the offer higher, until Meir finally explained what was going on.
“You may as well stop trying to buy me off,” he began. “My Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch, told me to accept the first marriage proposal offered to me. I refuse to divorce her unless I get explicit permission from my Rebbe. Why don’t we go bring this to him, and he’ll tell us what to do.”
With no choice, Velvel agreed to make the long journey to Mezritch to the Maggid. Arriving, Velvel quickly explained the situation. “I will discuss the matter with Meir,” the Maggid replied.
A few hours later, Velvel came back for an answer. “He is agreeable, on the condition that you give him a thousand silver rubles. But what about your daughter? Isn’t it high time she got married? Well, I tell you, I have an excellent match for her. Great yichus (lineage), learned and pious, wonderful character…” he trailed off.
“I will gladly except anyone the Rebbe offers,” Velvel said, having great respect for the famed Chassidic leader.
“There is but one problem,” the Maggid said. “He has only one fault. He was a pauper, and his poverty made him look unattractive. But that too has been rectified, for he has been given a thousand silver rubles, which he will bring into the marriage…” He then called Meir in, dressed in his best.
“You see, you do not have to make a divorce, nor a new marriage. I assure you that it was a match made in heaven. Go in peace with a joyful heart.”
Velvel and his daughter and new son-in-law happily journeyed back home.