An Inspirational Chassidic And Jewish Stories that is relevant to the weekly Torah Readings

Do not pass your servant by

(Genesis 18: 3)

Hospitality to wayfarers is greater than welcoming the presence of the Shechinah, for it is written, And the Lord said if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away.

(Shabbath Tractate  127a)

And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba

(Genesis 21: 3)

The Hebrew word for  tamarisk is "Eshel", which is an acronym for "Eating Drinking Hospitality"

(In scripture).

In one village lived a tax collector (named "Arinadar" in the local language), in peace and quiet and safety.

One day a group of Hasidim passed through the village, on their way to meet the late great  Rebbe Chaim of Kosiv. It was the middle of the night and pitch dark, and the Hasids wanted to stay overnight with the tax collector. They knocked on his door and asked to be let inside, but the tax collector was harsh and turned them away.

The Hasids felt very indignant, stuck in the bitter cold and pouring rain falling on their heads that night. But there was nothing they could do, and they went about their way.

By morning, they arrived in Kosiv. When they were greeted by the Rebbe, he asked them about their journey, and they mentioned the incident with the tax collector.

The Rebbe replied:

He will eventually see the error of his ways.

A few days later, the tax collector came to the Rebbe, bowing his head in sorrow: He was recently summoned by the ruler of the village and ordered to leave the village for three months. All his efforts and requests were to no avail, so he came to the Rebbe for advice.

The Rebbe said to him:

  • To be honest, it always ached me: a tax collector living in a village, and praying without a minyan and without a mikveh, and neither saying Amen nor any blessing nor hearing the reading of the Torah. How did he get away with it?

Indeed, the main reason for leniency, in this case, is that "hospitality to wayfarers is greater than welcoming the presence of the Shechinah," and by observing the mitzvah of "welcoming guests" who are stranded in the village, he corrects everything.

Therefore, as long as this mitzvah exists, by observing it, you’d be protected from harm. But now, as I have heard, people have come to you and you rejected them from your home. So why do you live in the village?

Would you not be better off living in a great city of sages and scribes, praying in the morning and evening with a minyan, and dipping before the prayer in the mikvah, like all the pious Hasids?

The tax collector said in tears:

  • Rebbe! And how will I make a living?

The Rebbe said to him:

– From now on, vow to keep your house wide open, and then the Lord will give you back your old life, and protect you from harm.

The tax collector accepted this advice and did as the Rebbe said. And the Lord softened the heart of village ruler, and the tax collector got his life back, as the Rebbe promised.