Great Reward for a Good Deed
Once the Rebbe Reb Elimelech was on his way to the mikveh accompanied by another Jew when he heard a heavenly voice call out, “He who helps the Rebbe Reb Shmelke overcome the wicked people in Nikolsberg will be assured a portion in the World to Come!”
Reb Shmelke had suffered terribly at the hands of some of the local residents. Rebbe Elimelech asked the fellow who was with him if he had heard anything. The man had not. The Rebbe said to himself, “Since I heard this myself, it is a sign that I must journey to Nikolsberg.”
He set off for Nikolsberg, and when he arrived he went straight to the house of the Rebbe Reb Shmelke and asked him permission to give a discourse in the shul and rebuke the congregation. “And what good will it do for you to scold them?” Reb Shmelke replied. “They will accept no tochachah.” But Rebbe Elimelech insisted, and finally Reb Shmelke gave in and granted him permission.
Rebbe Elimelech went to the shul, where many people had gathered to hear his discourse, and he began to lecture. It seemed he had set out to prove to them how several sins listed in the Torah could actually be permitted. This type of speech was quite to their liking, and it whet their palates for more. And so it was announced that Rebbe Elimelech would speak again in the shul the next day, and the congregation returned in droves; almost the whole town showed up to hear the discourse.
This time Rebbe Elimelech proceeded to prove to them how false were yesterdays’ proofs and how all the sins in the Torah are quite grave and it is forbidden to transgress even the slightest of prohibitions of the Rabbis’ enactments and decrees. His words stirred feelings of repentance and regret in their hearts until they began to cry. “Our own Rebbe [referring, of course, to Reb Shmelke] told us these truths, only we refused to listen to him. We must all go to beg his forgiveness and make amends.”
They went to their Rebbe and fell on their faces, begging for forgiveness. They promised to listen and heed his words from then on now that Rebbe Elimelech had proven to them that their Rebbe’s words were true.
Having accomplished his mission, Rebbe Elimelech asked to be granted leave from the Rebbe Reb Shmelke and he left town.
When he left Nikolsberg, he heard another heavenly voice proclaim, “Since you have aided the Rebbe Reb Shmelke, we grant you that anyone you bless within the next twenty-four hours shall be blessed.”
Rebbe Elimelech walked and walked for almost a whole day, and yet he did not encounter a single Jew to bless. The Rebbe cried before Hashem, “Here You have given to me this gift for twenty-four hours and whom will I bless with it?” Suddenly, he saw a woman walking in the field and immediately he began blessing her. She became frightened and fled. The Rebbe called after her, “Do not be afraid! I am not an evil man, Heaven forbid. Tell me: where are you from and what is your occupation?” She stopped running and answered his questions, then allowed Rebbe Elimelech to finish blessing her and they each went on their way.
When the woman arrived home, she told her husband about the stranger and his blessings. Sure enough, their fortune turned for the better, and their standard of living grew until they were quite wealthy. Seeing the result of the Tzaddik’s blessing, the couple believed that this man had been Eliyahu HaNavi in disguise, for they saw with their own eyes that all their handiwork was blessed. This couple established a fine home with servants in the city, and the wealthy man gave his servants permission to distribute donations up to a gold dinar without even consulting him.
Time passed, and the Rebbe Reb Elimelech and his brother the Rebbe Reb Zisha were traveling together, collecting charity to free captives, when they heard about this wealthy and charitable man. They traveled to his city and called on him, and his servants came to give them a donation. They refused the amount the servants offered, though they were being offered a golden dinar. They insisted on seeing the affluent man himself.
When they entered the rich man’s home, his wife saw them and recognized Rebbe Elimelech. Surely he has returned to take back all the wealth he bestowed upon us. She was so overcome that she fainted, causing a great commotion in the household. When she came to, she told her husband that this man was Eliyahu who had blessed her several years earlier.
Rebbe Elimelech immediately declared that he was not Eliyahu, and he had not come to take away their wealth, Heaven forbid. On the contrary, he was happy to see that his blessings bore fruit. The wealthy man asked them how much they needed to collect to redeem the captives. Five hundred red coins, they said. The rich man left the room and soon returned with the entire sum. But they refused his generous gift saying that they wanted to let other Jews have a hand in the merit of this great mitzvah. After much entreaty and pleading by the rich man, they accepted from him half the amount. (Sichos Tzaddikim 17)
The Shamash and the Hidden Wine
On the second day of the yom tov of Shavuos Rebbe Elimelech was sitting with his chassidim. He asked those assembled: “Is there now anything that we are missing?” They answered, “We would like to drink from the yayin hameshumar, the hidden wine.”
The Rebbe summoned his shamash and told him, “Take your water buckets and go to the cemetery gates. Turn facing away from the graves and say, ‘Melech has commanded that you give us wine from the yayin hameshumar.’ Then take the buckets and bring them back to us. But take heed: whatever happens, do not speak to or answer anyone you might meet on the way home; you must ignore them.”
The shamash nodded and left to do the Rebbe’s bidding.
He did exactly as the Rebbe said: he traveled to the cemetery, stood facing away from the graves, and commanded that the buckets be filled with the yayin hameshumar. His mission accomplished, he returned to town. When he entered the town, he encountered a woman who asked for some of the wine to cure her sick child. Of course, he ignored her as the Rebbe had commanded. But within moments more people appeared with requests, until there was a line of people following the shamash, crying, imploring, and shouting at him to give them some of the wine. The shamash walked faster and faster as he made haste to reach the Rebbe.
When the shamash entered the house, the people who had followed him made a grab for the buckets. Panicking, the shamash cried out, “Go away and leave me alone!” As soon as he said these words, someone hit the shamash over the head and both buckets of wine fell to the ground. The special wine poured out and was lost. (Ohel Elimelech 139)
(Excerpts from the new book - Mipeninei Noam Elimelech: A selection of teachings, stories, and parables of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk,
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