28 Av 5781 / Friday, August 06, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Devarim: A Speedy Journey    

Devarim: A Speedy Journey

“Why are you so worried about time? Time is a creation like anything else. If the Almighty has created it for us, then it is to be used to serve Him...


Parshat Devarim
“You [also] saw that God your Lord carried you along the road you traveled” (Devarim 1:31).
Reb Michel of Ostropol was a great Torah sage and respected by all, but he was a fastidious and nervous man. On one occasion, Reb Michel received news that his close friend and colleague Reb Yankel would be making a brit (circumcision) for his newly born son, please God, on the coming Friday. As Reb Michel and Reb Yankel were as close as brothers, Reb Michel decided that he would attend.
But as he began to ponder the anticipated trip, he became nervous: “Reb Yankel’s village is a half day’s travel from Ostropol,” he thought. “How will I be able to go the brit and have enough time to return home for Shabbat? I will send Reb Yankel a message requesting that he make the brit as early as possible. Then I can return home to Ostropol in time for Shabbat.”
A few days later Reb Michel received a letter from Reb Yankel agreeing to make the brit early in the morning. Reb Michel traveled to Reb Yankel’s village Thursday morning allowing plenty of time for any delays. He immediately went to the home of Reb Yankel where they warmly greeted each other and celebrated the good news.
By early the next morning, preparations for the brit had been completed so that Reb Michel could return home in time for Shabbat. Unexpectedly, a wagon full of chassidim pulled up in front of Reb Yankel’s house. It was the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples who had come to participate in the joyous event. Reb Yankel was overjoyed with this unexpected surprise of his Rebbe and his accompanying chassidim. As it was the custom of the Baal Shem Tov to immerse himself in a mikvah before morning prayers, the brit had to be delayed until he returned. The Baal Shem Tov did not rush his immersion, or his walk to and from the mikvah.
The brit was finally held. The seudah (festive meal celebrating the occasion) took longer than expected as the chassidim sang song after song, exchanged Torah thoughts and rejoiced. Reb Michel was so overjoyed to be celebrating such a wonderful simcha, and in the company of chassidim, that he forgot the time. When the festivities were finally over, he looked at his watch and saw to his horror that there was less than an hour until candle lighting time for Shabbat.
Reb Michel began to panic: “What shall I do?” he thought to himself in despair. As he began to pace the floor, the Baal Shem Tov approached him. “Reb Michel,” he began, “why are you so worried about time? Time is a creation like anything else. If the Almighty has created it for us, then it is to be used to serve Him.
"Do you think that you have somehow lost time because of our joyous celebration for the sake of the great occasion of a brit? If I arranged for you to arrive home in time for Shabbat, will you allow me and my chassidim to be your guest this Shabbat?”
“But of course!” exclaimed Reb Michel in a daze.
The Baal Shem Tov quickly instructed his chassidim to climb into the wagon, and sat Reb Michel by his side. The wagon driver, Alexei, whipped the reins and the horses were off on the road to Ostropol.
After fifteen minutes of travel, the Baal Shem Tov turned to the bewildered Reb Michel. “Look, Reb Michel, we’re already approaching Ostropol, and you still have forty-five minutes to spare to prepare for the holy Shabbat.”
The wagon stopped in front of Reb Michel’s house. Still unsure what had just transpired, Reb Michel quickly stepped down from the wagon and welcomed his honored guests into his home. It was a memorable Shabbat, and as of that day, Reb Michel became an ardent chassid of the Baal Shem Tov.
And so it was.
Tzvi Meir Cohn attended Yeshiva Hadar Hatorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after completing his university studies in Engineering and Law. While studying at the Yeshiva, he discovered a deep connection to the stories and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His many books about the Baal Shem Tov can be found in the Breslev Store. He can be contacted at howard@cohnpatents.com.


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