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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Sender and the Sassover

THE PASSERBY


Vayera 5780

It was a frigid winter day in Sassov. Everyone huddled indoors; the streets were virtually deserted. The holy Reb Moshe Leib, the Sassover Rebbe, who was learning at home, rose from his seat and went to the window as if expecting someone. Soon a figure appeared in the distance, lumbering through the high snow in his heavy fur coat. In was Sender, a coarse young man from the neighboring town who had never received a Jewish education. The Sassover went outside and invited him in. “My dear Yid, why are you risking your life? Please come in and warm up.” Sender was reluctant to accept, but felt compelled when he saw that it was the holy Sassover. Before he knew it, the Sassover sat him near the fire with a warm drink and whisked his coat away to dry. He gave him some food and schnapps, and Sender was so relaxed he fell asleep near the warm oven. By the time he awoke, evening had fallen and he was disappointed that he would have to push off the remainder of his journey to Brody until the following morning.

“Please” said the Sassover, “it would be our greatest pleasure if you would stay the night.” And the two davened Mincha together, then Maariv, and ate a delicious supper. After arranging a comfortable bed for his guest, the Sassover returned to his studies.   Sender lay in bed but the sweet sound of the Sassover’s learning kept him awake. He felt as though the words were penetrating his soul, cleaning out years of dirt piled up inside. He watched the Sassover sit on the floor and perform Tikkun Chatzos, and finally fell asleep on a pillow drenched with tears of heartfelt teshuva. The next morning, after davening and eating, Sender went on his way. The Sassover’s family was eager to hear more about this mysterious guest. Was he a hidden tzaddik? To whom else would the Sassover give so much personal care and attention? But the Sassover assured them that the guest was a simple, ignorant Jew. “He had fallen so low,” the Sassover explained, “that he joined a band of thieves in the city of Brody. Yesterday he was on his way to meet his group and carry out a terrible crime. He left our home a new man and never did return to his group in Brody.” ------------------------ Every year on Shabbos Parshas Vayera, Reb Yisroel Ber of Yashnitzah shared this story to illustrate a Rashi. When we read that Avraham sat at the opening of his tent, Rashi explains, liros im yesh oiver v’shav v’yachnisem b’beiso – “to see whether there were any passersby, whom he would bring into his house.”

The word oiver, passersby, also means to go astray. Avraham sought out those who were on the wrong path in life and was determined v’shav, to bring them to teshuva. How? By bringing them into his home.[1] In the Sassover’s case, it was the cold. In Avraham’s, it was the heat. In life, there is no single reason people end up on the wrong path, but the solution is almost always the same: invite them in, show them love, show that you care. Once they feel this, they’ll be receptive to all the beautiful Torah and Yiddishkeit we have to teach them. Good Shabbos, Rabbi Lipskier [1] Adapted from “Shabbos Tish” vol. two. 

Mazal tov to Rabbi Yisroel Noach and Moussie Lipskier On the birth of their son Yosef Yitzchak שיגדלהו להיות חסיד יר"ש ולמדן, וירוו ממנו רוב נחת, אידישע נחת און חסידישע נחת מתוך הרחבה ומנוחת הנפש ומנוחת הדעת

 

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