Today is the Yartzeit of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk, who passed away on the 21st day of Adar in the year 5547 (1787).
Reb Elimelech was a prominent student of the Maggid, Rebbe Dov Ber of Mezeritch, and was brought under his tutelage by his illustrious brother the famous Tzadik and Rebbe, Reb Meshulam Zushya of Anipoli.
Reb Elimelech is most commonly known by the name of his popular book Noam Elimelech, a commentary on the Torah. This book is one of the principal works of Hasidism
Each year, for his Yartzeit, close to 35,000 travel to the remote corner of Poland where he is buried. It is said that anyone who prays at his grave on the day of his Yartzeit will not leave this world without being given a chance of achieving complete repentance.
One of the travel agents arranging the pilgrim’s for Reb Elimelech’s Yartzeit to Poland, once recommended to a friend of his – who for many years after his marriage was still childless – that he take the trip with him to Lizhensk, he said to his friend (a non-religious Jew) that the day of Reb Elimelech’s Yartzeit is a very auspicious day, and to pray on this very day at the grave site of this holy man will bring him the blessing he so desperately needs. His friend politely declined.
‘I will pay for the entire trip’ said the travel agent, ‘all expenses are on me, please come, I guaranty you won’t regret the trip’. After just minutes of persuasion he finally convinced his friend to come along with him. However he made two conditions, ‘firstly; you must name the baby Elimelech (if it is a boy), and secondly; you must give me the honor of being the Sandek at the Bris’. His friend agreed to both conditions and off to Lizhensk they went.
About a year past and this friend called to say that his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and he was calling to tell him the good news. The travel agent reminded him about the two conditions he had committed to before the trip to Lizhensk, but his friend told him that although he will fully oblige to the second condition and gladly give him the honor of being Sandek, he does however have an issue with the first, – being non-religious – his wife is strongly opposing the name Elimelech, she said it is an old fashioned name and she wanted to give her kid a more modernized name. The travel agent, disappointed with his friend fought back and pressed that all commitments be met.
After a week of argument, persuasion and convincing, the new parents finally agreed to give the name Elimelech, but with the condition that it would be the baby’s subordinate name. The baby’s first name will be the name of their choice, and they will call him by his first name as he grows to adulthood.
On the eighth day Mr. Travel agent got the honor of being the Sandek, and when the baby’s name was announced he froze in shock. The modernized name the couple was so passionate to give the baby was – “Noam” – , the baby’s full name was given as “Noam Elimelech”.
Without knowing why, the new parent’s choice the name of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk’s most popular book, the “Noam Elimelech”.