R’ Berel Chasniker was the devoted follower of the Rebbe of Chernobyl. Just three quarters of a day separated Chasnik from Chernobyl but in his heart he constantly yearned to be with his Rebbe • Full Story
R’ Berel Chasniker was the devoted follower of the Rebbe of Chernobyl. Just three quarters of a day separated Chasnik from Chernobyl but in his heart he constantly yearned to be with his Rebbe.
Sometimes, Berel would pack his bundle and take a few coins with him which he earned with great effort, penny by penny, and walk to the Rebbe. He would tremblingly present the coins to the Rebbe as a sort of korban Mincha (sacrifice) and the Rebbe would graciously take his gift, making Berel the happiest man around.
One day, good news made its way around Chasnik. The Rebbe was coming to visit! Berel was thrilled. He eagerly awaited the moment when he would see the Rebbe. He was convinced that he would get to host the Rebbe in his humble home. He set up a special room for the Rebbe, cleaned up the house and bought delicacies with the little money he had.
When the Rebbe’s carriage arrived at the entrance to the town, Berel waited with everyone else. But before he got to see the Rebbe, the Rebbe’s shamash came running over to him.
“The Rebbe said to tell you that if you want to see him, you need to pay 2000 rubles. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to see him, not in the crowd and not individually.”
Berel was dumbfounded. 2000 rubles?! That was an astronomical sum of money! Berel knew he had no chance in the world of raising that kind of money.
He turned around and went home in tears. He so greatly desired to see the Rebbe and now, the Rebbe was so close but so far…
His wife Breindel was cooking in the kitchen, preparing meat and fish in honor of the Rebbe. As she hovered over the pots, she noticed her husband trudging toward the house and looking downcast.
She was surprised. She had expected to see him rejoicing as he led the Rebbe and his entourage toward the house.
Berel could barely get the words out. “I cannot see the Rebbe … The Rebbe said … only … only if I bring 2000 rubles can I see him.”
The big wooden spoon that Breindel held dropped into the pot of soup. “What?! 2000 rubles? Are you sure you heard correctly?”
Berel nodded. “Yes, no doubt about it. I heard it with my own ears from the shamash.”
Berel sat at the wooden table, leaned his head on his hands and sobbed. He calculated that even if he sold everything he had, the house and its contents, he would not have half that sum.
He exclaimed, “Master of the universe! I want to see the Rebbe! Please, send me 2000 rubles. I don’t know how, but You have many ways. Please Hashem, send me the money!”
Some time later Russia was at war. When army regiments stopped where people lived, the residents were ordered to host the soldiers.
In Chasnik too, a large contingent of soldiers arrived and Berel had to host some soldiers. Three of them were sent to sleep in his house to rest up so they could continue fighting. One of the soldiers was holding a large, metal box. He put the heavy box under the bed and went to sleep. A few hours later, a whistle sounded that called all the soldiers to head out. The soldiers quickly got their belongings together and rushed out, forgetting the metal box under the bed. A weak moon shone on the soldiers as they departed the town.
At dawn, the soldiers rushed back to Chasnik. The commander shouted, “Find that box of money! Hurry! I want that box back!”
The soldiers were frightened by his thundering voice but could not find the box. The commander gave up and told the soldiers to leave.
It was two weeks later that Berel noticed that the metal box was in his house. He was afraid lest he be punished for stealing it so he kept it a secret and did not touch it.
A month later, when people had forgotten about the incident, he dared to break the lock on the box. There lay a treasure, piles of bills with many coins.
He pinched himself to see whether he was dreaming. No, it wasn’t his imagination or a trick. This was real. Berel was rich!
He decided not to tell anyone, not even his wife. Only the Rebbe would know. Now that he had the money, he could finally go to the Rebbe.
That same day he took his old satchel and filled it with the enormous amount of money he had found. Nobody would have guessed what he had in the old bag.
When he arrived at the Rebbe’s room, he put the money on the Rebbe’s table. He was so happy to be able to see the Rebbe.
Berel told the Rebbe what had happened but he could tell that the Rebbe knew it all already. The Rebbe thought for a while and then said, “Berel, in heaven it was decreed a long time ago that you be rich, but Hashem wanted you to ask. If you would only ask to be rich, you would immediately become so. I knew that you would never think of asking for wealth. Why would you make such a request? So I set things up so you would be forced to plead to Hashem to send you a lot of money.”
Berel smiled happily. Now the Rebbe’s surprising demand was understood. Berel became the wealth magnate, Berel Rapoport, and subsequent generations were also very rich and were famous for their generous giving of tz’daka.
Yes, they just want us to ask.
If we sincerely asked for Moshiach to come, surely he would already be here.
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