A Critical Moment At The Ohel


    A Critical Moment At The Ohel

    When Shlomo, a businessman from Wilkomir in Lithuania was about to set out on a business trip to faraway Niezhin in Ukraine, his good friend Rabbi Yaakov Cadaner, a famous Chassid and lamdan made a special request from him, a request that proved crucial… A story for Tes-Yud Kislev as recorded by Reb Yaakov himself in his Sippurim Noraim • By Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    By Menachem Ziegelbaum, Beis Moshiach Magazine

    When Shlomo, a businessman from Wilkomir in Lithuania was about to set out on a business trip to faraway Niezhin in Ukraine, his good friend Rabbi Yaakov Cadaner, a famous Chassid and lamdan made a special request from him, a request that proved crucial…

    – PART I –

    Shlomo sat in the wagon bent over in sorrow. It had been many months since he had left his warm, protected home to seek a livelihood to support his family. He had been on the road for nearly six months and what had he found? No blessing, no nachas, no satisfaction.

    He was from Vilkomir and made a living primarily by buying and selling tobacco in the various markets. One day, he decided to travel a long way, to Niezhin, where he could obtain large quantities of tobacco at low prices. He made the calculations and after some hesitation he decided to set out. It wasn’t an easy decision leaving behind his young wife and little children. That is why he always tried to do business in the area where he lived. But this was a good opportunity and it led him to pack his bags and set out.

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    He first received parting blessings from one of the great men in his city, Rabbi Yaakov Cadaner, a Lubavitcher Chassid and Torah scholar, author of the sefarim Matzreif HaAvoda and Sippurim Noraim. They knew one another well and Shlomo often enjoyed visiting R’ Yaakov’s house and talking to him and mainly, hearing Chassidic stories from him. R’ Yaakov knew numerous stories of Chassidim, mainly of the Mittler Rebbe and the Alter Rebbe of Liozna (about whom he wrote in his sefer).

    R’ Yaakov held out his hand to young Shlomo’le and blessed him with success in his business affairs.

    “Before we say goodbye, R’ Yaakov said softly, “I’d like to make a request.

    “Although you are not a Lubavitcher Chassid, still, since you are traveling to Niezhin, it would be fitting for you to go to the gravesite of the tzaddik, the Mittler Rebbe, who is buried there. Surely, the merit of the Rebbe will stand by you for success in your trip.”

    Shlomo happily agreed.

    – PART II –

    As mentioned, young Shlomo had been away for six months. There was no train yet and the distance from Vilkomir in Lithuania to Niezhin in Russia was very far. Now, he was very close to Niezhin.

    On the way, he tried doing small business deals but was unsuccessful. He wasn’t experienced enough to withstand the enticing business deals that came his way and he even lost quite a bit of money. If that wasn’t enough, he had an uneasy feeling. He himself didn’t know what it was about. As he traveled the long, desolate way he had time to think and the image of his wife and children came to mind again and again. He had a strong, inexplicable feeling that something was wrong with them. Not surprisingly, his mood was low. He had a lump in his throat. This feeling was a sort of mini-prophecy …

    – PART III –

    His wife Kreindel was in bed, sick, surrounded by her helpless children who cried. None of the doctors who came could diagnose the illness that grew worse by the day.

    That day was the worst of all. All that critical night, three doctors sat at her bedside, wringing their hands in despair and tension. They did all they could but other than easing her breathing a bit, they could do nothing. They knew that during the night her fate would be sealed, that it could go either way.

    At a certain point she lost consciousness. All the doctors’ attempts to revive her were to no avail. She did not respond. If not for her light, almost imperceptible breathing, they could think she had passed on.


    Dawn broke with a new day and new hope. Perhaps, perhaps, this light would expel the darkness and gloom.

    The worried neighbors filled the house, wringing their hands and hoping for a miracle. They helped as much as they could.

    The crisis was at ten in the morning. The sick woman suddenly began to breathe easier. Her breaths were softer and the color returned to her face. She broke out in a sweat and her eyelids began to flutter.

    “Mazal tov!” said the doctors emotionally as they stood up. “The crisis has passed and she is doing better.”

    She continued to improve quickly. She hardly needed the doctors anymore. She recovered and a month later she was on her feet. The doctors and neighbors considered this a marvel.

    – PART IV –

    A few months passed and Shlomo returned to Vilkomir to the delight of his wife and children. He had spent only a short time at home before he dashed out to the home of R’ Yaakov Cadaner, his friend, without even changing out of his travel clothes.

    R’ Yaakov looked at him questioningly as though to ask, is this right, after not being home for about a year that instead of rejoicing with your family, you come to me?!

    The young man felt confused and found it hard to say what he wanted to say.

    “A great thing brings me to you, a great wonder!”

    Shlomo then began to tell what happened:

    “I had a miserable time on this trip. I wasn’t doing well and even lost nearly all my money. Aside from that, I was in debt over a large sum of money after various things which happened to me on the road. If that wasn’t enough, I felt very uneasy about my wife. I felt that something bad was happening at home and the helplessness made me feel terrible.

    “As I arrived in Niezhin, I felt I could not go on. It was like a heavy stone was on my heart. I could do nothing. I did not even have the strength to cry out to heaven.

    “I suddenly remembered the promise I made to you to visit the gravesite of the tzaddik, Rabbi Dovber, the Mittler Lubavitcher Rebbe. I thought it would be a refuge for me and my soul. I immersed in a mikva and then entered the ohel of the tzaddik. It was freezing, bone-chilling. I was surprised by this since all along the road I had been exposed to winds and the cold and my warm clothes protected me while here, the cold was overpowering.

    “As I stood in the Rebbe’s presence, a dread fell upon me; I could feel my hair stand up. I had never felt such a terrible fear before in my life. Due to the fear, I felt how the cold penetrated my body from the hair on my head to the heels of my feet. The cold increased until I couldn’t take it anymore. I realized something was going on. Being in this holy place was what caused these startling phenomena.

    “In my terror, I nearly ran out of there but before I did, the thought occurred to me: Surely, from such a holy man nothing bad would happen to me, so why run? On the contrary, I would pray from the depths of my heart and ask for mercy to be aroused upon me from Above and surely he would pray for me.

    “I began reading from the Zohar and chapters of Tehillim as well as some chapters of Maavar Yabok. My difficult situation and heaviness of heart burst through and I cried in a way that I had never done before. Rivers of tears poured from my eyes. My body shook with the sobbing and all my attempts to calm down were futile.

    “After a long time I managed to write down some words on a paper that I brought. I wrote two pidyonos, one for me and my family in general and one specifically for my wife. That uneasy feeling that accompanied me all along spurred me to write a p’n for her and to arouse much mercy on her. I put the two pidyonos on the grave and said out loud, ‘Rebbe, I ask you to arouse much mercy up Above on me and my family and especially on my wife Kreindel bas Sarah, about whom I have a bad feeling.’

    The moment I laid the pidyonos on the Rebbe’s tziyun, my heart filled with joy. I felt such peace and delight the likes of which I never felt before. The taste of Gan Eden. I felt that I had left the matter in good hands and that from then on, all would be with kindness and mercy. The longer I stayed there, the stronger my joy became and if it wasn’t the holy ohel, I would have danced. I stayed there a long time, finding it hard to leave the hidden light.

    “I finally left in peace and contentment. I spent a few days in Niezhin and although I hardly had any money, I made some nice deals. I saw the fulfillment of the Rebbe’s blessing.

    “It took several more months until I returned home. That extraordinary joy did not leave me for even a moment. The previous trip was all sadness while on this return trip I felt an upliftedness of spirit.

    “Today, as I arrived safely home, I asked my wife how she was and she briefly told me how she had been sick and the doctors despaired. She told about her unconsciousness and how she was on the brink of the next world and had suddenly awakened and recovered in a miraculous way with no help from the doctors.

    “When I asked her whether she remembered which day this happened, she said it was a certain day and I realized it was precisely the day I was at the Rebbe’s ohel and at that tenth hour I placed the pidyonos on the grave.

    “Now, R’ Yaakov, how could I restrain myself? Before changing my clothes, I ran to you to tell you about the wonders of G-d and His display of his might through His servants the tzaddikim.”

    R’ Yaakov was greatly moved.

    Shlomo added, “If your holy Rebbeim after their passing shine like the stars, all the more so is their holiness supreme in their lifetimes!”

    R’ Yaakov chuckled and said, “It’s the other way round. Chazal say that tzaddikim are greater in their deaths than in their lifetimes.”

    (From a story in Sippurim Noraim by R’ Yaakov Cadaner)


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