The Villagers That Dared To Open Their Own Shul



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    Shifra Vepua

    The Villagers That Dared To Open Their Own Shul

    The heads of the community decreed upon all the neighboring towns and villages that they should not sell the Arba Minim to this particular town, and that the townspeople themselves were to appear at the city gates on Erev Succos, dressed in white Kittels and Shoeless like on Yom Kippur • Full Story

    The holy Reb Shlomo Leib of Lentshow, Zal, told the following story:

    When the great author of the “Pnei Yehoshua” served as a rabbi in Lvov, the Baal Shem Tov was a Melamed in a nearby village. He also served there as a Baal Tefilo. On Shabbos the people prayed in his minyan and studied Torah with him. During the Slichos, Reb Yisroel led the prayers.

    When it became known in Lvov, the people were furious that the villagers had made their own service. The villagers had always come to Lvov for Slichos and for the High Holidays, thereby filling the coffers of the synagogue in Lvov. Now that the villagers had made their own service, the shul had lost considerable income.

    The heads of the community decreed upon all the neighboring towns and villages that they should not sell the Arba Minim to this particular town, and that the townspeople themselves were to appear at the city gates on Erev Succos, dressed in white Kittels and Shoeless like on Yom Kippur. They were to advance thus until the Rov’s house to receive his rebuke. It was further decreed that their Baal Tefilo (the Ba’al Shem Tov) should lead the prayers in the synagogue. If he said all the verses correctly, with the proper inflections upon the words and letters and with the correct melody, he would absolve his community of any fine. But if he made any error in pronunciation or liturgy, he would bring upon his people a heavy fine in addition to the great shame they were subjected to.

    The villagers complied with the decree. Their shame was magnified by the little children who followed behind, calling out ugly names and mocking phrases as they advanced to the rabbi’s house. From there they continued to the shul where the Baal Shem Tov took his place by the Omud and led the services, praying faultlessly and sweetly. When he reached the blessing of “Avos” at the beginning of the Shmone Esrai he turned around to face the congregation and announced:

    “Whoever has not as yet repented his sins and failings should not be present in this synagogue.”

    Fear seized the public and people began to flee the synagogue in panic. They brought the Baal Shem Tov to the “Pnai Yehoshua”, who sat in his house enveloped in his Talis and Tefilin. The latter welcomed him and greeted him with words of peace and love.

    (Stories of the Ba’al Shem Tov)

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    The Villagers That Dared To Open Their Own Shul



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