All of Judaism Depends On It!

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch of Nadvorna (d. 1801) is commemorated on the 20th of Sivan. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

His Tale Of Pride

In the last year in the life of the Tzaddik, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh, Preacher of Righteousness of Nadverno, my father, z’l, traveled to be with him for Shabbat Shuvah. (At that time, the Rav, Rabbi Mendele z’l was davvening at the shul for the days of Awe.)

The holy Rabbi was insistent for my father z’l to eat at his house on Shabbat instead of his sister’s, and, he added, that she too was invited.

That Shabbat afternoon, the Rav became very weak; he wasn’t able to join the company at the table and he went to his room to lie down.

The servants came to bring in my father, z’l, plus one other person hand-picked to receive a special word from the Rav.

He began with the passuk from the Torah portion (they were reading Vayelech that Shabbat):

“And it will be that many evils and troubles will befall a person and he will ask, ‘Haven’t these evils befallen me because my God is no longer with me?’ God said, ‘I will surely hide My face on that day when the person turned to other deities!'”

And the Rav said:

“I will tell you a thing that happened to which this text speaks:

“There was a young man who was soon to be married.

“He made an oath to himself to undertake a separation and a distancing from the world.

“He engaged himself in Torah study and in Avodah / service / prayer all the time and he remained apart and alone. And he dedicated himself to these activities.

“He would sit there the whole week in fasting from Shabbat to Shabbat, studying torah and praying.

“After some time passed in this way, he said to himself:

‘Be joyful in the deepest places that in such and such ways I have served Hashem with an Avodah as great as this!’

“But he was trapped in a web of false pride and confusion which was not what he had intended.

“Because of this pride, all his actions were going to the side opposite to holiness (sitra achra) and the Kedushah / holiness was not a part of these actions. At every moment his heart became inflated more and more but he was not aware.

“He took upon himself additional separations and safeguards and he increased the degree of Avodah.

“But he had only set his heart to draw from pride, a root within which produces hemlock and wormwood.

“As he increased his Avodah, so his heart grew more inflated and so the impure sitra achra grew in strength. He lost his way and tripped and stumbled, desecrating Shabbos by becoming filled with rage and fury.

“He was  exceedingly angry and undertook further separations similar to those described already until, (Oh please save him Oh merciful One!), he denied the existence of God.

And the Rav drove this point home through the verses of the Torah text:

“‘And it will be that many evils and troubles will befall a person’

“stumbling blocks after stumbling blocks were in the way of this young man.

“‘And he will ask, “Haven’t these evils befallen me because my God is no longer with me?”‘

“The young man might have said, ‘Am I not filled up with God-qualities through Torah study and Avodah and separations from the world and effortful mortifications? So what’s there for me try and control?’

“And the text says:

“‘I will surely hide My face on that day.’

“And this became so to an even greater extent on that day when he betook it upon himself to separate from the world and increase the Avodah.

“‘When the person turned to other deities!’

“During that time, from the very start, with all his Avodah he had turned to other gods, all in the name of pride. He had put a fence around himself and glorified himself and it was not in God’s name at all.”


And the message was reinforced by my father z’l in his retelling of this valuable teaching each and every year on Shabbat Shuvah, and thus would he say:

“Although I told you this last year, I have undertaken for myself to acknowledge its importance by telling this every single year, and to remind you that I heard it from his holy mouth.

This matter is so critical that all of Judaism depends on it.

(The New Gathering Of Hasidim)


Leave a Reply