An Evildoer’s Olam HaBa

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The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi of Karlin (1738-1792) is commemorated on the 22nd of Tammuz. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

Rabbi Shlomo Keeps His Promise To An Evildoer

Once, the divine and holy Rav, Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin (ztzvk’l) came to his Study Hall to meet a creditor.

The creditor had come to collect a sum of four hundred silver Roubles that was owed him by the Rabbi.

The Rabbi did not have the money.

The person had gone to great effort to get there and collect the amount owed in full and so it wasn’t an option to ask him to come back another time.

The Rabbi declared to himself that if a person would provide him with the needed funds to pay off the creditor on the spot, the Rabbi would assure him Olam Haba / the world to come.

As soon as he made this offer to the people there, immediately, a certain person leaped up from his spot.

He was a man with a reputation for evildoing.

This evildoer just happened to have been there in the Rabbi’s Study Hall and, he paid the Rabbi the balance mentioned above, in cash.

When the holy Rabbi saw who the donor was, he greatly regretted having made the declaration and wanted to return the money to him.

He began trying to encourage the man to not hold him to his promise, to take back that money. He said that if the man agrees to do this, he will assure [through the power of his prayer] that this man would be wealthy all his days. The man, however, would not let him off the hook.

The holy Rav implored the man, suggested to him that he could have a long life if he would take back the money, but the aforementioned evildoer did not want to listen to anything.

Again the holy Rav tried, suggesting to him long life and great wealth for both him and his descendants after him. But it was of no use: The man did not want to let him reneg. As he put it, “A deal is a deal.”

Once he accepted that the man would not be influenced, he said to him:

“Behold! So shall it be.

“Your time to die will need to be in just a few more days, (may the merciful One protect you!). Go give instructions in your house and prepare yourself for this eventuality.”

And so it happened that soon after, the man suddenly fell sick and was confined to bed. And then he died.

The holy Rabbi gave instructions that he be informed as to when the funeral would be, for it was his wish to accompany the deceased. Since the holy Rabbi went out to the man’s burial, all his students went. And who could see all these going out who did not also go out?

And so, a great honor was made for him in his death through those who attended.

After the form of a grave was made for the deceased, the holy Rabbi took his staff and stuck it into the ground next to the grave. He leaned on the staff for a few minutes. Then he lifted up his head, took the staff and made with it a great furrow around the grave. Then he returned home.

And it was on the third day after the burial, while he was sitting with his students in his House of Study, that he suddenly burst into laughter. It frightened his students because there was nothing funny that had happened that anyone could see.

And the holy Rabbi told them what the laughter was about:

“When the man was buried, an angel came into my awareness.

“This angel wasn’t able to pass the furrow I had made and enter inside the grave.

“And because the furrow made a barrier and separation between the angel and the evildoer, and because it was hard for the angel to be separated from him, the angel was in such a state that for three days, it circled going around the circle of the furrow without any way to enter within.

“And the heavenly powers, the familia shel maala, descended to see this new thing. They said: ‘A person has made a furrow with a staff, and now it’s happened that it isn’t in the angel’s power to pass. For these three entire days the angel has circled the furrow and doesn’t want to take leave of him.’

“And when they saw this, they began to laugh about it, and so I laughed with them.”

[Thus, per the Rabbi’s declaration, Olam Haba / the world to come was assured for the evildoer.]

(Hear Shlomo, Section 2, Stories)

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