Controlled Reactivity

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yehudah Tzvi Eichenstein of Rozlo zl (1790-1847) is commemorated on the 7th of Cheshvan. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

Dialog With His Learned Wife

His particular way in holiness was to grant his goodness to people with whom he was in conflict, i.e., he distributed, he gave charity to his enemies.

Once, his spouse, the righteous and learned Rebetzin, Mrs. Sarah, ah, daughter of our Rabbi Tzvi of Zidichov, took him to task about this, saying to him:

“Indeed, I have known you to be the model man and a holy one of Hashem but, surely, it would have been very good to punish, rather than rewarding, these wicked ones.”

And he answered her with his wisdom:

“In the customary ways of the world, it happens that some hundreds and some thousands of Jews journey to a particular Tzaddik and give him donations. What’s going on here?

“The reason is: As every edifice needs a foundation and if there is no strong foundation, the edifice collapses, so it is when we extend this analogy into its general case, that the entire world is also as an edifice and the Tzaddik is as the foundation, which implies that, ‘The Tzaddik is the support of the world’. So, with respect to this Tzaddik, it is fitting that all the world should give him donations to bolster him, for he is their support, he is one who, in effect, keeps them in existence.

“Indeed, it’s a bit of a mystery to me as to why those who journey to me and give me donations do so. Behold it is only I, and wouldn’t I be able to say that I know I am not of the level of ‘Tzaddik foundation of the world’?

“But I have come to terms with what’s going on here: For there is still one other thing that is needed for the edifice of the world, namely, what the sages z’l wrote in Masechet Chulin (89a):

‘God suspends the earth upon nothingness… The world exists only on account of one who holds himself back from speaking at a time of provocation and refrains from reacting.’

“This implies that whoever is silent to his enemies and doesn’t open his mouth to speak against them, such a one keeps the world and its fullness in existence. And as is customary for those who firm up the foundation of the world, donations come to him from the world, and rightly so.

“But if we punish our enemies, behold donations will not come to us, for it is really on account of this gemara that our livelihood happens.

“Therefore my learned sweetheart, hear my voice, it is especially better to be silent and to tolerate our enemies but to remain in our livelihood.”

(Ten Holies)

3 Responses to “Controlled Reactivity”

  1. Susan Diamond Says:

    Profound teaching, but sometimes we have to speak up. Yes?

  2. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Definitely yes. In these stories we are getting glimpses of different personae; not necessarily what we should be doing.

  3. Rinatya Nachman Says:


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