Fundraising, Reb Dovid style

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The Yahrzeit of Reb Dovid of Tolna (1808-1882) is commemorated on the 6th of Iyar. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

By Holy Inspiration

Once the Rav, the Tzaddik of Tolna was in Lodz. His reputation was well-known throughout the area and so, every person with resources at his disposal, all the important and powerful people in Lodz were well-aware of the Rav’s pedigree, how he came from holy stock, from a family of dependable, “deeply rooted cedars of Lebanon”. For he was one of the sons of the one whom they knew as the “pure oil”, the holy Rav our teacher Rabbi Mordechai (may his merits shield us) of Tchernobyl. And they knew that of this stock, he was of the most “tender pickings”.

Thus, due to his background and reputation with those well-off in Lodz, on this occasion, he leveraged this to raise monies in support of his holy work. And here was his holy way of doing this:

He collected from those dear ones of his community, from the Hasidim, a great amount of money.

And then, he told them with these words:

“Incline your ears in my direction and I will relate to you what happened to the holy brothers the Rav Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rabbi Zusha ztz’l.

“On this occasion, their fame and greatness was hidden from the eyes of those they were meeting, for they were going about in tattered garments so that they would feel more acutely at every moment the reality of exile.

“They traveled in this way from town to town, place to place, until they came near the border of the Prussian country.

“When they arrived in this place, they felt a presence, stirrings from above, an inspiration from heavenly sources. (For by this time, already, their eit dodim / “time of lovers” [vis-a-vis God] was something each of them had experienced), and the message that came down from above was to no longer conceal themselves or their gifts from the people, to come out of hiding.

“And they went from there to a big town. In the Beit Midrash / synagogue, the Rav Rabbi Elimelech went up on the bimah and shared a teaching which was amazingly awesome, wondrous in the eyes of those who stood in that place. Afterwards, his brother, the Rav Rabbi Zusha recited Tehilim / Psalms with extreme intensity.

“Soon, the people of the town realized that these two were extremely valuable for their own lives, that they were privileged to be in their presence, to learn from them.

“So the most influential folks of the town volunteered to collect considerable donations in support of their holy work.

“When the people brought them the donations and Rabbi Zusha counted the money, he said to them:

‘Thank you! This is wonderful, however, we are still short an amount of four gadolim.’

“And the people were at a loss on how to raise this until they remembered that recently, before these brothers arrived in town, it had happened that a certain wealthy man offered to donate exactly this sum of four gadolim but the community had turned so large a sum down as way too much, beyond what was needed.

“When they told this to the Rabbi, Rav Zusha, he answered:

‘Yes, indeed, I’d like to add these four gadolim.’

“After they gave these to them as well, the Rabbi, Rav Zusha said to them:

‘You should know that the Tzaddikim of yore, the great ones, would know through their holy inspiration exactly what was going to flow to them from on high even before they came to the town; they knew how much money they would obtain in that place.'”

When the holy Rabbi of Tolna finished the story, all the Hasidim assumed that it also must be the case now, that the sum which Reb Dovid knew in advance by holy inspiration had not yet been achieved. So then, they raised even more money to fulfill the prophet, as it is said, “And if that were too little, then would I add unto you like them and like them”.

And after the amount was what he wanted, he said to them:

“The time has come for me to tell you the difference between me and the Tzaddikim mentioned above:

“They could know by holy inspiration before they came to the town. But for me, I know by holy inspiration only after, when I have left the town!

(House of A Tzaddik)

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