He Refuses to Blow the Shofar

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The Yahrzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zl (1740-1809) is commemorated on the 25th of Tishrei. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)

Once, when Rabbi Levi Yitzchak came to the point of the service on Rosh Hashanah when one blows the Shofar, he went up on the Bimah / platform and, as a son who had done shameful things in his father’s presence, he said:

“Master of the World: You believe that I should blow [the Shofar] before You [right now]? [But I ask You:] Should the evil kingdom, [i.e., the Polish people] who have distressed Israel with its edicts blow [the Shofar now]? Should Ivan blow, [i.e., the Russians, who likewise have made Israel suffer]?”

[NOTE: In his heart, he was feeling himself as evil as these nations had been, in his view, with respect to their treatment of the Jews.]

He waited a brief time, then he resumed and he said:

“But what shall I do regarding You [i.e, Your desire that I blow now], Master of the World, after [You have said]: ‘I loved you, [Israel], with an everlasting love’?

[NOTE: He had just been reminded that God loves Israel irregardless of Israel’s sins, (the text is from Jeremiah 31:2 which is recited immediately preceding the Shofar service on Rosh Hashanah).]

“So then, [despite my will to not blow,] I will nullify my will before Your will, [because if You say You will love me despite my wickedness and, You also want me to blow Shofar, so I will blow despite my sense of unworthiness; I am grateful to You].”

(From the Great Ones of Hasidus, Issue 1)

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