Passionate but Frail

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The Yahrzeit of Reb Yisrael of Kozhinitz zl (1740-1815) is commemorated on the 14th of Tishrei. The following meise / hasidic tale appeared in Sefer HaHasidut, Meah Tzadikim, Raphael, Yitzchak, 1961, Tel Aviv. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman.)


His Passion for Mitzvah Utterances

The body of the Maggid of Kozhnitz was a bit like a parched tree because, he was born when his father was old, which was just as the Besh‘t had promised [his parents] in the widely known tale. [As an infant], they were often wrapping his body in fur, in  pillows and cushions, so that he [would not be lost], so that he could be noticed, so that there was some semblance of a body there which would be recognized as a human. [And much later,] he would continually lay on his bed as a weak man and as an infirmed.

All of his utterances, on all subjects, were delivered with a melodious voice that was study and prayer. In the morning, when he came to pray, the holy Rav would pass through [the shul] wrapped in a Tallis and  adorned in Tefillin flanked by the  two rows of [standing] men [already present], a row on each side. And he was flanked by his two Shammos-es, each holding a candle [making] two burning torches. He walked through with emotion and with joy, a Sefer Torah in his hands. And he danced one skip facing the holy ark, and there, in it, [went] the Sefer Torah. And he danced [again], one skip by the stand that was there, because on it was the Menorah and there in it [went] the candles. By there he sat and stood and prayed.

At the time of the Shemonah Esrei [Amidah], he wandered to and fro by his table. After the Shemoneh Esrei prayers [were done],  he jumped from the table onto the ground, where he had a cloth stretched out made of one [animal] hide upon which he lay down and finished his prayer.

Afterwards they transported him home.

Thus was his way in holiness every day, for, at the time of prayer he girded his loins like a man of might and afterwards returned to his place like an infirmed [man] laid out upon a sick bed.

One time, they called him to a Brit Milah celebration. When it became necessary to ascend onto the wagon, they wanted to help him. Then, he said to those standing around him:

“Simpletons! Fools! And is it through your strength that I stand upright? Behold! I have good and excellent strength. It is written, ‘But those who put their hope in Hashem shall renew their vigor’. I make do with the strength of the One who is the source of possibilities, He has great strength.”

And he skipped onto the cart as a mighty man of valor.

(Sweet things)

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