THE CHULENT THAT BROUGHT HIM BACK
August 31, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1083, Tzivos Hashem, teshuva

By Devorah Leah

At the edge of the town of Lemberg lived a poor tailor. Reuven the tailor was his name. He was an expert tailor as well as a jolly person. He made a meager living from the few sewing jobs that he got from the Jews in the town. His tailoring always turned out well and everyone was satisfied with the work that he did.

One day, things changed. The town squire heard about the poor tailor and his quality work and decided to order a suit from him. The Jewish tailor nervously went to the squire to get the material and measurements. Then he hurried home in order to finish the work as fast as he could.

When the suit was presented to the squire, he was extremely pleased. “What a suit! It looks as though the best craftsman in Poland made it!”

The squire paid the tailor generously and not long afterward, invited him to make another garment, this time for his son.

The relationship continued. The tailor was no longer afraid of the squire who turned out to be a nice man. Whenever the tailor went to take measurements at the squire’s house, he would remain there all day. He passed the time pleasantly with the squire. He told jokes, sang songs, and they both enjoyed the camaraderie very much.

Reuven the tailor slowly began drifting from the path of Torah and mitzvos. The squire honored him with strong, good wines which, of course, were yayin nesech and forbidden. The squire offered him treif food and the Jew ate it and became ever coarser.

It reached the point that the tailor spent entire days at the squire’s house, drunk like Lot, and when he returned home, with the odor of vodka on him, he would beat his poor wife and children.

The squire, who greatly enjoyed his friendship with the tailor, tried convincing him to leave his home forever. “Why do you need your miserable wife and children? Stay here and I will give you all the pleasures of the world!”

The tailor listened to him. He remained on the squire’s spacious estate and no longer looked or acted like a Jew.

This unfortunate tailor had one craving, and that was for Jewish food. There was a small inn near the squire’s house which was owned by a Jew. Every Thursday night, the tailor would arrogantly walk into the inn, look into the pots, take as much cholent, fish and meat as he wanted, stuff them into his mouth and then put down a purse of gold coins and leave. The eyes of the Jewish innkeeper followed the irreligious Jew with scorn and pity.

On one of these visits, the tailor noticed a wagon harnessed to four horses that had stopped in front of the inn. A majestic looking man who was obviously holy, regally descended from the wagon and went over to the innkeeper and greeted him.

“Hmmm,” thought the tailor. “If a tzaddik will be spending Shabbos at the inn, the food will be even better than usual. I must be here for Shabbos.”

The tailor knew that the innkeeper would not want to host him in his house, so he asked his friend the squire for a letter, ordering the innkeeper to host him. “You will see how many new jokes I will have after this Shabbos …” he said laughingly to the squire.

The innkeeper greeted him sourly. Having no choice, he put him in a side room and immediately ran back to the room of the tzaddik where he spent most of the day.

***

It was time for Maariv. The tailor sat in his room with his stomach grumbling. He impatiently waited for the grand meal to begin. But what was that he heard? There was a voice, an outpouring of the soul that played on the hidden strings of the heart.

The tailor began to feel something move within. He began to remember his home, his wife, his sweet children, and was overcome by homesickness. The davening went on and on and the tailor’s conscience bothered him tremendously. “Where have I gotten to? Where am I now?” he asked himself.

At the meal, the tailor seemed somewhat subdued. He had lost his appetite and he sat like a mourner among celebrants. The tzaddik, who sat at the head of the table said words of Torah. He told about a Jew who veered from the path and how there was still a way of doing teshuva.

All that night, the tailor did not sleep. He felt terrible about all the sins he had committed. The tzaddik’s Shacharis already turned him into a complete baal teshuva, and then there were the Shabbos meal, Mincha, the third meal …

As soon as Shabbos was over, the tailor went to the tzaddik’s room. He burst into tears and his body shook. “Rebbe … does a sinner like me have a way of doing teshuva?” he cried out, brokenheartedly. The Rebbe sat Reuven next to him, calmed him down and gave him a way of doing teshuva.

***

Friday night in Lemberg there was a hesitant knock at the door of one of the shacks. “Who is it?” came a voice.

“It is I, Reuven, open the door.”

Reuven stood in the doorway of his home, eagerly waiting the moment he would see his wife and kids again.

“I’m not opening,” said his wife. “Get out of here! Go back to the squire’s home! Why did you come? To beat us again?” She sobbed.

As for Reuven, he also cried. “Please open up,” he pleaded. “I am a different Reuven.”

In the end, the door opened and Reuven sat down for the Shabbos meal with his family. It was a meager meal but endlessly joyous.

From then on, Reuven studied Torah. He became so great that he even merited the revelation of Eliyahu HaNavi.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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