November 11, 2014
Beis Moshiach in #948, 20 Mar-Cheshvan, Tzivos Hashem

Presented for Chaf Cheshvan, the day the Rebbe Rashab passed away

RBoruch Yosef was a Chassid, a G-d fearing man, with good character. He lived in the town of Disna and taught children. Everyone loved him.

He had another job, one from which he made no money at all. He did it entirely for the sake of Heaven. He helped yeshiva bachurim obtain exemptions from the army through bribes.

He was on friendly terms with senior people in the army. He would raise significant sums of money, approach the right people, talk with them in a friendly manner, and mention the bachur. They realized immediately what he was up to. He would swiftly remove a bundle of bills, stuff it into their pocket, and theytook careof the matter.

Not only Boruch Yosef worked in this line; there were others who considered this an opportunity to make good money. The difference was, they did it for the money while Boruch Yosef did it for the sake of Heaven and did not personally benefit thereby.

The problem was this method was used so often that the army began to catch on that something strange was going on. There were many sick young men, many unable to work in the army, and the number of enlisted men was dwindling. That was suspicious.

An investigation was done and very serious information was uncovered. The army was being fooled and exemptions were given out in exchange for bribes!

As soon as this was discovered, all those involved in the matter were hunted down. It was not pleasant to discover that many commanders, officers, senior figures in the army were guilty. They were arrested and people were terrified.

Boruch Yosef feared for his future. He knew what serious punishments they could mete out for this crime. He sat at home in deep thought, trying to come up with an escape route. After thinking it over, two possible places of refuge came to mind, Kremenchug and Poltava. “In both those places I know people and they will surely agree to take me into their homes, but which place is safer?” He could not decide and in the end he decided, “I will go to Lubavitch to the Rebbe Rashab and ask him.”

Without delay, he packed a small bundle with a bit of food for the road and he left for Lubavitch. All along the way he wished to reach his destination already so he could be encouraged and blessed by the Rebbe. How disappointed he was upon his arrival when he was refused entry with the claim that the line was long.

This is about danger to life; every minute counts!” he tried to plead, but to no avail. He came up with an idea. He wrote his request on a note, went into the entrance room that led to the Rebbes room and asked one of the people about to go in to see the Rebbe to give the Rebbe the note.

The man did as he asked and not many minutes passed and he was called in to see the Rebbe.

Rebbe, help me!” he burst out. “Army officers have come to Disna and they are arresting whoever was involved in getting boys released from the army. Rebbe, my life is in danger!”

The Rebbe gave him a sharp look and asked, “Does anyone know you came here?”

No Rebbe, aside from my wife nobody knows.”

I have another question,” said the Rebbe, looking serious. “Was your work in freeing yeshiva students from the army done faithfully or did you take any money for it?”

Boruch was quiet for a moment as he reviewed the previous years. “I did it with complete faith. I had no benefit. I did it all for the mitzva of redeeming captives.”

The Rebbes face lit up. “If so, go right back home as though nothing happened.”

Boruch was frightened. Go home? To the lionsden? He knew what would happen!

But he knew that it did not pay to go against what the Rebbe said. So despite the enormous difficulty, he fortified himself with faith in the Rebbes words and did as he said and went back to Disna.

His wife greeted him in a fright and said, “While you were away, many people were arrested. People are tattling on one another in order to save themselves and the authorities are arresting people left and right.”

Boruch was scared and he stayed home. Every knock at the door made him jump and got his heart racing.

One morning, there was a knock at the door. It was the Chassid RReuven Miller. RReuven exclaimed, “You are saved! You have gotten your life as a gift!”

He sat down in the living room and told this remarkable story:

You know, my friend, that I sell fruits and vegetables. Today, I went to the house of the deputy commander of the army in order to get money he owes me. When I walked in, I saw that his wife was upset. Her eyes were swollen from crying. Before I could ask her what was wrong, she told me that in the past her husband had also been involved in freeing boys from the army for money, without the commander knowing about it. When the commander found out he was furious and he threatened to send him to prison, but then he thought he would join him and do the same sort of work.

In the meantime, the womans husband became afraid and he stopped. Lately, they arrested the commander and since many years went by they did not know that her husband had been involved in this long ago.

A few days before, her husband came home very irate and said he wanted to get you into trouble, Boruch Yosef. She tried to dissuade him but was unsuccessful.

“‘The generals sit in jail while that Jew walks around free?! No way!’ he shouted.

He wrote up a letter with information about Boruch and prepared to send it anonymously. He put the envelope into his pocket. The next day, when he went to the office, he noticed, to his horror, a letter informing about him! Instead of going to the investigative committee, the letter had come to him. He quickly put the incriminating letter in his pocket and just then, the door opened and someone from the investigative team was there.

He took out the letter he had written to incriminate you, but then, to his horror, he realized he had mistakenly handed him the letter incriminating himself! Now he is in jail.”

RReuven finished his report and said, “I ran over here to tell you. Its a day to celebrate!”

Boruch stood there, astounded by the turn of events, and then the two joined together in dance.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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