Reb Nachum owned the Baal Shem Tov’s tfilin. His wife begged him to sell them to ease their poverty as they were valued at several thousand rubles. He always refused her saying he cherished his Rebbe’s tfilin. One year, before Succos, he could not afford an esrog, so he sold the tfilin for two thousand rubles and bought the most beautiful esrog.
He came home to his wife with great joy telling her nobody else had one. She fell into a rage and said, “We have, neither clothes, nor food for Yom Tov. I have been begging you for years to sell the tefilin so we can five comfortably for a while, and now you’ve sold them to bring yourself joy for one week.” She grabbed the esrog, threw it down and smashed it.
Can you imagine the great remorse she felt? Can you imagine the great anger her husband might have felt?
But Reb Nachum’s response was to tell his wife, “There was a time when we owned the Baal Shem Tov’s tfilin, but we no longer do. There was a time when we owned a beautiful esrog, but we no longer do. All we have now is ourselves. So let us be happy and celebrate the joy of Yom Tov.”
(According to another version, this story is not of Reb Nachum
Chernobler but of Rav Michale Zlotchiver.)
Reb Shlomo heard this story from the Bobover [Rebbe OBM] who called it the highest Chassidic story in the world. Original posting here
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