Reb Shlomo teaching for Sukkot

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


(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

Copyright (C) 1988 Inner Foundation
Reprinted with permission
Not for commercial redistribution without consent of
copyright holder and the Estate of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

1 reply
  1. Rifkie
    Rifkie says:

    Thank you for that story. It was one I had forgotten.
    I was very close with R’ Shlomo since the days (as he, OBM, would say ) “Before I was Shlomo Carlebach and before you were Rifkie of all trades”. We used to call each other to bounce ideas around. I was blessed to have him allow me to hear songs before he sang them publicly.35 plus years ago, I heard him do a version of the Siman Tov/Dovid Melech medley and went back to the small apt I shared with 2 other girls in Yerushalayim. Now, I never sing in front of men, but when no men are around I sing as a diva and at the top of my lungs. I also have a horrible memory for lyrics and when I think I remember them it is usually b/c I heard some words that were not there (example, I thought the Rolling Stones had a Big hit with “Obee Dobee Loving”. When I got married, my husband told me the words were Can’t you hear me Coming or Knocking….”!) Anyway, it was quite warm and I had cleaning detail and every window and door was open. As I cleaned, I was singing with mucho gusto the words to the tune Shlomo had written and played over and over the night before when there was a knock on the door. I came around the small wall only to see R’ Shlomo standing outside the tiny dira (apt). I welcomed him and offered him a drink. He said he could not stay, but he thanked me for finally understanding the laws of Kol Isha. I was puzzled and just looked at him. He said, with that big,beautiful smile “Rifkie, the prohibition was made to keep men safe from the sound of your singing…(I cannot carry a tune in a bomb proof box),” We stood there for a moment as I tried to decide whether I should be insulted, when he laughed so heartily, I also started to laugh. He said “Rifkie, if everyone who hears my little song sings it with such Kavanah, I may someday be famous for my music.” He thanked me for singing the song and off he went. As R’ Shlomo would say “You never Know”!
    I last spoke to R’ Shlomo 4 days before he was nifter (before he died). He called to tell me he was going to Eretz Yisroe-l and he needed a favor. That was a request that always scared me no end. When R’ Shlomo asked a favor it could be as simple as “I found a soul who needs a place for Shabbos, nu?” to “Rifkie, I need someone to get to Australia immediately. Can you go?” I said , “No, Shlomo, I can’t because I am in Labor.” He gave me a thousand brachas and I said call me back in a half an hour. I found a very suitable shaliach and when he called me back I told him it was taken care of. This was my fourth child and she was born 24 minutes after that phone call.
    So, I asked with trepidation, what is the favor?
    He said, “Rifkala, if something happens to me…” and I stopped him to say G-d Forbid…And with that twinkling voice he said”Ok, G-d Forbid, but when Ha Sh-m wants me, should I say Rifkala says no, I cannot come to you? If not let me ask my favor. If something happens to me, please, Rifkala, do not allow the stories of the great ones to be forgotten.” I was very quiet for a second, as was he. I always left him peckalach (small packages) with which to travel. It had little forbidden treats, such as candies he was not supposed to eat, little word games and, of course, Tzedukkah, so I answered him, with a question “Shlomo, how many peckalach have you left?” He told me he had 4 left. I asked him to take them on his journey and after talking a bit longer, he said something I never heard him say before. He said “Rifkala, take care of your beautiful family and look for me whenever you need me…..” He gave me many brachas and then he said, for the very first time in my hearing, “Good bye” I did not answer for a moment.. but I said “Lahitrot, Shlomo, May Ha Sh-m take care to protect His previous Maggid”. 4 Days later, I got a call from a mutual friend who told me that R’ Shlomo was no longer in Olam Hazeh (this world).
    Whenever I can, I retell the wonderful stories we heard him tell. I always listen to the cds with 4 collections of the stories R’ Shlomo told.The stories that taught with love and kindness more than a million mussar shiurim could ever do. And when Yom tov comes, I miss him so deeply. So, I thank you for that story, as I said it was one I had forgotten.
    Chag Sameach, and as R’ Shlomo would say :Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos, one Good Shabbos for each holy Neshama we have on Shabbos.
    Love and Peacefulness, Rifkie
    May we say say Shema at bedtime and awaken to say Modeh Ani in Yerushalayim.

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