By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
In today’s day and age, there are ample opportunities to support Torah. Giving a monthly check to your local yeshiva, even if you have an empty nest, is a great way to ensure that the rabbiem and morahs are paid on-time. Sending regular checks to the local kollel so that a young man who is learning should be able to breathe a little easier is another way. Helping your shul finance its Torah programs such as a motzoi Shabbos learning program, pirchei, banos, or to fund special speakers is yet a third way. And then, of course, there is the privilege of helping married children to continue their Torah scholarship even after marriage.
As an incentive to my beloved readership to jump in with full force and take part in this glorious mitzvah I would like to share with you a truly extraordinary story. In Tunisia, there was a much beloved chief rabbi by the name of Rav Tzemach Tzorfasi, Zt”l, Zy”a. He was a great tzaddik and an extraordinary masmid, diligent to the extreme in his Torah study. Long after the entire town was sleeping peacefully, he would get up at midnight, first to sit on the floor and say Tikun Chatzos, bemoaning the destruction of the Temple, and then he would pour over the holy books until shacharis. One memorable night after passionately saying tikun chatzos and starting his nightly regimen of intense Torah study, a gust of wind blew out his candle, pitching his entire study into darkness. In vain, he searched the entire house for a sing ember with which to relight the candle but, to his great chagrin, he could not find anything to relight it. Lehavdil, he was like a person listening to the 7th game of the World Series and then there was a blackout or like a person planning a succulent barbeque without gas to fuel the grill. He sat in desperation fretting over the possibility of losing a full night of precious learning, of which every word of Torah is a separate positive command that is kneged kulom, equal to all other mitzvos.
Then, he had a brainstorm. The central bakery of the town was open throughout the night. He would go there and acquire a torch to reignite his candle. Without further ado, the chief rabbi left his home in the dead of the night and headed to the bakery. Upon arriving, he found the massive door locked and he commenced to bang upon it. The night watchmen however was sleeping; but he persisted until he woke up the fellow. The startled man came to the door and upon seeing that it was the chief rabbi hurriedly opened the door. He was a Moslem fellow, but everyone in town knew and had great respect for the chief rabbi. He asked the rabbi what he could do for him and was told that he needed a light to reignite his candle to allow him study his holy Torah. The guard pleasantly gave him a light and wished the rabbi a good night. Rabbi Tzemach headed home happily until a stray gust of wind blew out the torch. Undeterred, he made a U-turn and headed right back to the bakery. Once again, he banged at the door and the guard, this time a bit reluctantly, came to the door lifting a heavy massive beam to open the door in respect to the chief rabbi. The rabbi apologized and explained that the wind blew out his fire, so the guard relit the torch and bid him a good night. Once again, the rav headed cheerfully home but once again, just before reaching his home, another errant wind blew out his torch.
Most of us by now would have just given up, but Rav Tzemach was made of much sterner stuff and so, for the third time, he headed back to the bakery. This time, when the guard heard knocking, he decided to ignore the nocturnal interruption. After all, this was getting ridiculous, he thought. It’s almost morning, he said to himself, and I’ve not caught a bit of sleep. However, the rav was undeterred and persistent because, after all, a night’s learning was at stake. Finally, the guard came to the door and through a hole said to the rabbi, “You know, it’s the middle of the night and this beam is very heavy and very hard to lift.” The rav apologized profusely and told the guard that for lifting the heavy beam these so many times to enable the study of Torah, he should be blessed with as much gold as the weight of this heavy beam. The blessing acted as a charm. After all, everyone in the town knew of the venerable rabbi’s powers. He sprang into action and this time not only provided the torch, he escorted the rabbi home.
Stay tuned next week to hear how this guard was incredibly rewarded by Heaven and to hear a wondrous example of what’s in store for those who support Torah learning, even for one night. In the merit of supporting the Torah, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful. (to be continued)
Sheldon Zeitlin transcribes Rabbi Weiss’ articles.
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