The Torah discusses the mitzvah of going to the Beis HaMikdash to proclaim there that you kept all the mitzvos of terumah and maasar etc. At this time, one says, "I did everything You commanded" (26:14). Rashi writes, "I was happy and I made others happy." Tzaddikim understand from this Rashi that one of Hashem's primary desires of Creation is that Jews should be happy. Therefore, if one "was happy and made others happy," he can say, "I did everything You commanded" for he fulfilled one of the primary purposes of Creation.
The Gemara (Taanis 22.) tells that Reb Broka Choza'ah was in the market of Lefet together with Eliyahu HaNavi, and he asked Eliyahu whether there was anyone there who is a ben Olam HaBa. At first, Eliyahu said there weren't, but eventually Eliyahu HaNavi pointed out two people who were bnei Olam HaBa. Reb Broka spoke with them and asked them what they do. They replied, "We are happy people and we make sad people happy. Also, if we see two people in a dispute, we toil to restore their peace."
There are many ways to bring happiness to others: Among them are encouraging words, to speak with those who are lonely, or simply to smile. As Chazal (Kesubos 111:) state, "Whoever shows his white teeth to his fellow man [in a smile] is greater than giving him milk to drink." You can help the poor by giving them a cup of milk, but an even greater merit is to smile to them and to fill their hearts with happiness.
Someone asked Reb Avigdor Miller zt'l how he should prepare for the judgment of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Reb Avigdor Miller replied, "Smile." Reb Avigdor Miller explained, "You think that I’m old, and that I’m not speaking coherently, for how does smiling grant someone a good judgment? But actually, this is very good counsel. I will explain with a parable: Someone owns a chain of stores. At the end of each year he takes inventory, and decides what changes have to be made for the upcoming year. Some stores will need more advertising, some employees will be laid off, and so on. The proprietor’s adviser said, "Even if you let go of some employees, don’t fire Mr. So-and-so. He always has a smile on his face, which gives the consumers a good feeling. There are people who come to the store just to meet with him…' Similarly, as it were, at the end of the year Hashem takes inventory, to see how the world is running, and some will be removed from the world, in the upcoming year. But if someone always has a smile on his face, bringing joy to others, he is an asset to the world, and Hashem will therefore grant him life and a good year so he can continue bringing joy to others.
Reb Yisrael Salanter zt'l taught that those who do chesed have a better chance for receiving a good judgment on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for even if they don’t deserve to live by their own merit, they will be granted life because other people need them.
The Yeitav Leiv zy’a told the following parable: There was once a king who would drive through his capital city on his birthday, and the townspeople would line the streets to watch the king pass by. As the king's chariot drew near, the townspeople had the opportunity to throw a letter into the king’s chariot, stating their requests, which the king would fulfill. There was one person who would annually throw his letters into the king's chariot, but the king never granted him his wishes. He investigated the matter and learned that one of the king’s ministers – who rode with the king – hated him. When he would toss his letter into the chariot, this minister would tell the king to ignore his requests, claiming that he isn't a loyal citizen, and doesn’t deserve favors. The following year, this man went to the king's palace before the king's birthday, to speak with the king directly. When his adversary wasn't around, the king was willing to fill his request. At this point in the story, the Yeitav Lev would cry out, and conclude, “Beloved Yidden! On Rosh Hashanah Hashem is surrounded by angels who speak out against us, claiming we don’t deserve a good year. We have to grab the shofar to protect ourselves. We will be better off speaking with Hashem face to face now, in the month of Elul, and especially during the days of Selichos. Our adversaries aren't around, and there is a better chance that Hashem will give us our desires. Beg Hashem for compassion; ask Him for health, wealth, nachas, and all your heart's desires. If we will do so, Hashem will have mercy on us, and will grant us a sweet and successful new year.”
Reb Shlomo Shtenzel z’l (founder of Chasan Mishnayos) said that when he was learning in Yeshivas Chevron, a bachur from Russia joined the yeshiva. Reb Shtenzel asked him, "What did the people in Russia say about Elul?" The bachur replied "Smiths test rusty metalscrap – to know whether the rust is through and through, or whether there is good metal under the rust – by putting a magnet. If the poles attract each other it means that there's good metal there. The same is with Elul [and in the days of Selichos]. Throughout the year people forget Hashem and their obligations to Him, but when Elul and the days of Selichos arrive, one should be inspired to do teshuvah. This should be as if a magnet is pulling him towards something higher. If one remains stagnant even now, that's a sign that he is corroded through and through.
The yamim noraim commence on the first night of Selichos. We are approaching a brand-new era; precious days when we can arouse Hashem’s mercy; moments conducive for salvations; a time to repent and to change our ways.
Rebbe Dovid of Lelov zt’l wanted to give someone a blessing, so he told him “Come to my beis medresh on the first night of Selichos.” His blessings were more effective then. He blessed this man with wealth and longevity, for him and for his descendants. (I met this man’s great-great-grandson, and he told me that all the blessings were fulfilled.)
The Shaarei Teshuvah (581) writes "I saw some rabbis, who are always occupied with studying halachah, but during the month of Elul, they would stop a bit from their studies to say tachanunim (supplications)."
Prayers are beneficial for getting a better judgment and also for success in our teshuvah. Therefore, many people say extra Tehillim during these days. We should also improve on how we say the standard prayers, which we say the entire year. The Trumas HaDeshen, for example, would say Baruch She'amar for almost an hour each day, in Elul.
The Ben Ish Chai zy’a told the following parable: A ferocious bear stood up on its hind legs ready to attack. A frightened man grabbed a stick and beat the bear until it fell to the ground, dead. The man kissed his stick, thinking the stick saved his life. Then, he sees someone holding a rifle climbing down a nearby tree. That man laughs and says, "Do you really think your stick killed the bear? I shot the bear with my gun..." The Torah tells us that Shimon and Levi alone won a war against the entire city Shechem. How? Was it because of their immense strength? (All of Yaakov Avinu's children were extremely strong.) Or was it because of their cunning? (They told the people of Shechem to circumcise themselves, and this weakened them.) These aren't the primary reasons they succeeded in this battle. They won the war because Yaakov Avinu prayed for them (see Bereishis 48:22, Onkelus). The man with the rifle, in the parable, represents the power of prayer. We think our effort brings the salvation, but the truth is, at all times, everything is in the merit of prayer.
The Chinuch (Mitzvah 433) writes, "Hashem revealed that people can acquire all their desires by requesting their requests from Hashem, because Hashem has the ability to fulfill all their desires. He answers from heaven to all those who call to Him sincerely."
There is a popular misconception that people have regarding prayer. They think prayer is a one-way street. They try to come close to Hashem with their prayers, and they think that Hashem remains where He is in heaven. But it isn't so. In accordance to our degree of devotion in prayer, Hashem as it were, comes down to us, to listen to our prayers. The Sfas Emes taught a similar idea about Elul. The more devotion one will have in Elul (Ani l'Dodi) Hashem will be close to him (v'Dodi Li).
The verse says, "Search for Hashem when He is found, call to Him, when He is close" (Yeshaya 55:6). The Gemara teaches, “When is Hashem found? Hashem is found in Asesres Yemei Teshuvah, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur" (Rosh Hashanah 18). The Gemara, however, doesn’t tell us when Hashem is close. The Hafla’oh says that Hashem is close to us in Elul. (In this aspect, Elul is greater than Asesres Yemei Teshuvah. In Elul Hashem is close, and closeness expresses a greater connection, than found, of the ten days of repentance.) Fortunate, are the people who increase their prayers in these days. Each chapter of Tehillim, each Selichos, each Shemonah Esrei makes a difference, and in these merits, we will be inscribed for a good year.
"What is the hardest part of your stunt?" people asked a daredevil, who walked tightrope for his parnassah. "It's when I reach the end of the rope and I have to turn around." We have arrived to the time of year when we should be turning around, improving our ways, and that is always very hard to do. But if we try, we will succeed in our teshuvah. One must review his deeds and middos, decide what needs to be fixed, and where he wants to focus. Obviously, there are many other things that we must do each day, aside from making a cheshbon hanefesh, but nevertheless, at least some time should be designated for this reflection, because change begins with introspection.
The Mishnah Berurah (581:5) writes “We say Selichos for at least four days before Rosh Hashanah, because sacrifices are checked for four days before they are sacrificed... and on Rosh Hashanah one should consider himself as though he is a sacrifice. Therefore during these four days, one checks himself for all blemishes of sin.” Consequently, this year we begin saying Selichos a week and a half before Rosh Hashanah (and not on the motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah) because it is important that there be at least four days of Selichos and reflection before Rosh Hashanah.
Changes are always a struggle. All beginnings are hard. But it is precisely this struggle which makes change so precious to Hashem.
The Gemara teaches, “Why do we blow a shofar from a ram's horn? Hakadosh Baruch Hu says ‘Blow for Me a ram’s shofar so I will remember akeidas Yitzchok and I will consider it as though you were upon the altar of the akeidah before Me’” (Rosh Hashanah 16). Why is specifically the shofar used, and not any other part of the ram? If there would be a mitzvah to lift up the foot of the ram, for example, wouldn’t this also commemorate the akeidas Yitzchok? What is significant about the shofar? It is written, “Avraham raised his eyes and he saw a ram; her horns were entangled in a bush” (Bereishis 22:13) and it was struggling to break free. The shofar, the horn, therefore represents challenges and struggles. It is chosen over all other parts of the ram, because those are the aspects that make avodas Hashem precious to Hashem.
Reb Eliezer Gordon, the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva zt'l answered, "If we would tell people to sacrifice 12,000 of their animals (or a similar large amount) people would be frightened by the enormous sum, and they wouldn’t be ready to give it. So the Torah tells them to count ten animals, and they can keep all of them. Only the tenth will be maasar. The owner sees that he is allowed to keep many animals, and in this manner, he doesn’t feel that he is giving away all that much. Reb Eliezer Gordon told this vort to a wealthy person, when asking him to give a large amount of money to tzedakah. He explained, "Don’t think about the large amount I'm asking from you, rather think about the large amount of money that you will remain with, and then it will be easier for you to give tzedakah." Similarly, when one desires to improve his ways, one is often afraid, because changes are so difficult. Therefore, one should tell himself, "I will be the same as before in so many areas." With this thought in mind, one is ready to take on small changes, which make all the difference. For example, consider the resolution to study an hour each day. This kabbalah may seem daunting to someone who isn't accustomed to doing so. But he can tell himself, “I am only changing one hour of my schedule. Twenty-three hours of the day are as before." With this thought in mind, the kabbalah doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
Someone said to Reb Yisrael Salanter zy’a, “I don’t think I’ll ever do teshuvah. I'm set in my ways, and I can't change.” Reb Yisrael Salanter rebuked him, “Chazal tell us that when we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, the Satan becomes frightened. He fears that our teshuvah has brought the shofar of Moshiach. Even the Satan believes you have the ability to repent. Why don’t you believe it?”
It is easier to do teshuvah in Elul than the rest of the year. The Arizal said that the verse, "Who sets a path in the sea" (Yeshaya 43) hints to Elul. Are there paths in the sea? A wise man said "Many ships have sailed the sea, but none of them has ever paved a road there." So what is the meaning of the verse, "Who sets a path in the sea," and how is it related to Elul? We can explain that when the captain of a ship becomes aware that he’s sailing in the wrong direction it isn't hard for him to turn around. All he needs to do is to make a 180 degree turn. But when driving along a highway in the wrong direction, one often needs to make several turns before he is on the right path again. Elul is a path in the sea. One can easily change his ways, and quickly return to the right track again, if he wants to.
Before Rosh Hashanah, Reb Eliyah Lopian zt'l once asked Reb Aryeh Leib Chasman zt'l, "What kabalah should I accept on myself for the upcoming year? Reb Leib Chasman replied, "I want you to decide, but make sure it is something you can keep." After some time, Reb Elyah Lopian returned and told Reb Leib Chasman what he chose. "Are you certain you can keep this?" "I'm certain.” “Then I want you to do only half of it." This is because a kabbalah doesn’t necessarily need to be something extremely hard to do. It can be relatively small. The main thing is that we should stick to it without fail.
An old Yid was niftar in Uzbekistan, and before his demise, he asked his son to transfer his body to Eretz Yisrael, when the opportunity arises. The son moved to Eretz Yisrael, but as is the nature of people to procrastinate, he kept pushing off bringing his father to Eretz Yisrael. When the son was eighty years old, he realized that if he doesn’t do his mission now, he never will, so he hired Reb Mendel Ekstein (who has experience in transporting graves) to bring his father's remains to Eretz Yisrael. Reb Mendel Ekstein traveled to Uzbekistan, opened the grave, and he almost fainted when he saw that the tallis covering the body had remained fresh, after all these years. The tallis is usually first to disintegrate, but miraculously this tallis remained intact. Reb Mendel never saw anything like this before; he was afraid to continue. But he was hired to do this mission, and it was the niftar's final request, so he took the tallis off to see the body. The skeleton was as he'd expect it to be – totally decomposed. The tachrichim were totally disintegrated, too, just the tallis remained intact. In Eretz Yisrael, the custom is to bury people without a tallis. A rav advised Reb Mendel that because of the unusual circumstance, the niftar should be buried with this miraculous tallis. Who was this man? Was he a tzaddik nistar? Reb Mendel asked the eighty-year-old son whether he can explain why this wonder occurred. He replied, "The tallis? That's easy to explain. On the day my father began wearing a tallis, which was the day after his wedding, he made a kabbalah that he would never speak while wearing it. He kept this kabbalah his entire life. Apparently, in this merit, the tallis remained intact." We learn from this story the specialness of a good kabbalah.
Although there aren’t sources for not speaking while wearing a tallis, it is told that the Sar Shalom of Belz zt’l taught his students that they shouldn’t speak while wearing a tallis. Chassidim relate that the Sar Shalom of Belz zy'a once put tefillin on a bar mitzvah bachur and he told the bachur never to speak while wearing the tefillin. (The Shlah HaKadosh writes that this is mesugal for a long life.) When this bachur was about to marry, he returned to the Sar Shalom and said, "I kept my kabbalah, and I didn’t speak while wearing tefillin. What should I take on now?" The Sar Shalom told him, "Take on that you won't speak while wearing the tallis." The Sar Shalom explained that this kabbalah will help him after his demise. When the beis din in heaven will ask him to tell his sins, he can signal to the court that he can’t speak while wearing a tallis. “In this manner, you will be freed from judgment."
Chazal tell us about the very festive and joyous manner the bikurim were brought to the Beis HaMikdash. For example, the Mishnah states, "An ox walked in front. Its horns were covered with gold, dressed in an olive leaf wreathe. A flute played before them… Officers came out of Yerushalayim to greet them… The masses in Yerushalayim would stand up for them…" (Bikurim ch.2). The Alshich asks, “What is the purpose for all this joy and excitement for some fruit which costs less than a half-dinar? Our amazement increases when we consider the Midrash that states, ‘Hashem created the world for the mitzvah of bikurim.’ What is unique about this mitzvah that the entire world was created for it?” The purpose of bikurim is to praise Hashem, and therefore bikurim is the purpose of Creation. The Alshich writes “When a person finds himself in a land flowing with milk and honey, living comfortably and fearlessly under his fig tree and vine, and his home is filled with goodness…his heart may think, I earned all this on my own. Therefore, Hashem commanded us with bikurim…” to remember that everything we have is from Hashem.
The Midrash says, "When Moshe foresaw that the Beis HaMikdash would be destroyed and the mitzvah of bikurim would cease, he instituted prayer three times a day," (Tanchuma Ki Savo 1). Moshe was concerned that when the Beis HaMikdash will be destroyed, and there won’t be bikurim, we will forget to praise Hashem. Therefore Moshe instituted prayer, to praise Hashem and to remember that everything we have is from Him.
When we recognize that all the good we have comes from Hashem, Hashem will continue giving us. The Alshich writes, “When one thinks that his wealth is the product of his own might and wisdom, Hashem will take it away from him. But when one knows that everything he has was given to him by Hashem, Hashem will allow him to keep it. This can be compared to a wealthy person who owns an orchard and hires someone to work his land. When the worker sees that the figs and grapes have ripened, he puts them into a beautiful dish and brings them to the owner of the field and says, 'Look at the sweet fruit your field is producing. It is yours, because it grew in your orchard…' When the [owner] sees the derech eretz of his worker, he says, ‘You can keep the rest.’ This explains the reason for the mitzvah of bikurim. We bring the first crops of wheat, barley, olives, and grapes to the Beis Hamikdosh, and we acknowledge that it isn’t our own. Everything we have belongs to Hashem… And then, Hashem will allow us to keep the rest of the crops.”
The Kav HaYashar (18) writes, “Everyone has miracles, especially in recent times, when strife and hardships increase every day. There are evil decrees, wars, hunger, incarceration, strife, and many diseases. When Hashem shines His kindness on someone and saves him from all of the above, he should continuously remember Hashem’s kindness. Whoever is able to live with peace and security and with parnassah must praise Hashem.
The Sefer Chareidim writes that thanking Hashem is part of the mitzvah of bikurim…. The purpose of bikurim is to remind people to praise Hashem… they shouldn’t complain like unsatisfied people who cry and complain their entire lives as though they don’t have anything… They actually have everything good in their life…”
Rashi writes that when one brings the bikurim he says, that you don’t deny all the good Hashem is giving you (26:3). The bikurim helps us remember all the good we have and just how good it is!
The Midrash (quoted in Orchos Yosher, Gemilus Chasadim) tells the following story: There was a Torah scholar who was traveling for business. An innkeeper saw him, and said, "Rebbe, if you want, I can travel with you." The Torah scholar replied, "Come in peace." As they were walking, they met up with a blind pauper, sitting near the city. The Torah scholar quickly took out a coin and gave it to him, and he told the innkeeper to do the same. The innkeeper said, "I won't give him anything, because I don’t know him as you do. It was good that you gave him since you know him, but I won't give anything." The Torah scholar replied, "If you don’t want to give, that's your choice." They walked further and met up with the angel of death. The angel of death said, "I am the angel of death" and they became very afraid. The angel of death said to the Torah scholar, "You gave charity…therefore your life will be spared, and you will live another fifty years." The angel of death then said to the innkeeper, "But for you, your final day has arrived." The innkeeper replied, "We traveled together. Is it right that he should return home and that I should die?" "Yes. He deserves to live since he gave charity." "Let me give charity now!" The angel of death replied, "Fool, if one didn’t prepare provisions on land, what will he have on the sea? Similarly, if someone didn’t prepare in his lifetime, it is too late to prepare when he's dead. What happened happened, now your time to die has come." The innkeeper said, "Before you take me, allow me to praise Hashem for all the kindness He has done for me." The angel of death replied, "Since you want to praise Hashem, years have been added to your life." From this story we learn the benefit of praising Hashem. It can add years onto one's life. Praising Hashem is greater than charity. We see that because the innkeeper wanted to give charity, but at that point, it wouldn’t help him. But praising Hashem saved him.
In this week's parashah it states, “you will only be on top" (Devarim 28:13). Chazal tell us that whenever the Torah writes, “only,” it is excluding something. Therefore, “you will only be on top" means that if you will keep the mitzvos you will be on top, with success, and almost everything will be good – but not everything. Something will be missing. This is for our benefit, because when you reach perfection, the only way to go is down. So it is better when at least something is lacking.
Reb Eliezer Ashkenazi was a high-ranking minister for the Egyptian king. The king loved him very much, so he took off his signet ring and gave it to him. This aroused the jealousy of the king's non-Jewish advisors and ministers, and they waited for the opportunity to harm Reb Eliezer Ashkenazi and to lower his rank. The king’s birthday was approaching, and the king invited all his advisors and ministers to celebrate with him. Reb Eliezer was crossing a bridge across the Nile to go to the celebration, when another minister asked him whether he forgot to bring the king’s signet ring. Reb Eliezer took out the ring to show it to him, and the jealous officer grabbed it, and threw it to the Nile. Miraculously Reb Eliezer caught the ring in midair, before it fell into the waters below. At the party, the king accorded Reb Eliezer great honor, and even accompanied him to the palace’s doorway. When Reb Eliezer Ashkenazi returned to his home, he remembered Shlomo HaMelech’s (the wisest of all men) lesson: ïåàâ øáù éðôì, “Before one breaks, he becomes great” (Mishlei 16:18). This means that before one falls, he attains greatness, and as Reb Eliezer was immensely respected, he would certainly plummet. He decided that it was time for him to leave the country. He threw precious gems into a box and boarded a ship for Turkey that night. Later he heard that as he was escaping, the king’s officers slandered him to the king, and the king ordered his arrest. His escape saved his life. But he wasn’t saved from all dangers; the boat hit a rock and sunk, not far from the Turkish port. His precious box of gems got lost at sea, but Reb Eliezer survived. He hung on to a plank until he reached Constantinople. Reb Eliezer thought about what’s happening to him, and he decided that he was being punished for bitul Torah. His closeness to the Egyptian king had taken away a significant amount of his time from Torah study. He decided to rent a small room, eat dry bread, and spend his days and nights studying Torah. A widow had a small room near her house, and she would bring him from her paltry meals. Once, she brought him a dull soup, and that was all he had to stave off his hunger. He found a spider in his soup. At that moment, Reb Eliezer felt that he had reached rock bottom. He knew then that things will begin to improve. That same day, he heard an announcement: The king’s chess partner died, and the king was seeking a new chess champion to play with. Reb Eliezer applied and when the king saw his expertise, he immediately hired him for this position and also appointed him to be a minister. Reb Eliezer remembered from his previous experiences that he must be cautious from bitul Torah. He kept track of the hours he played with the king, and would match those hours with studying Torah late into the night. Sometimes he was very tired, but he remembered that he was once punished for his laxity in Torah study, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake again. One night, while playing chess with the king, Reb Eliezer fell asleep in the middle of the game. The king didn’t become angry with him; he got up and placed his own cushion under Reb Eliezer’s head. When Reb Eliezer awoke, he realized that he had reached another peak and that his descent was around the corner. Therefore he left for Posen, where he served as the rav. Later, he went to Krakow, where he also became the rav, and that is where he is buried.
Life is never perfect, and that is for our benefit, because if we would reach the highest peak, and everything we do is wildly successful, we would inevitably experience a downfall. Therefore, we can view the struggles we go through in life a positive matter.
In contrast, when the Torah tells us about the success of the gentiles, it states (28:43), “The non-Jew that lives among you will go up and up…” About the gentiles, the Torah doesn’t write "only." The gentile will go up and up, without limit. Life will be perfect for them — and this will lead to their downfall.
The conclusion of the verse is, "You [the Jewish nation] will go down and down." It doesn’t state "only" here either. This means that they will fall to the very lowest levels, G-d forbid. However, this is for their benefit, because their most bottom low is a step before the ultimate growth. This is an example of the blessings that are existent, concealed within the tochachah [curses].
The Midrash states, "There is nothing greater than answering amen to a blessing."
Rebbe Shmelke of Nickelsberg zy’a always sought to have someone answer amen to his blessings. Once, when he was traveling, he needed to say an asher yatzar, but he didn't have anyone to answer amen. Suddenly, two people, with extraordinary appearances came by. Rebbe Shmelke said the blessing and they answered amen, and then they disappeared. Rebbe Shmelke asked his wagon driver whether they saw them, but he hadn’t. Then Rebbe Shmelke understood that Heaven sent him two angels, to answer amen to his blessing. He said that this is hinted in the yotzros of Rosh Hashanah (Shacharis of the second day): When one is alone, who will answer amen to his blessings? But he desires that someone should answer amen. Hashem will send angels to come and answer amen to his blessings.
The Rav of Lodz, Reb Elya Chaim Meisels zt'l, came to the home of the wealthy Reb Yisrael Pozmanski z'l. Reb Yisrael Pozmanski invited him inside, but Reb Elya Chaim said he prefers to speak outdoors. They began conversing, but it was freezing outdoors, and Reb Yisrael Pozmanski was jumping from the cold. "Please, honored Rav, come inside. I can't take the cold any longer." "That's exactly what I was waiting to hear," Reb Elya Chaim replied. They came inside, and Reb Elya Chaim explained, "The reason I came to you is to raise money for firewood for the poor of our kehillah, for the ill and for the children. I had to speak with you outdoors so you could understand their plight, and donate generously to the cause." About this, it states (Tehillim 41:2), fortunate are those who understand the poor, because when you understand what the poor are going through, you are in a better place to help them.
Reb Alter Samilovitz zt'l was once walking outdoors when he saw a young girl crying on the curb. Reb Samilovitz asked her to tell him her problem. "My friend said that my dress isn't pretty." "Go home and tell your mother that I said you have a pretty dress." The girl's face immediately brightened, and she ran home to tell her mother. Reb Samilovitz said to the person walking with him, "The Midrash says, 'Just as Hashem removes tears from all faces (see Yeshayah 25:8) so shall you remove tears from all faces.' I've followed in Hashem's ways to remove the tears from a young girl's face."
Someone said to the Imrei Emes of Gur zy'a, "For many years, I earned my living by buying merchandise from a Jewish company in Berlin, which I sold for a nice profit. Recently, they sent me a letter stating that they won't be doing business with me, anymore. Now I don’t know how I will earn my living…" an I do to help?" The man admitted that he didn’t know what the Rebbe could do. The Imrei Emes was silent for a few moments, and then he said, "Soon, my brother-in-law, the rav of Bendin, and I, will be going to the Marienbad resort . En route, we pass Berlin. If my brother-in-law agrees to make a stop in Berlin, to visit this company, we can go to speak with the people there. Perhaps we will succeed to help you make your living again." The man thanked the Imrei Emes, and asked the rav of Bendin whether he agrees to make a stop in Berlin. He replied, "If the Gerer Rebbe wants to make this stop, of course I concur." So the Imrei Emes and his brother-in-law stopped in Berlin, and went to this company. The proprietor didn’t recognize them, but was impressed by their scholarly appearance. The Imrei Emes introduced himself, "My name is Avraham Mordechai Alter. In Poland people call me the Gerrer Rebbe. And this is my brother-in-law, the rav of Bendin. We are also mechutanim…” The owner jumped from excitement. "Can you repeat what you just said?" The Rebbe repeated, "I am the Rebbe of Gur, and this is my brother-in-law and mechutan, the rav of Bendin.” For some reason, these words made him very happy. He called his partner down from upstairs and asked the Imrei Emes to repeat what he said for a third time. The Imrei Emes obliged: "I am the Rebbe of Gur, and this is my brother-in-law and mechutan, the rav of Bendin.” The business partners began to dance. The Imrei Emes and the rav of Bendin watched astonished, wondering what this was all about. Finally, they explained: We are also brothers-in-law. We wanted to be meshadech with each other, as we both have children of marriageable age, but we thought that perhaps it isn’t proper for first cousins to marry each other, so we tucked the idea away in the back of our minds. "Due to our indecision, an uncomfortable tension rose between us, and we hardly spoke. We weren't able to run a business this way, therefore we contemplated closing it. But now, like a miracle, you came here to tell us that you are brothers-in-law and also mechutanim. Now we know that our children can also marry each other. This is the reason we are so happy. Our dancing was an engagement celebration. An additional gain is that we will now be able to remain in business." The Imrei Emes said that he came to help one of his chassidim. "He used to buy from you, but he received a notice, stating that you won't be selling to him anymore." The proprietors replied, "We will continue doing business with him. In fact, I will write up another letter, stating that he is welcome to do business with us, as before. We sent that last letter because we thought we were closing shop. But now that we are becoming mechutanim, our business continues…" The dedication of the Imrei Emes and the rav of Bendin to help others, helped three people make their living, and helped a couple get married. When one is dedicated to doing chesed, he will be granted opportunities to do so.