It was the custom of Reb Menachem Mendel of Liska* (father of the tzadik Reb Naftali of Ropshitz)) to sign his letters with his name and follow it with the epithet, ohev Yisroel – the lover of Jews.
Once it happened that when he came to his signature and as he was about to write the words, ohev Yisroel, the pen fell from his hand…
He picked it up, and again began to sign the letter, when another mishap occurred and once again he was unable to sign. The tzadik understood, that from Heaven he was being prevented from signing. He began to cry profusely:
“Just one good habit I have acquired, with which I pride –‘ misyamer’ myself, the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisroel, and also this is taken from me.”
He searched his actions, wondering if perhaps he had embarrassed someone that day, he searched but could not find anything untoward. He called his family together and asked them, perhaps they had embarrassed someone or hurt someone’s feelings?? It then became clear that indeed that was the case. In the morning there came to the home of the tzadik, a simple uncouth individual, wearing a kind of hat which was the attire of ignorant and coarse individuals, and he wanted to go into the tzadik’s room. The family pushed him off and did not allow him to enter. So he left in a huff and a puff.
Immediately the tzadik told his shamash to go quickly and search for the man and bring him to him. The shamash went from place to place and from inn to inn, but he did not find him anywhere. At the end, someone told him, that he saw such a person go into an inappropriate place. The shamash went there and found him. He said to him that the tzadik asked to see him because he wants to speak to him. The man refused to go. The shamash then took him forcefully and brought him to the tzadik, telling him where he was found.
However the tzadik did not pay any attention to this at all. He greeted the man pleasantly, asking forgiveness that he had been embarrassed this morning. He treated him with great respect, and asked that food and drink be placed in front of him for him to partake of. When the man saw how much the tzadik loves him and how he treats him so warmly and respectfully, thoughts of teshuva entered his heart and he regretted his previous actions and repented.
When the man left, the tzadik saw that the people around him were wondering about his actions, how and why he would spend so much time and act so nicely to someone so coarse and full of sins.
The tzadik said to them:
The prophet Yeshayahu prophesied about the days of Moshiach saying: “And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations a gift to Hashem…” The question can be asked: Who are the Jews who will wait till the non Jews bring them to Moshiach? The Chassidim, when they will hear that Moshiach is here, will surely run towards him themselves immediately; and those who are not Chassidim, if they will not be running, they will nevertheless be walking slowly, and surely they, too, will not wait for the non Jews to bring them to Moshiach. So, the verse is speaking about those who have sinned and are immersed in the opposite of holiness. About them, the verse says, that when the non Jews will hear that Moshiach has come, they will search and find a Jew and bring him to Yerushalayim, ‘mincha l’Hashem’ a gift to G-d.
And it is such a ‘gift to G-d’ which I embarrassed today, for which I am so sorry. And now that this ‘gift’ returned and came to me, shall I not shower him with love?
From Sippurei Chassidim- Moadim #234 by Rabbi Zevin
*Rebbe Menachem Mendel Rubin of Linsk 1740-1803. Liske or Linsk is the town of Lesko in southern Poland. A collection of his writings was published by his descendant and called Likutei Maharam.
** his son, Rebbe Naftali of Ropshitz 1760-1827 was born on the day the Baal Shem Tov passed away and his yahrzeit is 11th of Iyar 5587. He was a talmid of Reb Elimelech of Lizensk. He was known for his profound wisdom, sharp sense of humor and musical gifts. Author of Ayalah Shelucha.