How Reb Elimelech of Lyzhansk kept his descendants righteous

Reb Eliezer of Dzikov, the son of Reb Naftali of Ropshitz, dreamt once that he was being shown to the Garden of Eden.

He was taken up a luminous hill and found himself in a splendid courtyard, wherein stood a palace built of scintillating jewels. Asking who was the man looking out of the window of the house, he was told that this was Reb Elimelech of Lyzhansk, and to him all of this opulence belonged, though he was master of much besides. Reb Eliezer gazed upon his face, the face of an angel and experienced a rare moment of spiritual bliss.

Early in the morning he went off to tell his father of his wondrous dream but Reb Naftali was loath to believe him – until he described the features of the face that he had seen.

“My son,” he said, “it is true that it is my Rebbe, Reb Elimelech that you have described. But a man has to have reached a very lofty level before he is able to see Reb Elimelech.”

“What does ‘level’ mean if not serving G-d through prayer and the study of Torah?” countered his son. “Then what is it that I do?”

“True again, my son,” said Reb Naftali, “that you have reached a certain level. Still, in order to see Reb Elimelech one has to climb even higher. Could it be, for example, that you did someone a great favor and because of that you were granted this beautiful gift?”

Reb Eliezer recalled that a few weeks earlier he had encountered one of the grandsons of Reb Elimelech making his rounds to collect alms, and he was sorely in need of a warm garment. Reb Eliezer had then taken off his own fine fleece coat and had given it to him. It served as a dual gift – for while it gave the body warmth, it gave the man esteem.

“Now,” exclaimed his father, “it is clear that you did in fact see Reb Elimelech and that you deserved to see what you saw! For Reb Elimelech asked the Almighty that his descendants should be reduced to poverty so that they should remain righteous, and he retains a liking for anyone who helps them out respectfully.”

From A Treasury of Chassidic Tales on the Torah by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin translated by Rabbi Uri Kaploun

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