The Rav of Skolye once spent Shabbos at the home of Reb Baruch of Mezibuzh, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. While they were at the table together, Reb Baruch asked his guest to retell a story of the Baal Shem Tov. This is the story he told.
“Once, when I was deep in conversation with the Baal Shem Tov, two men from a certain town came to see the Baal Shem Tov. One was the rabbi of the town and the other one was a wealthy householder. The rabbi had come to ask the Baal Shem Tov whether he should marry his son to the daughter of this man, who continued to press for this match persistently.
“And why not?” the Baal Shem Tov asked him.
“The rabbi explained that this householder was a very ordinary fellow. He had once been a water carrier and in the course of time had become wealthy. When he first decided that this was a desirable match, he hired a certain schoolmaster for fifty rubles to visit the rabbi every day to propose the match. He told him that he was not to be deterred by the rabbi’s refusal and should continue day by day to make the suggestion.
On the first visit, the rabbi refused outright to hear of such an idea. But the schoolmaster continued to persist faithfully in his daily mission. On one occasion, he conveyed a new message to the rabbi. His householder was prepared to give two thousand silver rubles to the young couple and a gift of one thousand silver rubles to the rabbi!
At this point, the rabbi saw that he stood very little chance of shaking off these unwelcome advances and decided that the time had come to travel to the Baal Shem Tov together with his impudent congregant.
The Baal Shem Tov asked, “Is this householder a G-d-fearing man?”
“Yes, he is,” answered the rabbi.
“If so,” said the Baal Shem Tov, “then this is a fine match.”
So saying, he took out a kerchief and each of the parties in turn took hold of it, according to custom, in confirmation for the transaction. He then wished them both Mazel Tov and gave them his blessings for their journey home. (Understandably the young couple would meet before they were married.)
As soon as they had left, the Baal Shem Tov turned to me, as I had witnessed the whole episode, and said, “The world of scoffing can make a fine matchmaker.”
I was baffled by these words and most curious as to what the Tzadik was hinting at. I decided then and there to seek out the visiting rabbi at his lodging in order to get to the bottom of the matter.
When the rabbi heard what the Baal Shem Tov had said, he was overawed and exclaimed, “now I know where I was!”
He then proceeded to tell me about a recent dream which he had.
“I dreamt that I was doing the rounds of the villages around my town, collecting the gifts of the farm produce which the Jewish peasants offered me. On my way through one township, I came to the door at the back of a synagogue which was filled with learned folks of all ages. They were deep in scholarly discussion. As I listened to the Talmudic argument which they were discussing, I heard that they were perplexed by what they had just learned. This presented no real difficulty for me at all, so I offered to explain the subject to the young men who stood nearby. They in turn passed the information on to the older scholars until it reached the most venerable sages who occupied the places of honor in the front row. These men approached me and looked intently at my face. One of them spoke up and said, “Is this the ignoramus who mixes into scholarly arguments?!”
I left the synagogue in a hurry and told my wagon driver, “It is clear that we have no more business in this place. Let us move on.”
When we reached the next township, I entered the synagogue and lived through the exact same episode a second time.
When we drove to a third township, the same spectacle happened once again. But this time, I was approached by the oldest of the sages who looked intently into my eyes and turned to his colleagues and said, “And this ignoramus still refuses to marry off his son to the daughter of that honorable householder!”
I awoke from my dream with a troubled spirit and decided at once to journey to the Baal Shem Tov. Now that you told me what the Baal Shem Tov said, it is clear to me that Heaven ordained that I be cast into the scoffing and imagination of the world of dreams in order that I should consent to this shidduch.
It is clear now that indeed it is a match made in Heaven!
”From Sippurei Chassidim by Rabbi Zevin, adapted from the translation by Uri Kaploun in A Treasury ofChassidic Tales -Parshas Chayei Sarah Pgs. 86-88.