Stories of Reb Yitzchak of Vorki

The holy Reb Yitzchak of Vorki shared that when he was a young man he suffered a great deal of anguish from his wife’s words. However, he suffered silently.

When he saw that she was making life miserable for their servants as well, he could not decide if he should suffer this as well and not fight with her, or perhaps for the sake of his servants he should speak up. At the end he decided to travel to his Rebbe, the holy Reb Dovid of Lelov and to ask his opinion. 

Reb Dovid listened and then said: “Why do you tell me? Tell yourself!”

Reb Yitzchak did not understand the meaning of these cryptic words, until some time later when he came upon a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov as follows:

If a person is remiss in the realm of action, he suffers anguish caused by his cattle and his servants; If he does not rule his tongue (speech),  he has to undergo distress caused by the harsh words and curses of his wife and other people; and if he is careless as to what kinds of thoughts are allowed to occupy his mind, his children will be the cause of his heart-ache (G-d forbid). Moreover, taught the Baal Shem Tov, if a person merits and repents in these three areas of his life – thought, speech, and action – then the three corresponding sources of distress are transformed to sources of good and happiness. 

Only then did he understand the words of his Rebbe of Lelov, that it all depends on him himself. 

In this week’s Torah portion it speaks about the person who is a metzora (form of leprosy) because of speaking bad about another. His purification comes about when during his mandated quarantine, he looks deep inside and repents for his misdeeds.

Reb Yitzchak of Vorki home was open and welcoming to all travelers. One Friday, a Gentile man  came in and asked for a piece of bread. The Rebbe’s wife had baked challah in honor of the holy Shabbat. The only bread she had in the house at this time were the whole challah she prepared and she was reluctant to cut them. 

The Rebbe looked at her and said: “Cut the challah, blood won’t come from it.” 

She did as her husband requested and gave the Gentile as much bread as he needed to satisfy his hunger. 

Some time passed and Reb Yitzchak was on his way to an important encounter in Hungary. His route went through the Carpathian Mountains. There he was seized by a gang of robbers who took away everything he had. They marched him to their leader who would decide his fate. 

When the leader saw him, he recognized him at once. He told his men to return everything that was taken from him and guide him safely through the mountain terrain. 

“This Jew kept me alive,” he said. 

Reb Yitzchak made it safely to his destination. 

When he returned home, he related to his wife what had happened and said:

“Remember when I told you: ‘Cut the challah, blood won’t come from it.” Thank G-d, I went in peace and returned in peace!

Story #1 from Sippurei Chassidim by Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin – story # 254 (parshat Vayikra)

Story #2 adapted from Yerachmiel Tilles as seen on chabad.org 

*Reb Yitzchak Vorki 1779- 22 Nissan, 1848, was the founder of the Vorki Chassidic dynasty in Poland (Warka is a town in central Poland on the left bank of the Pilica river). Previously through travel with his teacher, Reb Dovid of Lelov, he became a disciple of the Chozeh of Lublin and 

Reb Simcha Bunem of Pshischah. Some of his teachings and stories can be found in his books Ohel Yitzchak and Hutzak Chein. His son Reb Yaakov Dovid founded the Amshinov dynasty while his son Reb Menachem Mendel continued the Vorki dynasty.  (from Yerachmiel Tilles)

He negotiated with influential people on behalf of the Jewish people to obtain abrogation of hostile decrees. To achieve this, he invoked the assistance of Sir Moses Montefiore of England, whom he met in 1846 when the latter passed through Poland.  Because of his activities he was given the appellation “Lover of Israel.”

(from jewishvirtuallibrary.org)

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