In the year 5680, his illustrious father passed away and Rabbeinu, at the tender age of seventeen, was chosen as his successor. Even the older chassidim perceived the great light hidden within the young boy and accepted him as Rebbe.
During the war, Rabbeinu lived in Bucharest. There, despite the ban and the immediate danger in taking in refugees from other cities, his house was constantly full of guests.
His daughter tbl"t relates that she cannot recall how the stories ended, but she still remembers how, every few days, panic reigned in the house when they heard that SS soldiers were on the way. On many occasions they actually came looking for foreign guests. "But this I can testify," she insists, "as can all those guests who eventually survived the years of horror: that the hachnosas orchim not only did not cease, but increased from week to week. And what's more, nobody was taken away or punished as a result."
The Rebbe was once asked by an individual if it was right to throw all caution to the winds, endangering his own life and that of his family members. And what would he do if he were caught?
He replied decisively: "I am fulfilling my duty in this world, doing as Hakodosh Boruch Hu commanded me. And if I am caught, I'll call out to myself, `Ashrecho — Happy are you that you have been caught for (keeping) divrei Torah.'"
Among the lodgers who stayed at their home were the sick, and even those stricken with the dreaded, contagious typhus disease. Seeing that the Rebbe had no qualms about allowing these unfortunate souls in, the Rebbetzin felt it important to point out the risks involved.
"What about our only daughter, born after eleven years of seemingly endless waiting? Are you not afraid she will catch one of these contagious germs we are welcoming into our home?"
The Rebbe's answer was clear, "If we are dealing with the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim we have nothing to fear, even contagious diseases."
HaRav Reb Yidele Horowitz zt"l of Dzikov was one of the illustrious visitors who passed through the portals of the Bohusher home. Many years later he would still wonder at the degree to which the Rebbe's hachnosas orchim reached. Not only was it a place where Jews received food and drink to nourish their starving bodies, it was a home away from home for people who had forgotten the meaning of that word. These wandering Yidden had been missing the atmosphere and self-confidence that comes with having a home. The Rebbe was particular to serve each one with a table setting before them and a napkin, restoring their dignity.
During those turbulent times, many were the Yidden who could not stand the hardships and began to veer from the derech haTorah. The Rebbe with his pleasantness and subtle persuasion guided countless of these souls back to Yiddishkeit. For example, when one such young man came to ask for a brochoh, Rabbeinu instructed him, "Take this segulah and do it when your tefillin are on your head, after netillas yodayim, and after saying modeh ani."
Similarly, if the request came from a woman, she would be told to do the segulah immediately after lighting Shabbos candles.
Thus the recipients who believed unfailingly in the power of the Rebbe were `tricked' into once again keeping the mitzvos they had abandoned.
The Bohusher Rebbe's humility was almost self-disparaging.
It happened that a certain Rebbe and his chassidim spoke sharply against Rabbeinu. Not only was he not insulted but, upon hearing, he immediately made preparations to go and visit that particular Rebbe. The chassidim begged him not to go, to uphold his honor and that of his forebears of the illustrious Ruzhiner dynasty.
"That Rebbe thinks," said Rabbeinu in reply, "that a Rebbe is someone who has a lot of power and can do as he pleases. Let us travel to him and show him that a Rebbe is one who is insulted yet does not take it to heart."
Three Jews were once caught by the gentile police on charges of tax evasion. A court case was scheduled and the defendants did not have much hope. They knew that if the verdict were guilty they were in for long imprisonment.
One of the three knew of Rabbeinu and came to request a brochoh that he be spared punishment.
Rabbeinu gave him explicit instructions: Since Purim is coming up, I want you to give mishloach monos to a certain man. Doing so will be a zchus for you and you will be spared imprisonment.
The man's countenance changed and he blanched visibly.
"Rebbe," he implored, "I'll do anything you say, just not that. Why, this man is the very one who reported us to the authorities."
The Rebbe, however, was adamant, "You may do as you wish, but if you want to be saved, carry out my instructions to the letter."
Purim came and the Yid was in a quandary. As the day wore on he realized that he had little time left to do as the Rebbe had bidden. Downing a swig of strong wine to help him overcome his feelings, he set off, basket in hand in the direction of the informer's house. After setting the `peace offering' on the table, the two of them drank wine and danced together in the true Purim spirit.
A month later when the court case took place, the results were the talk of town. The other two Jews were found guilty and convicted, whereas our friend, who had obeyed the Rebbe, was declared innocent and set free!
It is told that when the Rebbe was once on vacation, he asked that his attendants bring him a gemora maseches Bovo Metzia. The gabboim found this a little strange. They had already brought with various masechtos and many seforim. Why now the need for another sefer?
Rabbeinu explained: "I am here on vacation, to take a rest, and therefore I have more time than I have at home. With my newly-found spare time I want to start a new seder limud in Bovo Metzia."
In 5749/1989 the Rebbe travelled to London to an eye specialist, for he had begun suffering a deterioration in his sight. Upon returning from the doctor's appointment, Rabbeinu immediately reached for a sefer and began learning. When his host tried to dissuade him from learning as this may strain his eyes, the Rebbe retorted. "You want a yeshua don't you? So how can I bentch you if I don't learn." And he continued learning.
We will end with a timely vort of Rabbeinu's on the haftorah of Shabbos Nachamu.
The prophet says, "Nachamu nachamu ami — Be comforted My people . . . .ki nirtzoh avonoh — for her sin has become pleasing . . ."
Our question is: Shouldn't it say nimchal avonoh, her sin has been forgiven?
The double expression of comfort alludes to the time when Yidden will repent out of love for Hashem. Then they will be doubly comforted because the reward for teshuvoh mei'ahavoh is that sins become mitzvos. Thus it is correct to say nirtzoh avonoh — since the aveiros will have become pleasing mitzvos in the eyes of Hashem.
May we merit to see the comforting of Zion, bimheiroh beyomeinu omein!