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9 Shvat 5772 - February 2, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Husyatiner Rebbe Ha'admor Reb Mordechai Feivish, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 22 Iyar

When the Rav HaKodosh of Ruzhin was thrown into prison for twenty-two months, his son Mordechai Feivish was only two years old. During those two years, his education was entrusted to his holy brothers. Then it was transferred back to his father when he was released.

When he was merely a small child, a chossid saw him walking around with a bagel in his hand, crying. Gently, the chossid asked the reason for his tears.

"I'm hungry," was the plaintive reply — more perplexing than the tears themselves. "Isn't that a bagel in your hands? Eat it and you'll satisfy your hunger."

The child's tearful answer gave the chossid an ideal he had not yet heard from an adult, let alone a young child.

"What should I do? My father taught me that if I feel a strong urge to do something, it's a sign that that deed is forbidden. My father always says one must control one's inclinations!"

Years later, the same self-control was apparent as the Rebbe sat at his tish, engrossed in his lofty thoughts without blinking an eye. Many a time a fly was seen walking between the beads of sweat on his forehead, but the Rebbe seemed not to notice, resisting the automatic reflex to brush it away.

Reb Itche Meir of Nemirov related that he was present when Reb Mordechai Feivish had to undergo an operation on his finger.

"The doctor tried to give him an oral anesthetic to numb his senses so that the Rebbe should feel no pain. However, Rabbeinu adamantly refused to drink, insisting that he needed his mind lucid and clear for avodas Hashem constantly.

"Patiently, the doctor tried to explain that he would suffer immense pain without the numbing, but the Rebbe remained steadfast.

"Left without a choice, the doctor gave in to the Rebbe's decision, after the latter had signed that he took the responsibility upon himself."

Reb Itche Meir describes the scene, "The Rebbe walked over to the window facing the view of a high mountain and stretched out his hand to the doctor. The doctor began his work while the Rebbe began concentrating on his lofty thoughts, remaining totally stationary until the awed doctor informed him that the operation was over!"

After the histalkus of his father, the Ruzhiner Rebbe, each of the sons were chosen to lead a group of chassidim. Rabbeinu was then only seventeen, but despite his tender years he was recognized as a great leader and began to head a group in Mikolinitz.

Once, when walking in the street, he saw one of his chassidim arguing heatedly with another man. Upon asking the chossid what the argument was about, the young man hesitated.

The other fellow had actually questioned the ability of such a young man to be Rebbe and this chossid was in the process of explaining the situation. But how could he tell this to his Rebbe?

The latter, however, pressed him to reveal the argument and finally the chossid told him exactly what had transpired. The Rebbe showed no reaction.

Some weeks later, the scene seemed to repeat itself. Once again the Husyatiner saw the same two people arguing over some point. Only this time it seemed that the townsman was less convinced in his argument and closer to accepting the reasoning of the chossid.

Again the Rebbe questioned the chossid as to his argument — the answer being that indeed the man had a better disposition now towards the Rebbe.

"Is it then surprising?" retorted the Rebbe. "It's written, `Kamayim haponim el ponim kein lev ho'odom el ho'odom.' As long as I didn't know this man, he didn't know me either and had complaints about me. However, from when I saw him last time with you, my heart was filled with boundless love for a fellow Jew. This love evoked in him a reflective love towards me. Thus the change in his attitude."

The Husyatiner chassidim who had traveled to Tiveria to the tziun of Reb Yisroel, the son of Reb Mordechai Feivish, were surprised to hear a story from none other than their hostel proprietor, Mr. Chanoch.

"My father, R' Mendel, was a distinguished businessman from Lublin, who would travel regularly to the Leipzig fair.

"On one such trip, a Yid asked if he could travel with him and my father gave him the lift.

"Sitting next to him during the long journey to Leipzig, my father gathered that this Yid was an old Husyatiner chossid and he was taken with his lofty words and practices. Then and there he decided that on the way back he would make a detour and go to the Husyatiner Rebbe.

"Upon his arrival, my father was told that he would have to wait his turn to be received by the Rebbe, which could mean a few days' stay in Husyatin.

"No problem for a wealthy man like Reb Mendel. He checked into a local hotel and anticipated being called when his turn arrived.

"It was already sunset of the second day when the message came that his audience with the Rebbe was to take place immediately.

"Hurriedly, Reb Mendel snuffed out the candle in his room and left towards the Rebbe's house. However, after a few moments he stopped in his tracks. He had forgotten the kvittel he had written with the names of all his family and the pidyon he had prepared to give to the Rebbe.

"Quickly retracing his steps, my father reached his hotel room, groped in the darkness until he found the missing items and ran to the Rebbe.

"With trepidation and awe, my father entered the Rebbe's room and handed him the kvittel. To his surprise, the Rebbe didn't even give it a glance, but remained deep in his thoughts. After some minutes of silent reflection, the Rebbe lifted his kind face to my father.

"`And how is Chanoch?' he asked.

"`Boruch Hashem,' replied my father in surprise.

"`May he have a refuah sheleimoh,' blessed the Rebbe.

"A perplexed R' Mendel left the Rebbe's room. All his eight children had been listed in the kvittel. Why had the Rebbe asked only about the welfare of little Chanoch — and to wish him a refuah? As far as he knew Chanoch was a healthy child.

"None the wiser, he returned to his lodgings and lit his candle. His astonishment turned to fear when he saw his kvittel lying on the table where he had left it and he realized that he had, in the darkness and his haste, taken the wrong paper.

"So how does the Rebbe know I have a son Chanoch at all? And his brochoh?

"With a trembling heart, R' Mendel immediately hired the fastest horse and carriage to take him home to Lublin, his anxiety growing as the miles sped away beneath the wheels of the carriage.

"Indeed his fears were not unfounded, as he was greeted by his family's solemn and fearful faces. As soon as he had left the house for the fair, the young Chanoch had suddenly been taken ill, his condition steadily worsening until even the doctors had given up hope for his recovery.

"However, one day the boy began to sweat and seemed to recover somewhat. From then, his recovery had begun, much to the surprise of the doctors, who had no explanation to offer.

"My father excitedly questioned as to the exact day and time of the beginning of his son's recovery, and confirmed that it was indeed on the Tuesday just after sunset — the very time he had been with the Rebbe.

"I am that Chanoch, the miracle child who was saved by your Rebbe," concluded the hotel owner to his rapt audience."

Zechuso yogen oleinu.

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