Since he merited to have Torah ugeduloh bemokom
echod, both wealth and Torah, the Megaleh Amukos
never took wages nor benefited in any way from the
public purse. For this reason, his words were readily
accepted by all and he fearlessly proclaimed his
daas Torah, unlike other rabbonim who perhaps
were afraid to jeopardize their post and livelihood. As
his son wrote in the introduction to his sefer,
"Money means nothing to him, just as in the days of
His matzeivoh is engraved with a few short
sentences, one of them being: "They say of him that
Eliyohu (Hanovi) spoke to him face-to-face."
Consistent with this sentence are the facts written in
the introduction to his sefer: "Every night the
Megaleh Amukos would rise at chatzos to cry and
lament the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh. On one
such night, Eliyohu Hanovi appeared to him and informed
him that the same song that he is singing down in this
world, the mal'ochim are singing simultaneously
in the heavenly spheres before Hakodosh Boruch
Hu, "and since you are so beloved, I will reveal to
you some Heavenly secrets."
Of his holiness, the Divrei Chaim of Zanz, zt"l,
told that anyone needing a yeshu'oh in Cracow
would go to the house of Rabbeinu and give over his
name or the name of the person in distress to Rabbeinu.
Without a word of tefilloh on the Rabbi's part,
the person was already helped just in his zechus.
According to Rav Sar Sholom of Belz, his lifetime was a
glorious era for Yidden, when
such great luminaries lit up the Jewish world. The Bach
and the Turei Zahav were among those who led Klal
Yisroel at the time, their holiness radiating to
such an extent that in Heaven it was decided that the
time was ripe to bring the final redemption.
However, the Soton asked to be allowed one more
chance to try and test the gedolei hador.
Initially, the Soton came to the Bach, telling
him that he was a mal'ach who wanted to teach him
secrets of the Torah, just as the Maggid learned
with the Beis Yosef. However, the father of the Bach
appeared to him in a dream, cautioning him to ignore
Next, the Soton went to the Megaleh Amukos with
the same ruse, but Rabbeinu felt immediately that this
was no holy mal'ach. Recalling signs he had
learnt from Eliyohu Hanovi, he confirmed his suspicions
and drove the Soton away.
Thus the Soton tried one godol after
another until he reached Shabsai Zvi, who too had great
potential. Soton had finally found his victim.
Shabsai Zvi fell for his disguise and accepted him,
leading to the devastating cult that led so many
Yidden astray and, in effect, bringing a third
churban upon Klal Yisroel.
Although the conclusion to the following story is still
shrouded in mystery, it gives us a fraction of an
insight into the holiness of the Megaleh Amukos and
those connected to him physically and in spirit.
Following the petiroh of the Megaleh Amukos on 13
Av 5393 (1623), a young stranger whom no one seemed to
know appeared in Cracow.
Soon after, the gabbai of the Chevra
Kadisha of Cracow was surprised to see this newcomer
at his door with a request that was perhaps even
stranger than the man himself. Confident and soft-
spoken, he asked to buy the empty burial plot next to
that of the Megaleh Amukos.
"What!" the gabbai almost exploded. "The audacity
to request such a thing. Who says that you are worthy
of burial next to the greatest of greats!"
With that, the gabbai drove the young man away,
only to have him return a few days later with the same
request. Begging the gabbai to have mercy on him,
he entreated that he sell him the plot. As the man
continued to plead, a plan began to form in the head of
The treasury of the Chevra Kadisha is empty at the
moment. I am already getting on in years while this
fellow looks young and healthy. I'll sell him the plot
and by the time he grows old and dies, I'll have long
passed away and the Chevra Kadisha will have to decide
how to deal with the situation.
With only the four walls to witness the deal, a deal
was made. The stranger paid and acquired the burial
place next to the Megaleh Amukos.
The satisfaction of the gabbai was, however,
short-lived. On that very day, the young man died a
sudden and mysterious death. At a loss, the
gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha weighed up the
facts. Was it allowed at all to place an unworthy
stranger next to the holy tziyun? It's not even a
favor for the man himself if he doesn't deserve it.
Anyway, the money he paid went to tzedokoh, and
nobody knows about the sale. I'll just keep quiet and
bury him somewhere else.
So, the man was buried by the Chevra Kadisha in
an ordinary plot of the Cracow cemetery.
That night, as the gabbai lay asleep, the dead
man appeared to him in a dream.
"I made a deal with you," he complained, "and you have
not kept your part of the deal. I am therefore
summoning you to the heavenly court."
In a cold sweat, the gabbai awoke. After a few
minutes, he forced himself to calm down and decided to
try to forget the whole thing. But night after night,
the man was haunted by the same recurring dream whose
truth he knew only too well.
Brokenhearted and gripped with fear and remorse, the
gabbai went to the new rov of Cracow, the Bach,
and hesitantly told him the whole story.
Trembling, the gabbai waited as the holy Bach
deliberated for a few moments. "If the avreich
comes to you again," instructed the Bach, "tell him
that the Torah is not in Shomayim and that if he
wants to summon you to a din Torah he should come
to the head beis din of Cracow on a certain
When the dream recurred that night, the gabbai
gave over the message of the Bach and the avreich
agreed to appear in Cracow's court.
On the agreed-upon day, a partition was set up in the
beis din. Those present waited with bated breath
until they heard a rustling sound from behind the
mechitzoh, indicating that the deceased
complainant had arrived. The Bach stood up and
commanded that he present his case, and when he had
done so, the Bach turned to the gabbai.
"What do you have to say in your defense?"
"It is true that I sold him the plot, but I never had
the remotest intention to bury him there," stammered
the gabbai. "I only did it because the coffers of
the Chevra Kadisha were empty and the man was so
insistent. I don't even know his name, for he refused
to tell me."
Turning back towards the partition, the Bach asked the
spirit to reveal his identity so that they could find
out whether he was worthy of being buried next to the
Megaleh Amukos. However, he refused to give his name.
"According to din," announced the Bach, "the sale
ought to be valid. However, since we have no idea who
this avreich is, and perhaps he is unsuitable to
be the neighbor in death of our holy Rov zt"l, in
which case it would be an affront to the kovod of
the Megaleh Amukos to honor the sale, we will not do
the job ourselves. Instead, we will leave open the
grave of the avreich and the space next to
Rabbeinu. If you are worthy to be next to the Megaleh
Amukos, go over yourself to the place that you bought.
If not, we are free of our obligations in this
Following the instructions of the Bach, the Chevra
Kadisha opened both places. They were shaken to
discover the next morning that the kever of the
young man was empty, while the plot next to the Rov had
Understanding that the unknown spirit had been a
tzaddik nistar, but still unaware of his name,
his matzeivoh was engraved as follows: "Here lies
the unknown avreich, yo'id olov rei'o — his
neighbor the Megaleh Amukos testifies to his