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29 Kislev 5773 - December 13, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Ateres Yeshua: Ha'Admor Rabbi Yehoshua Horowitz, zt"l, of Dzikov

One of the most awe- inspiring spectacles to behold in the Chassidic courts was the holy avodoh of the Ateres Yeshua during the hakofos on Hoshanoh Rabbah.

In accordance with the minhag of his ancestors of the Ropshitzer dynasty, the hakofos would take a long time, with divrei Torah between each hakofoh.

His last Hoshanoh Rabbah, in the year 5673 (1913), was a particularly emotional one as retold by Reb Yehoshua's nephew, the Imrei Chaim zt"l of Vishnitz.

"Breaking out into tears as he implored `Hoshanoh Aliyos Hashevotim,' the Rebbe stopped to explain: `We plead with You Hashem, if You have decreed upon Your nation to be smitten with shevotim, with the punishing rod, then aliyas — we beg You to raise the stick and keep it aloft without bringing it down upon us.' So saying, the Rebbe resumed his crying for a long time, surely averting harsh decrees."

Then, wiping his eyes, the Rebbe Reb Yehoshua added, "My father, the Imrei Noam zt"l, used to cry at the words `Hoshanoh Nefesh Mibeholoh.' For any failure in our avodas Hashem is only due to the fact that we live a harassed life and have no peace of mind to do the will of Hashem as we ought to. However, this year I will shed extra tears at peiros mishidofon. I pray that the young men, the fruit of Klal Yisroel, should not suffer spiritual deprivation during the coming years."

Indeed the next year, with the outbreak of World War I, many young men and boys were lost to Yiddishkeit.


The Ateres Yeshua thought nothing of his achievements and madreigoh and was often heard reproaching himself as being no more than the lowest of his chassidim.

His grandson Reb Yidele of Dzikov related that once after the particularly elating hakofos of a Simchas Torah that fell on Shabbos, the Rebbe noticed a group of young men whispering and gesticulating heatedly. When the Rebbe inquired as to the subject of their conversation, it turned out that they were just discussing the immense his'orerus of the past three days. Rabbeinu nodded in recognition and exclaimed, "Yes, mitoch shelo lishmoh (pointing to himself) bo lishmoh (pointing to them). Even though I don't manage to concentrate all my thoughts and feelings solely lesheim Shomayim nevertheless, Boruch Hashem, the correct message was conveyed and you reach the degree of serving Hashem lishmoh."


At the seudas Rosh Chodesh marking the beginning of Nisan 5672 (1912), Rabbeinu sat surrounded by his chassidim. Suddenly he gazed at them intently. "I see here all the soldiers in the army. Listen soldiers, I ask of you, when you'll have nothing to keep body and soul together, save for the treif meat they serve you, don't lick the bones to the last morsel. Rather just eat the meat itself, enough to stay alive."

Bewildered, those present looked at one another uncomprehendingly. They all knew that the Rebbe often spoke in riddles and hints, but what could this mean?

Only after two years, when all able-bodied men were drafted into the Army, did they understand in retrospect the Rebbe's request.

In his typical humility the Rebbe once said to his chassidim.

"Do you know why such a large crowd comes to me giving large sums of money as pidyon, whereas by the Admor of Shinova, the Divrei Yechezkel, so few people are there with so little money being left on his table? I'll explain to you by way of a scene that I beheld in the grand city of Vienna.

"Walking through the streets of Vienna I noticed a large throng of people milling around. To my inquiries they answered that the building nearby is a theater. Soon, they told me, the doors of the theater will open and the entrance tickets will be sold. The price of the ticket depends on the seat it represents. The closer the seat is to the stage, the more expensive the ticket. I asked what sort of show will be acted out and was told that it is about a beggar.

" `I don't understand,' I exclaimed. `Here outside sits a beggar on the ground and nobody gives him a second glance. Perhaps one in ten will deign to throw him a penny along with a dirty look, and here you're all pushing to pay ever more money for a closer seat in order to see a beggar on stage?'

"Well, they told me, that's how it is. Nobody is interested in the true beggar. Nobody pays him. The actor who is trying to impersonate the beggar is the one we throng to, and pay."

"So," concluded Reb Yehoshua, "now I understand why to me they throng and pay: because I'm only the impostor Rebbe. To the real Rebbe, the Shinover, few people come — that's life!"


Another story that Rabbeinu quoted as having learned on the streets of Vienna.

"I saw a street cleaner sweeping the roads, something of a novelty to me since we have no such thing in the small town of Dzikov. `Tell me,' I asked the cleaner, `why do you bother cleaning the streets. In a house I understand — one can control the situation and keep it clean. But the streets will always gather more dirt immediately. What's the point of cleaning?'

"His simple answer put me straight, `Rabbiner, if we don't clean the streets today and tomorrow, in another few days they will be totally impassable due to the buildup of filth.'

"Rabboisai! Oy did he put me straight! The yetzer hora tries to persuade us that it's no use cleaning the neshomoh, ridding it of its filth, for tomorrow in a moment of weakness it'll become tainted once again. But let's use the reasoning of the road sweeper. If we don't do teshuvoh today, in a few days time the neshomoh will be so blighted that we'll be unable to do mitzvos at all, having sunk, chas vesholom, so deep in the mire of sin."


The Rav of Seben, author of Be'er Zvi zt"l, was present when the Rebbe was convalescing in Krenitz.

Like his grandfather the Ropshitzer who would speak in riddles, disguising his message in seemingly simple vertlach, the Ateres Yeshua too would hide his true mussar behind a facade of jokes and stories. The simple among his listeners would accept the tale as it was told, and laugh appreciatively. In contrast, the sharper talmidei chachomim would grasp the true, deeper meaning.

The Rav of Seben gave an example of the Rebbe's mussar wrapped in a joke.

"The Rebbe said: `There's one man sitting here who hasn't come to me in a long time and I'll tell you why: he's broigez with me. He wrote me a letter saying he has everything he needs and now he's turning seventy. How should he prepare himself for the World to Come? Nu! What could I answer to a Yid who thinks everything's all right with him? I told him: If you sinned for 70 years, continue in this way till one hundred and twenty.'

"Most of the oilom thought this was an excellent vertel and slapped their thighs with laughter," concluded the Rav of Seben. "But a select few of us gathered the real intent of the story.

"The seventy-year-old is the yetzer hora, who is called `an old and foolish king.' He comes to a person in a moment of his'orerus, when he is considering his future in Olom Habo, reassuring him that he lacks nothing. In the end persuades him to continue in his bad ways."


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