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Under the Bed

by Shlomo Carlebach and Susan Yael Mesinai


Most people are so out of touch with life in this world that they think it's crazy to speak of life on the Other Side. But it isn't. There's life in this world and the next. According to Jewish tradition, while Heaven is more pure, life in this world is the central focus. Men come here to be fixed and made whole.

Word has it that the zaddikim run both worlds. Essentially, they run the whole show. The Heavenly Court is governed by zaddikim who have died recently. They replace other righteous men, zaddikim who've been in Heaven too long to remember the reality of struggle in this world.

Once Rav Michel Zlotchever passed away, he was called to judge on the Heavenly Court. As soon as he took his place, he came down harshly on all those he had to review.

"How could you do such wrong?" he yelled at them.

Finally, one of the zaddikim on earth realized what was happening and began to complain: "You can't appoint, as a judge, a man who has never sinned! What does the Zlotchever know of the hardships of Moishe the Water Carrier? He comes from a family that for thirteen generations made no mistakes. "

The worldly zaddikim protested his severity so much that it was finally decreed that the Zlotchever would be retired and the zaddik who had first complained should take his place. The decree went out just before Shabbes. The zaddik on earth barely had enough time to say good-bye to his wife.

Judging is done in heaven , but fixing takes place in this world, sometimes before the Judgment, sometimes after. We are speaking here of fixing the souls of those who have left this world. Judging will determine whether you go to Heaven or Hell, whether you are permitted to come back to life.

But if the merchandise is damaged, it's not a question of Paradise or reincarnation. The vessels are broken. They need to be mended and made whole again. This kind of repair doesn't take place in Heaven. Nor can we do it ourselves.

A soul who needs fixing has to come back into the world and look for a zaddik to help him. Naturally, if he was close to one while he was alive he will have no problem, because his soul is still attached to that zaddik. But what happens to a person who was never attached to a zaddik during his lifetime?

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The Story

Everybody knows that the Trisker Maggid, Rav Avromole, was one of the eight sons of Reb Motele Chernobyl who was mamash a zaddik gadol. Rav Motele was the center of all the zaddikim. He took care of the living and the dead and was the master of the lamed-vav zaddikim, the Thirty-Six Righteous Men who hold up the world.

Before he passed away, Reb Motele divided his kingdom among his children and put the Trisker Maggid in charge of the people from the Other Side.

Rav Avromole lived like this. Eight o'clock in the morning he'd get up, go to the mikveh, pray. Two o'clock in the afternoon, he would start to yawn. "I'm so tired, I've got to lie down a little bit." He'd go to his room until three, then pray both afternoon and evening prayers. Ten o'clock at night he might start yawning again. "I'm so tired. I've got to go back to my room."

The fact of the matter is that the Trisker Maggid never ate and never slept. He also never kept any books in his room, because - as everybody knows - when he closed the door to his room he was dealing with souls from the Other World who needed fixing.

People from the Other Side are not able to read Torah. In order to avoid making them feel bad, the Trisker Maggid never permitted books in his room. If he found one, he put it out.

The Trisker Maggid once came to a village where only one yidele had enough room in his house to accommodate the rebbe and his hasidim. But this man was a real misnagid. He had heard many stories from his fellow misnagdim and was suspicious of the rumor that the Trisker Maggid never slept and never ate.

"Eating I can believe. He sleeps so much, he doesn't need to eat. But he doesn't even keep a book in his room, so you can't tell me he isn't up there napping!"

This wealthy yidele was more than happy to have the Trisker Maggid as his guest, because it would give him a chance to prove what Rav Avromole was doing behind closed doors. "He's snoring, I'm sure.

While the Trisker Maggid was davening Maariv, the evening prayer, the yidele managed to get into Rav Avromole's room and to hide under the bed.

At ten o'clock, the Trisker Maggid said to his hasidim, "I have to go back to my room."

The rich yidele heard Rav Avromole come into the chamber and felt him sit down on the bed.

No sooner had the hasidim closed the door to give the rebbe a little privacy when it seemed to open again. A crowd pushed their way into the room. The man could hear the shuffle of feet, the murmuring appeals.

During the day, the host had already witnessed the Trisker Maggid's audiences with ten, maybe even thirty people, at a time. But this sounded like thousands. What was happening? Where were all these people coming from? How could there even be a place for them in this little bedroom?

During the day, people would complain: "Rabbi! I'm sick. Please cure my back."

"I need money for my business."

"Would you find a wife for my son?"

But by night, the people were saying, "Rebbe! I'm so broken! They won't let me into Paradise. They won't let me into Hell. All I can do is wander. Rebbe, please fix my soul."

The worst was that the misnagid heard so many voices in the room. But when he peeked out from underneath the bed, he couldn't see any feet. The yidele was so frightened that he was shaking and had to do his best to keep his teeth from chattering.

Suddenly, he heard another, different voice cry out: "Rebbe! Have compassion on my tormented neshamah. Fix me! Fix my soul!"

"What can I do for you?" the Trisker Maggid asked. "While you were alive, you never bothered to come to me. You didn't even give me one penny tzedakah, one penny for charity, to connect yourself to me. So how can I help you now?"

"There must be a way!" The poor soul pleaded with the rebbe, from a place of deep anguish.

"Actually, there is one way. Your neighbor, Shmuelik, was one of my top hasids. Shmuelik gave me a great deal of charity during his lifetime. If he were to tell me now that one penny of the riches he gave as tzedakah was for you, then I could find a way to help you."

"Shmuelik would do that for me, I'm sure."

"Fine! Then I want you to go and ask him!"

"How can I do that? He won't believe that I come from you

"Then I'll send somebody along to act as your witness." At this point, the Trisker Maggid gave a strong, swift kick under the bed and said to the yidele: "Come out!"

When the yidele realized that the Trisker Maggid was about to send him into the Other World as witness to an exchange between two souls, he began pleading from under the bed. "Please, Rebbe! Don't do this to me! I promise I won't tell anybody what I saw!"

"Come out!"

The yidele came out, crawling on his stomach. He was crying, screaming, clinging to the rebbe's feet.

"Please, Rebbe! You've seen! I have a wife and three children. I don't want to die yet. I'm not ready to die!"

"God forbid you should die. But if you're going to spy on me, you must go as my witness. Take my stick and walk with the soul of this man to the cemetery."

The yidele looked around. The greatest nightmare of all was that there was absolutely no one else in the room, only himself and the Trisker Maggid.

"Knock on the first grave in the second row and say that Avrom ben Hannah orders Shmuel ben Rivkah to give one penny to fix the neshamah of this yidele - Yosele, his neighbor."

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The beautiful aspect of this story is that I actually heard it from the great-greatgrandson of the man who hid under the bed. It goes without saying that he lived to become a very great Trisker hasid.

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From Shlomo Carlebach and Susan Yael Mesinai, Shlomo's Stories: Selected Tales.

Copyright © 1994. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, NJ. To order: The Jason Aronson Home Page



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This page was last updated on Monday, March 10, 2003