Shabbat Shalom: If Not Higher

Aug 4, 2022

Many thanks to Rabbi Jessica Minnen who shared this story by I.L. Peretz (1852-1915), a Polish author and playwright. It is about living our values and doing work on behalf of the Jewish community. That includes each one of you that supports JEWISHcolorado to help build and sustain Jewish community here and around the world. With your generosity, we closed out our fiscal year of 2022 having raised more than $8.5 million for Jewish causes here at home, in Ukraine, and in Israel:

Every Friday morning during the High Holy Days, the Rebbe of Nemirov disappeared. His congregants and students could not find him anywhere.

Where can the Rebbe be? They wondered. Where could he be, if not in heaven?

One year, a Lithuanian came to Nemirov. He laughed at the people wo believed the Rebbe ascended to heaven and was determined to find out where he went. The Lithuanian followed the Rebbe in the dark hours of the morning as he entered a thick forest wearing the clothes of a peasant and carrying a hatchet. The Rebbe stopped beside a small tree. He took up his hatchet, split it into logs, and threw the bundle over his shoulder.

When he got back to the shtetl, the Rebbe stopped at a dilapidated cottage.

Inside its single room sat an old woman in rags. As the Lithuanian watched, the Rebbe took the bundle of wood from his shoulder and lit a fire on the stove, bringing light and warmth to the cold dark room.

After that, the Lithuanian remained in Nemirov and became a faithful follower of the Rebbe. And whenever anyone spoke of the Rebbe ascending to heaven on Friday mornings during the High Holiday season, instead of laughing, the Lithuanian would say:

If not higher.

Sending gratitude for your continued support and wishing you Shabbat Shalom.