Mourners crowded the streets of Ruhatin in the spring of
1889. Rabbi Uri Langner, their beloved rebbe, had returned his pure soul to its
The silence was broken only by the sobs of the chassidim.
Among them was a simple man, a tailor by trade. This tailor was not known to
frequent the rabbi’s court and no one knew him to have any particularThe silence was broken only by the sobs of the chassidim
connection to the rabbi or his teachings.
Yet, as the tailor walked along with the slow-moving
procession, his body was racked with such violent sobs that the others could
not help but stare in wonder. What was the tailor’s connection with the great
After the funeral, some of the chassidim asked the tailor to
enlighten them. What was it that brought him to such a deep state of mourning?
“As you know, I am an expert tailor,” said the man, whose
eyes still glistened with tears. “I make high-quality clothing for princes,
nobles and other fine folks.
“One day, around eight years ago, I was summoned to the
house of Rabbi Uri. Of course, I came, and he greeted me warmly and ushered me
into his room. The rabbi then locked the door and removed a photograph from his
“To my utter amazement, it was a portrait of Czar Alexander
II, the accursed enemy of the Jews. In the photo, Alexander was wearing his
full royal uniform. The rabbi then looked at me with a sense of urgency and
asked, ‘Can you sew clothing like this for me?’
“I could barely believe my ears. Why would this rabbi, a man
of Torah scholarship and piety, want to have a uniform like that of the Czar?
But before I could ask another word, I found myself nodding in agreement. I
could do it.
“He gave me the picture, and I got to work. Within a few weeks,
the job was done. The uniform was perfect, down to the rich gold braid and the
“When I brought my handiwork to the rabbi, he was clearly
pleased and grateful for my careful attention to the task he had given me.
“Behind locked doors, he asked me to look at the photo
carefully and verify that everything was sewn exactly as shown. ‘Yes, Rebbe,’ I
assured him, ‘it’s exact.’
“The rabbi’s face then changed to a deep shade of red. II began to quake with fear
began to quake with fear, not knowing what would happen next. He looked like an
otherworldly apparition, as he did during the high holidays, and I was afraid
to stand near him.
“Suddenly, the rabbi lifted his cane in an upward motion
toward his face. The rabbi then lifted his hands and closed his eyes in intense
concentration. With tears streaming from his eyes, he called out, “So shall
Your enemies be destroyed, G‑d!
“At that moment, I had no idea what I was seeing, but it was
clear as day that something important was happening. I was so taken by the
scene that I too began to weep.
“After a few moments, it was as if the storm had passed. The
rabbi’s face regained its normal expression, and he looked at me calmly.
‘Please don’t tell anyone what you saw here,” he asked. Of course, I agreed.
“A few days later, the news reached our town. Czar Alexander
II had been assassinated by a group of young revolutionaries. It was clear to
me that it was directly linked to the rabbi’s doings.
“For years I kept the rabbi’s secret. But now that he is no
longer among the living, I feel that I can divulge the truth. Now you know why
I mourn the rabbi so deeply. He is a holy man who endeavored to bring salvation
to his people.”
Wishing to confirm the words of the tailor, chassidim
respectfully rummaged through the rabbi’s personal effects. Sure enough they
found a suit of royal clothes, just as the tailor had said.
and adapted from Sichat Hashavua, 1442.