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Elijah the Prophet in Minsk

Elijah the Prophet in Minsk


A chassid went to the Baal Shem Tov in Mezhibuzh and said, “Rebbe, I want to see Elijah the Prophet.”

“It’s simple,” said the Baal Shem. “I’ll tell you what to do. Get two boxes and fill one with food and the other with children’s clothes. Then, before Rosh Hashanah, travel to Minsk. On the outskirts of town, right before where the forest begins, is a dilapidated house. Find that house, but don’t knock on the door immediately; stand there for a while and listen. Then, shortly before candle-lighting time at sunset, knock on the door and ask for hospitality.”

The chassid went home and told his wife he would be away for the holiday. “How can you leave your family?” she said. “The children want their father to take them to the synagogue!” He told her, “I have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Elijah the Prophet!” Finally, she agreed that it was something that he could not pass up.

So he went and did as the Baal Shem Tov told him. He filled the parcels with food and clothing and went to Minsk, where he found the broken-down house at the edge of town. He arrived shortly before evening and stood in front of the door, listening. Inside, he heard children crying, “Mommy, we’re hungry. And it’s Yom Tov and we don’t even have decent clothes to wear!” He heard the mother answer, “Children, trust in G‑d. He’ll send Elijah the Prophet to bring you everything you need!”

Then the chassid knocked on the door. When the woman opened it, he asked if he could stay with them for the holiday. “How can I welcome you when I don’t have any food in the house?” she said. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I have enough food for all of us.” He came in, opened the box, gave the children the food, and they ate. Then he opened the other box and the children all took clothes for themselves: this one a shirt, that one a jacket, the other one a hat. He was there for two days, waiting to see Elijah the Prophet. He did not even sleep. How could he sleep? How often do you get a chance to see Elijah the Prophet? But he saw no one.

So he returned to the Baal Shem Tov and said, “Master, I did not see Elijah the Prophet!” “Did you do everything I told you?” asked the Baal Shem Tov. “I did!” he said. “And you didn’t see him?” “No, Rebbe.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, Rebbe! I didn’t see him!” “Then you’ll have to return for Yom Kippur,” said the Baal Shem Tov. “Go back before Yom Kippur, with a box of food, to the same house. Again, be sure to arrive an hour before sunset, and don’t knock immediately. Wait for a while and just stand in front of the door, listening.”

The chassid went back to his wife and told her he would be away for Yom Kippur. “How can you leave your children again?” she asked. “But the Baal Shem Tov says I’ll be able to see Elijah the Prophet, like one of the great tzaddikim!” he said, “How can I not go?” His wife agreed that it was worth going away for two or three days if he could see Elijah the Prophet.

So he went back to Minsk before Yom Kippur. This time, he went earlier and stood in front of the door, listening. Inside he heard children crying, “Mommy, we’re hungry! We haven’t eaten the whole day! How can we fast for Yom Kippur?” “Children!” said the mother. “Do you remember you were crying before Rosh Hashanah that you had no food or clothes? And I told you, ‘Trust in G‑d! He’ll send Elijah the Prophet, who’ll bring you food and clothing and everything else you need!’ Wasn’t I right? Didn’t Elijah come and bring you food and clothing? He stayed with us for two days! Now you’re crying again that you’re hungry. I promise you that Elijah will come now, too, and bring you food!”

Then the chassid understood what his master, the Baal Shem Tov, had meant. And he knocked on the door.

Yitzchak Buxbaum is the author of The Light and Fire of The Baal Shem Tov.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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howard kirkwood July 24, 2011

Elijah Elijah will turn the hearts of the father to their children; the start of doing this begin in each fathers own home. Thanks for the story relating the need! Reply

George Summerson Macon, Ga July 17, 2011

What does the Lord require? This lovely story illustrates how much Christians and Jews have in common and why we Christians should study the Hebrew Testament. "What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with thy God." Reply

howard kirkwood west helena, AR./USA July 16, 2011

Good points, man sought to see Elijah, and was unaware directed in walking in Elijah's foot steps, sent to a widow woman in need, to substain him; he recieved in by her, & hearing her & family needs substain them, having followed God's instruction he was sent with their needs; helping a widow woman in need,who gave him shelter. See by modeling, else will accept? Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 15, 2011

A sign There was a sign in Newton, on Center Street, in front of Grossman's Lumber Yard and it read: There is a little Grossman's in everyone.

I think we can say, there is a spark of Elijah in us all, and however one reads this, I do agree the point is, when we are presented with the possibility of doing something for another, we should grasp this as an opportunity to do what we can.

That's perhaps saying the same thing, about Elijah, and that opening of doors. Reply

Anonymous Montreal, QC July 13, 2011

missing the point :) the point of the story is not that YOU ARE Elijah the Prophet but that G-d has many missions to be done and he chose YOU to fulfill that mission... we just have to realize when a good deed comes ur way and do it :)

p.s. rabbi akiva was the one who said to love ur fellow as u love urself... :) Reply

Michaelah. Thornhill, Canada July 12, 2011

Good story It's a cool story.
But was he actually Eliahu Ha Navi?!!!!!!
AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma July 12, 2011

I knew where this story was headed and it is beautiful. The lesson is very clear for us all. In deep ways, he was seeking what was within him, and we can all be saviors for each other. And so it is. That is my message, and not just the humor and sweet truth the children saw in this answer to their prayers.

Hopefully, he then went back and made it up to his family who were missing him mightily while he kept running away from himself to perform tzedakah. We all know, it also belongs, at HOME. Reply

Igerne July 12, 2011

lovely story thank you for sharing it Reply

HaRav Avrohom Wachs Cape Coral, FL. July 11, 2011

We are part of G-d! B"H The story exemplifies the reality that as we are part of Hashem, we must help him do his work.Now the Chosid has learned an important lesson. Any body can be part of Tikum Olam, perfecting the world. If a person doesn't focus on themseves, they will see a world needing help. Reply

Rut Margot Mesa, Arizona, USA July 11, 2011

Elijah The Prohet If this man wanted to see the Prophet, why didn't he help this family get out of their poverty by helping them to find a means of support. Food and clothes can help for a moment but what about the rest of the year? Did he tried to find out more about this widow? Did he tried to bring the children to the school or shul to learn about Torah? I personally am not satisfied with this story. The end is very tragic! The children will starve for the rest of the year. Maybe the next holiday they will not be there in the same home. Reply

JJZEKE33 LAS VEGAS, NV March 9, 2010

Elijah WOOHOO! That fella was a bit slow, but he finally got it. Didnt Moses mention something about loving your neighbor? Reply

fanny Bad Liebenzell, Germany March 9, 2010

to forest gulp why not?
but to be honest, I doubt. :-) Reply

Anonymous Orlando, Fl. March 9, 2010

Truely Beautiful Brings tears to the eyes!!! Love and LIGHT to you all!!! Reply

Linda Haniford New York, NY February 21, 2007

The Author is Eliyahu Ha Navi. Thanks for the story. Reply

Anonymous via June 1, 2006

Very funny story. It also shows how important tezdakkah is. And how much it means to people Reply

Raphael hesperia, ca May 31, 2006

Be the miracle what a wonderful story, many times we demand to see a miracle and miss the opportunity to be the miracle. Reply

Anonymous May 29, 2006

WHAT WE WE ALL CAN ACHIEVE... Um, you mean that it could be (gulp!) ME??? Reply

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