A widow sought an audience with the Rebbe of Rimminov, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh. As she was still of childbearing age, she desperately sought the blessing of the tzadik that she would succeed in meeting someone to remarry soon. The Rebbe asked her some questions about her deceased husband and his family, and also about her family: where was she from, from which family, and so forth.

"...I recommend that you should marry...me!"

Upon hearing the family name and the name of the town, the Rebbe’s eyes widened. He asked for the specific address of her childhood home, and himself even provided a description of the house, which she confirmed. The Rebbe then rested his head in his hands, appearing to be lost in deep thought. Finally, he raised his eyes and said to her, "All right, I have for you a suggestion for a match. I recommend that you should marry...me!"

The woman turned pale. The eyes of the Rebbe’s attendant nearly popped out of his head. It was difficult to say who was more shocked. The woman, totally flustered, remained silent.

"Please don’t be afraid," the Rebbe said to her gently. "Or embarrassed. If you say ‘No’ I won’t hold it against you. I’ll still try and help you."

Now the woman was blushing slightly. She opened and closed her mouth several times, hesitating, until finally she was able to speak. "Rebbe, if you are in favor of this proposal, then certainly I am too."

The tzadik smiled. He turned to his attendant and told him to fetch drinks and some pastries and a minyan of the elder chasidim; they would celebrate the engagement right then.

After the formal arrangements were completed, the Rebbe addressed the assembled group. "I know you are wondering about the suddenness of this engagement and the strangeness of the whole procedure. Let me explain.

"My parents died when I was a lad, and the community arranged for me to be apprenticed to a tailor. One of my jobs was to make all his deliveries of new and mended clothes, which were always done on Fridays. Of all the families I regularly delivered to, there was only one that always paid promptly, instead of deferring it. This was a family with many children, so they often had items to be repaired. Whenever I would arrive there past midday, the house would already be completely prepared for Shabbat, right down to the flask of wine on the white-covered table. And the father of the home would be sitting serenely, reviewing the weekly Torah reading in the traditional manner. Even if it was just past noon, the spirit of Shabbat was already pervasive in that house. I was always amazed. And impressed.

"...Now I can merit to marry a wife who truly knows how to prepare for and honor Shabbat."

"I used to pray that when my time came, that I should have the good fortune to marry someone from that family, or in another such family where the Shabbat was honored in such exemplary fashion. When this good woman revealed to me her background, I realized that she had grown up in that very house! Indeed she is the daughter of that man whom I admired so much. I understood that her presence before me was an indication that all the way back then my prayers had been accepted. Now I can merit to marry a wife who truly knows how to prepare for and honor Shabbat."

Although Rebbe Zvi Hirsh was well into his sixties at the time of the wedding, the couple had two children. It is also known that the Riminover acted towards his much younger wife with great honor and respect. When he passed away, his widow subsequently remarried Rebbe Yisroel of Rhyzin, also a widower, who acted as a father for her young children.

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Editor’s note:
According to Beshurin Melech, this lady’s daughter eventually married a grandson of the Rhyziner, which would mean that she became her daughter’s grandmother! Her son, Yosef, eventually ascended to his father’s seat as Rebbe in Riminov.


Biographical note:
Rebbe Zvi Hirsh of Riminov [1778-29 Cheshvan 1847] was the attendant of the well-known Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov, and subsequently his successor. He had a reputation as a miracle worker. Some of his teachings are collected in Mevasser Tov and in Be’erot HaMayim.

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