There was once a well-respected, wealthy and pious Jew living in Germany. All his sons were Torah scholars and accomplished young men. Their father called them together one day and said to them: “I am giving each of you a significant sum of money for expenses, and I give you each permission to travel to any place your heart desires. If a proper match with a good and worthy woman from a respectable family comes your way, you have my permission to marry her. However, I have one condition: at the conclusion of five years, you should all gather together here at my home, and I will see what transpired with each of you.”

And so it was.

Each of the sons traveled to a different location. One of his sons, Reb Yechiel, went to Poland. There he married the righteous Adel, daughter of the Baal Shem Tov. Since he was from Germany, the chassidim of the Baal Shem Tov referred to him as “the Deitschel.”

When the time came for the sons to return to their father’s house, Reb Yechiel went in to see the Baal Shem Tov and ask permission to take leave.

“I must fulfill my promise to my father to return after five years,” Reb Yechiel told his father-in-law.

“May you go in peace and return in peace,” replied the Baal Shem Tov.

Since it was the beginning of the summer, Reb Yechiel requested, “May I have a blessing that I will return for Rosh Hashanah?”

The Baal Shem Tov was silent.

Again Reb Yechiel requested a blessing, and again the Baal Shem Tov did not respond.

Reb Yechiel asked a third time, and when the Baal Shem Tov again did not respond, Reb Yechiel understood that he would not be home for Rosh Hashanah. So he packed a shofar in his bag.

When the sons came back to their father’s home, their father made a large feast for all the Torah scholars of the town. Each of the sons shared what he had gained during the past five years. When it was Reb Yechiel’s turn to speak, he told the assembled that he had discovered a great and holy man named the Baal Shem Tov. He spoke at length about the Baal Shem Tov’s holiness and manner of serving G‑d. The Torah scholars were quite impressed, and Reb Yechiel’s father was especially happy and proud to hear from his son. After a few days of visiting with their father, all the sons left to return home.

While Reb Yechiel was traveling home by ship, a big storm suddenly arose, and the wind blew the ship far away. On the morning before Rosh Hashanah, the storm subsided and the ship reached land.

They had come to a large island without a single Jew to speak of. Reb Yechiel understood that it was the will of G‑d that he should be on this island for Rosh Hashanah, and he accepted his travails with love. He left the ship and rented a room in one of the houses close to the water, so that he could easily immerse there. As the evening drew near, Reb Yechiel dipped in the ocean, and then he began to pray the evening service. In the manner of the Baal Shem Tov and his pupils, he became intensely involved in his prayers, crying out to his Creator with tears and supplication. The passersby, hearing the loud cries in a language they could not understand, stopped in wonderment. They thought the stranger must have lost his mind!

In the morning, Reb Yechiel again immersed in the ocean and prepared himself for morning services. Once again, his prayers were accompanied by heartfelt sobbing. Afterwards, he took the shofar he had brought along and blew 30 blasts. He said the verses aloud, crying to G‑d from the depths of his heart. Again, the locals gathered outside the house, listening to the new sounds emanating from the crazy stranger’s room.

Now, the king of this island, out on his daily walk, saw a large group of people gathered near the water. He decided to see what was going on.

“What are you all doing here?” asked the king.

“A man came from the ocean and is residing here, and last night he screamed and cried! Today he went for a dip in the ocean, and now he is screaming and crying again. And he took a horn and blew it!”

The king, who was learned and well-versed in different sciences and languages, understood that this man was not crazy, as the people thought. He issued a command that they should not harm this person, for this must be his way of serving G‑d. Then he sent his servant to call Reb Yechiel to come to him.

When Reb Yechiel came before the king, the king asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”

Reb Yechiel answered, “I am a Jew from the country of Poland, and a storm came upon the ship I was traveling on, until it came to this island.”

“I’d like to invite you to my palace,” said the king. “There’s is much that I’m interested in discussing with you.”

“It would be my pleasure to fulfill the king’s wishes after my holiday,” said Yechiel.

When he presented himself before the king the following evening, the king greeted him cheerfully. “I am quite impressed by you and your devout manner of prayer,” said the king. “I would like you to bring 300 Jews to settle here in my kingdom.”

Reb Yechiel answered him: “Your majesty! For two reasons, I am unable to do this: First, because I am not a lord and ruler who can command my fellow Jews to uproot themselves from their places and come settle here. Second, I believe that if it was the will of G‑d that Jews live in your country, they would be brought here with chains of iron, even against their will; and since there are no Jews in your country, it is apparently not the will of G‑d that they live here.

The answer found favor in the eyes of the king, and he let him go in peace.

As soon as Reb Yechiel was able, he left the island and traveled back to Poland. Upon returning home, he went to visit his father-in-law, the Baal Shem Tov.

The Baal Shem Tov greeted him warmly and said to him: “You should know that on that island there were many holy sparks waiting to be elevated, and if you had not gone there, the Jews would have had to go there with iron chains, against their will. However, by your being there on Rosh Hashanah, and with the power of your prayers and intense concentration, you managed to elevate all the sparks to their source above. There is no longer any need for Jewish people to be there to elevate sparks of holiness, because they were all elevated by you. Until the coming of Moshiach, no Jews will live on this island.”