27 Iyar 5781 / Sunday, May 09, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bamidbar
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Vayikra: The Humble Healer    

Vayikra: The Humble Healer

The couple quickly turned around and rushed down the stairs yelling to each other, "let's get out of here before the Holy Rabbi actually thinks he healed her."


Parshat Vayikra
The Torah portion reads, "He called (va-yikra) to Moshe (Moses). God spoke to him from the Tent of the Meeting saying" (Vayikra 1:1).
Moshe was very humble. Therefore he did not want to write the word va-yikra in the Torah with an aleph as the last letter. In this form, vayikra means "calling" with the connotation of high status and love. Instead, Moshe wanted to write va-yikar which means calling in the language used for a commoner. God told Moshe to write it with the aleph because "you have great status before Me." Moshe had to write vayikra with an aleph because God commanded him to do so but he wrote it with a small aleph. And so we find in every Torah scroll the aleph of va-yikra is small (MeAm Lo'ez).
* * *
A poor couple's daughter suddenly became paralyzed. They took her to a few local doctors but none could diagnose what was wrong much less suggest a cure. Having no choice, they decided to take her to Rabbi Israel, the Baal Shem Tov, the legendary holy man, miracle worker and healer. True, they really didn't believe in the bubba misas (old wife tales) about the Rabbi being able to perform miracles, but what else could they do?
Shortly thereafter, the couple learned that the Baal Shem Tov happened to be visiting a nearby town. Placing their paralyzed daughter in the back of their wagon, they traveled to the town. Their hearts were heavy as their hopes had been dashed before, so they traveled in silence.
Upon their arrival at the inn, they learned that the Baal Shem Tov was staying in a room on the second floor. Of course, there was a long line of people winding up the stairs waiting to meet with the Baal Shem Tov and to get a blessing.
Finally, it was their turn. They carried their paralyzed daughter into the room. They handed the Baal Shem Tov a kivitel (note) asking for a complete healing for their daughter.
The Baal Shem Tov took the note and said "Before I give a blessing for your daughter's healing, I expect to receive one ruble (equal to 100 kopecks)."
The couple looked at each other and reached into their pockets. All they could find was 27 kopecks. "Rabbi, here are 27 kopecks. We are very poor and that is what we have."
The Baal Shem Tov took the 27 kopecks and put them on the table.
Then he said, "I'm sorry, but I really can't help you unless I receive one ruble."
So the couple searched through all their pockets and found another 12 kopecks bringing the total to 39. "Rabbi, please take these. But it is all that we have," said the husband.
The Baal Shem Tov reached out and took the 12 kopecks and put them on the table with the other 27. Then he said, "As I said, I really can't help you unless I receive one ruble."
"But Rabbi," pleaded the wife, "it's all we have. Please give her a blessing. We're desperate with worry about our daughter."
The Baal Shem Tov looked at them and said, "I'm really sorry, but I can't help you. And as for these 39 kopecks, it's not enough." Then he picked up the kopecks from the table and threw them down the stairs.
Just then, the daughter jumped up and ran down the stairs collecting the scattered kopecks as she went. The husband and wife looked at each other with amazement. Then, they looked at the Baal Shem Tov. He was smiling.
The couple quickly turned around and rushed down the stairs yelling to each other, "let's get out of here before the Holy Rabbi actually thinks he healed her."
And so it was.
Tzvi Meir Cohn attended Yeshiva Hadar Hatorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after completing his university studies in Engineering and Law. While studying at the Yeshiva, he discovered a deep connection to the stories and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His many books about the Baal Shem Tov can be found in the Breslev Store. He can be contacted at howard@cohnpatents.com.

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