Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk
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The Modzitzer's roar

My good buddy Yitz from Heichal Hanegina sent me the following note & story:

Hi Reb Lazer!  Regarding your tobacco/Shabbos post, I'd like to share an incident which I heard from the brother of the one who heard it first-hand.

As you know, I have a connection to Chassidus Modzitz. One of the Modzitzer Chassidim lives in the Lower Galil, on Kfar Gideon, just outside of Afula. As you can imagine, someone dressed in Chassidic garb is a bit unusual to find on the Egged buses in this part of the country. So my friend's brother, R. Avraham, is travelling on the bus; a man spots him and asks him if he's a Gerer Chassid. Avraham says, No, I'm a Modzitzer. So the man says, "nuch besser" - even better - I have a story to tell you about your Rebbe.

Of course by now Avraham's curiosity was piqued, and he was "all ears."
Rebbe_shaul_of_modzitz  When Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz ZT"L [grandfather of the present Rebbe Shlita] was still in Europe, a young man was seen in his Beis Medrash, smoking on Shabbos! The Chassidim didn't know what to do with this, so they went & told the Rebbe. When the Rebbe, who was a big man - tall and broad - heard this, he began to run towards the man who was smoking. But the man just continued, undaunted, to puff away. When Rebbe Shaul approached him, he said to him, "B'farhesia - in public - you dare to do this?"

Reb Lazer, I've been told that Reb Shaul had a voice like thunder! You can be sure that these words penetrated the very being of this man! How do I know? Read on...

From that day on, the man never smoked on Shabbos. All week long he would smoke, but not on Shabbos. Other than that, he was completely non-observant. He came to live in Eretz Yisrael, and raised his family in one of the secular Kibbutzim in the Lower Galil.

His children couldn't figure it out - this man didn't keep Shabbos, he smoked all week long, yet on Shabbos, Abba never lit up! It got to them so much that they decided to investigate what Shabbos is all about. I probably don't have to tell you that they are fully observant Jews by now - just from that "B'farhesia?" statement of Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz! And yes, the one who told the story was one of these children!

As Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to say, "You never know!"

best regards, yitz