There is a story told by Reb Shlomo Carlebach about the holy Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and the Ba’al Shem Tov’s grandson, Reb Baruch of Medzhibozh. These two Rebbes were total opposites of each other- Reb Baruch was civilized, regal and proper and this was reflected in his service of G-d. Reb Levi was unpredictable, danced wildly and would burst out passionately with his love of G-d and His people.
Reb Levi dearly wanted to spend Shabbat with Reb Baruch and invited himself to his house. Reb Baruch agreed but requested that Reb Levi behave according to his ways, especially while seated at the Shabbat table with all his family.
Reb Levi thought to himself for a moment and then turned to Reb Baruch and said, “The only way I will be able to control myself is if I keep silent. Please don’t ask me to recite any blessings and if I am limited only to saying Amen I’ll be able to keep quiet.” Reb Baruch agreed.
Reb Levi came for Shabbat. During prayers he only answered “Amen”. Everything was going according to plan. At Kiddush everyone was sure Reb Levi would jump on to the table exaltedly but he simply answered “Amen” to Reb Baruch’s recitation.
In those times the custom was to eat sweet and sour fish. There was much controversy between the Rabbis on which fish to eat first. There was one school of thought that claimed that one should start with sweet fish as it provides one with the strength to eat the sour fish. The other school of argued that one should eat the sour fish first, get it out of the way and end with a sweet taste.
In Reb Baruch’s house a waiter would approach each guest and ask which fish he would prefer to eat first- sour or sweet. Sure enough, the waiter approached Reb Levi and asked, “Do you like sweet fish?”
The poor waiter stood by astonished as Reb Levi said, “Do I love sweet fish? I love HaShem! I love only G-d!” With that, he took the entire platter of fish and threw it heavenwards. The fish stuck to the ceiling and dripped down. Right onto the Tallit of Reb Baruch (in those days the big Rebbes wore their Tallitot for the Friday night meal).
Everyone at the table gasped. Reb Baruch was completely unworried by the whole scene and from that day forth would never wash his Tallit, saying that those stains were so very holy as, “they were caused by a Jew who really loves G-d- how then can I was them out?!”
After Reb Baruch passed away the Tallit was passed down from one Rebbe to another, all the while not being washed. It was regarded as so precious that the Rebbes would only were it on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. The holy Munkatcher Rebbe was the last Rebbe to wear it. Perhaps the Rebbe foresaw the devastation the Holocaust would cause, for his last request was to be buried in Rav Baruch’s stained Tallit, stained by one who loved only G-d.
Are you searching for the right Tallit? Visit our Tallit section at Ajudaica.com online store.