"G·d spoke to Moses saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, there will be a Sabbath (Rosh Hashanah) for you; A holy celebration." (Emor 23:23-24) AND
then there was the time that the Baal Shem Tov once wanted to return to his home town (Mezibush) to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with his followers. At that time, he was about two weeks travel away. Through the use of the spiritual power of Kefitzah Haderek (the ability to travel long distances in a short amount of time), he was able to return to Mezibush in three days, even though the roads were hardly passable because of heavy rains throughout the Carpathian Mountains.
During this return trip, the Baal Shem Tov arrived in a small village just before Shabbat Mevarchim, the last Shabbat in the Hebrew month of Elul preceding Rosh Hashanah. When the inn keeper was told that the holy Baal Shem Tov had just arrived, he rushed outside to greet him. The inn keeper who was childless until then thought to himself, "Perhaps the Baal Shem Tov will give me a blessing for children."
Before the Baal Shem Tov had a chance to get off his wagon, the inn keeper had already run over to greet him. After exchanging greetings the Baal Shem Tov asked, "Is it possible for me and my Chassidim to stay with you for Shabbat?"
The inn keeper was thrilled with the request. "Certainly Rebbe, it is my honor for you and your Chassidim to be my guests for Shabbat."
"Will you have a minyan (10 Jewish men) for the prayers?" the Baal Shem Tov asked.
After counting all of the local villagers, the Chassidim and the Baal Shem Tov, the inn keeper could still only think of nine men. He answered in a dejected voice, "I'm sorry Rebbe, but I can only think of nine men including you and your Chassidim."
The Baal Shem Tov thought for a minute and replied, "Don't worry, there will be a minyan." Without getting off the wagon, he instructed Alexei, his wagon driver, to drive the wagon up to the front door of the inn.
To get to the front door, the wagon had to pass through a passageway covered by a roof extending outward from above the front door of the inn. The roof was held up by two columns at the free end and secured to the house at the other end. The roof was lower than the topmost part of the wagon. When Alexei reached the covered passageway, he stopped the horses before the uppermost part of the wagon rammed into the roof.
The Baal Shem Tov asked in a slightly agitated tone, "Alexei, why did you stop?"
Without questioning, Alexei drove on through the passageway. Both the roof and the inn rose up so that even the highest part of the wagon could drive through the passageway without hitting the roof. Everyone standing there was stunned as they watched this miracle.
The inn keeper was very happy when he saw this miracle and thought, "If G-d wills it, I will have children."
When the afternoon before the Sabbath arrived, the Baal Shem Tov told the inn keeper to gather the minyan for the Mincha (afternoon) prayer. (It was the Baal Shem Tov's custom to pray immediately after midday on the Sabbath Eve.) The inn keeper, the villagers and even the Chassidim looked at the Baal Shem Tov with a surprised expression on each of their faces.
The Baal Shem Tov had a serious look on his face and said emphatically, "There are ten men among us."
They answered in unison, "But Rebbe, there are only nine men here."
The Baal Shem Tov replied, "I am sure there will be a minyan."
The inn keeper and the villagers looked at each other with expressions of wonderment because there were still only nine men present.
As they talked, it occurred to the inn keeper that there was a small inn across the river, and there was a sick Jewish man living there. This man had been sick for about ten years. His hands and legs were paralyzed and he could not speak. He spent his life lying on a bed and with his family feeding him. The inn keeper described this sick man to the Baal Shem Tov and said, "Perhaps you are referring to him?"
The Baal Shem Tov nodded and said, "Yes, bring him here to make the minyan."
The villagers questioned the Baal Shem Tov, "But Rebbe, how can we move him?"
The Baal Shem Tov gave them his staff and instructed them to put it into the man's hand so that he could get up and come with them.
The villagers took the staff and went for him. They came to the sick man and explained that the holy Baal Shem Tov was across the river and had asked him to join them for the minyan. The sick man didn't even move much less get up. So they returned and told the Baal Shem Tov what happened.
The Baal Shem Tov removed his hat from his head and sent the villagers back, instructing them, "Put my hat on his head and my staff in his hand and he will get up and come to make the minyan."
They followed these instructions and sure enough, the man got up and walked by himself to the inn for the Mincha (afternoon) prayers just before Shabbat. In fact, he stayed to make the minyan for all of the Shabbat prayers. After this, he lived another ten years and was strong and healthy throughout this time.
With the thought of the two amazing miracles in his mind, during the afternoon Shabbat meal, the inn keeper asked the Baal Shem Tov, "Rebbe, I am already middle aged and if I do not have children soon, I will be too old. What will become of me?"
The Baal Shem Tov thought for a minute and said, "My dear friend, you will have children." Then the inn keeper asked whether or not to divorce his wife who was past child bearing age.
The Baal Shem Tov answered him, "What for? You will have children."
After that the inn keeper lived with his wife until he was sixty. Then his wife passed on to the next world and he remarried. His second wife gave birth to two children. No one can remember for sure whether or not they were twins.
And so it was.
Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn, Patent Attorney) from a story in SHIVCHEI HABESHT as translated in IN PRAISE OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV by Ben-Amos and Mintz and reprinted with the kind permission of the Baal Shem Tov Foundation.
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