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Adapted from Ginzei Hamelech, Parshas Kedoshim, 5765, and Haggadas Reb Sholom, Pesach stories told over by Rav Sholom Schwadron, pp. 3-6.

No Chometz on Pesach

Reb Rephael Duvzhinksy lived in a small Polish village. He was a very God-fearing man and worked hard for his livelihood. He rented the town tavern from the Polish Poritz and was able to make a comfortable parnossah. However, his heart was plagued by one worry, he had no children. Years passed in the town, and nothing changed.

One day a new priest came to town. This priest was a virulent Jew hater and he started to torment Reb Rephael. The priest demanded that the farmers boycott his tavern and cease to congregate there. The farmers, however, were deeply fond of beer and shnops and continued to fraternize the inn. They refused to listen to the priest's exhortations.

The priest tried his luck with the Poritz and demanded that he revoke the contract with the Jewish tavern owner. But the Poritz also refused to listen. When the priest saw that all his plans had been thwarted, a new scheme began brewing in his mind. The Jewish holiday of Pesach was approaching and Reb Rephael would have to sell his chometz. Every year Reb Rephael sold his chometz to one of the farmers. So the priest went to that farmer and promised him a large reward if he would refuse to buy the chometz. The priest also warned the other farmers not to buy Reb Rephael's chometz.

Erev Pesach arrived and Reb Rephael waited for the goy to come as he did every year. He wanted to hurry home and prepare for the Seder. But the goy didn't appear. Finally, the time of "Issur Chometz" arrived. Reb Rephael, upon seeing that the priest's scheme had succeeded, opened wide the door of the tavern and called out in Polish, "Everyone should know that I am abandoning ownership over my chometz. Anyone who wants to come and take it is welcome!"

Finishing the announcement, he gathered his bags and set off for home.

He spent the eight days of the holiday in a state of extreme joy, secure in the knowledge that Heaven was testing him. He kept the whole matter hidden from his wife in order not to distress her. After Pesach he harnessed his wagon and he and his wife set out towards the tavern. On the way he spotted one of the farmers and stopped him. Reb Rephael was in an elated mood and turned to the farmer and asked him, "Nu? How did you like all that shnops this last week? Did you quench your thirst for the entire year?" To his surprise the farmer answered, "No! Not at all. Two big fierce black dogs stood by the door and scared everyone away. No one could get past them."

When Reb Rephael approached the tavern, he saw the two black dogs. They pranced over to him, smelled him, as dogs do, and quickly left.

Reb Rephael understood that Heaven was helping him and fighting his battles. Nevertheless, in spite of the obvious miracle, he said to himself, "Torah isn't determined by Heaven, there are halachos. This is chometz from Pesach, and there will be no chometz in my house! Focused intently on his thoughts, he immediately went to the barrels and opened the spigots and started emptying them out.

His shocked wife started screaming, "The schnapps is our whole parnossah! How can you destroy it so callously?" Reb Rephael decided to go ask the Rav, R' Leibush Charif, zt"l, what to do. The Rav thought about the serious problem with gravity, and poskined that the schnapps could be sold. Reb Rephael's wife was full of joy and returned home, while her husband returned to the tavern.

On the way, Reb Rephael was deep in contemplation. "True, the barrels of schnapps are the source of my parnossah. If the barrels go, there goes everything. The Rav found a strained heter for my schnapps. I can easily rely on the p'sok. However, Ribono Shel Olam, how can I, Rephael Duvzhinksy, rely on a farfetched heter like that just because of a little money!"

When he arrived at the tavern, he proceeded to carry out his decision. He opened the spigots of the barrels, and all the schnapps spilled on to the floor, to the very last drop.

When his wife heard the news, she broke out crying hysterically. She hurried to the Rav's house inconsolably crying about her bitter lot. She has no children. Now their parnossah is gone, What is going to be!?!

"Do not cry," consoled Rav Leibush, "Go home and remove your worry from your heart. In the merit of the mitzvah that your husband has just done, within the year you will be hugging a baby boy, who will light up the whole world with his righteousness."

A year later, she gave birth to a baby boy, the tzaddik Reb Avromole from Tshechenov, the father of the Admor Rebbe Zev of Strickov, zt"l, of whom the Kotzker Rebbe said, "who can compare to this holy man, whose every limb is Torah and Kedusha!?"

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rosh Yeshiva
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers) and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop - Lakewood). Rabbi Parkoff also would like to publish Trust Me 2. If you would like to sponsor this upcoming book, or would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff please contact him: or 732-325-1257

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