Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov once came to the marketplace in Yaroslav. He was passing among the vendors, checking the quality of the straw and hay for sale, when he met his friend Rabbi Shimon of Yaroslav.

Rebbe, what are you doing here?” R. Shimon asked in surprise.

“Leave out my ‘rebbe’ and your ‘rebbe,’ and come with me to carry a bale of hay to a poor widow who had no hay or straw upon which to lay her broken body,” the Sassover replied pungently.

The two holy leaders went together, hauling a bale of hay on their shoulders. Astonished bystanders stared in wonder and moved aside to make room for them to pass.

As they went, Rabbi Moshe Leib remarked, “Were the Holy Temple standing today, we would be bringing sacrifices and libations. Now we bring straw, and it is as though we have all the kavanot (spiritual intentions) that come with offering the minchah sacrifice.”

Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov’s father, R. Yaakov, would take a job before Passover grinding wheat at the mill—not for himself, though he was also a poor man, but for a widow and orphan who lived in his neighborhood. And he did this despite his great and abiding love for the Torah, which he learned constantly.

Moshe Leib, his son, followed in his father’s footsteps. Despite his greatness in Torah, he did not worry about his honor when it came to performing acts of kindness for his fellow Jew with his own hands, even if they were beneath his status in the eyes of others.

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from Stories My Grandfather Told Me (Mesorah).

Biographical Note:
Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov (1745–4 Shvat 1807) was the leading disciple of Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg. He also received from the Maggid of Mezeritch and from R. Elimelech of Lizensk. Subsequently a rebbe in his own right with many followers, he was famous primarily for his love of his fellow Jews and his creative musical talent. His teachings are contained in the books Likutei RaMaL, Toras RaMaL Hashalem and Chiddushei RaMaL.

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