One year, around the time of the High Holidays, the daughter of the well-known tzaddik Rabbi Meir of Premishlan fell severely ill. As Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur passed, her condition worsened, and she seemed closer to death than life.
On Simchat Torah, Rabbi Meir was fulfilling the commandment to dance and rejoice with the Torah scrolls, doing so with great enthusiasm, like every year. Great happiness prevailed among all the dancers.
But Great happiness prevailed among all the dancers.then, a small delegation of chassidim quickly burst through the doors of the synagogue and approached him, telling him that his daughter appeared to be in her final moments, G‑d forbid, and he must do something.
The rebbe hastened home and entered his daughter’s room. When he perceived how critical the situation was, he immediately stepped out and stood alone. Then the rebbe (who always referred to himself in the third person by his diminutive nickname “Meir’l”) proclaimed:
“Master of the Universe! You commanded us to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, so Meir’l blew. You commanded us to fast on Yom Kippur, so Meir’l fasted. You commanded us to live in a sukkah on the festival of Sukkot, so Meir’l lived in a sukkah. You commanded us to be joyous on Simchat Torah, so Meir’l is joyous.
“But now, Master of the Universe, you have made my daughter be critically sick. Now, Meir’l is obligated to accept this tragedy with joy, as it is written, ‘A person is required to bless for something bad that happens to him in the same way as he is required to bless on something good,’ and the Talmud explains that since the wording of the two blessings are different, it must be that our attitude has to be joyful towards the bad event just as towards the good. So Meir’l accepts his daughter’s illness with joy, as You have commanded.
“However, Master of the Universe, there is also an explicit law that we are not supposed to mingle one joy with another . . .”
At that moment, they cried out from the room that the sick young woman had broken into a heavy sweat. Before their eyes, her condition began visibly to improve.
After a reasonable time, she recovered completely.
Note: This story is known to us from a chassid and relative of the Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, 1789–1866) named Asher, who happened to be in Premishlan for the holiday season in the year this episode took place.
Based on Sippurei Chassidim by Rabbi S. Y. Zevin, and other oral sources.
Rabbi Meir of Premishlan [?–29 Iyar 1850] lived in abject but patient poverty, yet exerted himself tirelessly for the needy and the suffering. His prophetic spirit and his ready wit have become legendary. He wrote no works, but some of his teachings were collected and published by his chassidim after his death.
Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbalah Online.