Jewish communities in the good old days had an interesting and fun custom for when the merry month of Adar rolled around. In anticipation of Purim, they would select a witty fellow to be the chief rabbi of the town for that the holiday, which celebrating celebrates a time when nothing was actually as it appeared. They would also appoint various policemen, judges and other officials to carry out the commands of the "chief rabbi" for a day’s commands.

One year, the chassidim, followers, of Rebbe Zvi of Zhidachov designated the tzadik's outgoing young nephew, Koppel, to be the provincial governor, and told him that he should enact some fittingly amusing laws for the occasion. He promptly commissioned an "advisory board" of local Torah scholars, important members of the community known during the rest of the year for their wisdom and seriousness. …the entire tipsy crew danced and weaved their way to the home of the Rebbe…

When Purim day finally arrived, these lofty citizens displayed to young Koppel the honor and respect appropriate for his high office. After numerous rounds of liquor accompanied by jolly toasts - then some more rounds - the entire tipsy crew danced and weaved their way to the home of the Rebbe.

After a welcoming smile of appreciation, the tzadik also showed great deference to the royal personage portrayed by his nephew. He then respectfully pleaded with the "governor" to cancel the oppressive anti-Semitic candle tax and kosher meat tax that his real-life counterpart had enacted during the course of that year.

The "governor" graciously agreed to his constituent's petition.

The Rebbe then asked "his Highness" to repeal the legislation that required Jews to be drafted into the army.

To this request his nephew shook his head adamantly.

The Rebbe entreated him several more times, each successive time more eloquently, but the "governor" continued to firmly refuse. The drunken young man paid his holy uncle no heed…

Finally, the Rebbe displayed great aggravation. Changing his tone, he ordered his nephew to state his intent to repeal the draft law immediately. Still, the drunken young man paid his holy uncle no heed.

The other chasidim, whose broad grins disappeared from their faces when they realized that the Rebbe was treating the matter seriously, advised and implored Koppel to relent. To no avail. They tried arguing with him and even tried threatening him. But he wouldn't budge. "No way!" he insisted smugly.

The tzadik quit the room in anger. He refused to even look at his nephew the entire rest of the festival.

The next day, when everyone was again sober, the chasidim all turned to Koppel in curiosity. "Whatever possessed you to oppose the Rebbe your uncle so stubbornly?"

The young man turned pale. "What do you mean? I would never do such a thing!"

"On the other hand," he confessed sheepishly, "I must admit that I don't remember anything that happened yesterday after we got to the Rebbe's house."

When they told him all that had transpired, he was mortified. Even with all the witnesses, he could barely believe that he had acted with such chutzpah to his uncle.

That year the provincial authorities indeed repealed the candle and the meat tax. But the cruel law conscripting the Jews into the Polish army remained in force. The chasidim then realized that on Purim they had witnessed something beyond their comprehension: their rebbe had not been playing games. And what they had attributed to a young man's inebriation must in truth must have been divine intervention.

Rebbe Zvi-Hirsch Eichenstein (1785 - 11 Tammuz 1831), founder of the Zhidachov dynasty, was a prominent disciple of the Seer of Lublin. He championed the position that the practice of Chasidism had to be firmly based on the study of the Kabbala of the holy Ari of Safed. He wrote and published numerous Kabbalistic commentaries.