Rebbitzin Mirl, wife of Reb Yitzchak Meir of Mezhibuzh and daughter-in-law of Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta, was praying in shul when she heard a great commotion coming from the men’s side of the synagogue. Inquiring into the matter, she learned that Reb Yaakov the wagon-driver had died.
“Gut in Himmel,” the rebbitzin shouted. “Do any of you know what kind of man he was?”
When people had gathered close to the rebbitzin in order to hear, she said. “One winter when I had not even a stick of kindling for a fire, Reb Yaakov took his wagon into the forest and returned with bundles of wood, enough for me and for the beis midrash, where we huddled together to study Torah.
“And that is not all. One Friday I found myself without a drop of water in my house. Reb Yaakov heard of this and brought me a barrel filled to the very brim with water. Not only was I able to cook for Shabbos, but my neighbors all around also shared this water and could do the same.”
Suddenly the rebbitzin stood up. Lifting her face and voice to heaven, she cried: “Ribbono shel Olam! May it be Your will that the divine sparks in every stick of wood and every drop of water he brought me become angels calling to You on his behalf, that he might be welcomed into heaven with a chorus of praise!”
A few minutes later the rebbitzin‘s husband came into the shul and was told of her bold request on Reb Yaakov’s behalf. “What a woman I have married,” Reb Yitzchak Meir said. “The Ruach HaKodesh certainly rests with her, for what she asked has already been done.”
Rebbitzin: The wife of a rabbi.
Shul (literally, “school”): A Yiddish word used to describe a traditional Eastern European synagogue. The name can be traced to the Romans, who called the synagogue schola in deference to its educational function in the Jewish community.
Gut in Himmel: Yiddish for “God in heaven.”
Beis midrash: House of study, often attached to a synagogue.
Shabbos: The Sabbath.
Ribbono shel Olam, Master of the Universe: A term of endearment applied to God.
Roach HaKodesh: The Holy Spirit of God that manifests in people, leading to prophetic visions and teachings.
What you do for yourself alone is not the work of the Holy Spirit. What you do for others is. Spiritual work is surrendering yourself to the spirit of service. The means must be appropriate to the need, but the intent is always the same: helping another in need.