The Jewish Eye
Of Persian Scarves and Chametz in Berditchev
The Chasidim were stunned when the Holy Defender of the Jews, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev announced just a few moments before starting Kiddush on Lel Ha'Seder that he would not begin the Seder until they gather together fifty Persian scarves, 10 pounds of Turkish tobacco, and one loaf of bread.
"But Rebbe they cried where are we supposed to get these items? The scarves and tobacco are all contraband and no one has any. Besides that you know it is Pesach. Where can we find a loaf of bread in Berditchev". The Rebbe said "as you wish but I will not start the Seder".
After going from house to house throughout the Jewish community explaining their strange request, the Chasidim met with little success. After two hours of searching they came up with only 5 scarves and no tobacco or Chametz. They laid their findings out before the Rebbe and pleaded with him to start the Seder but he insisted they meet the full quota without excuses.
This time the Chasidim were even more vigorous and pleaded with the members of the community to please be forthright for the sake of the Rebbe and the entire Kehilla and hand over any of these items in their possession.
After a short while they returned to the Rebbe hoping that this time he would agree to start the Seder with what they found. They emptied out one bag with over 100 scarves and another bag with four times the quota of tobacco. "Very nice" said the Rebbe "but where is the Chametz". With tears in their eyes the Chasidim pleaded with the Rebbe "please Rebbe this is ridiculous where should we find Chametz in Berditchev"???
The Rebbe then lifted his eyes to the Heavens and said "Dear Father in Heaven. The Russian have made owning a Persian scarf punishable with 25 years of hard labor and have policeman deployed throughout the city but nevertheless the Jews of Berditchev own at least 100 scarves. Furthermore there is a death penalty for anyone caught with Turkish Tobacco and the borders of Russia are guarded by hundreds of thousands of soldiers nevertheless there is plenty of Turkish tobacco to be found in Berditchev".
"You have Hashem have no visible army or police force, nor is there any physical signs of your heavenly court and your command of not possessing any Chametz was declared over 3000 years ago yet there is not one speck of Chametz to be found in the entire city". "U'Mi K'Amcha Yisroel" he shouted as he began his Seder.
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