ועשית להם אבנטים (תצוה כח:מ)
And you made sashes (Yiddish: gartel) for them…
Reb Chaim Meir Yechiel – the ‘Sruf from Mogelnitza’ zt’’l, had a yearly Purim custom to stand in the middle of a circle of dancing chassidim and weave together a “gartel/belt” with devout concentration. He would then knot the finished gartel, which they called a “pidka”, and throw the freshly woven ‘pidka’ to the crowd. Whoever caught the ‘pidka’ knew he would merit a yeshuah – salvation. This “Purim ceremony” created a holy and intense atmosphere.
A Mogelnitza chassid had a close friend who was childless for many years. He begged his friend to come to Magelnitza for Purim, for perhaps he would be lucky enough to catch the ‘pidka.’
After many years of relentless prodding, his friend finally consented, though he did not believe in this miracle.
That year, the Mogelnitza Tzaddik told his nephew, Reb Eliezer from Koznitz zt’’l (a chassid of his uncle), “today you’ll see a new twist to the proceedings. Whoever wants to partake in the ceremony of attempting to catch the ‘pidka,’ must place three coins in a box.” Of course, all chassidim wanted to partake and placed their three coins, except the chassid’s friend, who was still skeptical about the proceedings.
The ‘Sruf’ started weaving the gartel while the crowd danced. When he finished weaving the gartel, he threw the ‘pidka,’ and it landed, of course, on the chassid’s friend.
When the tzaddik noticed who caught the ‘pidka,’ he exclaimed, “He didn’t place money in the bowl.” The Chassid, who convinced his friend to come, whispered in his friend’s ear to quickly put three coins in the bowl and say, “I did put…”
The Mogelnitza Tzaddik didn’t believe him and asked, “Who saw you placing money in the bowl?” Reb Eliezer Kozniterz noticed the Yid placing the money after the pidka landed on him. But he pitied the Yid and told his uncle, “I saw.”
The Moglenitza Tzaddik repeated his question, “You’re sure that you saw?” and R’ Eliezer replied, yes. Having no choice, the Moglenitza Tzaddik told the Yid, “You won! Though you didn’t deserve to take part in the ceremony. If R’ Eliezer said he witnessed you giving money, it’s yours.”
After many years of waiting, the Yid’s wife merited giving birth to a son.