A Mother’s Heart
It was customary in Berditchev for every Chassid to bring a ruble (coin) to the Rebbe, Reb Levi Yitzchok M’Berditchev zt’’l, on Erev Yom Kippur before Mincha. The townspeople each gave the Rebbe one ruble for every individual in their household to serve as a Pidyon Nefesh (redemption for the soul). The Rebbe would take each coin individually and bless the person it represented for a gut gebentsht year.
The Rebbe just sat down one year after everyone had already given their rubles. His chassidim wondered why the Rebbe was not starting to daven. They waited and waited. The hour was getting late. Suddenly the door burst open, and a woman, an almanah (widow) carrying a baby, came in crying, “Rebbe, Rebbe, please have mercy on me! I do not have any money! Please wish my child and me a good year!”
The Rebbe turned to her and said, “Sorry, one nefesh – one ruble. Bring me two rubles, and I will bless both of you.” The sad woman went out and started going from door to door, collecting pruta (penny) by pruta. But, alas, it was getting late. All she gathered was one ruble. She hurried back to the shul where the Rebbe sat waiting and handed the ruble to the Rebbe. “Rebbe!” she pleaded, “Please accept one ruble for two heads; please, that’s all I managed to collect!”
Reb Levi Yitzchok sadly replied, “One ruble– one head!”
“Then bench (bless) my child with life!” cried the desperate mother.
The heilige Bertitchover exclaimed, “This is the moment I was waiting for, Ribbono Shel Olam. Look at your people; look how a mother has rachmunas (pity) on her children. So you, too, Hashem, pity your children and grant them a good year!”