When Maran Admor Rebbe Aharon of Belz zy”a was a young boy he asked his father, Maran Admor Rebbe Yissochor Dov zy”a, the following question about our parsha: Moshe told bnei Yisroel that, “I ascended the mountain to receive the Tablets of stone…I remained on the mountain for forty days and forty nights; bread I did not eat, and water I did not drink.” Why did Moshe emphasize his neither eating nor drinking while on Mt. Sinai? Wasn’t it much more miraculous and significant that Hashem talked to him “face to face as a man would talk with his fellow?” (Shemos 33:11)
His father, Maran Reb Yissochor Dov answered: “Now I’ll tell you a story about your grandfather, the distinguished Chassidic master, Rebbe Aharon of Chernobyl zy’a.
Rebbe Aharon zy”a was famous for his ability to hold people spellbound with fascinating stories. One morning after davening, he began to tell us stories about tzaddikim. Several hours passed and he was still telling these instructive anecdotes. The time for breakfast passed, as did the time for lunch, but we were so captivated by his stories that no one even felt hungry…One of the audience commented: `What was so special about Moshe Rabbeinu’s neither eating nor sleeping for forty days when he received the Torah from Hakodosh Boruch Hu Himself? We too are sitting near the Rebbe and listening to stories about tzaddikim for many hours and don’t at all feel the need to eat.’
“Rebbe Aharon answered: `You’re mistaken about what Moshe meant when he said he didn’t eat for forty days. He wasn’t boasting about not eating. On the contrary, his not eating and drinking while receiving the Torah greatly distressed him. When a righteous person eats and drinks, the food and drink that he partook of, receive their tikun. Because of his abstinence while in heaven, he wasn’t able to raise those foods to their spiritual level.’
“The Zlotchover maggid, Rebbe Yechiel Mechel zt”l, abstained from eating cheese. He became sick and his son Rebbe Mordechei of Kremenitz traveled to Rebbe Pinches of Koritz zt”l to ask him to pray for his father. He made this trip without his father’s knowledge or consent since he knew that the two rebbes’ paths of avodas Hashem were entirely different and his father might not view his trip favorably.
He arrived at the home of Rebbe Pinches of Koritz, and before he could even tell why he had come, the Rebbe said: `I know you have come because your father is sick. Please tell your father that if he will start eating cheese he will become well. That food complained in Heaven that ever since he stopped eating it, it has no tikun, and consequently it was decreed that your father be ill until he starts eating cheese.’
“Before they parted, the Rebbe Pinches said to Rebbe Mordechei: `Tell your father that he shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that he doesn’t see my tefillos in Heaven. The truth of the matter is that even the malochim don’t see my tefillos since I have a pathway straight to the Creator. Let him look in Sanhedrin 44a and he will see that when Pinches prayed his tefillos ascended straight to Hashem.’
“When Rebbe Mordechei returned home, his father immediately asked him whether he was in Koritz and had visited Rebbe Pinches. His father told him not to worry that he went, and he asked him to relate what he said. Rebbe Mordechei told him that the Rebbe Pinches said he is sick because he doesn’t eat cheese. ‘All right,’ said his father, ‘from now on I’ll eat cheese, but what else did he tell you?’ Rebbe Mordechei told him that he knows that his father disagrees with the Rebbe Pinches Koritz’s way of avodah because he doesn’t see his tefillos in Heaven but if he would look in the Gemora…he would understand why.’
“Rebbe Yechiel Mechel concluded: ‘I didn’t realize the Rebbe Pinches of Koritz had reached such a lofty madreigah (level)!’”