Jewish Personalities

A Not So Simple Man

A group of chasidim once wanted to visit their Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin. To that end they hired Feivel, a simple wagon driver, to get them there. Throughout the lengthy journey they repeated chasidic words of wisdom. At one point Feivel turned around and faced his passengers.

“I’m just curious,” he said. “What is the purpose of this trip?” The chasidim looked at each other in amazement. Who didn’t know why a Yid would want to travel to Lublin? Everyone had heard about the famous Chozeh. “We are traveling to our holy Rebbe, the Chozeh. Each of us is carrying a small piece of paper with a request. We hope the Chozeh can help us out. We also hope to gain spiritually from meeting our Rebbe.”

The wagon driver thought for a minute and said, “I also have a request for the Chozeh. Can I give you a kvittel (piece of paper) to bring to him?” The chasidim readily agreed, and the wagon driver wrote something down. When they arrived at the Chozeh’s court they parted ways. The chasidim went off to see the Rebbe, and the wagon driver went to find something to drink.

When the chasidim were finally permitted to enter the Rebbe’s room they handed over all the kvittlach. When the Chozeh got up to Feivel’s he suddenly began to shout. “Feivel! Feivel! Who are you?” The chasidim were taken aback. “He’s not here,” they explained. “He’s our wagon driver, and he asked us to include his kvittel with ours.” “Feivel’s neshamah is glowing,” the Rebbe said. “He doesn’t need to give me a kvittel; he’s quite capable of giving brachos himself.”

The chasidim looked at each other in confusion. Feivel? Feivel was just a simple wagon driver. “Feivel is positively shining with kedushah,” the Rebbe declared before dismissing the chasidim. “He can surely give you blessings.” The chasidim exited the room in confusion. It didn’t make sense that they had traveled all the way to Lublin only to be told that their wagon driver was capable of giving brachos. They had known Feivel all their lives.

He was a simple man who led a simple life and drove a simple wagon to make a living. They immediately went to look for the wagon driver and eventually found him, singing and dancing with a glass of whiskey in his hand. “Feivel, who are you?” they asked. He looked at them and laughed. “Which one of us is drunk?” he replied. “Why are you asking me such a silly question?”“Tell us who you really are,” they begged him. “The Chozeh said you are shining with a special light.”

The wagon driver immediately sobered up. “The Rebbe said that about me? But I’m only a simple man.” “You must have done something special,” they replied. “Please think.” Feivel was quiet for a few minutes as he racked his brain. “I figured it out!” he finally said. “A while ago I was driving my wagon when suddenly I heard someone crying. I immediately stopped the wagon and got off. A man was sitting in the middle of the road weeping. I asked him what the matter was, and he told me that he had to marry off his daughter but had no money.

When I heard that, my heart went out to the poor fellow. I immediately ran home and gathered up anything I could find of value. I went back to the man and handed over everything. That night I went to sleep without even a single groshen to my name.” The chasidim looked at the wagon driver with a sense of awe. “The mitzvah of hachnasas kallah obviously elevated your soul. Please give us a blessing!”

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